embodied practice: aum + amen | wisdom of the exhale

Early in my asana practice, I encountered difficulty with taking the oft-instructed “deep inhale.” It felt forced and counterintuitive to my body’s wisdom and capacity to draw air into my lungs. What resonated more with me was to develop an intimate understanding of my breath (rather than changing or controlling it through pranayama, specific yoga breathing exercises) as I’d learned through my Buddhist practice of mindfulness. 

Spending quiet time witnessing my breath, I came to understand how it moved through my body and how my body, heart and mind responded to the movement of each breath. I experienced the multidimensional aspects of breath: the nurturing, energizing, and replenishing qualities of my inhale; the centering, soothing and relaxing qualities of my exhale; and, in the nearly imperceptible pause between the inhale and exhale, where breath organically and effortlessly transforms, I discovered the sensations of steadiness, equanimity, and surrender.

The more I relaxed into the rhythm and flow of breath, the more I came to cherish the cleansing, clearing power of the exhale. It, in fact, created space for my inhale to arise completely without restraint. A deep sense of ease prevailed, bringing with it the wisdom of the exhale–to soften all forms of gripping (muscles to bones, ideas, feelings, thoughts) and to release whatever did not serve me in the moment.

Embodied Practice: Touching the Wisdom of the Exhale by Chanting Aum or Amen

Sit with the breath,
Noticing the exhale arising from the pit of the pelvis.
Invite its embodied wisdom to permeate every cell and fiber—
It is the vehicle through which we release 
the toxins/waste products of oxygen,
So too let all tension/toxins of body, heart and mind be released
Upward and outward with the cleansing,
clearing flow of the exhale.

Hear and feel the exhale take shape
as the seed sound Aum or Amen.

Chant it out loud three times, enjoying the pause in between and the sweet sensation of its release.
Abide calmly in the deep and expansive wave of relief.

Related

Here are a few resources on the Buddhist discourses on the Mindfulness of Breathing (Ānāpānasati Sutta) and the Foundations of Mindfulness (Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta).

 Bhante G

Gil Fronsdal

embodied practice: the healing power of community

The energy of a community of mindfulness can help us embrace and release suffering that we could not reach by ourselves…

father's day practice.13a

If we open our hearts, the collective energy of the community can penetrate the suffering inside us.

~Thich Nhat Hanh, The Art of Communicating

embodied practice: a perspective on “engaged” buddhism

It is hard to define engaged Buddhism.
But I think it has to do with a willingness to see how deeply people suffer; to understand how we have fashioned whole systems of suffering out of gender, race, caste, class, ability, and so on; and to know that interdependently and individually we co-create this suffering…
Some days, I call this engaged Buddhism; on other days I think it is just plain Buddhism — walking the Bodhisattva path, embracing the suffering of beings by taking responsibility for them.

—Hozan Alan Senauke in Upaya’s Newsletter (11 March 2014)

embodied practice: reclaiming the spirit of wonder

Recall the religion you practiced as a child. Not the religion you were tutored in,
but the religion before religion, when the vast Heaven and wondrous Earth were truly one…
Can you remember what it was like to walk in the midst of a world of miracles?
Can you remember ever traveling within a world of pure delight with a joy untainted by craving or aversion?

~Frank Jude Boccio, Mindfulness Yoga

on mindful consumption: magic of deep listening + skillful speech

essential food

nothing can survive without food.

everything we consume acts to either heal us or to poison us.

we tend to think of nourishment only as what we take in through our mouths, but what we consume with our eyes, our ears, our noses, our tongues, and our bodies is also food. the conversations going on around us, and those we participate in, are also food.

are we consuming and creating the kind of food that is healthy for us and helps us grow?

when we say something that nourishes us and uplifts the people around us, we are feeding love and compassion.

when we speak and act in a way that causes tension and anger, we are nourishing violence and suffering.

…nourishing and healing communication is the food of our relationships.

~ Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh
The Art of Communicating

heart, sweetened with intention

toward which direction is your heart stretching?
know that this organic force, opening and guiding your heart, is the seed of intention

what are you breathing life into?
know fully that the breath is the fuel growing into aspirations.

heart-sweetened-with-intention connect with and align your thoughts, words and deeds with the seeds of intention blossoming in your heart.

nourish and energize your hopes and visions with the compassionate wisdom of breath.

each inhale grants space for each blossom to stretch out and unfold.

each exhale invites those roots to merge with every fiber of your being.

with such loving awareness, tend to your heart.

bathe it in the sweet, steady flow of breath.

as the petals of intention bloom, they will stretch open your hands, heart and mind.

every breath, thought, word and deed becomes a flower,
saturated with the fragrance of clear intention.

your aspirations — a beautiful thousand-petaled lotus.

new year, new name, new site

dharma yoga arts

will now be known as

3 Jewels Yoga

ALL NEW POSTS WILL APPEAR ON THE NEW SITE + THIS WILL REMAIN AN ARCHIVE.

PLEASE FOLLOW 3 JEWELS FOR THE LATEST MUSINGS ABOUT MOVEMENT + MINDFULNESS + MEDITATION!

I offer my deepest gratitude to all who have supported +
followed my journey as dharma yoga arts over the years.