Is Anapanasati Enough

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

Is Anapanasati Enough

Postby No_Mind » Sat Aug 09, 2014 1:46 am

I am doing anapanasati (watching the breath) for 30 - 50 minutes daily (20 minutes twice a day or little more). As I have explained elsewhere, I have no teacher.

Vipassana instructions seem very confusing to me .. the labeling part .. hearing, hearing, thinking, thinking. I need a teacher to learn it and no teacher is at hand.

A car is always honking or someone in another house bangs a door .. so it is almost fully hearing, hearing for 30 mins .. very frustrating. No vipassana can be practiced without reasonable silence. I can never find complete silence and always labeling hearing, hearing !!

I have poor eyesight but superb hearing. At 1 AM I can hear a television 6 houses down or a car honking a mile away. Short of being in middle of nowhere I will always be labeling hearing, hearing.

I just bring my thoughts gently back to breath every time thoughts arise; again and again and again and again. I have even developed the ability to do this when I am not meditating (to return to my breath for a minute in middle of something)

In absence of doing vipassana am I losing out (I know the words losing or winning do not apply to meditation).

I do not wish to be a meditation master. I will never be able to attend a 10 day meditation retreat (maybe one in every half decade at most). I have a busy life and all I want is calmness and tranquility so that I do not run after every wretched thought that crosses my mind.

Is anapanasati enough? Is anapanasati a form of meditation by itself?

Ten minutes into the meditation my breathing becomes very shallow, my mind extremely quiet. Two days back a funny off white globe appeared with pale blue and green pattern on it and disappeared after few seconds. Is this normal?

Any help will be greatly appreciated. When it comes to meditation I have no one to ask help from but you folks. I am completely clueless.

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Re: Is Anapanasati Enough

Postby culaavuso » Sat Aug 09, 2014 2:12 am

No_Mind wrote:Is anapanasati enough?


This seems to depend on what is meant by anapanasati and whether it is in the greater context of the Noble Eightfold Path.

SN 54.6: Ariṭṭha Sutta wrote:"But how do you develop mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, Arittha?"

"Having abandoned sensual desire for past sensual pleasures, lord, having done away with sensual desire for future sensual pleasures, and having thoroughly subdued perceptions of irritation with regard to internal & external events, I breathe in mindfully and breathe out mindfully."

"There is that mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, Arittha. I don't say that there isn't. But as to how mindfulness of in-&-out breathing is brought in detail to its culmination, listen and pay close attention. I will speak."


MN 118: Ānāpānasati Sutta wrote:Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit. Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, brings the four frames of reference to their culmination. The four frames of reference, when developed & pursued, bring the seven factors for awakening to their culmination. The seven factors for awakening, when developed & pursued, bring clear knowing & release to their culmination.


Samatha and Vipassanā by Piya Tan wrote:Samatha and vipassana, as we know from the suttas are not meditation methods, but integral aspects of meditation or qualities of mind associated with mental cultivation. In our times, the controversy has turned them into methods of meditation. The Buddha does not teach any “samatha” meditation or “vipassana” meditation. Take the well known case of the Ānâpāna,sati Sutta (M 119), where we can see the first 12 of its 16 stages as the cultivation of samatha, and the last 4 stages as those of vipassana.
However, in either cases (the first 12 stages or the last 4 stages), we can still see samatha or vipassana aspects in any of them. In other words, at any of the 16 stages, we could gain calm to simply enjoy its bliss, or we could in the calm bliss reflect on the impermanence of the whole experience.
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Re: Is Anapanasati Enough

Postby Goofaholix » Sat Aug 09, 2014 2:19 am

It doesn't matter what technique you practice as long as you develop the ability to stay present with whatever is occuring, equanimity, and the sensitivity to notice what you wouldn't normally.

Vipassana is not a meditation technique it's the insight that arises from the meditation technique. If you want to open it up more to vipassana while still keeping it simple then just keep observing the breath as you are doing but as the mind gets settled allow your awareness to be open to notice more than just the breath, whatever is occuring in your field of awareness, without necessarily leaving the breath either. Notice change, notice processes, rather than allowing attention to become fixed.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Is Anapanasati Enough

Postby SarathW » Sat Aug 09, 2014 2:44 am

Probably I mention this to you before.
Do not try to hold the bird too hard and you will kill it.
If you can hear cars far distance mean that you are developing concentration. (Nimitta = sign)
Do not develop attachment or aversion and just think noise (loud, soft etc)
Just be patient.
:)
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Re: Is Anapanasati Enough

Postby Mkoll » Sat Aug 09, 2014 2:48 am

SarathW wrote:Just be patient.
:)


Always good advice when it comes to Buddhist practice. And it's no easy task.

