Thích Nhất Hạnh:
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.
The following links are audio recordings of mindfulness breathing exercises by Thích Nhất Hạnh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, zen master, teacher, author, poet and peace activist. He lives in the Plum Village Monastery in the Dordogne region in the South of France. These meditations were recorded there.
1) Short introduction spoken by Thích Nhất Hạnh (2:49) audio here
2) Guided bell meditation spoken by Sister Jina van Hengel, Plum Village Monastery, France (9:51) audio here
This bell meditation includes the following phases of focus:
- In, Out;
- Deep, Slow;
- Calm, Ease;
- Smile, Release;
- Present Moment, Wonderful Moment
3) Guided bell meditation to become more attuned to our body spoken by Sister Jina van Hengel (16:12) audio here
4) Guided bell meditation on myself as a child and my parents spoken by Sister Jina van Hengel (12:34) audio here
5) Bell meditation just the sound of the bell at intervals to allow mindful breathing in the intervals (38:21) audio here
Intro text spoken by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh:
This is the sound of the bell in Plum Village.
The bell is invited by me to sound for you for your daily practice.
Our practice in Plum Village is to enjoy the breathing in and out between the sounds of the bell.
The sound is there to help you concentrate and to enjoy your breathing.
When you listen to the bell deeply in a relaxed way, breathing in deeply, you enjoy your breathing, and breathing out, enjoying just the sound of the bell and your breathing, you calm your body, you calm your emotions, you stop all your thinking.
If every day you practice for 10 or 20 or 30 minutes of breathing with the bell, you will restore yourself, you will restore your peace, your joy and your freedom.
You are alive. To be alive is a wonder.
Breathing itself is a miracle, and when you breathe you touch deeply the fact that you are alive.
We are glad to offer you these sounds from Plum Village
[You can purchase the cd or also the mp3 download of these Bell Meditations on sale at the moment here: http://www.soundstrue.com/shop/Plum-Village-Meditations/357.pd] ~~~