The thing about the 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.

The thing about the breath

Postby Future Bhikkhu » Wed Jan 26, 2011 11:39 pm

I am finding that every time I meditate, concentrating on the breath, that am listening more to the sound of it than actually feeeling it on my nostrils or upper lip. Is this just as good or is it better to focus on the feeling and if so, how should I combat the problem?
The mind is everything; what you think you become.
-The Buddha
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Re: The thing about the breath

Postby Dharma_Bum » Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:53 am

Maybe you are breathing to hard. Try to take slow deep breathes in and out. Before you start to meditate try and do some breathing excerises as well. I hope this helps.
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Re: The thing about the breath

Postby meindzai » Thu Jan 27, 2011 12:50 pm

You should be aware that Buddhist meditation is not a breathing exercise, as is done in yoga. The breath should not really be exaggerated in anyway. A few deep breaths now and then is good to clear the head, or sometimes they occur naturally - just take note of them, but there really should be no controlled breathing.

If it's not that, you might either just have a more audible breath, naturally, or are very sensitive to the sound. No problem, just notice that too, and come back to your intended object of meditation.

Before I say more, are you doing Vipassana meditation or are you more focusing on a concentration/samadhi type practice?

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Re: The thing about the breath

Postby Future Bhikkhu » Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:00 pm

In that particular exercise I am doing Samadhi. I found that the feel of my breath is very subtle and therefore lose a point to focus my attention. I have tried using my abdomen as a concentration point but my breathing is too shallow to allow it to rise notably. I want to meditate now and don't want to have to practise breathing before I can.

With metta,

:anjali:
The mind is everything; what you think you become.
-The Buddha
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Re: The thing about the breath

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:12 pm

Future Bhikkhu wrote:In that particular exercise I am doing Samadhi. I found that the feel of my breath is very subtle and therefore lose a point to focus my attention. I have tried using my abdomen as a concentration point but my breathing is too shallow to allow it to rise notably. I want to meditate now and don't want to have to practise breathing before I can.


There is nothing special about the breath, the breath is just a tool that is used to help collect the mind on one point and/or expand awareness.

So it really doesn't matter what you experience as long as the mind is aware and stabalising. If you can't feel the breath you can do a few stronger breathes if you want to but just place the attention where you felt the breath and let the breath become natural. Just keep your attention there even if you then feel nothing, before long the mind will become more sensitive and you'll feel the breath when it's subtle.
"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: The thing about the breath

Postby Future Bhikkhu » Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:17 pm

Thankyou for your advice.

With metta,

:anjali:
The mind is everything; what you think you become.
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Re: The thing about the breath

Postby octathlon » Fri Jan 28, 2011 12:42 am

I found that for me, trying to sense the breath on the edge of the nostrils or on the upper lip as they describe it was too difficult. I found that noticing it just inside the nostrils worked much better for me.
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Re: The thing about the breath

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:33 am

Future Bhikkhu wrote:In that particular exercise I am doing Samadhi. I found that the feel of my breath is very subtle and therefore lose a point to focus my attention. I have tried using my abdomen as a concentration point but my breathing is too shallow to allow it to rise notably. I want to meditate now and don't want to have to practise breathing before I can.

With metta,

:anjali:

It is ok to place a hand on your abdomin to help with noting the rising and falling.
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Re: The thing about the breath

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Fri Jan 28, 2011 12:04 pm

Future Bhikkhu wrote:I am finding that every time I meditate, concentrating on the breath, that am listening more to the sound of it than actually feeeling it on my nostrils or upper lip.


I think that's fine. The main thing is to pay attention to the process of breathing, there are different ways of doing this.

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Re: The thing about the breath

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Jan 28, 2011 2:53 pm

Wisdom gives rise to Samadhi (unification of mind). It is important to understand quite clearly what you are setting out to do when you sit, and how you are going to go about reaching what you aim for. If your aim is samadhi, then you must know you achieve that by focusing on just one things - whatever it maybe... and that the kind of object is irrelevant. This is not a ritualistic practice where there is 'right' way to do it. This is entirely functional- that is it has a particular purpose and how far you get towards reaching that objective is 'measurable' (see the anapanasati sutta).

