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ENHANCING the EFFECTIVENESS of KOMBUCHA

Posted on August 18, 2017 at 2:40 PM


More and more studies are being published on the gut~brain connection (future blog~ stay tuned).

As Kombucha works primarily on the gut microflora and intestines, bringing the power of focused attention with acceptance to the abdomen can enhance sensitivity to the workings of Kombucha, or any food or beverage for that matter, in this area.  I, Scot, have found the two meditations by Thanissaro Bhikkhu invaluable to this process; and this was 20 years ago before i knew what Kombucha really was! Interestingly, and I'm making a timeline connection here to the.... coincindence that at about the time I encountered the Bhikkhu breath practice (below), my friend in Sedona, Hushimuni, introduced me to Kombucha that he made in his home.  But 'I' didn't really 'take' to Kombucha at that time but was consigned, or consigned myself, to a wait of about 20 years before returning to it.  


In the interim, and what did sustain me all those years preceding my impending collision course with Kombucha, was yoga~meditation along with this basic practice which I eagerly shared with friends and students as a yoga instructor of some 21 years. Another interesting timeline link: I started teaching yoga in 1993, the same year the Basic Breath Meditation Instructions was published.  So all this appears to have been a mere coincidence verging on a most meaningful synchronicity!

It might help you greatly to be audibly guided.  Go to Youtube to find wonderful short and longer sessions.

Patiently give yourself the gift of these marvelous practices and see what happens. The abdominal work works great lying down. Stay awake!


Basic Breath Meditation Instructions

by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

© 1993

The technique I'll be teaching is breath meditation. It's a good topic no matter what your religious background. As my teacher once said, the breath doesn't belong to Buddhism or Christianity or anyone at all. It's common property that anyone can meditate on. At the same time, of all the meditation topics there are, it's probably the most beneficial to the body, for when we're dealing with the breath, we're dealing not only with the air coming in and out of the lungs, but also with all the feelings of energy that course throughout the body with each breath. If you can learn to become sensitive to these feelings, and let them flow smoothly and unobstructed, you can help the body function more easily, and give the mind a handle for dealing with pain.

 

So let's all meditate for a few minutes. Sit comfortably erect, in a balanced position. You don't have to be ramrod straight like a soldier. Just try not to lean forward or back, to the left or the right. Close your eyes and say to yourself, 'May I be truly happy and free from suffering.' This may sound like a strange, even selfish, way to start meditating, but there are good reasons for it. One, if you can't wish for your own happiness, there is no way that you can honestly wish for the happiness of others. Some people need to remind themselves constantly that they deserve happiness — we all deserve it, but if we don't believe it, we will constantly find ways to punish ourselves, and we will end up punishing others in subtle or blatant ways as well.

 

Two, it's important to reflect on what true happiness is and where it can be found. A moment's reflection will show that you can't find it in the past or the future. The past is gone and your memory of it is undependable. The future is a blank uncertainty. So the only place we can really find happiness is in the present. But even here you have to know where to look. If you try to base your happiness on things that change — sights, sounds, sensations in general, people and things outside — you're setting yourself up for disappointment, like building your house on a cliff where there have been repeated landslides in the past. So true happiness has to be sought within. Meditation is thus like a treasure hunt: to find what has solid and unchanging worth in the mind, something that even death cannot touch.

 

To find this treasure we need tools. The first tool is to do what we're doing right now: to develop good will for ourselves. The second is to spread that good will to other living beings. Tell yourself: 'All living beings, no matter who they are, no matter what they have done to you in the past — may they all find true happiness too.' If you don't cultivate this thought, and instead carry grudges into your meditation, that's all you'll be able to see when you look inside.

 

Only when you have cleared the mind in this way, and set outside matters aside, are you ready to focus on the breath. Bring your attention to the sensation of breathing. Breathe in long and out long for a couple of times, focusing on any spot in the body where the breathing is easy to notice, and your mind feels comfortable focusing. This could be at the nose, at the chest, at the abdomen, or any spot at all. Stay with that spot, noticing how it feels as you breathe in and out. Don't force the breath, or bear down too heavily with your focus. Let the breath flow naturally, and simply keep track of how it feels. Savor it, as if it were an exquisite sensation you wanted to prolong. If your mind wanders off, simply bring it back. Don't get discouraged. If it wanders 100 times, bring it back 100 times. Show it that you mean business, and eventually it will listen to you.

 

If you want, you can experiment with different kinds of breathing. If long breathing feels comfortable, stick with it. If it doesn't, change it to whatever rhythm feels soothing to the body. You can try short breathing, fast breathing, slow breathing, deep breathing, shallow breathing — whatever feels most comfortable to you right now...

