This morning Thay Kozen taught us two breath exercises. One is called the Power Breath.
One long inhale – one long exhale – one long inhale – one fast, powerful exhalation with a shout.
This was during an early morning meditation session, and with my mind still being a bit foggy, I found this very energizing.
Then we learned about throat singing. We started with what felt like a gurgling exhale. Then we gave a bit of sound do it. It wasn’t exactly the Gyuto Tantric Choir quality sound, but it was a very different feeling.
Thay explained that the breath has great power and is used in martial arts.
I was reminded of doing fire breaths in yoga class. Those are done in the yoga boat pose and is a deep inhalation followed by a series of forceful exhalations. I remember this as a great way to warm up the body.
During our check-in we shared how we all use our breath throughout the day. Everyone had some story. Breath is a foundational part of mediation, single-pointed concentration meditation specifically. I shared that throughout the day, when I feel preoccupied, I will notice that my breath is so shallow it’s seemingly non-existent. I then remember to breathe deeply, and whatever weight was preoccupying me fades a bit. That sounds a little like a cessation of suffering, the one and only thing Shakyamuni Buddha taught.
And the next morning, Thay made the point that all dharanis, mantras, chants all are the same, at which point he chanted, “Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.” Let us not indulge in Zen Stink. (Buddhist exceptionalism)
Note: The featured image for this post was taken at Plum Village in Thailand on April 25, 2018.