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.dhamma_newb wrote:Do we have to focus on breathing in order to meditate?
“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).
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.
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.