Not Observing Breath

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

Not Observing Breath

Postby Collective » Fri Jul 16, 2010 8:19 am

This morning I stopped becoming aware of just the breath, and attempted to become aware of everything. Breath, smells, air brushing against my skin, bumps, clicks, aches, pains, stomach rumbles, bird song, doors banging, car engines, itches, etc, and above all else I started to sit back and just observe the mind. It was quite interesting.

The first thing I noticed was that I didn't become sleepy, my mind/awreness was clear, always switched on as it were, right up to the end. Trouble I get focusing on the breath, is that it envelopes me as my mind narrows in on the breath. But with this all encompassing awareness I'm trying out, I make an effort to be 'in the moment' by taking in everything. I'm not saying I focus on anything that arises to the exclusion of everything else (which was happening when I focused on the breath) I just attempt to wash my awareness over anything that may be happening at any particular moment.

I also find that my mind chatter ia reduced a lot when I observe my mind. The breath I now use as an anchor when I need to focus a little more, perhaps if my mind has wandered - which despite my efforts still does now and then.

Please could someone comment on this.

Thank you :namaste:
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Re: Not Observing Breath

Postby IanAnd » Fri Jul 16, 2010 5:10 pm

Collective wrote:This morning I stopped becoming aware of just the breath, and attempted to become aware of everything. Breath, smells, air brushing against my skin. . . etc, and above all else I started to sit back and just observe the mind.

It is good that you experimented with this approach. You learned something that you hadn't been aware of before. Once you begin to let go of some of the wooden interpretations of the instructions and follow intuitively where the mind wants to go, you'll begin to take advantage of the natural pliancy of the mind. In doing this, you'll be teaching yourself what works for you and what does not.

Collective wrote:The first thing I noticed was that I didn't become sleepy, my mind/awareness was clear, always switched on as it were, right up to the end.

This is because you established sati or mindfulness, just as it is suggested in the Satipatthana Suttas, before settling into contemplation meditation. Congratulate yourself! Good work. Keep it up and you'll notice a qualitative difference for the better in your meditation sessions.

Collective wrote:Trouble I get focusing on the breath, is that it envelopes me as my mind narrows in on the breath. But with this all encompassing awareness I'm trying out, I make an effort to be 'in the moment' by taking in everything. I'm not saying I focus on anything that arises to the exclusion of everything else (which was happening when I focused on the breath) I just attempt to wash my awareness over anything that may be happening at any particular moment.

This description is potentially pregnant with meaning. If by indicating that your focusing on the breath allows the mind to become "enveloped" in the breath, then you may be on the verge of entering absorption (or jhana). This is always a tricky spot for an inexperienced practitioner who is approaching jhana for the first time, because there is a fine line you have to walk if you want to enter absorption in a healthy manner (as opposed to an unhealthy manner). You have to find a way to maintain your level of sati while this process is occurring so that you don't allow the mind to become dull or unclear (let go of, so to speak, without a governor or without restraint) on account of the bliss factor that first-time jhana practitioners experience. By being able to maintain mindfulness while this process is occurring, you will be better able to see (and identify) its elements at play during the experience, and thus be able to maintain a sense of control over the mind during the absorption process. If you let go and follow the bliss (as can be the case in beginners who aren't experienced in maintaining sati throughout the process), you will allow the mind to slip the bonds of self-discipline needed to maintain the absorption without becoming a victim of it (sometimes known as a "jhana junkie," or someone who becomes enthralled by the bliss while ignoring the prize at the end of the road, which is awakening). Absorption practice is a tool, not an end in itself. It must be used wisely if you are to gain the prize that it can lead you to.

That said, this is nothing to be afraid of. If this is actually what is happening (and only you will know because it is you who is experiencing it), all you need to do is go slowly as you forge ahead. Maintaining awareness of the breath in the background (or of any other phenomenon that is simultaneously occurring during this process, as, for example, experiencing a sensation similar to pressure in the center of the forehead region) can have a grounding effect on your ability to maintain sati.

Absorption helps to re-condition the mind's ability to maintain concentration at crucial moments throughout the day. So, spending time in samatha absorption is a good thing, and is ultimately beneficial in the process of developing and cultivating concentration in order to gain insight for awakening. Concentration ability is needed in order maintain a still and focused mind as one examines insight subjects — such as the five aggregates or the three characteristics of existence (impermanence, dissatisfaction, and not-self) while practicing vipassana.

