Thoughts on the Importance of Observing the Breath

The other day, I had someone ask why paying attention to the breath is so important for a good mental state and an integral tool for strength.  This was the general idea of my response.   The breath is an amazing phenomena that we as human beings have been given, to not only provide our cells with the oxygen needed to nourish  our bodies with energy and life, but, it is an excellent example of the essence of faith. The breath is a mechanism that illustrates both the feeling of control ( i.e. Taking a Deep breath), as well as the realization of trust (or faith).   When we do not lay attention to controlling the breath, the brain/body takes over and handles the job without fail (well until the inevitability of impermanence rears its truth).

Similarly in life, we have this illusion of ultimate control, as we lay attention to the acute situations in our life and do our best to manipulate in a manner to gain our desired outcome.  Sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  Yet, in the long term, we ultimately experience the truth, which is this perceived control is truly an illusion. Eventually this reality becomes apparent, even if momentary, at some point in life (some sooner, some later) and as we relinquish this illusion of control, we realize the truth behind faith, for that which many call God.

Just as our respiration is regulated without need of our control or interference, faith allows that which was meant to be, come to be. Sometimes the outcome is congruent with the illustration one has in mind, sometimes not….but either way using control or using faith, the outcome ultimately is the same (long term).   Yes, certainly as we attempt to control our outcomes, our destiny, there are small battles that are successful, usually at the expense of enormous amounts of energy and resources.  Yet faith allows for a conservation of energy as well as the opportunity to realize that just as I sit here and write and my breath goes in and out without effort, so too will life with a true understanding of faith.

So are we the master of our own destiny?   Well, I would suppose so, for we are the master of our reactive nature.  Yet often our view of what we desire our destiny to be, and what it ultimately is, are very skewed.   The only real truth we know of is, we are born, the current moment, and that we will eventually move on from this life.   It is truly amazing once one begins living this truth, how everything you need manifests itself.  (caveat…what you need isn’t always what you want….Que Mama Odie from Disney’s Princess and the Frog singing “Dig A Little Deeper”).

So, if you need a boost, some strength, not only trust in faith, experience faith.  Close your eyes and just observe your natural respiration, just as it is.  No control, no interference, just observe.  It is this place that you experience the truth behind faith.  The truth behind God.  Here, you will find the strength you seek. For just as breathing without thought or effort is a miracle of faith…so is the river of life.  For, no matter how much control we think we might have, the river will continue to flow whether we fight its current or have faith and meander down, accepting what it brings with love and a smile.  May you all find peace and strength in your faith my friends and may you all experience the happiness and love we were all meant to live.

A Battle for Peace

***The following audio clip is a complete reading of “A Battle for Peace”.  This is something new I am trying, to offer an alternative to reading, please comment and let me know what you think.***

The other day I had a Facebook interaction with an old friend, concerning a conspiracy theory being pushed around the internet waves.  There are so many battles being waged between mankind. Conservative v/s Liberal, Black v/s White, gun control v/s no gun control, Radical v/s the world, privileged v/s non-privileged, parent v/s kid, good v/s evil. There really is no end to the list, it is a world in Chaos.  As we went back and forth, the most intense battle that was occurring, was the struggle inside of me and the thoughts that rushed through my mind (meditation is good). dscf0137At that point it occurred to me that there is only one true battle that can be won, that can offer long-term peace. That is the internal battle for peace, peace of mind.

The human animal is a funny breed.  We are a creature of habit, we tend to fight the same battles, chase the same desires, deflect the same fears, ( all similar at their root), yet we continue to fight them …over… and over again.  It is a cycle that has existed since we joined the world community.  With this understanding, during this moment of clarity, I realized that to fight the external is a lesson in long-term futility, it was unbelievably liberating.  Mankind has fought many battles over our existence here on Earth, and of course history illustrates the pinnacle of battle in the form of war.  Yet based on our habitual nature, they are all very small, insignificant victories.  As has been observed in our very short span of time on this planet, particularly, the 10000 or so years of “civilization” (1 millionth of a blink of an eye in universal time) so many wars have been waged, so many civilizations have grown and fallen, and the cycle happens again and again.  Do we experience varied times of “peace” on the planet as a result?  Somewhat I suppose, but as observed, the cycle, the battle, will soon start again.

dsc_0516I thought to myself, why? Why do we not learn from our mistakes, why do we not recognize this habit, or better stated, why can we not seem to break the cycle?  At that point, the experiences I’ve had with observing my own microcosm within, through self observation between my internal self and interaction with external catalyst, offered a clarity I had only experienced in the depths of meditation.  I realized that the reason the cycle cannot be broken, is that we externalize our problems.  We look for the external source of our issues, and find ways to battle those issues, in an effort to find some sort of peace (Whether it be peace amongst a people, the peace in the security one finds through power, the peace one finds through wealth and prosperity), regardless, it is not a lasting peace.  No matter the outcome of those benefiting from “winning” the battle, “winning” the war, it will never offer long-term peace, and eventually the cycle will happen once again.

