Breathe in to the infinitesimal; breathe out to the infinite
By Edward Hirsch
Everyone senses and breathes. Everyone has some sense of being in some space, in some situation, in their world. Usually, this carries some sense of implicit separation, of “me” and “the world.” We’re going to start with these basics, not as given truths, as reality, but simply where we tend to begin. We’ll deepen into this and see where it might go.
I’m already suggesting that it opens into the non-dual View of Reality, the Presence of Reality, that which is primordially present before we overlay our sense of separation, and which makes itself known when we do not obstruct it or distract from it. Enter in, and discover what you experience.
The sense of being “here” in the midst of a place can be symbolized by a point in the center of a circle — more specifically, a finite circle with a finite dot in the center. Attuning to your breath, let there be a movement inward toward the center on the inhales, and an expansion outward on the exhales. If that center is in your heart, imagine a series of concentric circles (or spheres) outward from it in all directions. Let the breath be slow, deep, and mindful, bringing your whole attention to it.
You might find it helpful to bring the palms together at the chest, providing an embodied sense of the center. Let this be a focus of deep bodily sensing, then extending the sensing into the whole body and beyond.
Now become aware that the movement inward moves into its essential center in an infinitesimal point, and the movement outward continues into the infinitely unbounded. Experience the finite (in this case, as the body) always within this context of the infinitesimal and the infinite.
On the inhales, draw the attention toward this point. On the exhales, expand the sense of space to the body, then beyond to a space around the body, and then continuing outward beyond any finite spaces into the infinite. On the inhales, feel as if the body were condensing into the center point, the infinitesimal. On the exhales, feel as if the body were expanding into the infinite.
Feel the play of inhale and exhale as a play between the infinitesimal and the infinite, the inhale opening into the infinitesimal and the exhale opening into the infinite. On the inhales, feel that the infinite is condensing into the infinitesimal, and on the exhales, feel that the infinitesimal is expanding into the infinite.
Further, at the end of the exhale, feel a complete letting go in which even space, spatiality itself, is released into what we might call Infinity. Let this practice be a deep release into Oneness — the Oneness of the infinitesimal, the finite, the infinite, as well as the Infinity that is completely beyond space altogether, and even beyond time, mind, and self.
Just as both inhale and exhale are phases of one breath, so too, the infinitesimal, the finite, the infinite, and the Infinity are all phases of One Reality, which we will simply name the Great Mystery. This is the Context, the Presence within which all our finite experiences arise, but we are usually bound to the finite and are completely unaware of its Context.
This unawareness, this ignorance or ignoring, is held in place by a dualistic mindset that serves as the limited framework through which we experience and live. And it is also held in place by the “me” that implicitly is at the center of our experience or world. By going beyond the finite in the inward direction to the infinitesimal, you are going beyond that fixation of “me,” and by releasing into the infinite and Infinity, you are releasing duality into Oneness.
The sense of “I” does not disappear, nor does a sense of a finite world as a network of interconnections. What relaxes is the fixation, the stuck sense of separation, as the finite expands into the Great Mystery as its Context. The inmost, the infinitesimal, can be felt and recognized as the Presence of the Infinite within form, as the Heart essence. Before you start trying to change the world, others, or even yourself, discover what already is.
Ed Hirsch facilitates small weekly gatherings in presence, making use of an embodied system of guided practices. Email him at email@example.com. Send 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Richard Carey (firstname.lastname@example.org).