I want you to stop what you’re doing right now and really pay attention to… your breath. Slow down your breath, and make an effort to feel the air as it enters your nose.
Maybe even pinpoint a particular molecule of air, and follow its path as you feel it move along your airways, as you become conscious of every part of your body it touches.
First, feel it slide into your nostril. Then, slowly, it caresses the inside of your nasal passages, up and over into the back of your throat, down into your trachea. Slowly now – become aware of and really feel every little bit of your airways that it touches.
Now it’s going down into a bronchus, a bronchiole, all the way into your lung, into an airsac. Feel it moving through all of these parts of you, as if it’s all lined with plush velvet, and the molecule of air is sliding its hand along the velvet as it flies through the airway, like an albatross skimming the water.
Then feel your lungs fill up with air — feel it from the inside. Imagine that every molecule of air that you breathe is also breathing you.
That’s it! Good work.
Before we go back to regularly scheduled programming, I’d like to ask: how did that feel? What’s the difference between how you feel now and how you felt before you started the exercise?
Perhaps you feel a bit more mindful and present now than you did before. Perhaps there’s even a little thrill of pleasure that wasn’t there before – an invigorating buzz. And the whole thing required no drugs and took hardly a minute.
Now can you imagine how you’d feel if you did something like this several times a day?
A couple of weeks ago, I came across a book at a clinic. A girlfriend had recommended it many moons ago, and I had put it on my Amazon wishlist along with another 112 books. For whatever reason, I made the impulse buy. I finished reading it the next day.
It was called Tantric Quest: An Encounter with Absolute Love, by Daniel Odier. But that’s not the book I want to talk about today. This first book compelled me to get three other books by Odier, one of which is Desire: The Tantric Path to Awakening. That’s the one I want to talk about.
Tantra is about fully engaging with the world. And every time you do that, you get a little taste of bliss. The breathing exercise we just did is an example of what Odier calls micropractices. That means that instead of sitting down for a 30min meditation session, you take 15-30 seconds to really engage with your senses and to feel the world, several dozen times a day. Anytime you feel like it, actually.
How? If you’re drinking a glass of water, put all of your attention on the water, feeling it as it moves through your body and quenches your thirst. Imagine that the water is drinking you, and that you are quenching its thirst for you as you drink it.
Or if you’re sitting down, pay attention to how your feet feel inside your shoes. Give your attention to all 200,000 nerve endings on your feet, and how they are lit up by contact with the insole of your shoes.
Whatever sensation you choose to focus on, the effect is tangible and immediate. It’s like a mini-ecstasy.
What you are experiencing here is full presence to the immediacy of life. This is how Odier describes it:
“If this practice speaks to you and if you persevere for a few weeks, or a few months, you’ll discover that there is no longer a practice but quite simply pleasure, an incomparable tremoring thrill for life. At that moment you’ll contact the Tantric secret, and you will naturally journey toward a more and more steady pleasure of presence, because this is the profound meaning of life.”
And what do you stand to gain from this? It just might be a life lived more fully:
“What will happen if you decide to practice yoga 60 times a day for 15 seconds? You’ll spend 15 min. a day ‘being.’ People around you will be much more deeply affected by your presence than by your speeches and your spiritual theories.”
I call this practice partial continuous ecstasy (PCE). Test it out for yourself and see how you like it.