Collective wrote:I also find that my mind chatter is reduced a lot when I observe my mind. The breath I now use as an anchor when I need to focus a little more, perhaps if my mind has wandered - which despite my efforts still does now and then.

Reduction in mind chatter, of course, is a good thing. It aids the mind to be able to more clearly "see things as they are."

Using the breath as an anchor when you need to focus is another useful observation that you have made. Your mind can be aware of the breath in the background while you explore other subjects for insight matter (as in vipassana contemplation). Keeping the breath in mind (even if it is in the background only) is a mindfulness practice. This is why the Buddha recommending breath meditation; the breath is a phenomenon that is always with us. And it can be used to maintain mindfulness. Using the breath in this way helps to strengthen abilities in preserving sati throughout the meditation session. Good for you!
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: Not Observing Breath

Postby octathlon » Fri Jul 16, 2010 6:57 pm

IanAnd wrote:Maintaining awareness of the breath in the background (or of any other phenomenon that is simultaneously occurring during this process, as, for example, experiencing a sensation similar to pressure in the center of the forehead region) can have a grounding effect on your ability to maintain sati.

I apologize for intruding, but about the pressure in the forehead region you mentioned: When I'm doing breath meditation, I often have this sensation if I focus on the breath entering at the nose instead of following it or focusing on the abdomen. Shifting attention back to the abdomen causes the sensation to end.

When I thought about your comment, I realized that I always shift my attention to the abdomen when that pressure happens because I judge it unpleasant, think I'm not doing something right, feel aversion, and take action to end the sensation. With the other sensations I remain still and observe them until they pass away, yet with this one, I take action to make it stop without even thinking about it (maybe because no physical movement is required to do so). So thanks to your comment, I finally realize it and question why I have been doing this. :D Is there anything important about that particular sensation?
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Re: Not Observing Breath

Postby IanAnd » Fri Jul 16, 2010 10:22 pm

octathlon wrote:When I thought about your comment, I realized that I always shift my attention to the abdomen when that pressure happens because I judge it unpleasant, think I'm not doing something right, feel aversion, and take action to end the sensation. With the other sensations I remain still and observe them until they pass away, yet with this one, I take action to make it stop without even thinking about it (maybe because no physical movement is required to do so).

So thanks to your comment, I finally realize it and question why I have been doing this. :D Is there anything important about that particular sensation?

Well, for one thing, it is a sensation that is common among meditators. Many people (myself included) have used it in a positive way when it arises.

My first observation of this sensation came when I was a child. Back then, I noticed that whenever it arose, that it seemed to be a signal that my mind was more concentrated (or tending toward concentration and able to maintain its focus on whatever object or subject I directed it to). This quite naturally carried over to my practice when, many years later, I became acquainted with and a practitioner of meditation. So, I've always had a positive association with this sensation.

It is also interesting to note that many people who are able to attain to absorption (myself among them) have commonly experienced this sensation when they are in full-blown jhana practice. So, I've always used it as a nimitta (sign) arising that tells me I'm doing something right. I found that sensations, for me at least, are a more reliable phenomenon than mental images (like bright lights, five pointed stars, and such) when I needed something more solid and substantial than a subjective quasi-reliable image to connect with to tell me that I was doing something right.

To be a bit more specific about how this sensation feels: rather than associating it with a headache (because some people have described it in this way, although it is not uncomfortable), it's always felt like a balloon expanding in the center of my forehead (between the eye brows). Perhaps this is where the mythology surrounding the mystical "third eye" came from. Some may liken it to an inner "third eye" that allows for clearer insight! Others (in mystical circles, which I do not endorse, but which may have a certain universal truth regarding the objective practical side of this) have likened it to the following:

    "The area between the eyebrows, the sixth chakra known as the 'agna' meaning 'command', is the seat of concealed wisdom. It is the centre point wherein all experience is gathered in total concentration."

It's also interesting to note that Indian women (moreso than their male counterparts from India) use a round red dot placed between their eye brows...humm, wonder what that could be indicative of, eh! It makes for interesting cultural and mythological reading.

