Breath & Three Marks

This mornings meditation instruction begins with a careful loving attention to the breath. Breathing is a non-conceptual process, a present time process, like a symphony that can be experienced directly without a need for thought. A living process of constant change.

The three “marks” can be observed in the breath.

The sensations of breath are subtle, yet distinct, breathing proceeds at its own pace. Constantly changing (annica-impermanence).

The balance between involuntary breathing and forced manipulation of breath is important to observe. (dukka-suffering).

Observing the nexus point where “outside world” moves in and becomes a part of what we call ‘me’ shows us in an immediate way how we form our self-concept. (anatta-non-separate-self).

The breath teaches us about being with dying. The breath is a microcosm of our life. Every inhalation goes through a process of birth, growth and death and every exhalation does the same.



Frank Ostaseski is the founder of the Metta Institute and cofounder of the Zen Hospice Project and author of The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully.

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Death is not waiting for us at the end of a long road. Death is always with us, in the marrow of every passing moment. She is the secret teacher hiding in plain sight, helping us to discover what matters most.

Life and death are a package deal. They cannot be pulled apart and we cannot truly live unless we are aware of death. The Five Invitations is an exhilarating meditation on the meaning of life and how maintaining an ever-present consciousness of death can bring us closer to our truest selves.


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