by Abbot George Burke (Swami Nirmalananda Giri)


breath meditationForward to The Breath of Life

Breath is the universal factor of life. We are born the first time we inspire, and we die the last time we expire. Breath is life itself. In Sanskrit the same word–prana–means both breath and life.

All that lives, breathes–even plants and the bacteria that make bread rise. The process of breath is identical in all, consisting of inhalation and exhalation. It is the most immaterial factor of our existence, being a link-manifestation of the mind/spirit that dwells in all. For this reason, the breath is the natural and logical basis for meditation, the attempt to “enter into life.” The breath is the key to the cultivation of pure consciousness.

Life causes us to breathe, and breath causes us to live. Usually breath leads us into the outer life, but it can lead us into the inner life–to the principle of Life itself. Therefore meditation on the breath is found in the spiritual practices of many religions, particularly in Buddhism, where it is known as Anapanasati, awareness of the inhaling and exhaling breaths, and is the meditation technique practiced and taught by the Buddha.

In this book I first present the actual technique of Breath Meditation, and in subsequent chapters present the teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, and Christianity regarding its practice.

My hope is that the contents of this book will aid its readers in the successful practice of Breath Meditation and the attaining of its goal: supreme enlightenment.

Abbot George Burke
Light of the Spirit Monastery
Cedar Crest, New Mexico
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Next Chapter: The Practice of Breath Meditation