Today, I found renewed inspiration for practice in Ajahn Chah's injunction to 'Just do it!'. It is so easy wanting to complicate practice, when in fact the idea is to just do it, meaning simply following the breath, and keeping at it for a set period of time.
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don’t be interested in anything else. It doesn’t matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don’t pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it.
Don’t take up anything else. There’s no need to think about gaining things. Don’t take up anything at all. Simply know the in- breath and the out-breath. The in-breath and the out-breath. [In] on the in-breath; [out] on the out-breath. Just stay with the breath in this way until you are aware of the in-breath and aware of the out-breath....aware of the in-breath.... aware of the out-breath. Be aware in this way until the mind is peaceful, without irritation, without agitation, merely the breath going out and coming in. Let your mind remain in this state. You don’t need a goal yet. It’s this state that is the first stage of practice.
... watch the inhalation to its full extent until it completely disappears in the abdomen. When the inhalation is complete then allow the breath out until the lungs are empty. Don’t force it. It doesn’t matter how long or short or soft the breath is, let it be just right for you. Sit and watch the inhalation and the exhalation, make yourself comfortable with that. Don’t allow your mind to get lost. If it gets lost then stop, look to see where it’s got to, why it is not following the breath. Go after it and bring it back. Get it to stay with the breath, and, without doubt, one day you will see the reward. Just keep doing it. Do it as if you won’t gain anything, as if nothing will happen, as if you don’t know who’s doing it, but keep doing it anyway. Like rice in the barn. You take it out and sow it in the fields, as if you were throwing it away, sow it throughout the fields, without being interested in it, and yet it sprouts, rice plants grow up, you transplant it and you’ve got sweet green rice. That’s what it’s about.Of course it is not so easy. The challenge lies in making it to one's seat and staying with the practice. What helps is knowing that in the end, the mind will eventually calm down, and we may get a chance to experience peace. Meanwhile, we let go of any goal, any desire for any outcome. And we just follow the breath.