breathing through your pores?

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breathing through your pores?

Postby greeneggsandsam » Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:13 am

I was just listening to one of Ajahn Chah's dhamma talks (the natural mind - youtube) and he mentioned that in samadhi your breath may seem to vanish but really you are just breathing through your pores!

I thought this sounded strange so I googled it and apparently it is not possible...

http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-ca ... reathe.htm

what do you think he meant by this? Is it possible to develop such a skill through meditation?

:thinking:
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Re: breathing through your pores?

Postby rowboat » Fri Feb 21, 2014 9:02 am

greeneggsandsam wrote:I was just listening to one of Ajahn Chah's dhamma talks (the natural mind - youtube) and he mentioned that in samadhi your breath may seem to vanish but really you are just breathing through your pores!

I thought this sounded strange so I googled it and apparently it is not possible...

what do you think he meant by this? Is it possible to develop such a skill through meditation?

:thinking:


I think it was in Bill Porter's excellent Road to Heaven: Encounters With Chinese Hermits where I read of a cave hermit who entered samadhi while boiling a simple meal of potatoes. After a time a visitor roused him from his meditation and when he opened the lid to the pot he discovered the potatoes were covered in a thick carpet of mold. Many days had passed. This may sound like one of those apocryphal stories, but I see no reason to doubt its authenticity because I myself went through a period where I would meditate for ten or fifteen hours in a day, and during this period, always I was very surprised to learn so much time had passed, in what felt to me like three hours at the very most.

I have felt the near-vanishing of the breath. I believe anyone who sits for long periods, practicing in the proper way, they will experience these things for themselves. And outside of meditation, I have witnessed or experienced a number of impossible things.

'I can't believe that!' said Alice.

'Can't you?' the Queen said in a pitying tone. 'Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.'

Alice laughed. 'There's no use trying,' she said 'one can't believe impossible things.'

'I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. 'When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.


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Re: breathing through your pores?

Postby SarathW » Fri Feb 21, 2014 10:55 am

Interesting documentary.

"Buddha Boy" Goes Without Food Or Water For Years ( Full Documentary)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEwSjLA8eYI
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Re: breathing through your pores?

Postby pilgrim » Fri Feb 21, 2014 11:07 am

rowboat wrote:I think it was in Bill Porter's excellent Road to Heaven: Encounters With Chinese Hermits where I read of a cave hermit who entered samadhi while boiling a simple meal of potatoes. After a time a visitor roused him from his meditation and when he opened the lid to the pot he discovered the potatoes were covered in a thick carpet of mold. Many days had passed.


The story refers to Ven Xu Yun ( Hsu Yun), ven Empty Cloud, a famous monk in China during the 19th to 20th century.
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Re: breathing through your pores?

Postby SarathW » Fri Feb 21, 2014 11:08 am

See my question: If breathing ceases, the person will not have oxygen. How does a person live without oxygen?

viewtopic.php?f=44&t=16202
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Re: breathing through your pores?

Postby pilgrim » Fri Feb 21, 2014 11:23 am

SarathW wrote:See my question: If breathing ceases, the person will not have oxygen. How does a person live without oxygen?

viewtopic.php?f=44&t=16202

Several answers were offered in the thread. The body regulates the breath according to the amount of oxygen it requires. During deep jhanas, probably arupa jhanas, the body may stop metabolism as it has no need for oxygen. Science has not investigated this phenomenon yet.
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Re: breathing through your pores?

Postby Kim OHara » Fri Feb 21, 2014 11:24 am

greeneggsandsam wrote:I was just listening to one of Ajahn Chah's dhamma talks (the natural mind - youtube) and he mentioned that in samadhi your breath may seem to vanish but really you are just breathing through your pores!

I thought this sounded strange so I googled it and apparently it is not possible...

http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-ca ... reathe.htm

what do you think he meant by this? Is it possible to develop such a skill through meditation?

:thinking:

Simple answer: No.
Longer answer: No, but ...
(1) respiration slows right down when we are physically inactive (e.g. meditation) and also slows down when our metabolism slows down through lack of food (e.g. loooong meditation) and we (and others) may be unable to detect the in-and-out breaths.
(2) in such a state, the tiny amount of oxygen that does - quite normally - pass through our skin may be a significant part of our total oxygen needs.
... so there may be a little bit of truth in it.

