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Book Reviews

Breath by Breath

The Liberating Practice of Insight

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While breathing in long, one knows: “I breathe in long.” While breathing out long, one knows: “I breathe out long.” True to the title of Breath by Breath, even the act of reading led me to greater awareness.

Author Larry Rosenberg structures his teachings on the Anapasati Sutra, a 2,500 year-old text of meditative instructions of the Buddha. The practice is a progression of 16 contemplations that bring stillness and insight through mindfulness in breathing. Coming from a similar path as Thich Nhat Hanh, Rosenberg illuminates this meditative path in clear enlivened writing.

Breath by Breath is divided into four areas following the tetrades of the Sutra itself. The contemplations move from awareness of the body, feelings, and the mind, to awareness of impermanence, the center of the Buddha’s teaching. Weaving all the contemplations together is breath, anchoring the practitioner to the present moment.

Rosenberg draws upon his experience to clearly illuminate the hard work, subtle pitfalls and great rewards of the meditative path. Taken from a series of lectures this book reads as the spoken word, sometimes disjointed. However, the richness and true understanding ultimately provide the reader with a guide worthy of consulting many times.

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