Enjoy this excerpt from Quieting the Monkey Mind: How to Meditate with Music. We can live without food and water for days or even weeks, but we cannot live without breath for more than a few minutes. Consider the importance of this for a moment as we honor the value and preciousness of the very air we breathe. The ancient yogis of India called it prana or Universal Energy. Some may call it the Life Force or the Holy Spirit, but whatever we call it, we know life depends on it. As we come to understand how to work with this universal energy, we learn that by controlling the breath we also control the mind.The spiritual science of pranayama is about learning how to control the breath. In Sanskrit, the ancient language of India, the word prana means breath or energy and the word yama means control. By understanding how to control the breath/energy, we learn how to relax the body and control the subtle nuances of our minds. Obviously one of the best ways to calm the mind is through controlling the breath. The breath of life is a gift to treasure.
Typically, we breathe using only a third of our lung capacity. This could mean we are living about 30% of our potential, shortening our years, and compromising our health. Often when we are anxious, angry, or afraid, we may find we are holding our breath. It is ironic that during these times of stress when we need to breathe deeply more than ever, we have cut off much of our oxygen supply. So now is a very good time to learn some helpful breathing techniques that will benefit us in our meditation as well as in our daily life. (Chapter 4 includes breathing meditations and exercises)
“Life is breathing light into every moment. Take a deep breath and savor your field of vibration filling the universe with love. It feels so good to know there is no limit to love lightening up the world and releasing the constraints of our closed hearts.” —Dean Evenson
Slow Down the Breath Through Toning
Notice that when you add a sound to your exhalation, the breath naturally slows down. This is an example of ‘toning’ which we get to later in the book. A basic rule of thumb with conscious breathing is to have a shorter inhalation and a much longer exhalation. This focus on the breath will help to slow down the parade of thoughts that is continually marching through your inner mind.
This will be a short post but Dean and I are very excited to be getting on a plane tonight for Costa Rica where we will take part in a week long Chant and Tantra retreat with our dear friends Deva Premal and Miten and their fabulous flute player Manose. This is literally the first vacation we have taken that wasn’t part of a business trip. The setting will be at the exquisite Blue Spirit Resort in Nosara, Costa Rica. We are all packed and ready with our various techno tools, cameras, recording devices, iPad, etc. Oh did I say vacation. Well we are ardent videographers and photographers so that part of it is fun. Along with yoga, meditation, swimming in the ocean, walking on the beach – this will be a welcome respite for us. Stay tuned for more pictures and videos. We hope to come back with renewed energy and with lots of media and musical inspirations to share with you.
A primordial clear light mind Is something that we all have within us. It is not something external to us. It is on this basis that we can attain enlightenment When we can see, straightforwardly and non-conceptually, the nature of our clear light mind and remain totally absorbed on this nature without ever regressing from it we have become a Buddha – The Gelug/Lagyu tradition of Mahamudra
What is this Pure Light Mind that the scripture above speaks of? Is this something attainable by us mortals or only available to the realm of the Buddha and the Christ? Modern scientists recognize that our DNA emits light in the form of photons. So even on the physical level, it is understood that we are made up of light. Fortunately, many people across the ages have been able to access this aspect of their divine mind though their steadfast practice of meditation. So, although it may take some time and of course personal discipline, there are tools that can help you in your own quest. The goal of our meditation should be to move us closer to seeing clearly the nature of our mind which is ultimately pure light. Through meditation, we can hope to remove the impediments to this light by letting go of that which causes our suffering – clouds of worry, fear, anger, hatred, envy, craving and self-doubt. As we let go of these negative emotions, we make way for a more compassionate, joyful and expansive state of being. Through a regular meditation practice, we can expect to reach a state of inner peace and move that much closer to the realization our divine self.