Breathe! You Are Alive

Breathe! You Are Alive

Discussion date: Thu, Aug 02, 2007 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Still Water Friends,

How simple and how subtle mindfulness practice is. The core of the practice is to calm our minds and become aware of our breathing. If we do that, as Thich Nhat Hanh says in the lovely quote following this announcement, “we bring body and mind back together, and become whole again.” When our minds and bodies are together, we naturally become more aware of our emotional states. When we are calm and connected to ourselves, we understand how both negative and positive emotions push us this way and that.

And when the emotions calm down, we are able to see deeper into our bodies and psychic lives. Under our emotions are the predispositions which shape so much of what we feel, think, and do. As we gain clarity into our predispositions — including our aspirations, intentions, habitual patterns, deep needs, and unconscious desires — we are able to nourish the ones that are useful to us and bring us joy. And the predispositions we nurture respond by getting stronger.

For me, the subtle part of mindfulness practice is learning that knowing how things work is not enough, we have to practice each day, each moment. It is not easy. A multitude of distractions assail us. Some come from outside — from friends, family, media, jobs, and schools. Many come from the habits, fears, and ideas we were raised with that are now tightly bound into who we think we are.

This Thursday evening, after our mediation period, we will talk about this core of mindfulness practice and share the concrete practices we do to “bring body and mind back together, and become whole again.”

You are invited to be with us. The best times to join us are just before the beginning of our 7 p.m meditation, just before we begin walking meditation (around 7:25), and just after our walking meditation (around 7:35).

Also this Thursday, beginning at 6:30, we will have our first Thursday Orientation to mindfulness practice and to the Still Water community. It is a good way to introduce friends and colleagues to our practice. (It is helpful if you email us at to let us know you will be coming.)

Warm wishes,

Mitchell Ratner
Senior Teacher

Conscious Breathing from Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh

Thereare a number of breathing techniques you can use to make life vivid andmore enjoyable. The first exercise is very simple. As you breathe in,you say to yourself, “Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in.” Andas you breathe out, say, “Breathing out, I know that I am breathingout.” Just that. You recognize your in-breath as an in-breath and yourout-breath as an out-breath. You don’t even need to recite the wholesentence; you can use just two words: “In” and “Out.” This techniquecan help you keep your mind on your breath. As you practice, yourbreath will become peaceful and gentle, and your mind and body willalso become peaceful and gentle. This is not a difficult exercise. Injust a few minutes you can realize the fruit of meditation.

Breathingin and out is very important, and it is enjoyable. Our breathing is thelink between our body and our mind. Sometimes our mind is thinking ofone thing and our body is doing another, and mind and body are notunified. By concentrating on our breathing, “In” and “Out,” we bringbody and mind back together, and become whole again. Consciousbreathing is an important bridge.

To me, breathing is a joy that Icannot miss. Every day, I practice conscious breathing, and in my smallmeditation room, I have calligraphed this sentence: “Breathe, you arealive!” Just breathing and smiling can make us very happy, because whenwe breathe consciously we recover ourselves completely and encounterlife in the present moment.

Discussion Date: Thu, Aug 02, 2007