Breath- Spirit – Peace

Meditation techniques train various mental qualities. We can use the qualities for many purposes. Spiritual traditions emphasize that the most important purpose for meditation is spiritual practice, and the development of qualities such as love or peace. The following meditation begins as a relaxing breathing exercise and then flows from that to an experience of a peaceful presence.

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For further discussion of the technique —

One way of thinking about Spirit is that it is presence that has no form. We live in a world of form. Since Spirit is formless it has no objective reality. That means it can’t be localized and measured in any manner, so it is not subject to any scientific test. So, in an objective manner Spirit is not real. However, Spirit does have an influence on our experience and behavior. Since the changes in our behavior have objective reality this means that Spirit has a real influence. Some traditions call this “causal efficacy”. For example, if someone’s experience of Spirit helps him avoid using drugs, that is a very real effect, even if that presence has no form than anyone else can observe.

Some might argue that the effects that Spirit has on one’s experience and behavior are caused by changes in brain neurochemistry. However, this is mistaking the mechanism which evokes the effects for the cause of the effects. Imagine a modern automobile. When the driver moves the controls, those movements get measured by a computer which then sends instructions to the engine, wheels, etc to move the car. So in a way, the car’s behavior is caused by changes in the computer as it transmits the instructions. But the computer is not the driver.

Since Spirit has no form, we have to let go of trying to make any particular form arise or trying to keep any particular form around. The way we know  we are connecting with Spirit in meditation is by the effects on our behavior. Both Buddhist and Christian traditions are quite clear on this. The experience we have while meditating is not nearly as important as our behavior when we are not meditating.

In this meditation we are connecting with a specific quality of Spirit, that of peace. We connect to the peaceful qualities of the breath allowing the rhythm of the breath to lead our attention inward. As we experience the way we create a space for the breath in order to inhale we experience our mind as creating a space for a peaceful presence. That peaceful presence arises in that space and fills it. Then it flows outward through and around us.

Once we are experiencing that rhythm we simply rest with it. If the mind wanders we can use the thought “Peace” or even say the word “Peace” once or twice to reorient. Or if our mind has drifted too much then we focus our attention again on the rhythm of the breath and then go back to the presence of peace.

The method is also described in Chapter 10 of Real Meditation in Minutes a  Day.

This method is similar to the Christian practice of Centering Prayer, which is described in the book Intimacy with God by Thomas Keating.

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