The breath is our most important biological function. It is also our best ally in breaking the thought habit. We breathe 22,000 times per day. Most of these breaths are unconscious—that is, we don’t notice them. A conscious breath, a breath we notice, stops the mind. Which is amazing! The mind cannot do two things at once. It can either think like crazy or notice that the body is breathing. Yes, you’re right. Minus the treats, it’s like training a dog.
We don’t need to be sitting zazen to practice breath awareness. Buddhist practitioner Will Johnson does it crossing the street. In this shimmering circumstance, “Be as tall as you can be but as relaxed as you can be.”
If I am aware of my breath while I am doing what I am doing, I will be doing it right. I will not put a foot wrong.
Grace: No effort. No try.
Watch closely as a man trains his dog. All of his attention flows into the dog. Soon enough, the dog is beautifully, wonderfully trained. He orbits his master.
A well-trained mind functions exactly like that. At night, it sleeps quietly by the bed. It declines, during the day, to chase after squirrels. It looks straight ahead.
A man is the net result of the attention he gives to his mind. Attention is the zafu on which mindfulness sits. We need the mindfulness movement. Today it is perhaps the case that more men give more attention to their cellphones than they give to themselves.
Pornography is a big issue for men. But really, it’s a symptom. The problem is an untrained mind. Minds become befouled and confused by an absence of attention. Where attention is, purity also is.
Attention does not work tomorrow. It works now. Let your breath carry you into the purity of the one pathless moment.