When we are agitated we are told to start with Anapana. Thoughts, feelings and ideas come to us rapidly, almost freefalling. How to stop them? We just need to relax and let them follow their own course. We focus on the incoming breathing and the outgoing breathing. Breathing in. Breathing out. In a few minutes, our mind calms down and we are ready to start Vipassana. Some other times, when we are extremely agitated we can choose to spend the whole session with Anapana if that’s what we feel will be more beneficial.
Anapana has a number of interesting symbolic meanings to me. For example, we can only breath in or breath out at a given time. We can focus on only one direction. No multitasking is allowed when it comes to our breathing.
That single breath in (or out) represents our whole life at that moment. It’s the only action that count. It sustains our life. That breath is an individual and lonely action. It only follows its own rhythm and patterns. When we are born, we are born alone. There’s only room for one baby at the time to pass through a woman’s womb. When we die, there’s room space just for one person in a coffin. The act of breathing is personal, private and abides in its own world. It also arises and passes.
When I started meditating I used to feel that Anapana wasn’t “the real deal” and I would jump straight into Vipassana, sometimes trying to ignore if my mind was scattered or disperse at that moment.
But recently I heard S.N. Goenka saying that Anapana is like going back to the kindergarten. And somehow I understood what i was missing.
May we all understand. Breathing in. Breathing out. One breathing. One life.