It’s funny, one of the meditation instructions that teachers often give is to concentrate on your outbreath. I’ve been doing that lately when meditating — not trying to reach out to my imaginary friend Krishna, or think about my Buddha statues, or place my head any place magical, but just keeping my focus on my outbreath.
Watching my outbreath doesn’t feel magical, and I experience no earth-shaking revelations with such mundaneness. My breath is just here, and IS, without any fanfare.
I think the reason why teachers ask you to watch your outbreath is because meditation isn’t supposed to be an escape from the world, but an embrace of the world– embracing the physical here and now, so that when I get up off that meditation cushion, I’m not leaving my meditation world, but I’m stepping out into the same world where my outbreath lives.
My outbreath is the physical manifestation of my imaginary friend Krishna, I think. The biggest challenge in meditation for me is not what happens when I’m sitting on my cushion, my biggest challenge is how to bring that connection with my outbreath (or Krishna) alive when my quiet and peaceful world is being torn apart by negative things that challenge my stress, my daily routine, and my sense of control.
I know in the past I’ve gone through periods where I think I have my mind in a peaceful state from meditating regularly, and all of a sudden I’ll encounter someone being an asshole about something, and I’ll feel the blood rise in my face. I feel all meditative calm go whooshing out of my body, leaving me to flip out of control, screaming.
So this is my challenge. Continue meditation by connecting with my outbreath, and survive my next asshole encounter by having enough awareness to control the impending screaming-bitch explosion and get through the moment with some degree of controlled grace.