Once I was able to get my arms around this thought, I must tell you, it was as if a giant rock had fallen off my shoulders.  Even with the wisdom and practice I have cultivated in this lifetime, I still externalize many of the agitations that go on in my life. Considering the advent of technology and access to information and interaction with so many external forces, it’s a daunting task not to.dsc_0872  So, with the understanding that, there is really very little that I can do (externally) to keep the cycle from happening again, it was as if I let go of all the ambitions I had for making the world a better place.  I let go of the “battle” I was having with the chaos in this world.  I let go of all the expectations I had for our kind to do “better”!  The external “small battles” I had “won” in the past that offered a glimmer of hope, a moment of achievement, a feeling of “peace”, they were all short-term victories that offered the illusion of accomplishment and the incentive to keep up the fight. Yet with this new understanding,  I was able to let go of the fight!  (Sounds so anti-climactic…but give me a minute).

You see, to externalize an issue, to find fault and definition to the chaos in the world, to the chaos in your life, is a futile battle.  As long as I, as we, externalize the issues, the issues will happen over and over again.  It is our nature, and it has very deep roots.  We may find small moments of peace, but they cannot last, as long as we have external expectations, look to external sources for cause.   For,there is only one true battle, at least one true battle that can be won, that can offer long-term peace, it is the internal battle within oneself.dsc_0884  The battle to find inner peace amongst the chaos, the battle to take personal responsibility for your agitation, the battle to recognize that you are a creature of habit, and only you can overcome the habits that cause the agitation within, the reaction to the external forces, for it is this habit of reaction that is the source of your agitation, not the external force.  Let go of all those external expectations, those perceived external issues. This is the only true path to finding peace within and ultimately the only true path towards world peace.

Does this mean give up on your cause?  Of course not, just give up on the external battle.  Your cause does not need to be a battle, it should be a way of living.  Yet if you feel agitation, remember, the battle is within.  I do hope for lasting world peace one day, but there is only one place that can ever be achieved…..from within.

dsc_0430May you find the wisdom within to let go of all your fears.  May you find the light within and share it with all that cross your path. And…May you find the truth within to guide you towards true peace, true happiness and may you offer this gift to the world.

I offer you all the greatest gift I can give…..and that is LOVE.

Cleanse the Body..Cleanse the Mind


I’ve been reminded the last 7 days of just how significant it is to be conscious of how major a role the mind plays in our life. I have been engaged in a cleansing fast ( The Master Cleanser  ) during this time. I have done the fast previously, in an attempt to alleviate symptoms of Crohn’s Disease (20 years’ symptom free). The fast is composed of a lemonade, with limes/lemons, pure maple syrup, cayenne, and water, along with some natural cleansing agents.image This is all that is consumed for a minimum of 10 days. You go through various stages of discomfort, and through my experiences of the past doing this, they can vary.  *** I do not consider this a diet or do it for weight loss.  I choose to do this fast, as a reset button for my body, offering my machine the opportunity to work its magic***

During this experience, I went through long-lasting body aches and about 4 days of sleeplessness, no doubt due to the abuse of caffeine over the last 9 or so years since the last time I engaged with the fast.  As these subsided, on came nausea and massive headaches. Now, at this point, after 7 days, I have some lethargy from lack of sleep, but mostly it’s a vary of discomfort, but at a much less acute nature as the first 5 to 6 days.

tortureThis all sounds like torture, I am sure, as folks in my circle that know what I am doing, have expressed.  Yet, it is a good reminder, to me, how important it is to be wary of the mind and its power over our daily lives.  For those that know me, I have practiced meditation for some time.  I have come to understand that meditation is a tool, for the taming of the mind. If developed properly, it can be used to help tame one’s life.  For the mind, is that which we define as “I”, that looks at this fast as a “torture”!  During this time, I have been able to overcome, fairly peacefully, the challenges I have encountered.  The training I have done over these many years, afforded me the ability to not give importance to these feelings, yet to control the trained desire to react.  This has not been the case in the past.    I came to observe that it really is as simple as how I choose to react to these feelings of discomfort.  Our mind is trained to react in fear, to react in desperation, to react in a desire for sympathy, this is the nature of the mind at this point in time.  Ultimately, through all of this drama, at the root of the mind is our true self, that has the ability to alter this habit of reaction.  Throughout this entire time, I have been able to recognize that former pattern of reaction as it surfaces, let it go, and smile as I go through the varied discomforts.

Luci 1082It has been such a liberating experience.  The statement, mind over matter is a valid statement, but maybe not always in the manner it is understood.  It is the mind that defines the matter, yet it is our history of the mind reacting that is in the current state of control, or lack thereof for that matter.  Ultimately, it is at the root of the mind that one is able to redefine how to meander through life.  Meditation is a tool that allows you to get back to this root.

