I have been given the opportunity to develop a meditation that will be presented on a global basis in honor of Gandhi’s birthday at the end of August. I will be ‘trying out’ some thoughts on this blog.
Most meditations begin with a reference to breathing. They may center on observing the breath, the in and out flow of air. Some will emphasize the observation of thoughts and feelings, the letting go and returning to an awareness of the breath. Other meditations will be contemplations on a topic: compassion, forgiveness, gratitude.
I observe that there are two distinct, almost paradoxical aspects of breathing–the voluntary and the involuntary. We will all breathe whether we are aware of it or not. Otherwise no one would have survived one night of sleep. Also, we cannot hold our breathe indefinitely–we will grab an inhalation before we pass out.
But there is clearly the voluntary aspect of breathing–we can choose to breathe slowly and rhythmically or quickly. We can decide to breathe deeply or shallowly. So, these two aspects of breathing are paradoxical yet complementary.
The metaphysical metaphor is this–our entire lives are balanced between the paradox of chance and choice. We didn’t consciously will ourselves into being and it is unlikely that most of us will decide precisely when to die. In between is a life filled with suffering and joy–occurrences and situations, experiences which will test our abilities to the extreme.
As we breathe, become aware that we exist from breath to breath–that we are continually being re-created. Our lives are that precarious. We breath in the awareness that our lives are imperfect, that the world presents us with pain and grief at times. Be aware, however, that we can help in some small measure, heal the suffering.
As we breathe, realize that this is not punishment but opportunity. Helping ourselves overcome suffering requires that we breathe for others. In the process of healing others, we heal ourselves and the world.
Realize that each breathe brings the potential for transformation and change. Become aware that we are offered an opportunity to turn the next moment into a creation of beauty, of joy or of emptiness and despair.
As we breathe, relax into the awareness that we do not have total control over what will happen to us, our loved-ones, the world. We are a part of a greater whole. Our contribution to it is essential, yet limited. We can only do the best we can from breath to breath. We need to let go of our insistence that we can control our lives totally. On the other hand, we need to be aware that we need to be present to affect change.
So as we breath in and out, observe a feeling of joy well up from within us
It is a feeling of joining the multitude of other beings, of participating both passively and actively in the life of the universe.