Fun fact: your link mentions one mammal which is known to breathe through its skin -
The Julia Creek dunnart, a marsupial mouse from Australia, exchanges oxygen and carbon dioxide through its skin for the first few weeks of its life

- and I've been to Julia Creek :tongue:

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Re: breathing through your pores?

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Feb 21, 2014 12:58 pm

pilgrim wrote: During deep jhanas, probably arupa jhanas, the body may stop metabolism as it has no need for oxygen.


I don't find this convincing, since a large chunk of the energy we use is just to keep things "ticking over".
Have a look here and check the daily calory use - you will see that people in sedentary jobs still use quite a lot.
http://www.fitnessblender.com/v/article ... -Burn-/bj/
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Re: breathing through your pores?

Postby Mkoll » Fri Feb 21, 2014 5:46 pm

The simplest explanation of all this is that breathing is just extremely subtle because oxygen consumption has been reduced to the lowest possible level for a human being. Perhaps the current of air is so subtle that neither the breather nor an observer can feel any air coming into or out of the nose. And obviously just because one doesn't sense something doesn't mean it's not there.

When one is sedentary or sleeping, the mind is still very active. We send 20-25% of our calories to our brains which is more than most, if not all, other animals.

The energy consumption of the brain does not vary greatly over time, but active regions of the cerebral cortex consume somewhat more energy than inactive regions; this forms the basis for the functional brain imaging methods PET, fMRI,[66] and NIRS.[67]

-wikipedia article on "brain"


So a hypothesis could be: In deep states of concentration where there is less demand on the mind due to its attention on a single object, there is less energy demand on the brain and thus less energy demand on the body. The lower the demand, the lower the minimum required metabolic rate and the lower the minimum required oxygen intake.
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Re: breathing through your pores?

Postby Babadhari » Fri Feb 21, 2014 6:08 pm

:goodpost: :thumbsup: well said Mkoll
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Re: breathing through your pores?

Postby fivebells » Fri Feb 21, 2014 10:25 pm

Thanissaro has repeatedly claimed this too. It seems unlikely to me, but I think it's probably a useful perception for when the breath disappears, because it keeps people from worrying.

Not that I think they're lying, I think they really believe this claim. I just don't think they've considered the evidence very carefully.
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Re: breathing through your pores?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Feb 21, 2014 10:34 pm

In the Cūḷavedalla Sutta, the Arahant nun, Dhammadinnā, explained to her former husband, Visākha, how the respiration ceases in the fourth jhāna.

Following the above answer, Visākha proceeded to ask further question as follows:

Q: “Saññāvedayitanirodhaṃ samāpajjantassa panāyye, bhikkhuno katame dhammā paṭhamaṃ nirujjhanti — yadi vā kāyasaṅkhāro, yadi vā vacīsaṅkhāro, yadi vā cittasaṅkhāro”ti. — “Sister! What kind of formations cease first in one who attains the cessation of perception and feeling — bodily formations, verbal formations, or mental formations?”

Dhammadinnā’s answer to the above question was:

“Saññāvedayitanirodhaṃ samāpajjantassa kho, āvuso Visākha, bhikkhuno paṭhamaṃ nirujjhati vacīsaṅkhāro, tato kāyasaṅkhāro, tato cittasaṅkhāro”ti.

“Friend Visākha! In one who attains cessation, verbal formations cease first, then bodily formations, then mental formations.”

From the time of absorption in the second jhāna, a person who is mentally absorbed in cessation is free from verbal formations, i.e., initial and sustained application. At the time of absorption in the fourth jhāna, he is free from bodily formations, i.e., inhalation and exhalation. When absorbed in the state of neither perception nor non-perception, the mental formations, i.e., perception and feeling, cease. For this reason it is stated that verbal formations cease first, then bodily formations, then mental formations. This is the answer. (However, the cessation of verbal formations refers to the arising of jhāna, and while contemplating for insight, it is unlikely that the cessation of initial and sustained application would occur.
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Re: breathing through your pores?

