The eighth is about calming the mental formations.
In the text, mental formations are mentioned.
Breathing in, I'm aware of the mental formation that is there.
Breathing out, I'm aware of the mental formation that is there.
The recognition of mental formations without trying to be attracted to it or to push it away. Just simple mere recognition. But although the word here is the mental formation, we know it is the feeling or emotion. So, a good translation should be like this.
Aware of the feeling that is there, I breathe in.
Aware of the feeling that is there, I breathe out.
You use your energy of mindfulness to recognize the feeling and to embrace the feeling. Not to suppress it or to identify with it. Very important. If you are identifying with it or you try to suppress it, you lose yourself. And you become violent. So, this is the exercise, aiming at recognizing the feeling that is there, whether it is a pleasant feeling or a painful feeling. So, you retain your calm, your lucidity.
And with the eighth exercise, you relax the feeling, you calm the feeling, you calm the emotion.
Breathing in, I calm the feeling that is there, I calm the emotion which is there.
Breathing out, I calm the feeling that is there, I calm the emotion which is there.
Skillfully he practiced breathing in, calming his feelings.
Skillfully he practiced breathing out, calming his feelings.
In Plum Village, we have developed these two exercises (7th and 8th) into a practice that can help young people to deal with the emotion. Even young people commit suicide, because they don't know how to take care of the feeling, of the emotion that is overwhelming, feeling of anger, feeling of despair. It's so strong. We have to tell them it is possible to deal with a feeling, with an emotion. We are much more than an emotion. Why do we have to die because of one emotion? Because those who kill themselves, they believe that killing themselves is the only way to stop sufferings. But that is not true.
There are many ways to deal with the emotions, to get out of the emotions, to transform the emotions. And the emotion is like a storm. And if we know how we prepare ourselves, we can sustain ourselves, we can protect ourselves in a time of storm. And the practice of mindful breathing is very essential in order for you to stand firm during a storm of emotions.
We have to tell ourselves, we have to tell our children that we are much more than our emotions. I used to say that we have not used all the capacity of our cerebral cortex, or brain. There are many areas in that we have not explored, we have not used. Many of us have a computer, Microsoft PC or Apple Macintosh. And usually we use our computer in order to do only some work like word processing, seeking the mail, e-mail and to follow the stock market. We use only 5% or 10% of the capacity of our computer. But if you know how to use all the capacity, you can do a lot of work. So, emotion is a tiny part of ourselves. We have the capacity of being joyful, of being free, of being happy. We have stored the capacity.