This is one short but very valuable passage from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book Be Free Where You Are. I have been practicing this way for quite a while and I can confirm that it is one of the most effective, as well as simple meditations which can be done continually throughout the day. I very often do it when in bed for the night to calm the energy of the day and open me up to a restful night’s sleep. Enjoy!
I have a breathing exercise that I would like to offer you. I’m sure that if you follow this exercise in difficult moments, you will find relief.
Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.
Breathing in, I notice that my in-breath has become deeper.
Breathing out, I notice that my out- breath has become slower.
Breathing in, I calm myself.
Breathing out, I feel at ease.
Breathing in, I smile.
Breathing out, I release.
Breathing in, I dwell in the present moment.
Breathing out, I feel it is a wonderful moment.
These verses can be summarized in the following way:
Present Moment, Wonderful Moment.
First we practice “In, Out.” Breathing in, we say, “In,” silently, in order to nourish the awareness that we are breathing in. When we breathe out, we say, “Out,” aware that we are breathing out. Each word is a guide to help us return to our breathing in the present moment. We can repeat, “In, Out” until we find our concentration is peaceful and solid.
Then we say, “Deep” with the next in-breath and “Slow” with the next out-breath. When we breathe consciously, our breathing becomes deeper and slower, more peaceful and pleasant. We continue to breathe “Deep, Slow, Deep, Slow,” until we want to move to the next phrase, which is “Calm, Ease.”
“Calm” means we calm our body, we bring peace to our body. Breathing in, I bring the element of calm into my body. If we have a feeling or an emotion that makes us feel less peaceful, then calming means to calm that feeling or emotion. Breathing in, I calm my emotions. Breathing in, I calm my feelings. When we breathe out, we say, “Ease,” which means being light, relaxed, feeling that nothing is as important as our well-being. When we have mastered “Calm, Ease,” we move to “Smile, Release.”
When we breathe in, even if we do not feel great joy at the moment, we can still smile. When we smile, our joy and peace become even more settled, and tension vanishes. When we breathe out, we say, “Release.” We release what is making us suffer—an idea, a fear, a worry, anger.
And at last, we return to “Present Moment, Wonderful Moment.” “Breathing in, I dwell in the present moment. Breathing out, I feel this is a wonderful moment.”
Remember, the Buddha said that the present moment is the only moment when life is available to us. So in order to touch life deeply, we have to come back to the present moment. Our breath is like a bridge connecting our bodies and our minds. In our daily lives, our bodies may be in one place and our minds somewhere else—in the past or in the future. This is called a state of distraction. The breath is a connection between the body and the mind. When you begin to breathe in and out mindfully, your body will come back to your mind and your mind will go back to your body. You will be able to realize the oneness of body and mind and become. fully present and fully alive in the here and now. You will be in a position to touch life deeply in the moment. This is not difficult. Everyone can do it.