On a personal front, how one reacts to this sensation can be totally subjective. I make no claims about it. I just note it and tell you how I use it. Others can use it (or not) however they wish.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: Not Observing Breath

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jul 16, 2010 10:39 pm

Thanks for the interesting discussion, Ian. That does seem to be a common sensation. I generally do Mahasi-style practise, so when sitting I'm watching the rising-falling of the abdomen, and whatever else arises and becomes prominent. This pressure between the eyes arises for me quite commonly and when it does I simply switch attention to it (as for any other sensation). In my case, when I direct attention on it, it usually fades quite quickly, leaving me in a calmer state, at which point I return to the rising-falling. For me it feels to be one of several "barriers" that I "break through" as I get calmer. Though "breaking through" makes it sound a little too deliberate, as if they are barriers to be broken down. It's more a case of something arising that feels like a "barrier", and if I am able to "see" it clearly it disappears.

Mike
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Re: Not Observing Breath

Postby octathlon » Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:51 pm

Hi IanAnd,

Thank you for such an informative answer. :thanks: I'm going to observe that sensation when it occurs and see what happens. In my session this evening, it did not occur strongly or last long enough to observe for more than a brief time. I did notice that just before it, I would feel a "pulling" of my eyes like they want to turn somewhat upward and inward which creates some tension and that may be contributing to the feeling of pressure in the forehead.

Also @ Collective,
Hi, I also use the technique of paying attention to "everything" that is going on. After I have been focusing on just the breath for a while to get concentration going, I then continue paying attention to each breath while also expanding my awareness to the whole body, letting it relax, and observing any sensations. If I start to "wander" and get sleepy, I pay attention to whatever sounds occur and that makes me alert again, more than anything else. It also works well when there are some distracting sounds like dogs barking, to focus specifically on those sounds, then it helps you concentrate instead of disturbing your concentration. :smile:
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Re: Not Observing Breath

Postby EricJ » Sat Jul 17, 2010 12:23 am

Hello folks. :D

After a discussion with one member of this forum, I recently switched from exclusive focus on the breath as sensed within the nostrils to a more holistic focus on the inner sensation of my body, including the breath. I start by intently focusing on my breath at the nostril and then expand to include my body, including the breath. I focus on how my body feels on the inside (so the feeling is kind of 'shaped' like my body). Eventually, I start to feel as if my body is breathing and I focus on this as well. When I inhale, I feel a slight bodily expansion, and when I exhale a contraction occurs.

This practice has been very fruitful for me. Like the OP, I feel much more open, aware, concentrated, and mindful. I can sit for longer periods of time, because I become concentrated and time seems to go by more quickly. Additionally, I become concentrated much earlier in my session. I have moments (during and after each session) where sense-based actions feel somewhat depersonalized. I also have a variety of sensations I'd like to run across some of the more experienced samatha practitioners in this discussion. I feel subtle tingling sensations within my body (especially my face). Certain parts of my body seem to lose sensation or 'disappear' as sensory experiences, and this is especially so within my face and hands. Like other meditators, I have a forehead sensation although the way I would describe it seems somewhat different from other descriptions that I have seen. For me, the sensation is a kind of tingling. It feels cool (temperature-wise). It arises and persists for a while, and then falls if I change my focus (away from the holistic breath-body feeling). Sometimes, the sensation arises or persists outside of meditation by my merely focusing on the spot where it normally occurs or by paying attention to my breath.

I tend to associate this breath-body awareness, as described by the OP/other posters and myself, with the "breathing in sensitive to the body/calming bodily fabrications" aspect of the Anapanasati Sutta method. It seems to me, based on what I have been experiencing recently and on what others have to say, that the sutta's method is less consecutive and layered (focus on this, then switch focus to another object) and more a process of subsuming. So, I think of this method as less about 'not observing the breath' and more about observing that the breath (as a sensory process) is more than just a stream of air. I think of nesting dolls. You have one sensation which contains or enters in to another sensation, all of which are part of one process culminating in complete, unhindered, undifferentiated awareness of body and breath (the large outer doll). Hopefully, I'll get to the outer doll in time. :D

Regards,
Eric
I do not want my house to be walled in on sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.- Gandhi

With persistence aroused for the highest goal's attainment, with mind unsmeared, not lazy in action, firm in effort, with steadfastness & strength arisen, wander alone like a rhinoceros.

