I've drunk a lot of coffee in my life. Also, thought a lot about God.
What I've concluded after all these years (65, to be exact) is that a single sip of coffee brings me hugely closer to reality than a thousand God-thoughts.
I could have said "a million," because the gap is so wide between (1) something that actually exists in the world beyond the human brain, and (2) something that exists only as an abstract human conception.
In no way do I call myself a Buddhist. But there are many aspects of Buddhism that I find appealing, along with many that I reject. The notion of spaciousness is one that I like, though I have my own take on it.
Usually people tend to relax the body by concentrating on different parts. Real relaxation comes when you relax from within, for then everything else will ease itself out quite naturally.
When you begin to practice, you center yourself, in touch with your "soft spot", and just remain there. You need not focus on anything in particular to begin with. Just be spacious, and allow thoughts and emotions to settle. If you do so, then later, when you use a method such as watching the breath, your attention will more easily be on your breathing.
There is no particular point on the breath on which you need to focus, it is simply the process of breathing. Twenty-five percent of your attention is on the breath, and seventy-five percent is relaxed. Try to actually identify with the breathing, rather than just watching it. You may choose an object, like a flower, for example, to focus upon. Sometimes you are taught to visualize a light on the forehead, or in the heart. Sometimes a sound or a mantra can be used.
But at the beginning it is best to simply be spacious, like the sky. Think of yourself as the sky, holding the whole universe.
Like Madonna, albeit with a lyrics sex change, I find myself a material guy living in a material world.
Pretending otherwise by embracing thoughts of God, soul, spirit, heaven, angels, and other supernatural imaginings not apparent to the senses either directly or indirectly leads to the non-spacious realm that exists only within the human brain.
Which, of course, is also material. However, looking out provides a vision of vistas unknown to those who focus on contents of their own psyche that have no connection with the outside world.
A cup of coffee exists as objective fact.
Other people can testify to the reality of the coffee that I raise to my lips. Laboratory equipment can measure the coffee's qualities. Predictions can be made of the coffee's effect on my mind and body. God and other supernatural concepts, though, are merely abstract thought-objects, not real world-objects.
Buddhism, Zen variety, advises enlightenment seekers to chop wood and carry water. Note: not think thoughts and imagine imaginations.
Chopping is done to wood. Carrying is done to water. But thinking thoughts and imagining imaginations are recursive, confining, within-cranium activities. Important and worthwhile, certainly. Unspacious and unsatisfying, though.
Compared to living spaciously in the real world beyond the human brain. I confirm this every time I go for an evening dog walk. Which is just about every day.
It's easy to get caught up in my own thoughts and imaginings while walking along with older dog Serena and younger dog Zuzu. Naturally at those moments I'm aware of where I am, but only marginally. To borrow a Buddhist term, I'm acutely mindful of what my own mind is churning out, yet only minimally aware of what surrounds me.
Which, when I return to focusing my material senses on the material world, is more satisfyingly solidly real than the thoughts, feelings, and such that exist only as private neurological productions.
The golden soon-to-fall deciduous leaves contrasted beautifully with the reddish bark of the Ponderosas. Thinking about wispy supernatural nothings seems bizarrely absurd when such evocative natural somethings surround me.
i realize that religious believers would say, "Both of these photos reflect the glory of God's creation." To which I reply: nice thought. I'll stick with my directly experienced reality.
Life is too short and too precious to waste by living within the confines of one's own religiously confined mind, focused on unseen dogmas while failing to embrace the clearly present reality that beckons every waking moment.
Here's some good tips about how to live more spaciously. Check out "How to Be Fully Awake Instead of Living on Autopilot." I heartily agree with...
1. Sit in stillness. Stop moving, stop doing, stop planning and living in the future. You can sit on a cushion or sit in a chair.
2. Go outside and feel the wind on your face, smell the fresh air, and connect with nature. If it’s possible, lie in the grass, stare at the sky, and listen to the birds. Feel your heart open.
3. Connect with another person, smile, and make eye contact. If you observe yourself becoming judgmental or critical, try to see that person as another human being struggling to be happy, just like you.
4. If you have pets, connect with them through touch. Feel their affection. We can communicate with them and learn from them about how to stay in the moment.
5. Tune in to your body, let it move, and feed it well. Practice awareness of your senses. Feel what you are touching, listen to the sounds around you, and smell what’s cooking.
6. Breathe deeply. Count your breaths to 21 when you are driving in your car. Calm down and stay present. Repeat.