 

Once you have the breath comfortable at your chosen spot, move your attention to notice how the breathing feels in other parts of the body. Start by focusing on the area just below your navel. Breathe in and out, and notice how that area feels. If you don't feel any motion there, just be aware of the fact that there's no motion. If you do feel motion, notice the quality of the motion, to see if the breathing feels uneven there, or if there's any tension or tightness. If there's tension, think of relaxing it. If the breathing feels jagged or uneven, think of smoothing it out... Now move your attention over to the right of that spot — to the lower right-hand corner of the abdomen — and repeat the same process... Then over to the lower left-hand corner of the abdomen... Then up to the navel... right... left... to the solar plexus... right... left... the middle of the chest... right... left... to the base of the throat... right... left... to the middle of the head...[take several minutes for each spot]

 

If you were meditating at home, you could continue this process through your entire body — over the head, down the back, out the arms & legs to the tips of your finger & toes — but since our time is limited, I'll ask you to return your focus now to any one of the spots we've already covered. Let your attention settle comfortably there, and then let your conscious awareness spread to fill the entire body, from the head down to the toes, so that you're like a spider sitting in the middle of a web: It's sitting in one spot, but it's sensitive to the entire web. Keep your awareness expanded like this — you have to work at this, for its tendency will be to shrink to a single spot — and think of the breath coming in & out your entire body, through every pore. Let your awareness simply stay right there for a while — there's no where else you have to go, nothing else you have to think about... And then gently come out of meditation.

 

See also: "A Guided Meditation"

Creative Commons License ©1993 Thanissaro Bhikkhu. The text of this page ("Basic Breath Meditation Instructions", by Thanissaro Bhikkhu) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. To view a copy of the license, visit http/creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/. Documents linked from this page may be subject to other restrictions. From a talk given to a conference on AIDS, HIV and other Immuno-deficiency Disorders in Long Beach, CA, Nov. 13, 1993. Transcribed from a file provided by the author. Last revised for Access to Insight on 5 June 2010.  http/www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/breathmed.html .




A Guided Meditation

by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

© 1999

Sit comfortably erect, without leaning forward or backward, left or right. Close your eyes and think thoughts of good will. Thoughts of good will go first to yourself, because if you can't think good will for yourself — if you can't feel a sincere desire for your own happiness — there's no way you can truly wish for the happiness of others. So just tell yourself, "May I find true happiness." Remind yourself that true happiness is something that comes from within, so this is not a selfish desire. In fact, if you find and develop the resources for happiness within you, you're able to radiate it out to other people. It's a happiness that doesn't depend on taking anything away from anyone else.


So now spread good will to other people. First, people who are close to your heart — your family, your parents, your very close friends: May they find true happiness, as well. Then spread those thoughts out in ever widening circles: people you know well, people you don't know so well, people you like, people you know and are neutral about, and even people you don't like. Don't let there be any limitations on your good will, for if there are, there will be limitations on your mind. Now spread thoughts of good will to people you don't even know — and not just people; all living beings of all kinds in all directions: east, west, north, south, above, and below, out to infinity. May they find true happiness, too.

 

Then bring your thoughts back to the present. If you want true happiness, you have to find it in the present, for the past is gone and the future is an uncertainty. So you have to dig down into the present. What do you have right here? You've got the body, sitting here and breathing. And you've got the mind, thinking and aware. So bring all these things together. Think about the breath and then be aware of the breath as it comes in and goes out. Keeping your thoughts directed to the breath: that's mindfulness. Being aware of the breath as it comes in and out: that's alertness. Keep those two aspects of the mind together. If you want, you can use a meditation word to strengthen your mindfulness. Try "Buddho," which means "awake." Think "bud-" with the in-breath, "dho" with the out.


Try to breathe as comfortably as possible. A very concrete way of learning how to provide for your own happiness in the immediate present — and at the same time, strengthening your alertness — is to let yourself breathe in a way that's comfortable. Experiment to see what kind of breathing feels best for the body right now. It might be long breathing, short breathing; in long, out short; or in short, out long. Heavy or light, fast or slow, shallow or deep. Once you find a rhythm that feels comfortable, stay with it for a while. Learn to savor the sensation of the breathing. Generally speaking, the smoother the texture of the breath, the better. Think of the breath, not simply as the air coming in and out of the lungs, but as the entire energy flow that courses through the body with each in-and-out breath. Be sensitive to the texture of that energy flow. You may find that the body changes after a while. One rhythm or texture may feel right for a while, and then something else will feel more comfortable. Learn how to listen and respond to what the body is telling you right now. What kind of breath energy does it need? How can you best provide for that need? If you feel tired, try to breathe in a way that energizes the body. If you feel tense, try to breathe in a way that's relaxing.