Not neglecting seclusion, absorption, constantly living the Dhamma in line with the Dhamma, comprehending the danger in states of becoming, wander alone like a rhinoceros.
- Snp. 1.3
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Re: Not Observing Breath

Postby Collective » Sat Jul 17, 2010 12:59 am

Very interestng replies, thank you everyone!
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Re: Not Observing Breath

Postby Kenshou » Sat Jul 17, 2010 1:33 am

That all sounds very familiar to me, EricJ. Losing awareness of extremities of the body is something that can happen as the attention settles internally, I think. A little firmer mindfulness is enough to prevent that, if you want. I understand exactly what you mean by the "cool" sensation in the head and the vibrational tingly sort of sensation, which seems to occur as a result of focused concentration on the body/breath, as you've noticed. It's rather soothing, isn't it? That oh-so-hard to describe sensation, I have found, will eventually fill the whole body with a little nudging as concentration is maintained, and results in a very calm and unhindered place of concentration, well unified within the body.

As concentration is continued, this unified calm can mature in a way that I think is well described by a passage from the Sanaññaphala sutta: "Seeing that they (the hindrances) have been abandoned within him, he becomes glad. Glad, he becomes enraptured. Enraptured, his body grows tranquil. His body tranquil, he is sensitive to pleasure. Feeling pleasure, his mind becomes concentrated." That place of calm unified attention is naturally nourishing and relieving to the mind, and this sense of calm and upliftedness naturally folds over into gladness and that whole string of factors unfolds, one on top of the other, as in your comparison to a matryoshka doll. And as concentration is maintained these very same factors mutually strengthen each other, and with a little proper manipulation of attention and intention (what you might call vitakka and vicara), lead into what is called jhana by some suttantika interpretations. All the junk of this last paragraph really progresses quite naturally as you keep meditating. What personally helped very much for me to start the process rolling into some good concentration was to learn to fill the body entirely with those distinct sensations that arise as a result of the preliminary concentration.

Just some suggestions. Has proved to be a worthwhile direction to go, personally. The fact that it is a pleasant meditation is a minor benefit in comparison to the increase in mindfulness and sharpness that comes from it. There are other ways to develop mindfulness and concentration, but I think this is a good one. :meditate:
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Re: Not Observing Breath

Postby Reductor » Sat Jul 17, 2010 1:40 am

Hey EricJ, all

Possibly when you've got that big body breathing feeling you might find that you're still interfering with the rhythm of the breath. If so then let it go of the interference. Perhaps everything will settle in. Then you can decide if that's the result you're after.

Here's a quote that came to mind when I read your post.

here was once an old monk — 70 years old, 30 years in the monkhood — who had heard good things about how I teach meditation and so came to study with me. The first thing he asked was, "What method do you teach?"

"Breath meditation," I told him. "You know — bud-dho, bud-dho."

As soon as he heard that, he said, "I've been practicing that method ever since the time of Ajaan Mun — buddho, buddho ever since I was young — and I've never seen anything good come of it. All it does is buddho, buddho without ever getting anywhere at all. And now you're going to teach me to buddho some more. What for? You want me to buddho till I die?"

This is what happens when people have no sense of how to adjust and evaluate their breathing: They'll never find what they're looking for — which is why adjusting and spreading the breath is a very important part of doing breath meditation.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/lee/inmind.html
Michael

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To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Not Observing Breath

Postby EricJ » Sat Jul 17, 2010 3:19 am

Kenshou wrote:That oh-so-hard to describe sensation, I have found, will eventually fill the whole body with a little nudging as concentration is maintained, and results in a very calm and unhindered place of concentration, well unified within the body
I'm curious to know what you mean by "a little nudging." Should I be consciously trying to cause these sensations to expand? I find that if I pay attention to some of these sensations (I think of the forehead one in particular), they disappear.

Kenshou wrote:What personally helped very much for me to start the process rolling into some good concentration was to learn to fill the body entirely with those distinct sensations that arise as a result of the preliminary concentration.
Thanks for that sutta excerpt. It is very clarifying. However, as per my post above, I wonder how you "fill the body" with these sensations. Does the gladness arise naturally?

Thanks,
Eric
I do not want my house to be walled in on sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.- Gandhi

With persistence aroused for the highest goal's attainment, with mind unsmeared, not lazy in action, firm in effort, with steadfastness & strength arisen, wander alone like a rhinoceros.

