During The Workshops first trip to the American Wisdom Temple (般若寺) in Billerica, Mass., Venerable Qi Yuan discussed that different people can have different preferences for the means of entering the state of meditation. I have stumbled upon one that has worked best for me so far, the Anapanasati Sutta, which I first experienced during the Workshops visit to Chùa Tường Vân in Lowell, Mass. This is a reflection on my initial experience with this meditation practice: The full awareness of breathing.

The Anapanasati Sutta focuses on one specific idea at a time. The first line is—

Breathing in a long breath, I know I am breathing in a long breath. Breathing out a long breath, I know I am breathing out a long breath. He or she practices like this.

The rest of the Sutta continues similarly, with concentrations on the body, feelings, mind, and dharmas (impermanence, fading desire, no-birth/no-death, and letting go).

I have not read much further about this practice yet, as I wanted to see what effect my interpretation of experiencing it would have. Hence, assuming meditation. I observed myself creating visualizations to help me concentrate on each specific meditation. Reading different translations also gave me different interpretations of the ideas.

Before this practice, I had always had the vague aspiration to create a habit of meditation, but I never committed to the habit. I had also never found a specific form of meditation to practice, as I didn’t notice the importance of it, and just resulted in focusing on my breathing for an arbitrary amount of time.

After realizing the effectiveness of having specific ideas to focus on while meditating, especially one that focuses on full awareness,” I realized the importance of being deliberate with meditation. This echoed with messages I have heard from monastics and Buddhist friends. I have since had a full week of consistent daily practice.

Each day I practice this meditation, I have a different experience with it, and I know that my relationship with it will continue to change. There is still a lot I don’t understand about it, which gives me optimism for my practice to grow, but also skepticism that it might not be the best meditation practice.

There must be a practice out there that fits me better than this that I don’t know about yet. But you can’t ever reach perfection. Right now, this is what you have started. It has found you in a way that no other practice has. So in that way, this is perfect. For now, at least, so stick with it.

Follow through on this one practice and it will be rewarding and of great benefit.”



Each spring term, The Workshop welcomes approximately 20 seniors to this interdisciplinary, project-based course. With an eye toward reimagining what school can be, the Workshop is the senior’s only academic commitment for the entire term. Instead of splitting their time and attention into units of distinct courses and fields of study, they work closely with peers, faculty, and community and global partners on a series of linked, interdisciplinary projects that revolve around a single theme. Within the theme Experiments in Education, students explore areas of personal interest.

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