Take home points
essentials of mindfulness with breathing
Near the end of a delightful retreat outside Santa Fe, NM (June 2010), I summarized the anapanasati teaching into 7 essentials. If the full, systematic teaching is beyond what one can manage in daily practice, these 7 key pieces will be enough for you to prosper:
- Adequate preparation: Take a little time to get body, attitude, & inspiration ready.
- There is more to breathing than "getting concentrated": An unfortunate ignorance of the Buddha's wonderful teaching seizes on just one piece and takes it out of context. To get the full benefit of the Buddha's teaching explore the many other vital dimensions of breathing. (See this article for more.)
- Pretty good samadhi is accessible to all: Everyone can settle down and cultivate "pretty good samadhi." Even better is "good enough samadhi" (when the hindrances no longer pester). Explore these attainable reaches of samadhi.
- Explore options for investigation of dhammas: Pleasant vedana and states of mind are usually available. One can check them out to some degree, even if not yet able to tackle the full approach to the 2nd & 3rd applications of mindfulness (satipatthana).
- Visit imperamence before its too late: Even if you don't think you're ready, you never know, so check out inconstancy, transcience, impermanence in the breathing and anywhere else one might choose to look.
- A little metta-karuna before you finish: Good way to conclude and then begin transition to the rest of the world.
- Review what has passed during the practice session: What did you notice? How does this relate to the Buddha's outline & relevant teachings? What was wholesome and what unwholesome?
Nothing to be, nothing to become, nothing to obtain: Freedom.