Not neglecting seclusion, absorption, constantly living the Dhamma in line with the Dhamma, comprehending the danger in states of becoming, wander alone like a rhinoceros.
- Snp. 1.3
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Re: Not Observing Breath

Postby EricJ » Sat Jul 17, 2010 3:30 am

thereductor wrote:Possibly when you've got that big body breathing feeling you might find that you're still interfering with the rhythm of the breath. If so then let it go of the interference. Perhaps everything will settle in. Then you can decide if that's the result you're after.
Thanks for the response. However, I'm not really sure what you mean by this. My breath usually becomes pretty regular (or at least appears so). It varies in length from session to session. Generally, whenever I get the body breathing sensation, I feel even more concentrated because the sensation is rather difficult to discern and is accompanied by more subtle sensations, such as a feeling of tiny vibrations/tingling along the 'outer edge' of the inward felt sensation. This sensation occurs after I have spent some of my time focusing on the inward felt sensation. Generally, my meditation goes like this: intently focusing on the breath as felt in the nostrils > expanding awareness to include inward felt sensation as well as breath sensation > awareness of the way the body/inward felt sensation is connected to and affected by breath. The last part is the pulsating feeling.

Regards,
Eric
I do not want my house to be walled in on sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.- Gandhi

With persistence aroused for the highest goal's attainment, with mind unsmeared, not lazy in action, firm in effort, with steadfastness & strength arisen, wander alone like a rhinoceros.

Not neglecting seclusion, absorption, constantly living the Dhamma in line with the Dhamma, comprehending the danger in states of becoming, wander alone like a rhinoceros.
- Snp. 1.3
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Re: Not Observing Breath

Postby Reductor » Sat Jul 17, 2010 4:05 am

Hi Eric,

It may not be pertinent to you, actually. I have noticed that when feelings are really good and things are going well there is slight tendency to maintain a certain rate of breathing. The breathing feels so good, you see, that you unknowingly prevent it from becoming even calmer and more refined.

You're interfering with it ever so slightly that body and mind don't become as tranquil as they could be. At times I catch myself, let go and it becomes deeper, calmer.

But that is my own experience, which may not extend to yourself. All in all though, it sounds like all is going well for you, to say the least.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Not Observing Breath

Postby Kenshou » Sat Jul 17, 2010 4:45 am

EricJ,

I'm curious to know what you mean by "a little nudging." Should I be consciously trying to cause these sensations to expand? I find that if I pay attention to some of these sensations (I think of the forehead one in particular), they disappear.


This is one of those things that's awfully hard to describe and is going to need a lot of personal experimentation. I can only give you some suggestions based on what I myself have found to work. I'm partially reluctant to get too detailed with it since it really does naturally unfold when the preliminaries are met, weather you know the details or not.

Something to keep in mind, though: This distinct soothing vibrational sensation thingie is a result of the focused and secluded mind. Recall the first jhana formula, "rapture and pleasure born of seclusion". We seclude the mind from unwholesome and distracting preoccupations by keeping it on it's theme, the body, breath, and effects of the breath upon the body in this case. If you allow too much of the bandwidth of attention to get caught up the sensation when it arises, you lose focus on your foundation, and you pull the bottom out from under your meditation. Of course I don't know if that is what you are doing though.

So, be sure to keep the initial theme dominant. Attend to the resulting sensation lightly and without craving, (though of course don't ignore it, we want a wide and inclusive breadth of attention here), and it will grow on it's own quite a lot as the foundation is developed. I feel like this might be what you ought to do (or keep doing) at the moment, and see what happens. The better you get at this, the stronger and more filling the results become.

To put it in simper terms, just keep developing mindfulness of the body with your anapanasati and let the results take care of themselves for awhile, they'll come when conditions are met. Another little thing: maintaining an attitude of relinquishment and non-clinging in addition to the central themes is something that I have found extremely conductive to all this. If you have a sense of how to apply that (and I don't mean that in a patronizing way), I suggest you try it.

As for "nudging" it in order to make it as pervasive as possible in order to bring about a full absorption, it's really a very subtle act of intention and can probably be approached in a number of ways. When the sensation is quite strong and full, the thing is that it tends to be very connected with this mindfulness of the body that you have been developing. So, as you continue to perfect and stretch and stabilize that mindfulness, those characteristic sensations of absorption are naturally stretched and pushed out as well. Wherever mindfulness is, there is that, and vice versa. The pleasant affective quality of the concentrated mind and the development of the concentration mutually perfect each other and eventually become indistinguishable from each other. I'm sorry if I'm vagueish, this is a subtle mental thing that's hard to get into good words. There is both a whole lot and very little going on.

