Breath this... Breath that...

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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby ground » Thu Sep 02, 2010 3:36 am

mettafuture wrote:I basically have 2 questions:
- Do you think dhamma teachers should go into more detail about the other meditation objects for those who may not be ready for breath meditation?


I have been told that breath meditation is mainly for those who tend to be distracted by thoughts, i.e. conceptually "hyperactive" people.
Just to mention an alternative: Mental images of objects, e.g. the Buddha (in the context of shamata meditation).

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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Sep 02, 2010 7:39 am

Can you give Theravadin soources for the inclusion of visualisation in meditation practice T.MIngyur. Other than Kasina practice which is not visualisation proper ?
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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby mettafuture » Thu Sep 02, 2010 8:03 pm

legolas wrote:Ahem :thinking: Back to subject...........I would still love to hear of a book that deals with the six recollections in an upbeat fashion. It is really important that we can arouse enthusiasm in our meditation object/subject.

Me too.

Kenshou wrote:Anapanasati is a good basic meditation and though it may not fit every foot it seems to fit many. So they teach it a lot. There's nothing stopping you from doing something else, though, go for it.

I'd think that any of the satipatthana would be a fine stand-alone technique. Whatever works.

The only thing that's stopping me are clear instructions. The moment I receive them, the moment I'll be able to resume practice.

Goofaholix wrote:
mettafuture wrote:The breath is still the primary meditation object. You're only asked to turn a thought into an object if it persists after being noted.

That's not how I was taught. I was taught that everything one experiences should be noticed or noted and the breath is only an anchor, something for you to return to whenever you need to so that you don't get lost.

But the breath is still involved. The abdomen moves because of the breath.

I'd feel much better, and more comfortable, if I could just let the breath happen naturally, and focus on something else.

Here's a really nice chart by Venerable Bodhi:
http://www.bodhimonastery.net/courses/M ... rances.pdf

I don't believe the Buddha was a supporter of idle chatter. He didn't give hundreds of discourses, and describe 39 other objects of contemplation for nothing. There should at least be more material on how to directly counter the 5 hindrances.

Goedert wrote:[...]

They are all good sources for textual learning. I wold recommed you supplement your study with oral instructions, there is such sources:
http://www.dhammatalks.org/
http://www.bhavanasociety.org/
http://www.audiodharma.org/

Many thanks for the links. I'll look through each one.

Vepacitta wrote:Because there's enough 'smart-ass-ism' on this board as it is Chownah.

Metta - as to your question - there are other forms of mediations - the kasina meditations - one uses the kasina object - usually a large circle of colour - blue - green - red - etc. These are used for jhana mediation - although - the breath is also considered the way to enter into Jhana as well. I'd have to ask around to see about detailed instructions for jhana mediation and kasina objects - although doubtless you could do some googling.

Sorry to hear about your respiratory issues and hope you feel better.

V.

Thank you, and I'll give your suggestions a Google. :)

TMingyur wrote:
mettafuture wrote:I basically have 2 questions:
- Do you think dhamma teachers should go into more detail about the other meditation objects for those who may not be ready for breath meditation?


I have been told that breath meditation is mainly for those who tend to be distracted by thoughts, i.e. conceptually "hyperactive" people.

I live a very simple life. I'm very patient, and I only have the things I need (+ an iPod touch :D).
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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Sep 02, 2010 8:47 pm

mettafuture wrote:I'd feel much better, and more comfortable, if I could just let the breath happen naturally, and focus on something else.


That's an interesting thing to investigate. In theory we are supposed to observe the natural breath when we observe the breath whether it is at the nostrils or abdomen, however most people find as soon as they start doing that the breath becomes tight or forced. Investigating that I think reveals something about our attitude towards our experience and the pervasive nature of greed and aversion, which is one of the things the technique is supposed to teach us.

But yes using a non-breath technique does result in the breath becoming much gentler and more natural. I haven't used breath techniques much at all over the past 8 years, it was just a natural progression for me, but that doesn't mean I feel there is too much emphasis on teaching breath techniques.

At the end of the day it doesn't really matter what you choose as a meditation object because the whole point is what is the mind doing, so the simpler the object the better until one gets skilled at observing the mind.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Sep 02, 2010 9:13 pm

mettafuture wrote:I'd feel much better, and more comfortable, if I could just let the breath happen naturally, and focus on something else.

I really don't see a problem. Take the typical Mahasi-style instructions, such as here:
http://buddhanet.net/imol/vipcours.htm
http://buddhanet.net/imol/wrkshp.htm
Essentials of Insight Meditation Practice — Ven. Sujiva. PDF here:
http://buddhanet.net/ebooks_m.htm

The recommendation is to spend half the time walking, focussing on motion and sensations of the feet. So that's presumably not a problem. Then, when sitting, you can note "sitting" (the tension holding the body upright) and "touching" (the body touching the floor/cushion).