Dhammapada 184 wrote:Enduring patience is the highest austerity. "Nibbana is supreme," say the Buddhas. He is not a true monk who harms another, nor a true renunciate who oppresses others.
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Re: Is Anapanasati Enough

Postby No_Mind » Sat Aug 09, 2014 3:03 am

culaavuso wrote:
No_Mind wrote:Is anapanasati enough?


This seems to depend on what is meant by anapanasati and whether it is in the greater context of the Noble Eightfold Path.

MN 118: Ānāpānasati Sutta wrote:Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit. Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, brings the four frames of reference to their culmination. The four frames of reference, when developed & pursued, bring the seven factors for awakening to their culmination. The seven factors for awakening, when developed & pursued, bring clear knowing & release to their culmination.


Culaavuso, I am mindful of in and out breath, long and short breath. It starts to get complex when it says " Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, brings the four frames of reference to their culmination."

I am able to calm my body, mind, observe in and out breath mindfully, observe long and short breath mindfully. I can go into quite deep level of absorption (for lack of a better word). In that level of absorption there is calmness and tranquility. No thoughts arise in my mind or even if any thought arises, it disappears quickly.

It used to take me long while to go into absorption (as I term it). For first month it did not happen. Recently settling into the process of meditation and observing breath brings it about in few minutes.

Goofaholix, I understand from what you wrote that you are asking me to expand my sphere of awareness and observe / note what is happening. I will carefully try to include it from tomorrow.

Can you tell me little more about "Notice change, notice processes". Which changes, processes? When I am deeply absorbed nothing happens .. my breathing is shallow, my heart beat almost imperceptible to me. Just faint sound of the fan and sound of a tv playing several houses down (I meditate at night 12 AM now!!). I do not label these hearing, hearing but bring my focus gently back to breath. I repeat this process as many times as I can till end of 25 minutes.

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Re: Is Anapanasati Enough

Postby No_Mind » Sat Aug 09, 2014 3:13 am

SarathW wrote:Probably I mention this to you before.
Do not try to hold the bird too hard and you will kill it.
If you can hear cars far distance mean that you are developing concentration. (Nimitta = sign)
Do not develop attachment or aversion and just think noise (loud, soft etc)
Just be patient.
:)


Sarath .. err .. I always had very good hearing. One day couple of years back, I was sitting quietly and heard faint sounds of creaking. It made me very puzzled. After few days I found I was hearing the sound of my coffee mug expanding as the ceramic became more and more heated :?

I am patient and I realize this path will take at least a lifetime. But I want to know if I am, within my limited ability and knowledge, till now doing it more or less correctly.

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Re: Is Anapanasati Enough

Postby pegembara » Sat Aug 09, 2014 4:16 am

There are 4 possible developments from the practice of absorption. The 1st you are already described. The last 2 are particularly relevant to development of insight based on the Buddha's instructions.

Monks, these are the four developments of concentration. Which four? There is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to a pleasant abiding in the here & now. There is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to the attainment of knowledge & vision. There is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to mindfulness & alertness. There is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to the ending of the effluents.

And what is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to mindfulness & alertness? There is the case where feelings are known to the monk as they arise, known as they persist, known as they subside. Perceptions are known to him as they arise, known as they persist, known as they subside. Thoughts are known to him as they arise, known as they persist, known as they subside. This is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to mindfulness & alertness.

And what is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to the ending of the effluents? There is the case where a monk remains focused on arising & falling away with reference to the five clinging-aggregates: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its passing away. Such is feeling, such its origination, such its passing away. Such is perception, such its origination, such its passing away. Such are fabrications, such their origination, such their passing away. Such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.' This is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to the ending of the effluents. These are the four developments of concentration.

Samadhibhavana Sutta http://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/angu ... 4-041.html


Since you have a particularly sensitive ear, it may not be a bad idea to use the ear base for exploration. Substitute seeing with hearing, form with sounds and eye with ear. The sequence is cessation of passion and delight comes cessation of clinging and so forth. It is not as easy as it sounds.

"On seeing a form with the eye, he isn't infatuated with pleasing forms, and doesn't get upset over unpleasing forms. He dwells with body-mindfulness established,[11] with unlimited awareness. He discerns, as it has come to be, the awareness-release & discernment-release where those evil, unskillful qualities cease without remainder. Having thus abandoned compliance & opposition, he doesn't relish any feeling he feels — pleasure, pain, neither-pleasure-nor-pain — doesn't welcome it, doesn't remain fastened to it. As he doesn't relish that feeling, doesn't welcome it, & doesn't remain fastened to it, delight doesn't arise. From the cessation of his delight comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging-&-death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

"On hearing a sound with the ear.....