I've said more about this in this post in another thread, if you feel like reading it: viewtopic.php?f=17&t=4908&start=20#p76182

And yes, when the hindrances are gone and the mind rests unperturbed anchored within the sense of the body, the body and mind mutually pervaded with palpable calm, gladness naturally bubbles up and through. It's really effortless for the most part.
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Re: Not Observing Breath

Postby EricJ » Sat Jul 17, 2010 5:33 am

Kenshou wrote:Something to keep in mind, though: This distinct soothing vibrational sensation thingie is a result of the focused and secluded mind. Recall the first jhana formula, "rapture and pleasure born of seclusion". We seclude the mind from unwholesome and distracting preoccupations by keeping it on it's theme, the body, breath, and effects of the breath upon the body in this case. If you allow too much of the bandwidth of attention to get caught up the sensation when it arises, you lose focus on your foundation, and you pull the bottom out from under your meditation. Of course I don't know if that is what you are doing though.

So, be sure to keep the initial theme dominant. Attend to the resulting sensation lightly and without craving, (though of course don't ignore it, we want a wide and inclusive breadth of attention here), and it will grow on it's own quite a lot as the foundation is developed. I feel like this might be what you ought to do (or keep doing) at the moment, and see what happens. The better you get at this, the stronger and more filling the results become.
Hi, Kenshou. Thanks for the response. As this practice (extending awareness to the body/sensations) is still relatively new to me (been doing it for almost two weeks now), I sometimes focus too much on or try to find the sensations. It's not always (or even usually) like this, but it happens. I think that this tendency, in my case at least, arises from the subtlety of the felt sense of the body. It is difficult to find at times. I often wonder if I am 'getting everything in' ("am I making sure that I am aware of [insert specific part of the body]") I also have the tendency to extend my focus to include the body too early, before the breath has become refined through directing focus to the nostrils.

Your post has helped me realize some of these faults, so I'm very grateful. Also, thank you for that link. :anjali:

I think I will just try to develop awareness of the open, calm feeling of body-breath awareness, and let the results take care of themselves, as you say.
I do not want my house to be walled in on sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.- Gandhi

With persistence aroused for the highest goal's attainment, with mind unsmeared, not lazy in action, firm in effort, with steadfastness & strength arisen, wander alone like a rhinoceros.

Not neglecting seclusion, absorption, constantly living the Dhamma in line with the Dhamma, comprehending the danger in states of becoming, wander alone like a rhinoceros.
- Snp. 1.3
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Re: Not Observing Breath

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Jul 17, 2010 5:35 am

meditation is fun. the mind and its hindrances and fabrications never cease to amaze me.

when i practiced zen, sitting there eyes open facing a wall not focusing on anything, i never really had any problems with thoughts popping up etc. but sometimes when practicing now eyes closed focusing on just one thing, I'll get like waves of thoughts, every so often to much to handle like in a crowded room. it's like the mind just refuses to settle down or maybe those thoughts just need out , i dont know. so sometimes, I'll just open my eyes and sit. just be aware. let it all go.
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Not Observing Breath

Postby Reductor » Sat Jul 17, 2010 5:43 am

Thanks, Kenshou, for another lucid post.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Not Observing Breath

Postby Collective » Sat Jul 17, 2010 10:34 am

Another thing I realised is when I focus on the breath, I'm not fully aware of my surroundings.

The breath is all encompassing, enveloping - not sure if this is good or bad.

They say staying with the breath is being in the moment, but my awarenss of the environment seems very hazy, distant, unreal, restricted.

This is not to say I don't sense anything. I'm not sleepy, or fuzzy minded, I actually sense everything. I can hear, feel, smell, taste etc, but these perceptions seem very unsubstantial, almost dreamlike. It got to the point where I was thinking, what's the point of being in the moment (with the breath), if I'm oblivious to my surroundings (restricted awareness).

Was I focusing on the breath incorrectly?

Either way this new 'technique' of being more aware of everything and not one thing exclusively (breath) seems to have sharpened my awareness a lot.

Any thoughts?
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Re: Not Observing Breath

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Jul 17, 2010 10:45 am

it depends on what you're after, you'd want it all to go away if you're going for one pointed concentration, but if you're after insight meditation you'd not want it all to go away, you'd just use the breath as an anchor.

who are you learning meditation from btw?
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Not Observing Breath

Postby Collective » Sat Jul 17, 2010 11:37 am

Learning from books.

Currently: Mindfulness in Plain English by Gunaratana. Vipassana.

But he teaches to focus on the breath
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