I am re-acquainting myself with the concept of mindfulness. It is ancient Buddhist meditative tradition with many interpreters and incredible ramifications which I will discuss in future postings. Its benefits transcend all cultures, all religious and spiritual backgrounds.
At present I am preparing a talk on KABBALAH 101 and am reminded of a particularly compelling breathing meditation introduced by Rabbi Stern in one of my earliest encounters with Kabbalistic thinking. I do not know the original source of this concept but it has arisen in my field of awareness at this time for a reason.
It is simple as all breathing exercises are, but profound. It involves focusing one's awareness-concentration on the simple exchange of the breath, in and out of the nostrils. It does not involve forcing any type of breathing or any particular rate of breathing. But usually when we pay attention to breathing, it slows down.
We sit with the mindful attention to the air coming in the nose, the rising of the 'belly' and the exiting from the nostrils.
While watching this for a few moments in our field of awareness, we begin to visualize God or Ein Sof or The Universe, purposefully directing air into us as we inhale. As we exhale, we 'give ourselves over' to God in an act of relaxation and serenity.
We contemplate the time between breaths as the eternal moment–timeless in its essence. We understand that the Universe exists from moment to moment as an act of continuous creation by a Will greater than our own and we accept this truth.
Then, we once again mindfully thank God for the next breath and continue the process. We experience a feeling of gratitude for the gift of each breath, for the gift of life.
We understand that several Hebrew words for soul contain the concept of breath or wind, ruach, neshamah. We may choose to see the breath as that Divine energy that unites the God who is transcendent in the world with the spark of divinity within, the immanence of God.