Trouble breathing while meditating

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 breathing while meditating

Postby Coyote » Tue Jan 10, 2012 4:03 pm

While meditating a couple of days ago, I got the point where my breathing had become very shallow and quiet, almost to the point that I could not feel it anymore. The problem was that although my breathing was not forced this way, I still felt the need to breathe deeper than I was at the time. After a while of feeling like this, I had to take a deep gasp which broke my concentration. It was like I had been forcing myself to breathe shallow or been holding my breath, yet the breathing was shallow on its own. Any idea why this was or what I can do in the future?
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Re: Trouble breathing while meditating

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Jan 10, 2012 6:18 pm

Coyote wrote:While meditating a couple of days ago, I got the point where my breathing had become very shallow and quiet, almost to the point that I could not feel it anymore. The problem was that although my breathing was not forced this way, I still felt the need to breathe deeper than I was at the time. After a while of feeling like this, I had to take a deep gasp which broke my concentration. It was like I had been forcing myself to breathe shallow or been holding my breath, yet the breathing was shallow on its own. Any idea why this was or what I can do in the future?


This is a good sign of concentration as long as you have the energy to maintain concentration, don't panic, just continue to keep your attention at ther point where you last felt your breath.
"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 breathing while meditating

Postby rowboat » Tue Jan 10, 2012 10:41 pm

There was a recorded talk at the Birken Monastery audio recording page that I can't seem to find. It may have been removed or retitled. The talk was given by a bhikkhuni and the subject was jhana and the nimittas. Anyway, she pointed out that it was very important to not take the big in-breath, that it disturbs the concentration. This has been my experience also. You might even feel as if you are not breathing at all. Don't be too concerned. If you haven't already done so, you might want to find some solid instruction through your nearest sangha or meditation centre.

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Rain soddens what is covered up,
It does not sodden what is open.
Therefore uncover what is covered
That the rain will not sodden it.
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Re: Trouble breathing while meditating

Postby Coyote » Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:04 pm

Hi,

I've been concentrating on uni exams for the past few weeks, so I have been away from Dhamma Wheel.
I am currently reading Ajahn Chah's' book, "Food for the Heart", and in it he mentions that the meditator can come to a state where the breathing stops all together, and that one is actually breathing through the pores of the skin and through the eyes ect. I am sure Thanissaro Bhikkhu mentioned this in a talk as well. Is this really possible? If so, how does it work physiologically, or is it some kind of supramundane state or effect?
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: Trouble breathing while meditating

Postby amtross » Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:16 pm

as far as the desire to breath in deeper, I had this too. I just let it go a few times and now it doesn't seem to bother me. I think the body knows how much breath it needs but the mind isn't used to being awake and seeing such small breaths.
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Re: Trouble breathing while meditating

Postby DarwidHalim » Fri Jan 27, 2012 6:28 am

Coyote wrote:Hi,

I've been concentrating on uni exams for the past few weeks, so I have been away from Dhamma Wheel.
I am currently reading Ajahn Chah's' book, "Food for the Heart", and in it he mentions that the meditator can come to a state where the breathing stops all together, and that one is actually breathing through the pores of the skin and through the eyes ect. I am sure Thanissaro Bhikkhu mentioned this in a talk as well. Is this really possible? If so, how does it work physiologically, or is it some kind of supramundane state or effect?


Once your breathing starts to disappear or unnoticeable, don't look for breathing anymore.

It is time for you to go to the next step, which is Vipassana.

Use that calmess and stability of your mind to see through your body, mind, etc., as suggested in Satipatthana Sutta.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Or following other Vipassana technique as suggested by whatever methods you follow, such as Goenka or whoever Sayadaw, etc.

Breathing is just the basic level to reach calmness and stability of mind.

When you move to other investigation, you will not think about breathing anymore. You will be "busy" with the insight meditation, to see this anicca, anatta, etc.

At that point, whether you are still breathing or not is no longer important. Whether you will breath through the pore or not is also no longer important.

You will even realize that the breathing is no longer breathing or something called breathing.

Sharp, clear, fully aware without awareness, unobstructed by concepts, and bright.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
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Re: Trouble breathing while meditating

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Jan 27, 2012 11:58 am

I didn't have anything to add to this thread that wasn't already mentioned but as I saw the title today something came to mind,

Mahasatipatthana Sutta wrote:and they start by setting mindfulness all around the entrance of air,
so they are only conscious of breathing in and of breathing out.
So breathing in long, clearly know “(I am taking a) long in breath,”
breathing out long, you clearly know “(I am taking a) long out breath;”
breathing in short, you clearly know “(I am taking a) short in breath,”
breathing out short, you clearly know “(I am taking a) short out breath.”

You should train yourselves experiencing (becoming sensitive to) the whole body with the in -breath,
you should train yourselves experiencing (becoming sensitive to) the whole body with the out -breath;
you should train yourselves calming the body fabrications on the in breath,
you should train yourselves calming the body fabrications on the out breath.


