Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu


Take a few deep, long in-and-out breaths and think of the breath energy filling the body. When we talk of the breath energy being full, it’s not a matter of having your lungs stuffed with air. It’s more that the energy channels throughout the body are open and they feel saturated with comfortable energy. So try to notice where in the body you have that sense of fullness right now. Protect that spot as you breathe in; protect it as you breathe out. Don’t squeeze it. Don’t pull it. Think of it floating in mid-air right there. Some people feel this sense of potential fullness most easily in their hands. Other people feel it most easily in their chest. It really varies from person to person where you’re going to feel it first.

Once you notice that there’s an area that does feel relatively full of nice energy, think of it spreading out from that spot. This is something you can’t push or pull. You allow it to spread at its own rate. Tell yourself you’re in no hurry. You don’t have to anticipate how soon it’s going to happen, how long it’s going to take. It’s something that happens right on the cusp of the present moment. So if you’re leaning too much into the future, you’re not going to see it. If you’re leaning back into the past, you’re not going to see it. Try to think of yourself being balanced right here.

Now, developing this sense of fullness, this sense of wellbeing, requires that you pay very careful attention to the breath and that you be very meticulous in how you evaluate the breath. How is it feeling right now? When you breathe in, does the breath energy spread smoothly or does it feel like you’re pushing or pulling it too much? What we’re working on here is something that’s called piti in Pali. You can translate it as rapture; you can translate it as fullness; you can translate it as refreshment. The basic meaning is that it feels really good, really nourishing. The Buddha lists it as one of the energizing factors of awakening… It’s also a kind of food.

As for any questions the mind may have about how long this is going to take…just drop them. Let them fall away. Try to find a sense of balance right here, because right here is where all the good things happen—and where all the important things happen as well. If you can nourish and protect this sense of fullness, then you begin to notice any movements of the mind that might disturb it. You see where the mind is hungry and how it often goes out to look for what’s basically junk food to assuage its hunger. Now, however, you realize you don’t have to do that, for you’ve got something really nice and nourishing right here. Why go out and look for trouble?

Greed, aversion, and delusion are all looking for trouble. They’re like strong attacks of hunger and they’re never really satisfied. When you act on these things, they may provide a little bit of fullness and a little bit of energy, but then it goes. It’s like food that’s bad for your health. But here’s something that you’ve been carrying around with you all the time: the potentials in the body… So give this potential—this potential for fullness, a sense of refreshment—some space; give it some time. You’ll find that it really can strengthen your practice and give you a source of energy that you can tap into whenever you need it at any time throughout the day. Whether you’re in formal meditation or not, these potentials are always there. When you can recognize them and learn how to allow them to grow, you’ll have a constant source of food, a constant source of energy that you can take with you wherever you go.

The full transcript of this dhamma talk by Thanissaro Bhikkhu is included in the book, Meditations 6, pp. 72-74.