Mindfulness of Breathing and Joie de Vivre
Here are the relevant passages from the Anapanasati Sutta for this week’s consideration:
“He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.’ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.’ Translated by Thanissaro, downloaded from Access To Insight.
As the result of applied (vitakka) and sustained (vicara) attention to the breath sensations, a great deal of the available energy in the body/mind process is freed up because the energy isn’t channeled through the obsessive thinking and impulsive feelings represented by the hindrances. These thoughts and emotions generate metabolic stresses such as high blood pressure, muscle tension (headaches, backaches, stomach cramps, etc.). Prolonged focus on breath sensations reorganize the energy flows, reducing the physical stress, promoting mental tranquility and clarity. The resulting increases in energy flow manifest as piti, translated as rapture or bliss, accompanied by sukha, translated as happiness or pleasure.