If you apply those principles in the development of samadhi, you can't go wrong!

With metta :smile:

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Re: The thing about the breath

Postby 2600htz » Fri Jan 28, 2011 3:53 pm

Hello everyone:

a) if you are not supposed to alterate the breath in any way, the step of "calming the bodily fabrication" being bodily fabrication "In-&-out breaths are bodily; these are things tied up with the body. That's why in-&-out breaths are bodily fabrications." how does it play?..

b) If the first of The Four Frames of Reference its classed as focusing in the body, how focusing in anything (even not the body) could bring the body focusing to the culmination?

c) when we focus on a feeling of the nose, are we really understanding "this is a short/long inhalation" ? or we are just concentrating?

Anapanasati seems tricky haha, been using it during a year and still dont understand it very well.

Much Metta.
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Re: The thing about the breath

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Jan 28, 2011 4:00 pm

2600htz wrote:Hello everyone:

a) if you are not supposed to alterate the breath in any way, the step of "calming the bodily fabrication" being bodily fabrication "In-&-out breaths are bodily; these are things tied up with the body. That's why in-&-out breaths are bodily fabrications." how does it play?..

b) If the first of The Four Frames of Reference its classed as focusing in the body, how focusing in anything (even not the body) could bring the body focusing to the culmination?

c) when we focus on a feeling of the nose, are we really understanding "this is a short/long inhalation" ? or we are just concentrating?

Anapanasati seems tricky haha, been using it during a year and still dont understand it very well.

Much Metta.


Hi 2600Hz

a) It looks like the Buddha didnt quite say not to relax the body (and later the mind) during anapanasati, when it comes to that point in the development.

b) Are you asking if 'since the breath isnt really the body, how can focusing on that bring 'mindfulness of the body' to a culmination?'

c) Feeling a spot on the nose can be usefully used to develop samatha (Right concentration)- and subsequently the jhanas- nothing wrong in that- as long as the practitioner is aware that it does not give rise to vipassana, which is the essential next step in the path. However being aware of the length of the breath is a good way to focus on the breath intelligently rather than mindlessly -this will allow us to turn the mindfulness of breath into vipassana later on in the development.

with metta

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Re: The thing about the breath

Postby 2600htz » Fri Jan 28, 2011 6:38 pm

Hi Matheesha,

a) "It looks like the Buddha didnt quite say not to relax the body (and later the mind) during anapanasati, [b]when it comes to that point in the development."[/b]

Hey, could you explain this in more detail please?, sounds interesting.

b) " Are you asking if 'since the breath isnt really the body, how can focusing on that bring 'mindfulness of the body' to a culmination?' "

No, i get the in-&-out breath is classed as a body among bodies, but "Goofaholix" said in a previous post: "There is nothing special about the breath, the breath is just a tool that is used to help collect the mind on one point and/or expand awareness".

I dont think the breath is "nothing special" :) , but i understand the point, i mean metta and kasina meditations "dont use breath", yet they can reach samadhi-jhana.
So i ask, how metta and kasina meditations can bring the first of The Four Frames of Reference (body) to the culmination, if u are not focused on the body?, instead you focus on a feeling or an image.
(this question will apply only to people practicing intense concentration, to the point of exclution of the physical body).

c) "c) Feeling a spot on the nose can be usefully used to develop samatha (Right concentration)- and subsequently the jhanas- nothing wrong in that- as long as the practitioner is aware that it does not give rise to vipassana, which is the essential next step in the path. However being aware of the length of the breath is a good way to focus on the breath intelligently rather than mindlessly -this will allow us to turn the mindfulness of breath into vipassana later on in the development."

So you are saying you can first concentrate on a feeling, to then begin to understand the breath?.. isnt like going backwards ?
I mean focusing on feelings in & of themselves its the second of the four frames of reference, not the first.

Much metta.
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