Currently, I am struggling with a flare-up of a chronic disorder. One of the only effective ways to manage this is to maintain a meditation practice. It is not easy to do this right, of course. Simple, but not easy. To think of nothing but one’s own breath is an accomplishment. I require a little help.
I have never liked concentrating on breathing, on feeling the breath rise and fall. It reminds me of all the times that people have been angry at me, and visibly stopped to breathe, to count several quiet seconds, before they took any action. In turn, that reminds me of how much I felt like I had failed those people — or had I failed them? Was it their problem that they were angry? Whose fault was it? I told them, that one time, I said —
And all this is the opposite of meditation.
It is not bad that I don’t like concentrating on breathing. Breathing is not there for me to like, or to dislike. It simply is. Memories and thoughts are not breath.
But what, exactly, am I to concentrate on, when I concentrate on the breath?
Consider the lightlessness of breath. Consider, indeed, the darkness of the entire body. Your soft meat-sack lungs inflate and deflate every moment, sorting out oxygen and carbon dioxide, without the aid of a single photon. The work of the whole body continues in utter blackness. Our perceptions of this architecture, even today, are only sketched. The purple alveoli, the silver-yellow nerves, the Pep-o-mint shape of red blood cells, the Tinkertoy molecules – all false, or useful only as a tool for professions.
Unless you have a surgical procedure, an endoscopy, or a horrible accident, much of you will never come to light. It will return to its constituent particles, after your burial or your cremation, without the necessity of sight, of human intervention.
In these thoughts lies a perfect peace, if it may be touched.
This is not the same as concentrating on the rise and fall of breath alone. One has to fetch back the wandering mind from the cremation chamber, and so forth. It is, however, a fine and private place to spend ten minutes working to reconcile one’s self to the body.