In Advice to Rahula (Middle Length Discourses 62), the Buddha advises his still young son to ground himself in basic realities of embodied life before settling in with breathing. Whether the breathing or something else is the primary locus of mindful presence, being well grounded in primary physical realities allows us to settle, be non-reactive, and cultivate insight into the flow of selfless experience. Buddha uses the dhatus (basic experiential properties of our physical existence) as a framework for grounding ourselves, investigating the flow of experience, and making our minds imperturbable. In this advice to his son, who was a young man (novice monk) at the time, Buddha points us to an appropriate response to whenever young, restless energy, impatience, distraction, and similar stuff are unsettling meditation. Whatever our age, we can learn from this advice if we take it to heart, explore it, and cultivate familiarity — as a sutta phrase puts it, “cultivate and make much of.” That has “great fruit and great benefit.”
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