Mahatanhasankhaya Sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Is Anapanasati Enough

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Aug 09, 2014 4:36 am

Hi No Mind

As has already been said, the details of the approach are not so significant. Most approaches that are oriented towards development if vipassana use a "grounding" or "primary" object such as breath, walking, metta, etc to build concentration and then advocate paying close attention to other object that arise, such as hearing. Tecniques like noting are just an aid, not the point.

On the other hand, if you want to build absorption-level concen you simply return to the grounding object.

Perhaps that puts it in perspective.

Mike
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Re: Is Anapanasati Enough

Postby Mkoll » Sat Aug 09, 2014 7:32 am

No_Mind wrote:I am patient and I realize this path will take at least a lifetime. But I want to know if I am, within my limited ability and knowledge, till now doing it more or less correctly.

:anjali:

From what you say, it sounds like you're doing just fine.

Keep it up. :thumbsup:
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Re: Is Anapanasati Enough

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Aug 09, 2014 8:46 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi No Mind

As has already been said, the details of the approach are not so significant. Most approaches that are oriented towards development if vipassana use a "grounding" or "primary" object such as breath, walking, metta, etc to build concentration and then advocate paying close attention to other object that arise, such as hearing. Tecniques like noting are just an aid, not the point.

On the other hand, if you want to build absorption-level concen you simply return to the grounding object.



That's a nice summary.
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Re: Is Anapanasati Enough

Postby martinfrank » Sat Aug 09, 2014 1:13 pm

Mkoll wrote:
No_Mind wrote:I am patient and I realize this path will take at least a lifetime. But I want to know if I am, within my limited ability and knowledge, till now doing it more or less correctly.

:anjali:

From what you say, it sounds like you're doing just fine.

Keep it up. :thumbsup:


:thumbsup: I also think that you are doing great. I admire your perseverance.

Regarding the disks of light, the Ven. Sayadaw Sun Lun writes:

After some vigilant practice, the mind becomes well schooled in that it does not follow its wanted fancies. But stays fixed on the nostril tips. Then a variegated array of colourful objects – white, red, yellow, blue, starlight, moonlight, sunlight, pearl colour, etc; and other familiar things appear around you. They can be highly misleading, for they are apt to be regarded as progress in the practice, whereas actually they are obstacles to it, even termed enemies of Enlightenment. You should train your mind to remain back on the object of meditation. This strange experience is usually met with by most Yogis.


http://www.sunlun-meditation.net/ebooks/BIOENG.pdf From page 138 onward there are concise meditation instructions for Anapanasati which are easy to follow.
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Re: Is Anapanasati Enough

Postby No_Mind » Sat Aug 09, 2014 1:22 pm

Pegembara, I will read those suttas in full and try and understand the road ahead.

Mike, yes it does put it in perspective. In spite of having read much material, I have the notion that mindfulness is an activity (like thinking). It is not an activity and it is not inactivity. What exactly is being mindful, I cannot understand yet.

It is defined as "the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something". I am aware that I am writing to you. I r-e-a-l-l-y concentrated on typing the keys now. I noted each key, the texture, the printing of the letter, the sound, my fingers moving. I was aware of every activity that went into typing "really". Is this mindfulness for those 20 seconds or concentration? I would say I was concentrating on being aware. The overlap between concentration of being aware and aware confuses me.

I was meditating an hour or so back - after I was calm (I term it absorption), I tried to expand my awareness as Goofaholix said .. I could feel breeze from the fan .. I consciously felt every body part the wind blew over .. arms, arms, shoulder, shoulder, left temple, left temple and back to breath slowly without pushing .. I heard a motorcycle outside .. hearing, hearing and back to breath slowly

Hopefully I am doing it correctly. This labeling puts little strain on me. I like the calmness of absorption but that is I guess another form of clinging.

Mkoll and MartinFrank thanks for the encouragement. As you can see last few weeks I have been speaking very little here and practicing much :smile:

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Re: Is Anapanasati Enough

Postby santa100 » Sat Aug 09, 2014 3:59 pm

No_Mind wrote:I was meditating an hour or so back - after I was calm (I term it absorption), I tried to expand my awareness as Goofaholix said .. I could feel breeze from the fan .. I consciously felt every body part the wind blew over .. arms, arms, shoulder, shoulder, left temple, left temple and back to breath slowly without pushing .. I heard a motorcycle outside .. hearing, hearing and back to breath slowly

Hopefully I am doing it correctly. This labeling puts little strain on me. I like the calmness of absorption but that is I guess another form of clinging.

Try to disassociate "I", "mine", "myself" from the events. So instead of "I heard a motorcycle" or "I heard a TV playing several houses away", it should be just the bare awareness that there's sound or noise, then immediately back to the breaths again. Same thing with the strain. Instead of "strain on me", it's just "strain" and then immediately back to the breaths. Hope this helps..
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Re: Is Anapanasati Enough

Postby martinfrank » Sat Aug 09, 2014 6:06 pm

Try to disassociate "I", "mine", "myself" from the events. So instead of "I heard a motorcycle" or "I heard a TV playing several houses away", it should be just the bare awareness that there's sound or noise, then immediately back to the breaths again. Same thing with the strain. Instead of "strain on me", it's just "strain" and then immediately back to the breaths. Hope this helps..


