The Mindfulness of Breathing meditation has been practised in the Buddhist tradition for 2,500 years. It is now widely used not just among Buddhists but increasingly in the secular world as the basis of mindfulness training, and in other contexts such as yoga and, in recent times, stress and pain management. After all, as the author and teacher Vessantara observes, ‘The breath is always with us, necessary to our very existence, though it is often goes unnoticed. Yet giving it attention can transform our lives.’ In The Breath, Vessantara, who has been meditating on the breath for over 40 years, writes engagingly for both newcomers and those with some experience. On this recording, he shows how to pay attention to the breath, helping listeners first of all to achieve a level of concentration and calm; and then introduces the widely used four-stage method of the mindfulness of breathing.
A bell marks the practice periods when listeners can stop the recording and practise. But Vessantara offers much more than a simple explanation. In following chapters, he explains in a lucid yet entertaining way how to develop a regular and meaningful mindfulness of breathing meditation practice. He gives important advice on how to prepare for a session, how to sit comfortably, how to deal with mental and physical distractions. He also discusses the effects of the mindfulness of breathing practice - which can vary from a deep quietness to curious sensations to, more mundanely, times of boredom! And he explains how to work with different states of consciousness that can arise. Called Anapanasati in Pali, it is said that meditation on the breath was the Buddha's practice when he attained enlightenment. Whatever ensues, Vessantara declares, this deceptively simple discipline can have the long term effect of really changing your life for the better.
What members say
A clear introduction to a timeless practice
There’s a lot of books and recordings on offer these days on mindfulness, but not everyone knows it comes out of the Buddhist tradition. I loved this pithy but packed introduction to meditating with the breath and I like the fact this is a book written by someone with a lifetime of practice to back up what they are saying, that I can have confidence in. I already own the book, so it’s a real delight to now have it read by the author himself, and be able to listen and then try out the suggestions.