counting breaths

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counting breaths

Postby befriend » Wed May 23, 2012 9:44 pm

as a 6 year long meditator i have never counted breaths, do you think its too late to start now. or would i benefit from it. how long does one spend counting the breaths.
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Re: counting breaths

Postby Goofaholix » Wed May 23, 2012 10:07 pm

befriend wrote:as a 6 year long meditator i have never counted breaths, do you think its too late to start now. or would i benefit from it. how long does one spend counting the breaths.


If you feel you need it then try it and see how it goes. It's a bit of a crutch but sometimes it's helpful if the alternative is to just sit there with a busy mind.
"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
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Re: counting breaths

Postby Travis » Wed May 23, 2012 10:45 pm

Hello Befriend,
I have recently started counting and I have to agree that it is/can be a crutch, but also say that it is helpful. I usually count for at least 15min until I see that I can follow along, my breath becomes light, etc. then I shift to the breath alone (for 15-45 min). Occasionally I'll go back to the numbers if I feel like I could benefit from it One thing that I would recommend is that you try integrate the number with the breath, as if "seven" were a quality or name of that particular breath. It would be like "this is what a seven breath feels like, it has a certain temperature and a certain texture." except you don't literally think those words, if you get my drift. I haven't seen this advice before, but find it helpful to establish attention on the breath more so than the number. As an experienced practitioner you will probably find that it helps you get established more quickly, after/beyond that I'm not sure what the benefit would be...

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Re: counting breaths

Postby befriend » Thu May 24, 2012 1:09 am

do you think its necessary for a meditator to practicing counting the breaths at some point to stabalize there concentration?
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Re: counting breaths

Postby tiltbillings » Thu May 24, 2012 2:34 am

befriend wrote:do you think its necessary for a meditator to practicing counting the breaths at some point to stabalize there concentration?
It is not necessary, but it can be a useful tool. Keep it light.
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.

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Re: counting breaths

Postby Travis » Thu May 24, 2012 2:39 am

Absolutely not, but if it helps, it helps. After trying a few different things over time I personally found it to be useful, so I integrated it into my regular practice.
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Re: counting breaths

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 24, 2012 3:06 am

Greetings,

Goofaholix wrote:It's a bit of a crutch but sometimes it's helpful if the alternative is to just sit there with a busy mind.

Yes, those are the instances when I use the counting method. Rather than start again at 10 as might be customary, I just keep counting. Something in the mind twigs out about the futility of counting towards infinity, and the counting is naturally relinquished in favour of a state of calm. I find this happens usually at around 70.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: counting breaths

Postby Goofaholix » Thu May 24, 2012 3:48 am

retrofuturist wrote:Yes, those are the instances when I use the counting method. Rather than start again at 10 as might be customary, I just keep counting. Something in the mind twigs out about the futility of counting towards infinity, and the counting is naturally relinquished in favour of a state of calm. I find this happens usually at around 70.


I think the idea of couting up to 10 (or whatever) and back down again to 1 is that it helps keep your attention. It's very easy to count past 10 up to 70 or infinity by rote and be away with the fairies while you do it. At least if you realise you've gone past 10, or are counting forwards when you should be counting backwards, you've realised you haven't really been paying enough attention. Pretty cumbersome but a good baseline for your ability to maintain attention.
"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
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Re: counting breaths

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 24, 2012 3:52 am

Greetings Goof,

Goofaholix wrote:I think the idea of couting up to 10 (or whatever) and back down again to 1 is that it helps keep your attention. It's very easy to count past 10 up to 70 or infinity by rote and be away with the fairies while you do it. At least if you realise you've gone past 10, or are counting forwards when you should be counting backwards, you've realised you haven't really been paying enough attention. Pretty cumbersome but a good baseline for your ability to maintain attention.

I agree if the purpose is to maintain concentration during the counting. If that's what I'm trying to do I'll just go to 10 and repeat.

If the purpose however is to drop persistent thoughts, I find that boring the conceptual mind with a potentially never-ending string of numbers to count through knocks it into compliance.

Slightly different approaches for slightly different situations.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: counting breaths

Postby Bakmoon » Thu May 24, 2012 4:09 am

befriend wrote:as a 6 year long meditator i have never counted breaths, do you think its too late to start now. or would i benefit from it. how long does one spend counting the breaths.


It might be helpful, or it might nit. The only way to find out is to try.

One thing I think I should mention is that you need to make sure that your attention stays on the breath, not the numbers. As for how long, I normally only do two or three 1 to 10 cycle. It's worth a shot I suppose.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
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Re: counting breaths

Postby marc108 » Thu May 24, 2012 6:23 am

i find counting breaths very useful for establishing mindfulness and slowing the stream down a bit. eventually it gets annoying as things quiet down, and i drop it. for me restarting when i lose track is very important... if i have to 'search' for the number at all, i start back at one. if i dont restart, my mind will fall into a weird state where its counting but still engaging in fantasy. try it for a bit... if it works, great. if not, drop it.
"It's easy for us to connect with what's wrong with us... and not so easy to feel into, or to allow us, to connect with what's right and what's good in us."
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