Dharma Topic: Breathing Mindfully

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Dear Still Water Friends,

Thich Nhat Hanh began the recently concluded Breath of the Buddha retreat by saying:

There are people who say “Thay doesn’t teach much, he only teaches breathing in and breathing out”–  which is true. . . .

In the Pali Canon and also in the Chinese Sutras, it is said several times that mindful breathing can help you be calm, be happy. It can help you transform the suffering within yourself. The practice of mindful breathing can also help you to touch the nature of interbeing, and to help you release, and to touch nirvana.

You only need to practice mindful breathing, that is enough.

In mindful breathing we begin by mindfully observing and becoming one with our breath and our body. Then, as we develop our experience and capacity, we learn to observe and become one with our feelings, our emotions and mental process, and with all the phenomena of this world.

You are invited to join us this Thursday evening for an informal tea at which Scott Schang, Ann Baker, Lynda Martin-McCormick, Juliana Ratner,Andy Laken, I (Mitchell) and others from our area who attended the retreat will share what most touched them.

We hope you can join us this Thursday. If you like, please bring a healthy snack to share during the tea ceremony.

Warm wishes,

Mitchell Ratner
Senior Teacher

The Importance of Mindful Breathing
From a Dharma Talk at Plum Village, June 2, 2006,
The practice of mindful breathing has a very important place in the Buddhist teaching and practice.

I myself have gone through difficult moments: the war, the division of the country, the death of my mother, and the difficulties within theBuddhist community. I was sick. I had a depression. And it is thanks to the practice of mindful breathing that I could overcome all these difficult moments. So I have a very strong conviction in the effectiveness of the practice.

If you have a lot of pain in your body, tension. If you have blocks of pain, and sorrow, and fear, and anger, and despair, you may transform these elements with the practice of mindful breathing. …

In the history of Buddhism, 2500 years, many generations of practitioners have learned to breathe with the Buddha and for the Buddha. The Buddha is there today, breathing with us.

It is my desire, my wish, that as a Sangha we can explore together this treasure of wisdom and experience.

The Sutra on Mindful Breathing is like a seed planted during the time of the Buddha. Today it can help to bring about a lot of flowers andfruits that are the result of this seed.

Together we may develop the teaching and practice so that everyone living in society could profit from this practice of mindful breathing. We can offer the practice to everyone, no matter from what tradition they come from. You can practice mindful breathing in the family circle, in school, in the city hall, in the Congress – everywhere.

And we don’t have to call ourselves a Buddhist in order to do so. It is possible to offer the practice of mindful breathing as a non-sectarian, non-religious practice, so that everyone could profit from this wonderful teaching.

The day I discovered the Sutra on mindful breathing I felt like the happiest person on earth, and I continue to feel that way. This is a very precious sutra.