In meditation, most of us are taught to focus on the breath. I have done this myself for a very long time now, but this morning had somewhat of an epiphany.
Without the breath, there is no you. Think about it, if I am not breathing, I’m dead.
Now let’s think about if that breath is permanent. Each breath comes and each breath goes. Nothing we can do to control it or make it permanent. Now notice how each breath is unique. Some are shallow, some a sudden gasp for more, some are almost silent. At times, I think I have forgotten to breathe. But they are just so subtle that they can be missed if not carefully observed.
Watching the breath, I observed how thoughts that arise would shift focus off of my breathing and then physicality would become observed. A tightening in the chest, a pain in my shoulder, a clenching of my hands or feet.
Upon realization of these physical feelings, I return to my breath. And seeing that without this breath there is no physical sensation, I become grateful for this body and this breath.
So what I am, other than this breath? When the breath no longer exists, the David no longer exists.
Struggling to control or attach to this breath is only an exercise in futility. The “I” is only a concept, as it is only an illusion of existence in that very moment of a breath. The breath comes and goes, with no attachment. And the idea of self is all within that breath.
I see that this is not a physical experience and it is not a mental one.
And I believe that by paying closer attention to the simplicity and purity of the breath, one can see past the conceptual and ultimately touch on Nibbana.
Let go of the last breath, do not grasp for the next. Merely witness all that is within this breath.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.