Mahasi & Primary Object

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.
dhamma_newb
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Mahasi & Primary Object

Postby dhamma_newb » Mon May 07, 2012 6:06 am

Is it okay to use just sitting and touch points as the primary object in Mahasi style vipassana?

I am a chest breather and find that when I try to use the abdomen as the primary object I become agitated because I have to force myself to use abdominal breathing in order to feel any kind of motion there.

Should I learn how to abdominal breath?

Is it just the motion involved in breathing that is important to focus on? Could I focus on the motion of chest breathing as the primary object instead?

Do we have to focus on breathing in order to meditate?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

:anjali:
Don
The watched mind brings happiness.
Dhp 36

I am larger and better than I thought. I did not know I held so much goodness.
Walt Whitman

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tiltbillings
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Re: Mahasi & Primary Object

Postby tiltbillings » Mon May 07, 2012 6:17 am

dhamma_newb wrote:Do we have to focus on breathing in order to meditate?
Breathing is an excellent thing to focus on. If the abdomen is not working out for you, then pay attention to the breath at the nostrils, which should be fairly easy to do and does not require you change your normal breathing pattern.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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mikenz66
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Re: Mahasi & Primary Object

Postby mikenz66 » Mon May 07, 2012 6:58 am

Sitting and touching can be good, but as Tilt says, you can use the breath anywhere:
http://aimwell.org/Books/Other/Questions/questions.html
“Why did Mahāsi Sayādaw ignore ānāpānassati, which was directly taught by the Buddha, but introduced the rising-falling method?”

“Is ānāpānassati the same in essence as vipassanā and meditating on rising and falling, and able to lead to magga-phala and nibbāna?”

In answering these questions, Panditārāma Sayādaw explained the teachings of the Mahāsi Sayādaw as follows.

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 (vayo-dhātu) is rūpa or matter, while the awareness or consciousness of the sensation is nāma or mind. Therefore, ānāpānassati can be considered as vipassanā, and can lead to high levels of insight wisdom. However, in the Visuddhimagga, in the section on kāyānupassana, or mindfulness of body, fourteen objects of meditation are discussed, and further subdivided into objects for samatha and vipassanā meditation. In the Visuddhimagga, ānāpānassati is presented as an object of samatha meditation. Consequently, if we are to instruct meditators to develop ānāpānassati as part of vipassanā meditation, we will be inviting much unwanted and unwarranted criticism and controversy. And neither Mahāsi Sayādaw or myself would want to argue here that the Visuddhimagga, the rightly venerated classic, is at fault here.

It has been said that by noting the rising and falling of the abdomen, meditators are distancing themselves from the teachings of the Buddha. The answer to this is a firm and definite “no.” Quite apart from the success that meditators have achieved by noting rising-falling, there is much solid evidence in the Buddhist scriptures, such as Salāyatana Vagga Samyutta, to show that the method is very much a part of the Buddha’s teachings regarding mindfulness of the body, mindfulness of the elements (dhātu), and mindfulness of the five aggregates (khandhas).

This practice involves paying attention to elements and other "non-conceptual" objects. As U Pandita says, one can do that with the breath at the nostrils, or you could use the chest. My experience is that using the abdomen it's easier to keep a wider field of attention. For me using the nostrils leads to a much tighter focus, which is useful for some purposes, but not so useful for others.

:anjali:
Mike

dhamma_newb
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Re: Mahasi & Primary Object

Postby dhamma_newb » Mon May 07, 2012 2:19 pm

Thanks tilt and Mike.
The watched mind brings happiness.
Dhp 36

I am larger and better than I thought. I did not know I held so much goodness.
Walt Whitman

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Goofaholix
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Re: Mahasi & Primary Object

Postby Goofaholix » Mon May 07, 2012 7:51 pm

Sensations happen in relation to the breath throughout the body. If you can't feel them in a certain spot it's not because nothing is happening there it's because the mind is not subtle enough to feel it.

It may be worth resting the attention at other places until the mind becomes subtle enough to feel it at the abdomen. Western teavhers will usually be happy for you to try different ways of doinfg it, whereas Burmese teavhers will likely insist you use the abdomen.

When things are more difficult that's where there is more opportunity to learn but sometimes you need to start with the easy and establish concentration first.
"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

dhamma_newb
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Re: Mahasi & Primary Object

Postby dhamma_newb » Mon May 07, 2012 8:20 pm

Thanks Goof!
The watched mind brings happiness.
Dhp 36

I am larger and better than I thought. I did not know I held so much goodness.
Walt Whitman

santisasana
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Re: Mahasi & Primary Object

Postby santisasana » Sun May 13, 2012 1:38 pm

I am a chest breather and find that when I try to use the abdomen as the primary object I become agitated because I have to force myself to use abdominal breathing in order to feel any kind of motion there.


Indeed, it is important not to force the breathing - not to slow it down, nor to speed it up... and not to seek for anything to see in particular. That creates tension and agitation.
You can start observing the breath at the chest or the sitting and touching points. They are obvious objets, appearing clearly in the mind.

Then, slowly, you can start to deepen your breaths. Indeed, in the beginning, for those who are not yet used to breath from the abdomen, it is helpful to train to make complete and full breaths, as Sayadaw U Pannathami (Panditarama Sydney Sayadaw) advises. It means that we try to breath in fully and completely so that the air goes down to the abdomen ( and thus, bringing more oxygen to the body). It is very relaxing to breath in such a way.
Then you just need to direct your attention to the abdomen aera to see what is happening there.

May you enjoy your practice.

dhamma_newb
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Re: Mahasi & Primary Object

Postby dhamma_newb » Sun May 13, 2012 4:14 pm

santisasana wrote:
I am a chest breather and find that when I try to use the abdomen as the primary object I become agitated because I have to force myself to use abdominal breathing in order to feel any kind of motion there.


Indeed, it is important not to force the breathing - not to slow it down, nor to speed it up... and not to seek for anything to see in particular. That creates tension and agitation.
You can start observing the breath at the chest or the sitting and touching points. They are obvious objets, appearing clearly in the mind.

Then, slowly, you can start to deepen your breaths. Indeed, in the beginning, for those who are not yet used to breath from the abdomen, it is helpful to train to make complete and full breaths, as Sayadaw U Pannathami (Panditarama Sydney Sayadaw) advises. It means that we try to breath in fully and completely so that the air goes down to the abdomen ( and thus, bringing more oxygen to the body). It is very relaxing to breath in such a way.
Then you just need to direct your attention to the abdomen aera to see what is happening there.

May you enjoy your practice.


Thank you santisasana! Great advice :smile:

With Metta,
Don
The watched mind brings happiness.
Dhp 36

I am larger and better than I thought. I did not know I held so much goodness.
Walt Whitman


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