My meditative practices mostly come from Taoist, Buddhist, and psychological works. My goal is to sit there with myself, watching in that focused-yet-relaxed state that is hard to describe. Note of course, I do not say I want to reach a checklist of mental states – doing comes first, and I could probably write a lot more on that.
My practice is also simple – sitting cross-legged, back straight, breathing in a slow constant cycle, mind resting on breath. This is advocated in my oft-mentioned The Secret of the Golden Flower, and like that lovely manual it’s simple, yet you could also discuss it at endless length. We humans love words, and we love to use them to describe the hard-to-describe.
You’ll notice despite my love of words, I’m often cagey about discussing these things. However, there is one insight I feel fine holding forth on as it is interesting and won’t put you, my reader, at risk, of trying to force yourself to experience meditative states.
Slow, regular, even breathing is a fascinating thing to watch because it’s a cycle. As I’ve practiced in my return to meditation, I’ve realized that everything is a cycle. Breath meditation isn’t that special, really, which is why it’s so important.
We live in an environment of cycles. The seasons go in their circles, water evaporates then precipitates, animal populations rise and fall. We depend on these great circles to live – and as we have seen, ignore or alter them at our peril.
Our societies and histories are cycles. There are times of taxes and of building, of growth and contraction. Civilizations come and go – often in depressing predictability in hindsight. Humanity’s “journey forward” even seems to be a spiral of repetition, though our ignorance of our environment suggests we’re heading for a nasty swing.
Human relations are cycles. We are born and grow, roles changing and expanding. Students become mentors to other students. Children become citizens. Someone at the height of their achievements will retire (well, if they’re smart).
We ourselves are cycles. Our daily waking and sleeping, eating and digestion, birth and death. Even when we end, other cycles begin – decomposition, and some would believe reincarnation.
I can see the cycles of my life and my behaviors when I pause. There are great circles and spirals of growth. There are predictable life patterns you can see in others. There’s even simple things like foods I like then leave then like again.
Then there’s meditation.
I am a cycle of cycles and part of cycles. I am a whirling thing.