What is your relationship to your breath? Something to contemplate…. on the yoga mat, on the meditation cushion, on the subway or in line at the grocery store.
To think of your breath as the Beloved – how would you treat your Beloved? Would you restrict or obstruct it? Would you push it? Would you let it become ragged? Would you indulge one part of it but not another?
Or would you surrender to and enjoy each breath in all its fullness. With gentleness. With trust. With love.
“In Chan [Chinese Zen], you fall in love with the breath. …
You think about the breath while you’re sitting, eating, and walking. After you finish your work, you think about the breath. The breath comes to your mind. You want to get close to the breath. There is a tenderness, sweetness, and intimacy that you want to share with the breath. You want to give your time to the breath; you want to give your whole self to the breath. You want to take care of the breath.
The breath, being your most loyal and loved one, will not desert you. It will not stop searching or looking for you when you are lost. It will find you; all you need to do is just be still.
When you cannot find the breath, you don’t get angry, in the same way that when you cannot find the person you love, you don’t get angry; you just keep thinking: Where is she? Similarly the breath, being your most loyal and loved one, will not desert you. It will not stop searching or looking for you when you are lost. It will find you; all you need to do is just be still, and it will come to you by your side.
Give yourself to the breath as if you are giving to the person you love. Give it your life. Your everything. Have this kind of intimacy, longing, and fondness for the breath. Forgive the breath when it becomes short and rough. Do not rise up in anger against it. Accept the breath as it is. Love and accept it.
Falling in love gives you energy. It is the same when you fall in love with your breath. You think about the breath when you wake up. You are enthusiastic. You have energy.
Falling in love with your breath is called the meditation of love. People sometimes think that in Buddhism love is something that is frowned upon and relationships are no good. This is because relationships necessarily involve attachment and grasping, and Buddhism often teaches us to detach.
Chan teaches us to love with no attachment. To care without imposing. To love in the way we love the breath.”
~ Chan Master Guo Jun, from “Essential Chan Buddhism: The Character and Spirit of Chinese Zen”