How long does it take for spiritual practice to be effective? On the one hand, we hear tales comparing our efforts to the wing of a bird grazing a mountain, which only after millennia will be worn away. There is truth to that story. But there is a complementary truth expressed in the following practice from The Blooming of a Lotus* by Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. He shows how relaxation, calm, nurture, happiness, and pure enjoyment can build every time we breathe in, every time we breathe out. How important it is for us to hold both these truths in perspective! Each enhances our diligent, trusting search for the heights and depths available to us. Thich Nhat Hanh writes:
"1. Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.
2. Breathing in, my breath grows deep.
Breathing out, my breath goes slowly.
3. Aware of my body, I breathe in. Aware of body
Relaxing my body, I breathe out. Relaxing body
4. Calming my body, I breathe in. Calming my body
Caring for my body, I breathe out. Caring for body
5. Smiling to my body, I breathe in. Smiling to body
Easing my body, I breathe out. Easing body
6. Smiling to my body, I breathe in. Smiling to body
Releasing the tensions in my body, I
breathe out. Releasing tensions
7. Feeling joy (to be alive), I breathe in. Feeling joy
Feeling happy, I breathe out. Feeling happy
8. Dwelling in the present moment, I
breathe in. Being present
Enjoying the present moment, I breathe out. Enjoying
9. Aware of my stable posture, I breathe in. Stable posture
Enjoying the stability, I breathe out. Enjoying"
(*as quoted in Teach, Breathe, Learn: Mindfulness In and Out of the Classroom by Meena Srinivasan)