How to develop metta/ loving kindness towards breath?

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How to develop metta/ loving kindness towards breath?

Postby David2 » Fri Jun 03, 2011 9:20 am

Ajahn Brahm recommends in his book (collection of talks) "Simply this moment" to develop loving kindness towards the breath.

However, he does not mention how.

There are lots of instructions of how to develop loving kindness towards people (towards yourself, your relatives, friends, enemies and all living beings.)

But how to develop loving kindness towards objects that are no living beings?

I does not make sense to recite: "May the breath always be happy", or does it? :tongue:
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Re: How to develop metta/ loving kindness towards breath?

Postby PeterB » Fri Jun 03, 2011 9:33 am

Sounds whimsical to me to be quite honest. We can develop softness of the eyes, and less emphatic breathing by relaxing a little . We can at times loosen our identity with the breath, not see it as " ours".
But metta towards the breath sounds like typical Bettsian whimsy.
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Re: How to develop metta/ loving kindness towards breath?

Postby Sylvester » Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:11 am

David2 wrote:Ajahn Brahm recommends in his book (collection of talks) "Simply this moment" to develop loving kindness towards the breath.

However, he does not mention how.

There are lots of instructions of how to develop loving kindness towards people (towards yourself, your relatives, friends, enemies and all living beings.)

But how to develop loving kindness towards objects that are no living beings?

I does not make sense to recite: "May the breath always be happy", or does it? :tongue:


Check out the Mettasahagata Sutta, SN 46.54. You'll find Ajahn Brahm's "beautiful breath" instruction well within what the Mettasahagata Sutta describes as the "beautiful deliverance" which coincides with the Canonical description elsewhere of the Third Deliverance as Subhanteva adhimutto hoti, ayaṃ tatiyo vimokkho (Deliverance by Being Resolved on the Beautiful).

Or else, he enters and dwells in the liberation by the beautiful (subha vimokkha).
Monks, the liberation of mind by lovingkindness has the beautiful as its highest point, I say, for a
wise monk here who has not penetrated to a higher liberation.


The beginning of the instruction is to practice sati etc accompanied by metta (thus the title Mettasahagata). In this sutta, there is no radiation of metta to beings, but simply the instruction to relate to "states" with all the Enlightenment Factors in a very specific way, ie accompanied with metta.

So, no, you don't need to recite "May the breath be happy".

It's a relatively difficult practice, and it's really useful only after the equanimity obtained from satipatthana is very stable.
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Re: How to develop metta/ loving kindness towards breath?

Postby reflection » Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:25 am

Hi David,

:namaste:
I use this and it does really help. But I personally found it is not that useful to do before the thoughts are mostly quiet. You must be careful not to make too much effort when doing this or it will be counterproductive imo. So preferably no reciting when you are doing breath meditation, just try to call upon the feeling of loving kindness without words. It also gives rise to joy which is very helpful. If you can not call upon the feeling like that, maybe try some more separate practice. Loving kindness -when developed- does not really depend on what you focus it on. It can be people, it can be animals but also the breath, towards the meditation.

My 2 cents. I hope it helps.

With metta,
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Re: How to develop metta/ loving kindness towards breath?

Postby PeterB » Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:36 am

What you are describing is a positive mind state. A mind state that is predisposed towards metta.
That is somewhat removed in my understanding from directing metta to the breath.
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Re: How to develop metta/ loving kindness towards breath?

Postby daverupa » Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:39 am

Is it the case that "anapanametta" fulfills satipatthana?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: How to develop metta/ loving kindness towards breath?

Postby Gregor » Sun Jun 05, 2011 8:18 pm

Hi guys,
I'm not well established in theory but I would say that loving-kindness doesn't necessarily only mean feeling of love, warmth etc. towards somebody or something. Loving-kindness (metta) means also equanimity. And that is how I would apply it to breath and breathing meditation. What do I mean by that?

When we practice Anapana (mindfulness of breathing) we focus on breath, however our thoughts go other way. Than we return our attention to breath. And lose it again. In that process of loosing focus and reestablishing it we develop some sort of aversion towards breath. But if we apply equanimity, or metta as you've put it, towards breathing, the aversion will go away.

This is just my interpretation.
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Re: How to develop metta/ loving kindness towards breath?

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Jun 17, 2011 9:54 am

Ajahn Sumedho uses the phrase 'not dwelling in avarsion' to describe Metta, so just allow the breath to be how the breath is!
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: How to develop metta/ loving kindness towards breath?

