Anapanasati Sutra is a “Breath-Mindfulness Discourse” that details the Buddha's instruction on using the breath as an insightful focus for meditation. The practice of this discourse is through sixteen contemplations, broken into four “tetrads,” which is essentially four sets of four that encompass mindfulness brought to the body, feelings, mind and emotions, and a fourth and final set on vipassana; the contemplation of impermanence and relinquishment, a reality into the phenomena that is the human experience.
Meditation following the breath is found commonplace in many forms of guidance and teaching, yet breathing itself is mostly an overlooked function throughout our hours away from the meditation mat.
Breathing, in its most complex metaphysical or simplest terms is the key to all laws of life. Our breath is a symbol of all that is transient in this experience, and that to even create abundance and well being for ourselves, we must begin with existing fulfilled in the process of letting in and letting go. This surrendering to our highest good and life vision is in the very nature of inhaling and exhaling, the inner blueprint to all of life’s questions and resolutions. It’s our most undervalued, yet most impactful and transformational tool.
A powerful two-step process to Buddha’s Anapanasati Sutra was introduced by Ajahn Buddhadasa, which I discovered through Larry Rosenberg in his book, Breath by Breath: The Liberating Process of Insight Meditation. Instead of needing to memorize the four tetrads, or perhaps not having enough time to conduct – this condensed two-step method will find ourselves in as much of an expansive and enlightening state as the original discourse of Buddha.
Begin with breathing until a certain level of calmness, concentration, and focus is mindfully brought to the breath.
Open the awareness to anything that arises in the mind-body, and see that all of it is impermanent, un-satisfactory, and lacks an essential self.
In beginning with following the breath, we bring ourselves to fully acknowledging our present state, free of overriding mind chatter. With then by opening our awareness, and mindfully breathing into our thoughts or bodily sensations that arise, carrying this awareness of their impermanence with us, we sustain the underlying truth. We exhale out into the flow, maintaining this awareness, as the passing thoughts and sensations vanish into the sacred moment, as our crown chakra begins to radiate outward in an expanding rush of ecstasy.
Enjoy this basic, two-step practice of Anapanasati Sutra (or sometimes referred to as samatha/vipassana). It will surely lead you to awakening moments in a shorter, yet still impactful process.