Following the breath at the nostrils vs in the abdomen

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Following the breath at the nostrils vs in the abdomen

Postby philosopher » Sat Jul 05, 2014 9:09 pm

I've been reading and loving Shaila Catherine's Focused and Fearless (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/086171 ... 674RIA66UZ). In it she says to focus concentration on the breath at the nostrils, whereas I have always practiced focusing breath at the abdomen. This seems to leads to a greater calming of the mind for me than focusing at the nostrils. Is there a particular reason she advocates focusing at the nostrils? I assume this might lead to a brighter sense of concentration (focusing at the abdomen might lead to sleepiness) but is there any other reason? I'd prefer to continue with focus at the abdomen so long as it won't be a serious hindrance to reaching the first jhana.

Thank you for any advice!

:anjali:
philosopher
 
Posts: 63
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:48 pm

Re: Following the breath at the nostrils vs in the abdomen

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jul 05, 2014 9:21 pm

Do what works for you. But you will find that that changes.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19556
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Following the breath at the nostrils vs in the abdomen

Postby Goofaholix » Sat Jul 05, 2014 9:34 pm

Observing the breath at the nostrils tends to lead to a sharper focus, observing at the abdomen tends to lead to a broader concentration. The former is generally more recommended for jhana practice however sometimes people find it too tight or makes awareness centred around the head too much.
"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
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1944
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Following the breath at the nostrils vs in the abdomen

Postby philosopher » Sat Jul 05, 2014 11:38 pm

Goofaholix wrote:Observing the breath at the nostrils tends to lead to a sharper focus, observing at the abdomen tends to lead to a broader concentration. The former is generally more recommended for jhana practice however sometimes people find it too tight or makes awareness centred around the head too much.



Thank you; this has been my experience and I'm glad to hear that others have had the same experience.

:anjali:
philosopher
 
Posts: 63
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:48 pm

Re: Following the breath at the nostrils vs in the abdomen

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jul 06, 2014 3:10 am

I think many notice this, including, of course, the ancient commentators who wrote detailed instructions on jhana using that focus. Shaila is explaining that particular approach.

That's not to say that other approaches are wrong. They are just different approaches, often with different aims. Focussing on the abdominal motion is less likely to give you really strong concentration, because it's a more unstable object. But that instability, because that can give you some useful insight into anicca, which is also a good thing, but different...

Even in the case of focus on the breath at the nose, there are different ways of approaching it:
Sayadaw U Pandita wrote:Ānāpānassati can take two directions. If the meditator strives to be mindful of the form or manner of the in-breath and the out-breath, then it is samatha meditation and leads to one-pointedness of mind. On the other hand, if the meditator notes the sensation of the in-breath and out-breath as it moves and touches, then it is vipassanā meditation. The element of wind or motion (vāyo-dhātu) is matter (rūpa), while the awareness or consciousness of the sensation is mind (nāma). Therefore, ānāpānassati can be considered as vipassanā, and can lead to high levels of insight wisdom.
...
http://aimwell.org/questions.html

Some teachers say "it doesn't matter how you feel the breath", but then usually go on to give instructions that point in a particular direction. For example, Ajahn Brahm, in Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond (AKA Happiness through meditation), page 15:
If you locate the breath at the tip of your nose then it becomes “nose awareness,” not
breath awareness, and if you locate it at your abdomen then it becomes
“abdomen awareness.” Just ask yourself right now:“Am I breathing in
or breathing out? How do I know?” There! The experience that tells
you what the breath is doing, that is what you focus on. Let go of the
concern about where this experience is located. Just focus on the experience itself.

Not unlike U Pandita's description of using anapanasati for samatha...

Another way of putting it, the more conceptual awareness that Ajahn Brahm is talking about is more stable, and is more suitable to deep concentration.The details of the sensations are less conceptual, and are inherently less stable, and so less suitable for inducing deep concentration, but give insight into impermanence and so on...

:anjali:
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 10379
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand


Return to Samatha Meditation and Jhana

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests