full awareness of the body

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I am, once again, finding great satisfaction and pleasure in this practice of the full awareness of breathing. Below are two short excerpts from the Buddha’s discourse.

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“O bhikkhus, the full awareness of breathing, if developed and practiced continuously, will be rewarding and bring great advantages. It will lead to success in practicing the Four Establishments of Mindfulness. If the method of the Four Establishments of Mindfulness is developed and practiced continuously, it will lead to success in the practice of the Seven Factors of Awakening. The Seven Factors of Awakening, if developed and practiced continuously, will give rise to understanding and liberation of the mind.

“What is the way to develop and practice continuously the method of Full Awareness of Breathing so that the practice will be rewarding and offer great benefit?

“It is like this, bhikkhus: the practitioner goes into the forest or to the foot of a tree, or to any deserted place, sits stably in the lotus position, holding his or her body quite straight, and practices like this:

‘Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.’

1. ‘Breathing in a long breath, I know I am breathing in a long breath. Breathing out a long breath, I know I am breathing out a long breath.

2. ‘Breathing in a short breath, I know I am breathing in a short breath. Breathing out a short breath, I know I am breathing out a short breath.

3. ‘Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body. Breathing out, I am aware of my whole body.’ He or she practices like this.

4. ‘Breathing in, I calm my whole body. Breathing out, I calm my whole body.’ He or she practices like this.

“In what way does one develop and continuously practice the Full Awareness of Breathing, in order to succeed in the practice of the Four Establishments of Mindfulness?

“When the practitioner breathes in or out a long or a short breath, aware of his breath or his whole body, or aware that he is making his whole body calm and at peace, he abides peacefully in the observation of the body in the body, persevering, fully awake, clearly understanding his state, gone beyond all attachment and aversion to this life. These exercises of breathing with Full Awareness belong to the First Establishment of Mindfulness, the body.

from Thich Nhat Hanh’s commentary:

“I wish to say something about the expressions ‘observing the body in the body,’ observing the feelings in the feelings’, and ‘observing the objects of mind in the objects of mind.’ The key to ‘observation meditation’ is that the subject of the observation and the object of the observation not be regarded as two separate things. A scientist might try to separate him or herself from the object he or she is observing and measuring, but students of meditation have to remove the boundary between subject and object. When we observe something, we are that thing. Nonduality is the key word. ‘Observing the body in the body’ means that in the process of observing we do not stand outside of our own body like an independent observer, but we identify with the object being observed.

“This is the only path that can lead us to the penetration and direct experience of reality. In ‘observation meditation,’ the subject and object of meditation are one entity also.

“In order to succeed in the work of observation we must go beyond both attachment and aversion.”

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