As Ven Sujiva says: (P6 in the above PDF):
In the beginning, the meditation objects met with during a sitting meditation session are:
“Rising” and “falling” of abdomen
“Sitting” and “touching” sensations
Thinking or restlessness
Sleepiness
Hearing of sound
Painful and pleasurable feelings

“Rising” and “falling” of abdomen is first used as the main object
but when it becomes fainter and infrequent, “sitting” and “touching”
sensations are then used as a substitute. Pain and feelings may then
take over during longer sittings. Other less frequent objects are taken
note of and after they disappear, one returns to observe the main
object.

In walking meditation, the same applies with the walking process
as the main object and others (pain, thinking, seeing, hearing and
others) as secondary objects.

In this way material and mental phenomena can be mindfully
observed as they arise and pass away as processes.

As Goofaholix implies, it's quite possible to not use anything to do with the breath as the primary objects. Just use the walking and the sitting/touching.

Mike
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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby mettafuture » Fri Sep 03, 2010 1:27 am

Thank you for your replies and recommendations.

Mike, I've downloaded the pdfs you posted to my laptop. I'm going to read them during my commute tomorrow.

A little background into my practice history: Over the years I've gotten some great one-on-one instruction on breath meditation. I've learned how to feel the breath at the nostrils, how to follow the movement of the breath at the abdomen, mental noting based on the Mahasi technique, ect. But I have a very strong feeling that I would be able to make better progress if I could focus on something that had absolutely nothing to do with the breath.

My best meditation experiences have been with metta, and with contemplating feelings as instructed in the Satipatthana Sutta. I would like to refine and/or compare my current approach with other approaches, and perhaps add some of the 5 recollections into my practice. My frustration comes when I'm not able to find any material that goes into detail on this. Everything, of course, is about the breath...

I could just come up with my own way to meditate on these thins, but I don't trust myself enough to do that. :D

I recently found this link:
http://audiodharma.org/series/1/talk/1808/

I'm also going to add this to the laptop for review.
Last edited by mettafuture on Fri Sep 03, 2010 1:43 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby ground » Fri Sep 03, 2010 1:32 am

Sanghamitta wrote:Can you give Theravadin soources for the inclusion of visualisation in meditation practice T.MIngyur. Other than Kasina practice which is not visualisation proper ?


No, not spontaneously. :)

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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby octathlon » Fri Sep 03, 2010 1:48 am

mettafuture wrote:I recently found this link:
http://audiodharma.org/series/1/talk/1808/

I'm also going to add this to the laptop for review.


Hi mettafuture,
That link goes to a page with a list of talks and I can't tell which one you are referring to... Can you post the specific name of the talk?

:anjali:
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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby mettafuture » Fri Sep 03, 2010 2:42 am

octathlon wrote:
mettafuture wrote:I recently found this link:
http://audiodharma.org/series/1/talk/1808/

I'm also going to add this to the laptop for review.


Hi mettafuture,
That link goes to a page with a list of talks and I can't tell which one you are referring to... Can you post the specific name of the talk?

:anjali:

All of them.

:toast:

They all focus on the 5 hindrances. The first set explains the hindrances, and gives a guided meditation on how to counter each one. And the second set goes into detail on each hindrance. I'm sure each guided meditation starts with the breath, but it's still nice to see some of the other objects being explored.
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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby octathlon » Fri Sep 03, 2010 3:01 am

Ah, OK. :D
I'm taking 2 extra days off to make a long weekend and I was already planning to listen to some of the recordings on that site. Maybe I'll listen to some of the ones on that page, too.
:smile:

Edit to add: Some of the ones I am planning to try: http://audiodharma.org/series/1/talk/1868/
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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby Vepacitta » Fri Sep 03, 2010 3:06 am

Mettafuture - may I recommend a book - Theravadin Meditation - by Winston King. He was a scholarly lay practitioner. This book discusses in detail jhana meditation and the use of Kasinas. (Note: Ven. Sariputta really emphasized breath meditation as the 'penultimate' for jhana - BUT - this book lays out in scholarly detail - the use of colour kasinas - ie, non breath meditation objects for meditation.)

This book may be of some help to you.

I will see my teacher this saturday - if I get a chance - I will ask him about this and your situation and see if he recommends anything. I will pm you on this as I don't want to discuss in this in the open forum. Please check your pms.

Best and be well,

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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby mettafuture » Fri Sep 03, 2010 4:13 am

Vepacitta wrote:Mettafuture - may I recommend a book - Theravadin Meditation - by Winston King. He was a scholarly lay practitioner. This book discusses in detail jhana meditation and the use of Kasinas. (Note: Ven. Sariputta really emphasized breath meditation as the 'penultimate' for jhana - BUT - this book lays out in scholarly detail - the use of colour kasinas - ie, non breath meditation objects for meditation.)

This book may be of some help to you.

I will see my teacher this saturday - if I get a chance - I will ask him about this and your situation and see if he recommends anything. I will pm you on this as I don't want to discuss in this in the open forum. Please check your pms.

Best and be well,

V.

Thank you, and will do!

EDIT: While looking up your title suggestion, I found this book.

