When we are grounded in awareness of breathing, we’re establishing a base for a single-pointed concentration that is, itself, meditation. Mindful concentration frees us from playing out mere concepts about our life, so we can live life fully as it is here and now. We’re also reminded that machines multitask well, but people don’t.
We read while we eat (double the consumption). But each act involves separate bodily systems. Jammed together, neither reading nor eating gets done efficiently. Even if we’re only eating, we rarely chew a single mouthful. Instead we’re forking in the next bite before we’ve even swallowed the first. One-pointed concentration means that if we’re eating an orange, we do so one slice at a time. Communing with the whole universe in the orange, slice by slice.
So why not treat our breathing (and everything else) the same way?
Concentration, in and of itself, can awaken us. Given prolonged attention to breath, a shift in our psychic base can occur. Everything’s no longer all about me: my likes, my dislikes, my possessions, my résumé. We can leave that stark, simplistic, abstract, fantasy realm, always dominated by our desires—and aversions, which are only the flipside of the same self-absorption—to discover reality, rich in nuance, subtlety, texture, ever-changing like music.
This shift in awareness can be a gradual awakening, over time, but you might mark how it can happen spontaneously in the space of just a smile…a pause…a breath. And the more we enjoy this fundamental shift of attention, the more readily we might choose it.
Excerpted from PAUSE, BREATHE, SMILE: Awakening Mindfulness When Meditation Is Not Enough, by Gary Gach. Sounds True, September 2018. Reprinted with permission.