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Lessons in fearless living through breathwork, gentle movement, and meditation based on the experiences of those at the edge of life

• Shares a series of simple, practical, and profound conscious breathing, movement, and meditation exercises that help you bypass the ego-centered mind, open your heart, and live in the present moment

• Developed through the author’s decades of work with cancer patients

When we face death, we learn to release the small anxieties and insecurities that can afflict us in daily life and live life fully in the present moment. Without the ego-shattering blow of a terminal diagnosis, these life-giving practices usually only come about after decades of spiritual practice. However, it is possible to embrace these lessons from the dying and discover our own gentle confidence, inner stillness, and heart-centered way of being long before we face the end of life.

Through decades of teaching yoga and meditation to cancer patients, William Yang witnessed hundreds of breakthroughs into radical presence and open-heartedness. In many ways, his patients taught him more than he taught them. From this collaboration with the sick and dying, Yang developed a series of simple, practical, and profound conscious breathing, movement, and meditation exercises that help to bypass the ego-centered mind, open the heart, and live fearlessly in the present moment. Yang’s exercises begin with an invitation to rediscover a natural and unforced way of breathing, so we can let go of our anxious ego and let life in again. From there, enlarging the sequence step by step, the author focuses on grounding and connecting with Mother Earth, working with the spine to develop a new sense of self-confidence, and opening the heart to love again.

As we shed elements of the stressed, anxious person we once were, we are able to be more attuned to the world around us in a loving and caring way. Through the lessons learned from his cancer patients, Yang shows how, with courage and compassion, we can live and love without reservation at any time in our lives.

From Chapter 9. Being Silent: Healing the World by Being Present

The main characteristic of a Bodhisattva is her quality of “presence,” as she is fully present in the here and now. This presence is tender, modest, and powerful at the same time. It has a quality of nakedness as it is not dressed in impressive or outstanding characteristics.

If she is there you feel yourself surrounded by a loving presence, a kind of energy that you can only feel after you became quiet of wanting it. It is a “healing” energy in the truest sense, as it heals the divisive actions of the mind. It is an energy that fills the fissures and gaps in the heart of mankind. A Bodhisattva brings peace into this world not as a political solution but as a living experience. She is a grassroots peacekeeper, kind yet fearless.

She brings light into this world not out of a crusade against the dark and evil forces, but out of sheer joy of radiating its true essence in all directions and in every situation.

She brings healing into this world not out of fear of sickness and death, but out of bringing people back to their true nature, their original pureness: the inner light of their own soul, heart, and mind.

The yoga of courage and compassion is in fact a pilgrimage to arrive at this inner light and to become a “light unto this world.” It is not a pilgrimage to visit some holy place or meet a holy man. It is all about becoming your own true self: becoming a Bodhisattva. It is about becoming a Buddha, becoming Christ.

As long as we do not have the courage to cross the distance that separates us from a Bodhisattva, a Buddha, and Christ we remain imprisoned in our own dualistic mind. As long as we do not have the courage and the power to break through the walls that separate the Buddha and the Christ, Buddhism and Christianity, East and West or North and South, peace will not have a chance. As long as we need to preserve our cherished identities of being so different from each other--Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist--we shall never be able to identify our deepest and innermost nature. In the depth of our being we are brothers and sisters, we are all one. Only from the depths of our being can we be truly loving and compassionate.

To become “one” is the final goal of our pilgrimage. Only then “peace will have a chance.” Inner peace and world peace will then be fundamentally one and the same, as the one cannot possibly exist without the other. This may still seem a distant ideal, but it is the only option for survival as a human race.

True peacekeeping is training our bodies and minds in such a way that peace becomes a living experience: “the most natural gift of our souls.”

This yoga of courage and compassion may guide your way into and right through your body/mind in order to experience the inner Light of Peace. It may then help you to guide this Light inside out into this world until the last blade of grass is touched by You.

Healing the World by Being Present

Buddha’s Basic Breathing Meditation

You can do this breathing meditation in any position you feel comfortable in.

Observe and follow your breath. Feel how the air flows through your nostrils when you breathe in and how it flows out again when you breathe out.

Do this 10 times.

If your mind wanders off, begin again.

Meditative Breathing Exercise

Sit straight on a chair or a cushion on the floor. Feel yourself well connected with the earth beneath you.

Put your right hand in your left hand. The tips of your thumbs lightly touch each other.

The tip of your tongue lightly touches your palate just behind the front teeth. Generate the bowl.

Generate the center within the space of the bowl. Visualize it radiating white light.

Generate a thread of white light through your spinal column.

Generate the energy field within and around your body.

Open your heart of courage and compassion.

Visualize a beautiful, soft white light in the spot between--and a little above--your eyes.

Feel an inner connection between the light in the center of your bowl and the light in between your eyes.

Breathe in and go with your attention from within the center in your bowl through your spine, over the midline of your head into the space between your eyes.

Stop there for a brief moment.

Breathe out and go with your attention downward--down your nose, tongue, throat, chest, stomach, belly, bowl, and into its center.

Silently you can make the sounds OM-AH-HUM--OM breathing in, AH pausing in the space between the eyes, HUM breathing out.

Repeat 7 times . . .

Relax and let the light between your eyes quietly spread over your face . . . into your head . . . down your shoulders, down your arms, filling your chest, filling your belly and bowl . . . spreading into your legs, feet and toes. Spreading beyond your body, filling the room you are in . . . the house . . . the street.

Let it spread as far as it naturally goes, entering all the dark corners everywhere there is suffering, alleviating, transforming, enlightening.

Meditation in Action

Experiment with this living, transforming light wherever you are whatever you do whoever you are with.

Heal the world by your presence.

William Yang has been teaching relaxation, breathing, meditation, and yoga exercises to cancer patients since the early 1980s. Inspired by the benefits patients reported in the hospital where he worked, he founded a center dedicated to these programs, which in a later phase went on to become the William Yang Foundation, based in the Netherlands. In 1995 he received the Dr. Marco de Vries award in bio-psychosocial medicine and in 2005 he became a knight of the order of Oranje Nassau, an honor bestowed by H.M. Queen Beatrix for his work with cancer patients and disadvantaged children in India. He lives in Nijmegen in the Netherlands.

  • Publisher: Inner Traditions (August 1, 2021)
  • Length: 112 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781644112861