Appendix B to Chapters 4 and 5
Extra Body Breath Exercises
COUNTING WITH BREATHS
Since ten or so years, i often start by counting through my fingers. Conscious of and letting go of each finger, - from the little fingers to the thumbs, - both sides at the same time, – then i count through my toes.
To start with it's hard to feel all your toes, but with repetition you will be able to identify all the individual toes and you might start feeling all the channels and nerves - inter-related and connected with each finger and toe - running through the legs and arms.
I often combine fingers and toes together. Sometime later, it's a whole new dimension to go through the spaces inbetween the fingers where all the soft parts are, (and where the acupuncture needles go, because that's where the eenrgy is).
When you've more time and motivation going through the vertebrae in the spinal column is invigorating, and going through the spaces between the vertebrae is the next step.
There are a number of methods which scan the body, i don't use them and so i don't know them intimately, but they all seem good.
The one breath per body part sequence i used 50 years ago was feet, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, hands, belly, stomach, chest, neck, face, scalp.
Recently, after taste, smell, seeing and listening; i use a sequence of head, arms, legs, torso, torso and 5 limbs, whole body, whole body ...
To explore all the relative degrees of 'blubber'. Compare the intestines to the lungs and the sheets of muscle in the lower back, and the thigh muscle. Compare how all the little bones in the hands feel, to how it feels in the neck, as though an animal might imagine around ten little thin bones running through the neck.
If you are in pain physically it is normally impossible to meditate. But it is possible to do something about the pain. This could involve imagining colours or sounds - imagining someone you love and trust laying their hands on your body, or feeling inside your body, imagine inserting acupuncture needles, or anything you have found to be helpful in reality. But there's one specific subect.
It is outside the scope of this booklet but i find this worth noting. Most people agree that there must be some sort of electrical bio-magnetic lines swirling around such a complex chemical neurological system as the human body. I find most ways of proving this are suspect. But among 20 people who i've asked: "If there is a bio-magnetic energy round your wrist, which way would the energy go round?", everyone answers the same, without more than a seconds thought.
So, ask yourself and your friends - and see if they all agree ... The spine and the stomach-belly area seems to have predominant directions. Mainly i find it appropriate and healthy to imagine energy going round both ways at the same time, swirling around my body.
THE WHOLE BREATH BODY
I experience a clear distinction between my outside body, and my breath body - the inside feeling under my skin. So the idea of "the whole breath body" makes perfect sense to me.
There is a valuable passage right at the beginning of the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna, in Section 1. "Breathing In and Out". The original translation is wonderfully unclear about if body or breath is intended, or if the two are infact intrinsically connected as in my experience of getting bigger and smaller.
The first English translation came from Nyanaponika Thera (1962) (on page 130) Nyanaponika was a German who became a Buddhist monk and directly translated K E Neumann's original German translation from the late 1800s.
'Conscious of the whole (breath-) body. I shall breathe in', thus he trains himself. 'Conscious of the whole (breath-) body. I shall breathe out', thus he trains himself.
A modern translation by U Jotika & U Dhamminda (1986)
"Aware of the whole breath body, I shall breathe in", thus he trains himself; "Aware of the whole breath body, I shall breathe out", thus he trains himself.
This "whole breath body" idea is lost in all other modern translations which give just "whole body' or 'entire body". (Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna References)