Postby daverupa » Fri Jun 17, 2011 11:42 am

Manapa wrote:Ajahn Sumedho uses the phrase 'not dwelling in avarsion' to describe Metta, so just allow the breath to be how the breath is!


No disparagement intended here:

I would prefer to emphasize the active process of applying metta to aversion, rather than the relinquishment of aversion defining metta. This active component is a key facet of the Dhamma, and actively using the Four Immeasurables in this way is a very beneficial approach, in my experience.

However, my reading of anapanasati is that one should be setting mindfulness to the fore, i.e. making anapanasati the focus, rather than directing metta at a body among bodies. It seems to me that metta is not part of anapanasati instruction. Elsewhere, the Buddha says that the Four Immeasurables are to be generated for others for the protection of oneself, but that for oneself one was to use satipatthana. Perhaps this is more properly a monastic approach, and laypeople should emphasize mettabhavana, even during satipatthana generally, and anapanasati particularly?

I'm not sure about this last para.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: How to develop metta/ loving kindness towards breath?

Postby BlackBird » Fri Jun 17, 2011 11:58 am

Interesting topic. There's a sutta in the Samyutta Nikaya, perhaps Vedana samyutta or perhaps bojanga samyutta that discusses applying metta to the 7 factors of enlightenment. I'll try and hunt it out. I think it's safe to say that metta is a serious curiosity of Dhamma, something that intrigues us all, but ultimately (thus far) has eluded our attempts to understand it in it's entirety.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: How to develop metta/ loving kindness towards breath?

Postby bodom » Fri Jun 17, 2011 1:05 pm

BlackBird wrote:Interesting topic. There's a sutta in the Samyutta Nikaya, perhaps Vedana samyutta or perhaps bojanga samyutta that discusses applying metta to the 7 factors of enlightenment. I'll try and hunt it out. I think it's safe to say that metta is a serious curiosity of Dhamma, something that intrigues us all, but ultimately (thus far) has eluded our attempts to understand it in it's entirety.


Hi BlackBird

See the Mettaasahagata Sutta in Bodhi's Connected Discourses (2000), pp. 1607-11.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: How to develop metta/ loving kindness towards breath?

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Jun 18, 2011 10:43 pm

Would making the breath 'interesting' make it a sensual experience - hence to be avoided? :stirthepot:
With Metta

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& Upekkha
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Re: How to develop metta/ loving kindness towards breath?

Postby manas » Sun Jun 19, 2011 2:58 am

David2 wrote:Ajahn Brahm recommends in his book (collection of talks) "Simply this moment" to develop loving kindness towards the breath.

However, he does not mention how.

There are lots of instructions of how to develop loving kindness towards people (towards yourself, your relatives, friends, enemies and all living beings.)

But how to develop loving kindness towards objects that are no living beings?

I does not make sense to recite: "May the breath always be happy", or does it? :tongue:

Hi David,
I've found that metta can indeed be 'given' to the breath. But it has to be sincere. And so, 'may the breath be happy' does indeed seem silly to me also, as it's inanimate!

So most of the time, my 'kindness' to the breath takes the form of simple acceptance; acceptance that it (the breath) does not have to always please me, nor be interesting, in order for me to observe it. I've used something like, "You don't have to please me. Just be what you are; I will just watch". It works for me. The mind usually calms down after that. But, it cannot be forced or 'faked'...I've found that I have to really mean it, and that can involve some initial struggle with one's own hankering and longing. Oh, the fickle mind!

So I'm in the 'send it love' camp. :heart: It works for me. But hey, each to their own!
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Re: How to develop metta/ loving kindness towards breath?

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Jun 19, 2011 2:53 pm

daverupa wrote:
Manapa wrote:Ajahn Sumedho uses the phrase 'not dwelling in avarsion' to describe Metta, so just allow the breath to be how the breath is!


No disparagement intended here:

I would prefer to emphasize the active process of applying metta to aversion, rather than the relinquishment of aversion defining metta. This active component is a key facet of the Dhamma, and actively using the Four Immeasurables in this way is a very beneficial approach, in my experience.

However, my reading of anapanasati is that one should be setting mindfulness to the fore, i.e. making anapanasati the focus, rather than directing metta at a body among bodies. It seems to me that metta is not part of anapanasati instruction. Elsewhere, the Buddha says that the Four Immeasurables are to be generated for others for the protection of oneself, but that for oneself one was to use satipatthana. Perhaps this is more properly a monastic approach, and laypeople should emphasize mettabhavana, even during satipatthana generally, and anapanasati particularly?