Ajahn Lee (Thanissaro translated his work) recommends making the breath comfortable (as does Thanissaro) using the underlined sections, manipulate the breath learn what the body needs, but be mindful, and fully aware while doing it.

maybe this would be of use? but you may of gone further than you were prepared for??? and this caused the discomfort.


personally this is simply what sprang to mind at seeing the title today and how accurate it is/could be is not something I am willing to say 100% as every case is different, and I have not re-read the OP, but I didn't have anything to add upon reading some of the responses yesterday.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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: Trouble breathing while meditating

Postby carlosm » Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:24 pm

DarwidHalim wrote:
Coyote wrote:Hi,

Once your breathing starts to disappear or unnoticeable, don't look for breathing anymore.

It is time for you to go to the next step, which is Vipassana.

Use that calmess and stability of your mind to see through your body, mind, etc., as suggested in Satipatthana Sutta.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Or following other Vipassana technique as suggested by whatever methods you follow, such as Goenka or whoever Sayadaw, etc.
.


but is it not possible to keep 'calming' the mind to work into different jhana stages?
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Re: Trouble breathing while meditating

Postby DarwidHalim » Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:52 pm

We need to know what it means by calm mind.

Calm mind doesn't mean no thougth.

A good meditator is like a person who is in the middle of the tornado. We can have thousand thoughts appearing in the mind, but we are not affected by it.

However, as long as we still do not know the true face of the thought, as long as that as well, we will be affected by the thought.

Once you can see the true face of the thought, which is essenceless, it will no longer disturb you and you no longer feel thoughts are disturbances. In fact, the thought will help you further to show you - look I am showing you the impermanence of myself. Don't misunderstand me as something real.

Once we can experience that again and again, the mind will calm.

We no longer can differentiate the state where no thoughts and with thoughts.

We experience the starting of no thought, the duration of no thought, and the end of no thought. Afterwards, we will experience the beginning of thought, the duration of thought, and the end of thought. This cycle will keep repeating.

So, if you look at it no difference at all between thoughts and no thoughts. They are same. No identity.

Some people expecting the state of no thoughts, because they think the state of no thoughts are good. This is not right. In fact, this wrong view cause attachment to the state of no thoughts and the meditation will never progress.

This is because we think the state of thoughtless and the state of thought are different. They are in fact same. Both have no essence. And both of them show us - look whether I am appearing or not appearing, I am essenceless. Don't misunderstand me by attaching to myself.

When we look at it thousand times, the wisdom of no essence can actually arise.

No essence has nothing to do with thought or appearances or no thought or no appearances.

No essence is simply no essence.

All of these slowly slowly by nature will calm your mind further. The mind itself will get clearer and clearer. The mind now has the ability to see through everything. If before it is block by thoughts by automatically engaging into its story, or the desire of no thoughts, now it can see through all of them as what they are without any single dot of the necessity to modify them. They are not harmful, they are impermanent, and they are in fact showing us all these wisdom. So, thanks to them. No need to modify them and just relax.

We cannot calm the mind by modifying it or push it to calm. The mind will automatically calm if you have the proper understanding and know what to do.

Don't worry about jhana or what. This reality has no jhana. This reality also has no name.

The state of breathing will stop soon or later. Breathing has limitation. Breathing is coarse. We cannot use breathing to go to jhana. Somewhere in the breathing, the breathing will change to the mind object (citta-sankhara). If we keep looking for breath after it is unnoticeable, you will actually back to the square. If you notice, once you breath starts to be unnoticeable, if you look for breath, your breath will suddenly noticeable again and become coarser. It means you are going back to the beginning, back to the square. You won't be able to go deeper.

Soon or later, we must leave the breathing behind and move to the mind.

From the mind, we can then go further to a state of very calm mind. This mind object has the ability to do so.

We use the mind to penetrate body, to penetrate mind itself, feeling, perception, etc.

Breathing cannot do vipassana. It is mind that can do vipassana. So, leave it behind once the breath give you a sign to leave it behind.

From vipassana insight it can help calming the mind further and strengthen whatever calm state you have reach. Both samantha and vipassana will then work hand in hand to cross all jhanas or whatever super jhanas.

You will reach a state where your mind sit still and doesn't want to move around. If before your mind voluntarily grasp here and there, now it is completely reversed. Now, it doesn't want to grasp this and that anymore, because the mind is clever enough don't want to be trick anymore by the story of thought. It will see that story as what it is without being polluted by it.

No separation between mind and thoughts. Unutterably, extremely calm, bright, and sharp without any grasping.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: Trouble breathing while meditating

Postby carlosm » Fri Jan 27, 2012 3:05 pm

That was an interesting read, thank you for taking the time to write it. I'll keep it in mind when practicing and surely come back a few times to re-read it.
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