Breathing Through the Whole Body.

Author:Middendorf, Bobbye
Position:Book review

Will Johnson (author); BREATHING THROUGH THE WHOLE BODY; Inner Traditions (Nonfiction: Body, Mind & Spirit) $12.95 ISBN: 9781594774348

Byline: Bobbye Middendorf

The human body needs more than twenty-one thousand breaths per day, making breathing the most vital requirement for survival. Connecting breath to spiritual insight is a practice across diverse traditions. Here, Will Johnson, author of the award-winning The Spiritual Practices of Rumi, delves into a verse from the Buddhist Satipatthana Sutta to set the stage for sharing concentrated wisdom focused on the breath as a passage into deeper awareness of the body.

"Go to a quiet place in the wilderness," begins this portion of the Satipatthana Sutta. The book's surface simplicity yields to deep excavation as Johnson unpacks every word, elaborating with loving compassion the depth of practice and spiritual nurturance possible simply by mindfully exploring all aspects of the breath.

Part one, "The Foundation of the Body," highlights the requirements of "the upright spine." Also in part one, two separate chapters balance these polarities: "Solidity and Vibration," and "Stillness and Motion." In the latter, the concept of meditator as stone-statue-myth gets revised to "stillness refers only to a quality of mind, not to a rigid and frozen body." For, in meditation, subtle body movement is actually crucial, with the key being the breath. "Breath...

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