Buddhist Meditation: An Anthology of Texts from the Pali Canon by Sarah Shaw
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0415485681

It doesn't have any reviews, but it looks very promising. Has anyone here heard of it?
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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Sep 03, 2010 4:36 am

mettafuture wrote:My best meditation experiences have been with metta, and with contemplating feelings as instructed in the Satipatthana Sutta. I would like to refine and/or compare my current approach with other approaches, and perhaps add some of the 5 recollections into my practice. My frustration comes when I'm not able to find any material that goes into detail on this. Everything, of course, is about the breath...


Trouble is when people talk about their best meditation experiences often the criteria they are measuring by is the most calm, or the least discursive thinking, or the most pleasant feeling.

This is fine if that is what you're after but the primary purpose of Buddhist meditation is insight or wisdom, and this doesn't always "feel" like the best meditation experience.

Anyway it's good to branch out into other techniques if you've mastered the technique you are doing and need to expand your boundaries, it's not good if you are doing it out of restlessness or dissatisfaction. The technique is not important, the attitude of mind is.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby mettafuture » Fri Sep 03, 2010 4:42 am

Goofaholix wrote:
mettafuture wrote:My best meditation experiences have been with metta, and with contemplating feelings as instructed in the Satipatthana Sutta. I would like to refine and/or compare my current approach with other approaches, and perhaps add some of the 5 recollections into my practice. My frustration comes when I'm not able to find any material that goes into detail on this. Everything, of course, is about the breath...


Trouble is when people talk about their best meditation experiences often the criteria they are measuring by is the most calm, or the least discursive thinking, or the most pleasant feeling.

This is fine if that is what you're after but the primary purpose of Buddhist meditation is insight or wisdom, and this doesn't always "feel" like the best meditation experience.

Anyway it's good to branch out into other techniques if you've mastered the technique you are doing and need to expand your boundaries, it's not good if you are doing it out of restlessness or dissatisfaction. The technique is not important, the attitude of mind is.

I have respiratory problems. Asking me to do breath meditation is like asking a man with broken legs to do walking meditation. Sure, I can deal with the discomfort, but why should I have to when there are 39 other objects I could be focusing on? All I need is the instruction.
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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Sep 03, 2010 4:56 am

Hi MettaFuture,
mettafuture wrote:I have respiratory problems. Asking me to do breath meditation is like asking a man with broken legs to do walking meditation. Sure, I can deal with the discomfort, but why should I have to when there are 39 other objects I could be focusing on? All I need is the instruction.

Yes, we understand that. But walking is not a problem, right? And there are plenty of books and websites that discuss Metta.

There is considerable detail in the Visuddhimagga (hundreds of pages!) on the 40 objects, though it's not always easy to read. However the section on Metta, for example, covers most of what you'll find in most modern expositions. And there are dozens of pages on each recollection...

Mike
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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby mettafuture » Fri Sep 03, 2010 5:01 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi MettaFuture,
mettafuture wrote:I have respiratory problems. Asking me to do breath meditation is like asking a man with broken legs to do walking meditation. Sure, I can deal with the discomfort, but why should I have to when there are 39 other objects I could be focusing on? All I need is the instruction.

Yes, we understand that. But walking is not a problem, right? And there are plenty of books and websites that discuss Metta.

There is considerable detail in the Visuddhimagga (hundreds of pages!) on the 40 objects, though it's not always easy to read. However the section on Metta, for example, covers most of what you'll find in most modern expositions. And there are dozens of pages on each recollection...

Mike

Thanks to you and some of the others in this thread I have enough material to get the ball rolling again. My concern isn't entirely for myself, though. Everyone would benefit if there were more materials on some of the other meditation objects. There are hundreds of books on the breath, but hardly any books can be found on the 5 recollections, the kasinas, and so on.
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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Sep 03, 2010 5:53 am

mettafuture wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:
mettafuture wrote:I have respiratory problems. Asking me to do breath meditation is like asking a man with broken legs to do walking meditation. Sure, I can deal with the discomfort, but why should I have to when there are 39 other objects I could be focusing on? All I need is the instruction.


You still have to breath no matter what object you choose, do you not? So presumably the problem is that once you place your attention on the breath it becomes unnatural, this is a problem of the mind not the breath so it's worth exploring.

I get a lot of nasal congestion and I found in the past the best way to not let it ruin my meditation was to give full attention to it, which of course is just the place where you need to give attention in anapanasati.

I think it's worth exploring why your respiratory problems are worse when you give attention to them, you may find by doing so you learn to let go of your resistance to it and relax around it and gain some freedom from it.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby Vepacitta » Fri Sep 03, 2010 2:19 pm

You may be right Goof - about 'over focusing' and making breath a problem. However, if he's got respiratory issues, and he's getting frigged up over it (not a criticism Metta - we all get frigged up over something) then it's pointless to point him towards breath meditation - at least - at this point.

Far better that he can establish another type of meditation practise for now. So he can y'know ... practice. :smile:

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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby Sanghamitta » Fri Sep 03, 2010 2:31 pm

:goodpost: As Ajahn Munindo says, practice as you can, not as you cant, and always be prepared to push yourself a LITTLE at a time.
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