Be Happy…Have Faith….words that have been spoken for millennium, these are the expression at the root of the mind.  For, it is Faith that creates the proper atmosphere needed to tame the fickle mind, whose desire is to attach itself to every feeling, every thought, every action, and is the catalyst for letting go of these things.    It is a Happy state of mind that allows one to redefine the reaction of feeling upon doing so, to Be be at peace, amongst any stimulus, any experience. Once I truly let go, once I truly eradicate this root, this habit of reaction, I have a clean slate, a new seed, and therefore I have to opportunity to find true happiness, which is the happiness at the source, the ultimate choice to “BE dsc_0430HAPPY”.   Create a new habit at the source, to BE HAPPY, to BE PEACEFUL and it allows one to truly understand the nature of compassion with its objective beauty.   So, start letting go of the I, experience how it is the “me” which defines “you” by attaching itself to all of these feelings, thoughts and actions.  For this is the culprit that is the current commander of your mind, the current define of those habits, the current dictator of your life.  Let go of that “I” and smile….and BE HAPPY!!!!


The Path

The Path

Sit in Silence

Chaos Blooms

 Conscious Truth

The Past Exhumed

meditation stones

Intense Sensation

Thoughts Cascade


Soon to Fade

meditation stones

Objective Mind


Observe the Truth

Break the Bond

meditation stones


Attached to All

Habit Patterns

Bound to Fall

meditation stones

In the End

Love will Reign

True Selflessness

The Goal Attained


Letting Go!… It Sounds Easy Enough….Right?

dandilion The other day, while giving a little instruction to a meditation student of mine…well she also happens to be my wife,  a way of illustrating one of the goals in meditation, came about.   I was attempting to describe the process of letting go.  Letting go of what, you ask?  Well, I continued on, that during meditation, we attempt to keep our mind focused on something observable, moment to moment.  In this case, it is the breath, the natural breath going in and out of the nose, you know, respiration.  So, while doing this exercise, this meditation, the mind will wander.  It will follow the various thoughts and sensory experiences that it deems important.  As this wandering occurs, it is our job to recognize this, as objectively (with a smile and a no big deal) as possible and then re-focus our attention back on the breath.   It sounds easy enough, right?  Well, I encourage all human beings to start their practice with very low (actually with none) expectations.

little girl holding balloonsSo, here is where the descriptive came along.  I told her that these thoughts and sensory stimulation are very much like balloons.  They are only as strong as the importance we give to them.  So picture those everyday thoughts going through your mind.  Imagine, each of the thoughts as a balloon.  Now picture each balloon (helium filled) that you give importance to, becomes attached to your body.  Now imagine those balloons pulling you in every direction, the stress, the tension!!!!

baloonsOk,  picture yourself, during meditation, as a thought comes up, you follow it (give it importance) and immediately this balloon is pulling you.  At first, you may not even recognize you have followed that thought.  Several minutes, heck, hours might pass and the awareness of following that thought may not be realized.  Yet,  at that moment you do recognize your mind has gone elsewhere,  anywhere but focused on your breath, and the moment of clarity arises and you observe that thought, smile and then let it go.  Let go of that balloon!  Let go of that tension!  Let go of that stress.  Just let it go, off into the air, off into the universe.  No longer attached, no longer holding onto it, just letting it go.  Then as it floats away, you focus your attention back on the breath.  The return of what is now, what is present, what is the moment.  How liberating!

Balloon in handWill that thought come up again?  Yes.  Will your mind follow it….give it importance.  Well, most likely.  But now you have started training that fickle mind of yours, that these thoughts…these sensory experiences are very much like balloons!  Most of these thoughts and experiences are a part of a large grouping of balloons!  So you let go, one at a time and bring that focus back to the breath, back to the moment!  The tension is still there, but you give it just a little less importance (by letting go of that observed balloon), and ultimately working to lighten the load, as you continue retraining this needy mind of yours.

Eventually you will find that it isn’t the balloon that is causing the tension, it isn’t the thought or the sensory experience that is causing the stress.  It is the importance you give to that thought, that experience, that is the source of your stress.  You choose to give it importance, by holding onto it.Stones

As you practice, you experience letting go of the balloons and awareness of the mind wandering, becomes more natural.  You will slowly notice a change in the habit pattern of the mind.  A transformation from the old habit of holding on, to a new liberating habit of letting go.  Letting go of those typical daily tensions.  Letting go of those self-inflicted stresses.  Ultimately, taking responsiblity for the misery in your life and eventually finding true peace….true happiness, in all things…in all experiences.  For now you have experienced the true nature of letting go of attachment.  An enlightening experience for all !!!