It had been a long time since I had looked at or even thought about mindfulness of breathing or the Full Awareness of Breathing Sutra (Anapanasati Sutra) but for some reason I was compelled to give it a read again.
And looking at it with fresh and open eyes I couldn’t believe what I was seeing – the Buddha actually taught an early form of Pranayama.
We had just completely missed it and have been teaching it wrong for all these years.
Anyone who’s ever taken a Pranayama or Kundalini yoga class will immediately see that the first four mindfulness of breathing practices are actually Pranayama qi/prana techniques with the Buddha’s unique twist given to them.
- Regular Breathing
- Slow Long Breathing
- Quick Rapid Breath (aka Breath of Fire)
- Full Body Breathing (as if we’re breathing in qi/prana from the very space around us)
I’d always had a feeling that the Buddha must have taught some sort of energy/qi/prana techniques.
Heck there’s even mention of the Mucalinda the Naga King (snake) coming up and rising over the Buddha’s head to protect him from a great rain-storm.
Even thai versions of statues that depict the Buddha have him surrounded by either snakes or fire.
What could this be other than kundalini/prana/qi?
Over at the new Golden Lotus Zen site I go through the step by step practice of these Buddhist Pranayama techniques that the Buddha taught.
We’ve just watered them down and called them Mindfulness of Breathing.
But the fact remains that this life takes energy. Lots of it.
So why wouldn’t the Buddha share some sort of method that would bring you back home to your latent energies and harness them not only for health reasons but to help you awaken to truth.
Heck when Bodhidharma got to the Shaolin temple the monks were in such an unhealthy state that he taught them Lotus Palm Qigong to help them regain their vitality and propel them toward awakening.
You need strength and vigor to practice. You need health and vitality to live.
We all know how much easier it is to be kind and compassionate after a good night sleep. So it’s easy to see that to discover and use the natural energies of the body to live a good noble life seems like a no brainer.
In the Zen tradition as well, they have you anchor your attention at the belly (Dantian). This subtly harnesses the energies and helps a student more easily have a breakthrough.
I’m not sure why we haven’t harnessed the Pranayama teachings as illustrated in the Full Awareness of Breathing Sutra for all these generations.
I’m not sure why we’ve let this vital aspect of our practice disappear. But it stops now.
More and more householders are turning to Buddhism in droves.
The responsibilities or work and family are numerous and frankly at times really really hard.
But it doesn’t have to be.
We can be alive with energy. Bounding and bouncing with bliss.
The buddha even taught how to awaken these energies and then influence our mind states such that we could develop calm, joy and happiness within just a few short minutes.
Then we can use this new ground of energized vibrancy as a launching platform for insight and discovery.
And we can use these energies to live good, noble and awakened lives.
It’s time to serve with vigor and vitality.
To be alive with life!
It’s my hope that these Buddhist Pranayama practices are read and spread far and wide and benefit all beings.
Sending you BIG LOVE!!!
zen master e