If your mind wanders off, gently bring it right back. If it wanders off ten times, a hundred times, bring it back ten times, a hundred times. Don't give in. This quality is called ardency. In other words, as soon as you realize that the mind has slipped away, you bring it right back. You don't spend time aimlessly sniffing at the flowers, looking at the sky, or listening to the birds. You've got work to do: work in learning how to breathe comfortably, how to let the mind settle down in a good space here in the present moment.

 

When the breath starts feeling comfortable, you can start exploring it in other areas of the body. If you simply stay with the comfortable breath in a narrow range, you'll tend to doze off. So consciously expand your awareness. A good place to focus first is right around the navel. Locate that part of the body in your awareness: where is it right now? Then notice: how does it feel there as you breathe in? How does it feel when you breathe out? Watch it for a couple of breaths, and notice if there's any sense of tension or tightness in that part of the body, either with the in-breath or with the out-breath. Is it tensing up as you breathe in? Are you holding onto the tension as you breathe out? Are you putting too much force on the out-breath? If you catch yourself doing any of these things, just relax. Think of that tension dissolving away in the sensation of the in-breath, the sensation of the out-breath. If you want, you can think of the breath energy coming into the body right there at the navel, working through any tension or tightness that you might feel there ...

 

Then move your awareness to the right — to the lower right-hand corner of your abdomen — and follow the same three steps there: 1) locate that general part of the body in your awareness; 2) notice how it feels as you breathe in, how it feels as you breathe out; and 3) if you sense any tension or tightness in the breath, just let it relax ... Now move your awareness to the left, to the lower left-hand corner of your abdomen, and follow the same three steps there.

 

Now move your awareness up to the solar plexus ... and then to the right, to the right flank ... to the left flank ... to the middle of the chest ... After a while move up to the base of the throat ... and then to the middle of the head. Be very careful with the breath energy in the head. Think of it very gently coming in, not only through the nose but also through the eyes, the ears, down from the top of the head, in from the back of the neck, very gently working through and loosening up any tension you may feel, say, around your jaws, the back of your neck, around your eyes, or around your face ...

 

From there you can move your attention gradually down the back, out the legs, to the tips of the toes, the spaces between the toes. As before, focus on a particular part of the body, notice how it feels with the in-breath and out-breath, relax any sensation of tension or tightness you might feel there, so that the breath energy can flow more freely, and then move on until you've reached the tips of the toes. Then repeat the process, beginning at the back of the neck and going down the shoulders, through the arms, past your wrists, and out through your fingers.

 

You can repeat this survey of the body as many times as you like until the mind feels ready to settle down.

 

Then let your attention return to any spot in the body where it feels most naturally settled and centered. Simply let your attention rest there, at one with the breath. At the same time let the range of your awareness spread out so that it fills the entire body, like the light of a candle in the middle of a room: the candle flame is in one spot, but its light fills the entire room. Or like a spider on a web: the spider's in one spot, but it knows the whole web. Be keen on maintaining that broadened sense of awareness. You'll find that it tends to shrink, like a balloon with a small hole in it, so keep broadening its range, thinking "whole body, whole body, breath in the whole body, from the top of the head down into the tips of the toes." Think of the breath energy coming in and out of the body through every pore. Make a point of staying with this centered, broadened awareness as long as you can. There's nothing else you have to think about right now, nowhere else to go, nothing else to do. Just stay with this centered, broadened awareness of the present ...

 

When the time comes to leave meditation, remind yourself that there's a skill to leaving. In other words, you don't just jump right out. My teacher, Ajaan Fuang, once said that when most people meditate, it's as if they're climbing a ladder up to the second story of a building: step-by-step-by-step, rung-by-rung, slowly up the ladder. But as soon as they get to the second story, they jump out the window. Don't let yourself be that way. Think of how much effort went into getting yourself centered. Don't throw it away.


The first step in leaving is to spread thoughts of good will once more to all the people around you. Then, before you open your eyes, remind yourself that even though you're going to have your eyes open, you want your attention to stay centered in the body, at the breath. Try to maintain that center as long as you can, as you get up, walk around, talk, listen, whatever. In other words, the skill of leaving meditation lies in learning how not to leave it, regardless of whatever else you may be doing. Act from that sense of being centered. If you can keep the mind centered in this way, you'll have a standard against which you can measure its movements, its reactions to the events around it and within it. Only when you have a solid center like this can you gain insight into the movements of the mind.

 

See also: "Basic Breath Meditation Instructions"

Creative Commons License ©1999 Thanissaro Bhikkhu. The text of this page ("A Guided Meditation", by Thanissaro Bhikkhu) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. To view a copy of the license, visit htt/creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/. Documents linked from this page may be subject to other restrictions. Transcribed from a file provided by the author. Last revised for Access to Insight on 8 March 2011.  http/www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/guided.html .





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