In less than a minute you can complete a single breath meditation session. Start to finish, it will take you about 30 seconds.
There are as many instants of now in a minute as there are in an hour. The now is infinite no matter how long you linger there. Sometimes, when we sit to meditate for 20 minutes or longer, big segments of that time slot lose their immediacy. We drift into default thinking and ride the shallow turbulence of our mental activity. We miss the depth of the moment completely.
By narrowing the time of your meditation session to one breath, you send a message to your consciousness. "This is your only chance. Pay attention now or you'll miss it!" In the beginning, you may be amazed at how much your mind can wander even in the space of one breath. Don't worry about that. It's natural.
How can one breath provide any kind of practice at all? For now, we want to go short and deep rather than long and shallow. We want to be awake and aware for the simple matter of seconds it takes to complete one single cycle of breathing. When you think about it, it seems manageable. You may feel a surge of confidence. "This is something I might actually be able to do!" When you realize that each breath holds the hologram for all your breathing, you may begin to honor the power of one pure breath. When you sense that each now is nested within all nows, you realize that an instant of pure consciousness will take you further than a marathon of habit driven practice.
Who is Breathing?
In preparation for your brief session of meditation, consider this question: Who is breathing? Then release the question completely into the nonverbal realm. Accept no answers that come in words. Let this question hover in the silence of your one breath.
Let your one, single, on-stage, in-the-spotlight breath be completely natural. Let it move at its own pace and achieve only the depth it seeks on its own. Don't force. Don't push. Don't direct it. Simply follow it. It is the only breath you will be attending to in this way so give it all your attention. There's not enough time to get bored. This is as easy as it gets.
When you are ready to begin, close your eyes. Once you have completed one cycle of in and out (or out and in), open your eyes. You're done.
Using the opening and closing of your eyes to punctuate your session accomplishes two things. It funnels your attention inward as your eyes close for your very brief chance at sensing this unique breath which will never occur again in all of creation. It also makes distinct your session. It tells your conscious mind that you have started something and you have completed it.
Distortions in our thinking create physical and emotional pain. This single breath meditation is so simple and unintimidating that it does not create anxiety or inspire much resistance. It does, however, begin the unraveling of deep patterns of distortion. In a soft and gentle way, it loosens the ties that hold resistant thought-forms in place. It creates little regions of space in your consciousness each time you do it. In this way it begins to undo those templates that keep replicating your challenges. It introduces tiny hints of freedom into physical and emotional areas of constriction. Ultimately, this subtle sense of liberation filters down to your relationships, your health, your work, and more. It brings space, light, and openness. It gives you some room to be yourself.
These single breaths become like cookies. They taste sweet, and once you have one you want another. They are small and individual and you can have one as a treat or you can sit down with the whole box and meditate for an hour.
Copyright (c) 2006 Rebbie Straubing