Saturday, 24 June 2017


124. One effective way to quieten and concentrate the heart-mind that is often recommended when we start the practice of meditation is called 'counting the breath'. No doubt many of us are familiar with this practice but, to refresh our minds, here is a brief description. Focusing on our breath, we are instructed to breathe in to the count of 'one', breathe out to the count of 'two', and so on up to 'ten'. At which point we return to 'one' and repeat the cycle. There are a number of variations on this practice which we needn't go into here other than to note that when we become proficient at this counting, when we can go from 'one' to 'ten' without losing our place, we can drop the counting and start practising what is called 'following the breath'. Yet even here, with this level of concentration, we will find that 'thought after thought arises in the hear-mind', though now with a subtle difference. For the practice of counting and following the breath enables us more easily to disengage from the stream of thoughts. With this disengagement we find that we tend to get less and less caught up in these thoughts, images, hopes, fears, fantasies, plans, etc., etc. We find that we can more easily watch the thoughts come and go, and not identify with them. Focus on the breath acts as our anchor against our tendency to drift away on the ever flowing stream of thoughts. Moreover, in counting and focusing on the breath we forget about seeking after the Way of Ordinary Mind. Thus we might suddenly find ourselves at home in our ordinary mind, and free of expectations of attaining to something extraordinary. 

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