by Tina Hamilton
Part Two – the Buddha’s teaching of Mindfulness of In-and-Out Breathing..
In part one – we looked at how one uses the breath as the focal point throughout the meditation. When the mind wanders, we come back to the breath – watching the inhale… exhale… and notice the breath as it changes, but not reacting or altering the breath.
As we continue our meditation practice, we start to feel more relaxed during the meditation sessions. And, with more practice we start to be aware of moments when we feel bliss. Do not attach to these moments. Just notice, and let go. Thoughts arise… and sometimes we get caught up in the thoughts. Bring yourself back to the breath, and just observe. Observe the breath. Observe the relaxed feeling. Observe as thoughts come… and go…
When we’re new to meditation, we often discover that our brain just seems to be constantly thinking, processing. Some people describe all this thought activity to be like bees buzzing. The Chinese call this business of thoughts to be the “monkey mind.” The problem is that we are so used to always doing something – making lists of things to do, thinking about those things, and the many commitments that we have in our busy lives. In this day of smart phones, iPads, and computers – we can always find more to distract us. We’re also used to having background noise – whether it be music, TV, or the noise of people around us, or even traffic It’s no wonder that when we sit still and in silence that our brain begins racing with thoughts. We can calm ourselves, and decrease this flow of thoughts by simply focusing on the breath and consistent meditation practice.
From the Ananda Suttra – To Ananda: On Mindfulness of Breathing (Excerpt from the Buddha’s talk to Ananda about meditation and mindfulness of breathing).
“ He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to rapture, and to breathe out sensitive to rapture.  He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to pleasure, and to breathe out sensitive to pleasure.  He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to mental processes, and to breathe out sensitive to mental processes.  He trains himself to breathe in calming mental processes, and to breathe out calming mental processes.
A few years ago, there was a fun TED Talk where the guest speaker talked about the balance of being relaxed and aware during our meditation practice and how we can notice our incoming thoughts without being distracted by them. The TED Blog also includes some research in how meditation can benefit not only our brain, but also our heart, and even creativity. This all seems fitting to share here
4 scientific studies on how meditation can affect your heart, brain and creativity.