Looking Deeply, by Thich Nhat Hanh

Buddha in earth touching pose. Photo © Lisa DaixWhen you breathe in and out you may like to focus your attention on the rise and fall of the abdomen. Your breathing will then become deeper, and you may enjoy breathing. When you feel that, you may like to smile to yourself. This means you like it!

While we are breathing in and out and enjoying it a lot, we are concentrated; the object of our concentration is the breathing. Our practice may be described as the practice of mindfulness. I am mindful. But mindful of what? I can only pick up one thing at a time to be mindful of. I pick up my breath as the object of concentration; I am mindful of my breathing. It is a very wonderful practice, not only for beginners of meditation, but for those who have been practising for forty, fifty years, or more. So wonderful! So nourishing!

The object of concentration, of mindfulness, is the breath. When we concentrate on the rising and falling of the abdomen, that is also part of the object of concentration, of mindfulness, because it is linked to the breath. Rising of the abdomen means the in-breath and falling means the out-breath. It also means that when we breathe in, we know we are breathing in, and when we breathe out, we know we are breathing out. During the exercise, we identify the in-breath as the in-breath, and the out-breath as the out-breath, like a child’s game. It is very easy. If you enjoy it, concentration just comes without any attempt at getting it. Whatever you find enjoyable, whatever you are interested in, will bring you concentration. So, try to enjoy your practice. This alone will bring you a lot of concentration. You don’t have to fight in order to be concentrated.

Click here to read more by Thich Nhat Hanh.

May 1994 Buddhism Now

Categories: Beginners, Buddhist meditation, Encyclopedia, Foundations, Thich Nhat Hanh

3 replies

  1. Mindfulness of breathing is a beautiful place to start our meditation and to establish mindfulness, but after a few minutes of anapanasati we should direct mindfulness to the objects of mind – the thoughts and emotion that are associated with agitation and suffering. These need our mindfulness to change, to transform and to heal. The mind is the focus of our vipassana meditation, because it is the mind that creates heaven or hell. Take care of the mind, care for those agitated negative thoughts, for they truly need your mindfulness and compassion if they are to change and heal. This is the compassionate awakening to dukkha that the Buddha taught and is so well exemplified by Thich Nhat Hahn.

  2. Simple, to the point and practical…Thanks….

  3. Thank you. Very useful.


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