the heart of the present moment..

Today a quick clean of the studio revealed a much loved text by Thich Nhat Hanh [Thay], whose teachings have inspired and moved me now for some years.  I never tire of his words, and they bring great joy and peace to my world.  

From Thay's book The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching, a simple but profound meditation using the breath that takes one to the heart of the present moment.  This is my favourite of Thay's many wonderful gathas. I use this meditation to begin every day and regularly return to it throughout. I have no hesitation in saying this gatha has enriched my life...

"In, out
Deep, slow
Calm, ease
Smile, release
Present moment, wonderful moment"

 to demonstrate how this gatha works with the breath:

"In [in breath], out [breathe out]
Deep [in breath], slow [breathe out]
Calm [in breath], ease [breathe out]
Smile [in breath], release [breathe out]
Present moment [in breath], wonderful moment" [breathe out]

from the above mentioned text: "The fourth element of our body is air. The best way to experience the air element is the practice of mindful breathing. "Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out." After saying these sentences we can abbreviate them by saying "In" as we breath in and "Out" as we breath out. We don't try to control our breathing. Whether our in-breath is long or short, deep or shallow, we just breath naturally and shine the light of mindfulness on it. When we do this we notice that, in fact, our breathing does become slower and deeper naturally. "Breathing in, my in-breath has become deep. Breathing out, my out-breath has become slow." Now we can practice, "Deep/slow". We don't have to make an extra effort. It just becomes deeper and slower by itself, and we recognize that.

"Later on, you will notice that you have become calmer and more at ease. "Breathing in, I feel calm. Breathing out, I feel at ease." I am not struggling anymore. Calm/ease." And then, "Breathing in, I smile. Breathing out, I release all my worries and anxieties. Smile/release." We are able to smile to ourselves and release all our worries. There are more than three hundred muscles in our face, and when we know how to breath in and smile, these muscles can relax. This is "mouth yoga." We smile and are able to release all our feelings and emotions. The last practice is, "Breathing in, I dwell deeply in the present moment. Breathing out, I know this is a wonderful moment. Present moment/wonderful moment." Nothing is more precious than being in the present moment fully alive and aware.

read the transcript of a beautiful Dharma talk by Thay