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Re: Is Anapanasati Enough

Postby SarathW » Sat Aug 09, 2014 10:58 pm

The objective of mindfulness is to see the things as they are in terms of impermanence, stress and Anatta.
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Re: Is Anapanasati Enough

Postby No_Mind » Sun Aug 10, 2014 4:04 am

Santa100, I just label it hearing, hearing. Had to write the "I" as part of sentence construction.

I am quite amazed at the peace and tranquility I feel. Last Thursday, I knew was going to be a very difficult and stressful day. I woke up at 4 AM and put in solid 40 minutes of meditation and was amazingly calm though the day. Every time I worried during the day I would just return to observing my breath in a micro break of 1 minute.

At 7 PM after the day was over I felt worn out but it had about 10% of the physical impact that similar days have had on me in past. In a nutshell my mind seems to have more space in it. Previously worry or happiness or some other emotion would fill it. Now it has expanded. When I feel happy, sad, worried, I return to breath for a minute or two.

I have done one thing not in any Buddhist teaching on mindfulness because there arose a need to do so from inside me. I have made mistakes in past and there was anger, resentment, regret floating inside me. I revisited mentally each of those incidents and associated thoughts of shame, guilt, anger and silently said "I let you go from my mind; you were useful in teaching me a lesson but now I want to be free of you". At end I visualized a huge fire to which each of these memories walked up and extinguished themselves.

I realize I might have veered away from the path somewhat but the need to do this came to me in meditation; so I gather my mind wanted it to be done. Feeling "cleaner" now.

Sarath for me as a beginner to see things in terms of impermanence (intellectually I understand things are impermanent but realization of same in meditation) is quite some time way. My biggest challenge is that I do not quit practicing due to lethargy but establish a six month old routine of meditation daily. I need at least 200 hours on the cushion first. Then I can think of using meditation as a way to discover impermanence and Anatta.

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Re: Is Anapanasati Enough

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Aug 10, 2014 9:48 am

No_Mind wrote: I need at least 200 hours on the cushion first. Then I can think of using meditation as a way to discover impermanence and Anatta.


Impermanence really isn't difficult. When the mind is calm you can just notice the continual rise and fall of the breath, sensations, thoughts, feelings, sounds, and so on.
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Re: Is Anapanasati Enough

Postby meindzai » Sun Aug 10, 2014 8:06 pm

Anapanasati will get you all the way there (Jhana) so it is right concentration.

The sutta itself is kind of a skeleton of instruction. It helps to have some resources to "unpack" (as Cooran says) some of the details.

I have had great success with the following:
Ebook by Thanissaro Bhikkhu: with each and every breath (http://www.dhammatalks.org/ebook_index.html) Scroll down a bit
Larry Rosenberg "Breath by Breath" http://www.amazon.com/Breath-Liberating ... 1590301366 Essentially a commentary on the Anapanasati sutta with lots of anectdotal stuff as well.

Here is a VERY thorough talk and discussion by Thanissaro Bhikkhu:
http://www.audiodharma.org/series/16/talk/1843/

Listen to these until you're blue in the face:
http://www.dhammatalks.org/mp3_collections_index.html

-Dave K
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Re: Is Anapanasati Enough

Postby pegembara » Mon Aug 11, 2014 2:48 am

No_mind,

I think you are doing well. Just keep practising. Since you used fire in your imagination, here is another of the Buddha's teaching which you may find relevant. Let things burn up until they are cooled. Nirvana (Sanskrit) and Nibbana (Pali, the language of the earliest Buddhist texts) literally mean “to go out”-like a fire-and “to cool.”

"Monks, the All is aflame. What All is aflame? The eye is aflame. Forms are aflame. Consciousness at the eye is aflame. Contact at the eye is aflame. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the eye — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too is aflame. Aflame with what? Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion. Aflame, I tell you, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs.

"The ear is aflame. Sounds are aflame...

"The nose is aflame. Aromas are aflame...

"The tongue is aflame. Flavors are aflame...

"The body is aflame. Tactile sensations are aflame...

"The intellect is aflame. Ideas are aflame. Consciousness at the intellect is aflame. Contact at the intellect is aflame. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the intellect — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too is aflame. Aflame with what? Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion. Aflame, I say, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs.

"Seeing thus, the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with the eye, disenchanted with forms, disenchanted with consciousness at the eye, disenchanted with contact at the eye. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the eye, experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain: With that, too, he grows disenchanted.

Adittapariyaya Sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


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