November 11, 2006

The Sacred Breath

The seasons have changed - burrr! As we move deeper into autumn, merging toward winter, I have been curling up near the woodstove with a good book in the evenings, enjoying warmth and candlelight near the sweet presence of my Beloved and my pets. These are simple moments, bathed in sacredness.

On Saturdays, I become a 'weekend warrior' with my studies. Most weekends this past month I have been to trainings and to school in Portland, which is three hours from my home. This weekend, it feels so good to just be home. One recent weekend I was away for a five-day silent meditation retreat. It was, in a word, a blissful experience. To have the luxury to take five days from the busy-ness of my life was so refreshing to my soul. I really was able to calm, quiet, and touch that within me that begs to be listened to.

One of the things the meditation teacher Frank Ostaseski offered was an instruction on listening deeply to our bodies. What is our body telling us? He had us tune in to what ever was most present in our awareness in this moment - an ache in the knee, a burning in the throat, a sensation of tears in the eyes, an itch, etc. And then, we watched the sensations move through us, changing from this moment to the next. This is the way truth is revealed, he said. It was amazing the depth of experience that just this noticing was able to offer. We touched not only the feeling in our bodies, but the sadness that rose up with it, or the longing, the gratitude, or warmth and love - all these qualities that just seemed to emerge clearly in these moments of listening in silence. Whenever this felt destabilizing, or passed on naturally, without manipulating, we returned our focus to our own breath.

Of our breath my teacher said, "We touch the sacred with each breath. With each breath, we just keep dipping into the sacred." I thought that was so beautiful! My teacher reminded us that breath animates all of life - and this is surely a sacred quality. He reminded us of the scriptures in Genesis, which all begin with the word. God spoke, “Let there be light,” and there was light… and God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters…” and there was...." My teacher said, this was true until it came to man. “God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.” So, he said, “Breath is the vehicle to return to God. This is the ground of all being. Breath is the vehicle that takes us beyond thought, form, and into direct experience. The breath takes us beyond words, beyond our ideas, into our deepest, truest nature."

This teaching has been settling within me, quieting me, joining me - when I am mindful, with God's presence right here, right now, with each and every breath.

~With gratitude to Frank Ostaseski


J.B. said...

Thank you Meredith for this beautiful reflection. It is indeed the time of year for introspection, for a return to our basic sense of being, and the breath is the perfect way to ground ourselves in the love that we embody just as we are.

"James" said...

I have been curling up near the woodstove with a good book in the evenings...

I miss a fire place. I so enjoy the heat, warmth and cozy feeling they give offer to us.

Meditation is such a beautiful gift. Especially the mindfulness of following the breath and whatever feeling comes into the present moment.

Happy to see that you're doing well.

Meredith said...

JB and James,

Thank you for sharing this moment of reflection with me.

Basic goodness...present moment...embodying the love that we are. Yes.