I'm not sure about this last para.


If you are actively allowing the breath to be as it is, you are actively applying an antidote to aversion! you aren't allowing yourself to dwell in an unhappy place.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: How to develop metta/ loving kindness towards breath?

Postby daverupa » Sun Jun 19, 2011 7:31 pm

Manapa wrote:If you are actively allowing the breath to be as it is, you are actively applying an antidote to aversion! you aren't allowing yourself to dwell in an unhappy place.


It seems anapanametta is unnecessary, then.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: How to develop metta/ loving kindness towards breath?

Postby manas » Sun Jun 19, 2011 9:37 pm

daverupa wrote:
Manapa wrote:If you are actively allowing the breath to be as it is, you are actively applying an antidote to aversion! you aren't allowing yourself to dwell in an unhappy place.


It seems anapanametta is unnecessary, then.
Hi daverupa,
If you don't ever experience ill-will towards the breath, then it's unnecessary. But if, like myself, you find yourself occasionally bored during meditation, and it becomes an effort to keep the mind on the object - then metta can help greatly. In my experience, under boredom lies hankering for more than what is, and if we just keep going in the meditation, not giving in to the hankering for 'something more exciting', ill-will can arise. The mind wants more, and you won't give it - :x ... It is in just this place - the 'wanting more than what is' - that I gently apply acceptance of the breath as it is, giving it 'permission' (as it were) to be whatever it is in this moment. I can't fully explain why this then feels like metta, but it does.

It's like dropping my resistance to the breath. Not asking it to be exciting, or interesting, or anything other than just what it is. Agreeing to 'just observe'. At those moments, I've discovered that, just as in life if we focus on the faults of others, and blame them for us becoming miserable when we have unavoidable dealings with them, we later realize that the fault actually lies with ourselves, with our unrealistic expectations or perfectionism. People are the way they are - and we can't correct their faults for them, especially not with aversion! But we can apply patience...in this analogy, the 'faults' stand for what is annoying us about the breath, perhaps that it's 'boring'. Well the fault doesn't lie with the breath, but with our own minds, see what I mean? The breath is just a part of Nature, like the rest of our body. We can't force it to fit our expectations.

It's hard to tease apart the different mental factors in operation here. There is equanimity, effort, loving-kindness...but we don't need to analyze it like that, I feel. If the aim is, 'to have the mind resting in the breath, without aversion' - when I find something that works to achieve this - I use it.

:anjali:
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Re: How to develop metta/ loving kindness towards breath?

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Jun 20, 2011 8:51 am

manasikara wrote:
daverupa wrote:
Manapa wrote:If you are actively allowing the breath to be as it is, you are actively applying an antidote to aversion! you aren't allowing yourself to dwell in an unhappy place.


It seems anapanametta is unnecessary, then.
Hi daverupa,
If you don't ever experience ill-will towards the breath, then it's unnecessary. But if, like myself, you find yourself occasionally bored during meditation, and it becomes an effort to keep the mind on the object - then metta can help greatly. In my experience, under boredom lies hankering for more than what is, and if we just keep going in the meditation, not giving in to the hankering for 'something more exciting', ill-will can arise. The mind wants more, and you won't give it - :x ... It is in just this place - the 'wanting more than what is' - that I gently apply acceptance of the breath as it is, giving it 'permission' (as it were) to be whatever it is in this moment. I can't fully explain why this then feels like metta, but it does.

It's like dropping my resistance to the breath. Not asking it to be exciting, or interesting, or anything other than just what it is. Agreeing to 'just observe'. At those moments, I've discovered that, just as in life if we focus on the faults of others, and blame them for us becoming miserable when we have unavoidable dealings with them, we later realize that the fault actually lies with ourselves, with our unrealistic expectations or perfectionism. People are the way they are - and we can't correct their faults for them, especially not with aversion! But we can apply patience...in this analogy, the 'faults' stand for what is annoying us about the breath, perhaps that it's 'boring'. Well the fault doesn't lie with the breath, but with our own minds, see what I mean? The breath is just a part of Nature, like the rest of our body. We can't force it to fit our expectations.

It's hard to tease apart the different mental factors in operation here. There is equanimity, effort, loving-kindness...but we don't need to analyze it like that, I feel. If the aim is, 'to have the mind resting in the breath, without aversion' - when I find something that works to achieve this - I use it.

:anjali:


I could not say more!
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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