gatha: words to practice with
Gathas are short phrases that support us in our mindfulness practice. They bring us back to the present moment, and the experience of being alive.
We breathe in and out with the words, letting our bodies and minds soak them in.
There are gathas for waking up, turning on a tap, drinking our tea - for any part of our day. You can write your own, to help you practice in your daily life.
The gatha below came about when I had been practicing for a while imagining my breath as a gate, opening and closing.
I imagined a gate sitting in a landscape, wide areas of green with low hills on the horizon. The gate grew out of the earth; it had not been manufactured. When the gate closed, it didn't have anything to lock into; it was simply pivoting backwards and forwards. At the end of each opening or closing, the physicality of the gate almost disappeared; it almost dissolved, to be absorbed back into the landscape and the air. Then the movement of my lungs started again and the gate resumed in its movement. The almost-disappearing quality awakened a sense of newness in me.
I practiced for a few weeks with this "breath-gate" (not a real term - I just made that up). I was in Plum Village, surrounded by a beautifully strong energy of mindfulness. One evening, walking slowly to the meditation hall, these words came up.
The gatha can be used with walking meditation, beginning on the out-breath: 'a gate closes'. As you breathe in, you can focus on 'a gate opens'. With your next out breath you may notice 'with each step I end', and with your in-breath you may realise 'and begin anew'.
For sitting meditation, I substitute 'breath' for 'step': 'with each breath I end, and begin anew'.
May it help us soften and feel refreshed.