Trouble with breathing awareness-need advice

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Trouble with breathing awareness-need advice

Postby eternityinmind » Tue Jan 03, 2012 1:39 pm

:namaste: Hello all! A couple of days ago i became interested in Vipassana meditation and since then i have tried several times to meditate,but I have a problem.I try to concentrate,to be aware of my breath,but when I turn my attention to it,I immediately start to control it also,even when I don't want to.I tried to just relax,observe the sensations of the breath in my nostrils (or the rising and falling of the abdomen),but when i make an effort to not consciously breath in and out,I stop breathing altogether.It's like it's immpossible to be aware of the breath without some form of control (and in my case it is a lot of control going on). Any help on how to deal with that? Thanks in advance! :buddha1:
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Re: Trouble with breathing awareness-need advice

Postby bodom » Tue Jan 03, 2012 2:02 pm

eternityinmind wrote::namaste: Hello all! A couple of days ago i became interested in Vipassana meditation and since then i have tried several times to meditate,but I have a problem.I try to concentrate,to be aware of my breath,but when I turn my attention to it,I immediately start to control it also,even when I don't want to.I tried to just relax,observe the sensations of the breath in my nostrils (or the rising and falling of the abdomen),but when i make an effort to not consciously breath in and out,I stop breathing altogether.It's like it's immpossible to be aware of the breath without some form of control (and in my case it is a lot of control going on). Any help on how to deal with that? Thanks in advance! :buddha1:


Hi eternityinmind

This is something I struggled with as well and at times still do. The following articles have been helpful to my practice:

Focus on the natural and spontaneous movement of the breath. Don't try to regulate it or emphasize it in any way. Most beginners have some trouble in this area. In order to help themselves focus on the sensation, they unconsciously accentuate their breathing. The results is a forced and unnatural effort that actually inhibits concentration rather than helping it. Don't increase the depth of your breath or its sound. This latter point is especially important in group meditation. Loud breathing can be a real annoyance to those around you. Just let the breath move naturally, as if you were asleep. Let go and allow the process to go along at its own rhythm.

This sounds easy, but it is trickier than you think. Do not be discouraged if you find your own will getting in the way. Just use that as an opportunity to observe the nature of conscious intention. Watch the delicate interrelation between the breath, the impulse to control the breath and the impulse to cease controlling the breath. You may find it frustrating for a while, but it is highly profitable as a learning experience, and it is a passing phase. Eventually, the breathing process will move along under its own steam. And you will feel no impulse to manipulate it. At this point you will have learned a major lesson about your own compulsive need to control the universe. - Bhante Gunaratana


http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/mpe7.html

A common problem at this stage is the tendency to control the breathing, and this makes the breathing uncomfortable. To overcome this problem, imagine that you are just a passenger in a car looking through the window at your breath. You are not the driver, nor a `back seat driver', so stop giving orders, let go and enjoy the ride. Let the breath do the breathing while you simply watch without interfering. - Ajahn Brahm


http://www.dhammaloka.org.au/articles/i ... ation.html

: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: Trouble with breathing awareness-need advice

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Jan 03, 2012 7:10 pm

eternityinmind wrote::namaste: Hello all! A couple of days ago i became interested in Vipassana meditation and since then i have tried several times to meditate,but I have a problem.I try to concentrate,to be aware of my breath,but when I turn my attention to it,I immediately start to control it also,even when I don't want to.I tried to just relax,observe the sensations of the breath in my nostrils (or the rising and falling of the abdomen),but when i make an effort to not consciously breath in and out,I stop breathing altogether.It's like it's immpossible to be aware of the breath without some form of control (and in my case it is a lot of control going on). Any help on how to deal with that? Thanks in advance! :buddha1:


This is lesson number 1 that most of us need to learn when we start this practise, that the mind likes to control things, it thinks it can get one step ahead of suffering by doing this but instead creates suffering by doing this.

The solution is to keep at it, give the mind time to let go, just observe what the mid is doing and don't try to force it to do otherwise just allow it the freedom to let go.

It's more in the attitude than in the technique.
"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: Trouble with breathing awareness-need advice

Postby manas » Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:08 pm

Hi eternityinmind,

if you have been practising for just a few days, bear in mind that some of us have been at it for years and are still challenged by the very issue you mention...please be a bit more patient with yourself, and with the practice.

Firstly: to get worried about controlling the breath is counterproductive. Worry or anxiety is just a hindrance. As far as I know, the tendency to control the breath is common at first for most people. Relax and observe it! Be ok with it. This is very important, to be accepting of the stage you are at right now. Patience, and acceptance of where we are at, is a form of contentment, and this can lead to more peace of mind, and this can lead to...a better meditation! :D


In the beginning, and even later on, we have to find clever ways to make meditation not just bearable, but a pleasant experience. If it's like torture, you possibly will give up after some time. Try to make it just a bit fun. At the same time, it does require effort, and a bit of sacrifice. It's a balancing act. Over time, you might find that if you push yourself to do it regularly, every day (even just little), that you eventually feel some devotion for the practice. That is a good relationship to have, ime. If you care about it, you will do it whether it is hard or easy, whether the mind is calm or distracted, whether you feel any bliss or not...you just do the practice as an act of caring for yourself. This human birth was not easily come by. We owe it to orselves to take advantage of being in a form that can actually practice meditative awareness.

For now, try to cultivate a bit of patience and contentment with just sitting there, watching the breath. Just because you are controlling it, doesn't have to be a cause for stress. Relax, and watch this whole process taking place. Everything is ok, most of us control the breath at first. Be at peace with it, do you understand? At peace with your mind. Don't be so critical. :smile: So what if it interferes and tries to control the breath? Forgive it, heh! It's like a child learning how to walk (and this is the situation for most of us). Over time, you will be able to let go of controlling the breath so much. It certainly didn't happen overnight for me, and it is still a 'work in progress'...but I'm not stressin' about it... :meditate:

with metta.
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