Postby pilgrim » Sat Feb 22, 2014 2:41 am

Ajahn Brahm, in one of his talks mentioned how one of his students fluked into a jhana. The students wife rushed him to a hospital where he was hooked up to various monitors including EEG and ECG, all of which showed no brain activity or respiration. After awhile, the student woked up while in the ER. If this incident was factually correct, then that tells us a bit of the state of the body while the mind is in jhana.
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Re: breathing through your pores?

Postby rowboat » Sat Feb 22, 2014 3:20 am

pilgrim wrote:
rowboat wrote:I think it was in Bill Porter's excellent Road to Heaven: Encounters With Chinese Hermits where I read of a cave hermit who entered samadhi while boiling a simple meal of potatoes. After a time a visitor roused him from his meditation and when he opened the lid to the pot he discovered the potatoes were covered in a thick carpet of mold. Many days had passed.


The story refers to Ven Xu Yun ( Hsu Yun), ven Empty Cloud, a famous monk in China during the 19th to 20th century.


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Re: breathing through your pores?

Postby greeneggsandsam » Sat Feb 22, 2014 3:30 am

Ajahn Brahm, in one of his talks mentioned how one of his students fluked into a jhana. The students wife rushed him to a hospital where he was hooked up to various monitors including EEG and ECG, all of which showed no brain activity or respiration. After awhile, the student woked up while in the ER. If this incident was factually correct, then that tells us a bit of the state of the body while the mind is in jhana.


I remember listening to this also... I'm very skeptical about some of these stories, especially this one. I would be curious to know how many people actually believe this story. Perhaps I'm a pessimist but I really wonder why something like this would never get attention by the media. Thoughts?
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Re: breathing through your pores?

Postby pilgrim » Sat Feb 22, 2014 3:46 am

greeneggsandsam wrote:I remember listening to this also... I'm very skeptical about some of these stories, especially this one. I would be curious to know how many people actually believe this story. Perhaps I'm a pessimist but I really wonder why something like this would never get attention by the media. Thoughts?

Only way to verify this is to get the hospital records but I doubt it is worth the bother. There is also no reason for the media to report it. Man comes into hospital unconscious. Doctors run tests, Man regains consciousness. Happens everyday.
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Re: breathing through your pores?

Postby greeneggsandsam » Sat Feb 22, 2014 4:05 am

Only way to verify this is to get the hospital records but I doubt it is worth the bother. There is also no reason for the media to report it. Man comes into hospital unconscious. Doctors run tests, Man regains consciousness. Happens everyday.


If this was the case I understand, however, it is a different story if the person is also not breathing.
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Re: breathing through your pores?

Postby Kamran » Sat Feb 22, 2014 4:10 am

Its the power of perception!

You have the breath and you have your perception which you can play around with to get whatever results you want.

For example, when the breath becomes still, hold the thought in mind of "space", and the body will seem to be porous with air sensations coming in and out of it, hold the perception in the mind that there is an energy field surrounding your body and you may feel as if you are floating in a pleasant field of energy, etc...
When this concentration is thus developed, thus well developed by you, then wherever you go, you will go in comfort. Wherever you stand, you will stand in comfort. Wherever you sit, you will sit in comfort. Wherever you lie down, you will lie down in comfort.
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Re: breathing through your pores?

Postby bazzaman » Sat Feb 22, 2014 5:12 am

fivebells wrote:Thanissaro has repeatedly claimed this too. It seems unlikely to me, but I think it's probably a useful perception for when the breath disappears, because it keeps people from worrying.

Not that I think they're lying, I think they really believe this claim. I just don't think they've considered the evidence very carefully.

Ven. Thanissaro also often repeats the discredited misconception about Singapore's guns facing the wrong way during the Japanese invasion. But, given that these are used as teaching aids to illustrate a point, the fact that they are not factually true doesn't bother me too much. I'll allow him a couple of blind-spots given the great amount of inspiration I have derived from his talks.
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Re: breathing through your pores?

Postby fivebells » Sat Feb 22, 2014 8:51 am

pilgrim wrote:
greeneggsandsam wrote:There is also no reason for the media to report it. Man comes into hospital unconscious. Doctors run tests, Man regains consciousness. Happens everyday.


Given that jhana is something you're supposed to master, so that you can enter and leave it at will, I think the media would eat this kind of thing up with a spoon. People in our midst with verifiable, repeatable respiration-halting superpowers? Come on! The story would write itself.
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