Tuesday, July 15, 2008


From The Diamond Cutter by Geshe Michael Roach, pp. 150:
The idea is to focus your mind within for your silent time by blocking out every other thought and experience; we do this by tying the mind to the breath, as it goes in and out.

Except we start with the out, and then go to the in! It works like this. You fix your mind on the inside of the two nostrils of your nose, up toward the holes. Imagine you're like a sentry who's been posted at these two little caves to watch and see if anyone is coming or going. As you breathe in and then out try to be aware of the touch of the air on the inside of your nose: the cooler, drier air coming in and the moist, warm air flowing out. Remember to stick to your post: Your mind is not allowed to stray from the inside of your nose and the touch of the air coming and going. If someone slams a door or talks loudly, you might be distracted for a second, but you are strict about bringing yourself back to your breathing as soon as you can.

The ancient custom is to repeat this for the length of ten breaths, with the caveat that - if you are distracted in a major way and lose count - then you have to start over again. The outgoing breath counts as the first half of a number, and the incoming breath as the second half. This way of counting a breath (which is the opposite of our own way, where taking, holding, and releasing a breath might be counted as a single breath, say, in swimming) is said to have an added power of bringing the mind inward, of focusing the thoughts within. If you find yourself losing count frequently before you reach ten, it's a sign that you're having trouble concentrating. This will affect everything about your business performance, and you should take special care to observe your silent time more regularly, every morning.

You can close your eyes or leave them open; it doesn't matter much, as long as you don't get distracted. If you close your eyes you might find yourself getting sleepy, again due to the conditioning of a lifetime of sleep. If you open your eyes you might find yourself looking around the room at things and losing your train of thought. The ancient Tibetan books say then that, if you leave your eyes open, you should try not to focus them on anything in particular: just let them stare out into the space in front of you, as if you were in a great daydream, and just looking off to nowhere. It's good thought if you can turn your eyes downward a bit, with your eyelids down just a touch too.

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