Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Moment to Moment, Breath to Breath

Often when I am giving meditation instructions, I invoke the phrase, "moment to moment, and breath to breath." Vipassana meditation practice is like that: just this moment; just this breath.

Our life is like that, as well. We may perceive it all as a span of time - minutes, hours, days, years - but our life is actually comprised of this moment, and then this moment, and this one, and on and on. Understanding this through the direct, physical experience of feeling the breath in our meditation practice can help us see it more clearly.

When we are attuned to the moment-by-moment quality of life, we might be less inclined to become overwhelmed by tasks or projects, especially the big ones. They will only be accomplished one moment at a time, not as a whole piece. It stands to reason, therefore, that if we begin a large, and seemingly insurmountable task by stopping for a moment to just feel ourselves breathe, we might be able to move into that task with a bit more ease.

The Moment, by Margaret Atwood:
The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can't breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.

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