Are little toes able to live their own life, what exactly Buddha was aware of, how to do square breathing, why the brain gets bored, and how to stop an insane flow of information?
… I suddenly realized that my small toe has started to live its own life, it has gained independence, just like Catalonia. Such a free Catalan little toe. As if I had seen it through the lens of a VHS camera before, and now – watching in an ultra-high definition IMAX cinema. Wearing stereo glasses!..
It’s dark outside, I can still do a lot till dawn: have some sleep, wake up, brush my teeth, have breakfast, and go to bed again. But I usually instead quietly crawl out from under a cozy blanket and tiptoe into another room so as not to disturb my beloved.
I’m going to do meditation.
I won’t tell you that I don’t miss a single day because that’s not true. Still, after Vipassana I do it quite regularly. My son Mishka often catches me during this occupation, waking up before dawn. He sits quietly next to me and waits for Daddy to stop inhaling and exhaling with his eyes closed and a stupid smile. And Vika, even though I try to sneak unnoticed from the marital bed, says that she feels when I meditate – this energy wakes her up in the morning.
THE WAY WILL BE WALKED BY HIM WHO WALKS, AND HE WHO SITS WILL MEDITATE
Meditation is easy: sitting eyes closed, concentrated on one thing. The gist of meditation is to stop the flow of thoughts in the brain, feel the reality.
In fact, meditation is a very simple thing. You just have to keep your eyes closed (which is not necessary at all) and focus on one thing. You can feel your breath, you can feel your body, you can hear what is happening around you or you can focus on the flame of a candle. There is no difference, the meaning of meditation is to stop the frantic dance of thoughts in the brain and feel the reality. That is, you feel what is here and now. This is not as easy as it seems, because the brain is constantly bored and, like a monkey jumping on branches, can’t stop jumping from one thought to another. This is especially difficult for us, people of the 21st century, with our clip thinking, with endless Facebook, tiktok and insta feeds that spoiled our brains. But the way will be walked by him who walks, and he who sits will meditate.
When I was deeply engaged in freediving, I studied pranayama (a breathing technique for accumulating and controlling vital energy) and actively practiced it. It allowed me to increase my lungs volume and, accordingly, the duration of holding my breath under water. Later I gave up training, but I remembered the feeling of merging with space while holding breath for a long time. That’s why when I decided to start meditating, I realized I should focus on breathing.
Pranayama is a wide set of breathing practices, one of which is Sama Vritti (box breathing). The principle is simple – for example, inhale 4 seconds, hold the breath for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds and again hold the breath for 4 seconds. The principle is simple – inhaling, say, 4 seconds, holding for 4 seconds, exhaling for 4 seconds and again holding for 4 seconds.
This scheme is called 1:1:1:1 — same length inhales and exhales. Choose intervals according to your feelings, the main thing is not to suffocate. You can start at 2 seconds and work up to 8 seconds if comfortable. Over time, the scheme can become more complex, and you can use the ratio of the square 1: 1: 2: 1, 1: 2: 2: 1, or 1: 4: 2: 1, which I’m currently using.
For myself, I chose a comfortable 7 sec cycle.
Inhale – 7 sec. Hold your breath – 28 sec. Exhale – 14 sec. Hold your breath – 7 sec.
A cycle lasts almost a minute. But this is very individual, you don’t have to follow the figures, the main thing here is to get a feeling of calm and an inflow of energy. The number of cycles is individual, but not less than 10 minutes, even better for half an hour.
For convenience, I found an application that, with the help of meditative music and tonal change, suggests you when to move on to the next cycle. It allows you to customize your breath holding and eliminates the need to count seconds in your mind.
I do not claim to be a guru in this practice, so I will not talk here about bandhas, mudras and other subtleties of breathing practices. The only thing that matters is that all breathing must be nasal. Further, you can learn to breathe properly with your belly, to feel the flow of air coming out with your upper lip, to sit correctly, and other intricacies.
A GODFORSAKEN TOE
I wasn’t going to write this post yesterday. But today’s experiment stirred me so much that I couldn’t help but share it with you. Only first, let me tell you a few words about Vipassana.
It is an ancient technique of meditation invented by the Buddha. With its help, he completely freed himself from suffering and passed to another world enlightened. A couple of years ago I practiced this technique on retreat, where I spent 10 days in silence, ate only vegetables, meditated for 11 hours a day, and almost turned into a cancer.
You can read this post for more details: https://voloshin.md/ru/vipassana/.
In short, Vipassana meditation means sitting motionless in one position for several hours and observing the sensations in your body.
And today I decided to experiment. After I had decided to give up the practice of scanning the WHOLE body and every cell, I fixed my mind’s eye on the farthest point of the brain, on the periphery of my body, that is, the godforsaken, smallest toe.
It is easy to feel the tip of your nose or fingers, because there are many nerve endings that we use constantly. But there are some remote areas in the body that we haven’t used for months.
I focused all my attention on my little toe. I tried to feel it, but it was just part of my foot, nothing more. The minutes passed, as did the thoughts, and I focused on my small toe, trying to feel its shape, mentally probing its cells. I tensed those nerve endings that no one had examined since I hit a rock, and they, shaking from the dust, happily informed me of a cracked bone.
And suddenly something changed – at first, I felt that my pinky toe was a separate toe, then I clearly felt its shape and position, and finally I realized that my little toe began to live its own life, it gained independence just like Catalonia. Wow!
My small toe has awakened the inactive nerve endings, providing more information than the rest of my body! Surprised as I was, I stopped meditating and opened my eyes.
I can hardly imagine how I would feel if my whole body gave me such a flow of information. But I think it’s a matter of practice and time.
I’m sure the Buddha was aware of that.