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This week we’re giving away The Breath by Vessantara. You can download it here until 29 June. This is the first of the three short books we’ll offer over the coming weeks: The Breath, The Body and The Heart. Each one deals with a central area of mindfulness and meditation.
I’ve been very aware of the connection between the breath and the first precept that we commit to practicing: I undertake to abstain from taking life; with deeds of loving kindness, I purify my body. We have all been witness to the killing of George Floyd, suffocated by a seemingly nonchalant policeman, and the rising movement for racial justice and change.
The breath is life. I can’t breathe. It took my breath away. Breathless. Breathtakingly beautiful! Heavy breathing. Take a deep breath. A breath of fresh air. The kiss of life.
Working with the breath we train to become increasingly sensitive to life itself. That sensitivity is the ethical basis of solidarity, compassion and self-awareness. It is a resource for the work of making sure that all beings can breathe freely and flourish, and that all are liberated from being violent and having violence done to them.
In this short book Vessantara draws out the many positive effects of bringing awareness to the breath. It helps in becoming more present in our experience and opens choice and freedom from habitual responses. And like all Dharma, it is a foundation for addressing our existential situation.
It’s the sort of book you want to have as a reference for the Mindfulness of Breathing, and a great introduction to the practice for friends interested in learning to meditate.