Anapana Meditation Inquiry

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Anapana Meditation Inquiry

Postby martinstorykapusta » Tue Jul 03, 2012 8:24 am

Hello there!

My name is Martin Story-Kapusta, and I have recently sat for my first time at a 10-day Vipassana Retreat (S.N. Goenka), in Canada.
First off, unbelievably beautiful experience of liberation. But you all already know how sweet it is.

I have been sitting at least 2x a day ever since (it's been about two weeks) and it has been up and down. Impermanence to the tee, though I notice my equanimity growing every day.
Recently I have been noticing that every time I put my attention (or seem to) to the "Anapana Spot" on my upper lip below the nostrils, the only sensation I get is a sort of numb pressure.
However, this sensation seems to be slightly shared by my nostrils and part of my top lip. So, every time I begin to practice Anapana to cultivate samadhi for Vipassana, I get this sensation.

The problem is, I find myself battling constantly whether this is truly my upper lip, or if it is some other spot nearby, or if it's just completely blind, etc.
Then my attention becomes distracted because I doubt myself whether or not this is truly where my concentration is focused.
I think "it's probably just my teeth underneath the lip", or "it can't be the right spot because this overwhelming numb sensation in my nostrils is probably just taking over that whole area".

Am I just making a big deal out of something completely non-existent?
Am I simply just not satisfied by the sensation and expecting something else?

I have tried touching the spot and then focusing back there until the "touched sensation" goes away and it seems to me like everything is okay.
I feel like I'm just thinking too much.

Has anyone else experienced such doubt, or a similar sensation in a similar area with a similar story?

Much appreciation for any help and guidance. This worry hurdle would be nice to pass!

Utmost metta and gratitude,

Martin
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Re: Anapana Meditation Inquiry

Postby cooran » Tue Jul 03, 2012 8:55 am

Hello Martin,

Our Admin, Ben, is a very experienced Vipassana practitioner as taught by Satya Narayan Goenka. He has attended Goenka meditation retreats (10days and longer) in Australia, India and Myanmar. I am sure he will have some advice to give once he reads your question.

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: Anapana Meditation Inquiry

Postby Ben » Tue Jul 03, 2012 9:29 am

Greetings Martin,

Its normal for people to feel all sorts of sensations, sometimes at the point where one feels the touch of the breath. Just keep your attention firmly focused on the point where the breath touches with a relaxed mind. If you are still having trouble discerning the touch of the breath, go back to the instructions. Either make some intentionally hard breaths to find the anchor point of your breath or stop breathing (temporarily) and observe the point where the breath normally touches the body, then breathe again normally.
The difficulty (and beauty) of anapana-sati to develop samadhi is that as one's concentration develops, the breath becomes more subtle and harder to discern, which then sharpens one's samadhi. Keep in mind also that the practice of anapana is a preparatory tool to practice vedananupassana (observation of the anicca characteristic of sensation) throughout the body.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Anapana Meditation Inquiry

Postby TravisGM » Thu Jul 12, 2012 3:32 pm

I'm not sure if this thread had been close but I have always been having the same problem. I'm curious, did the meditation ever get better? How can one stop that from happening?
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Re: Anapana Meditation Inquiry

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Thu Jul 12, 2012 5:12 pm

TravisGM wrote:I'm not sure if this thread had been close but I have always been having the same problem. I'm curious, did the meditation ever get better? How can one stop that from happening?

Ben gives good advice. Try breathing a little harder for a short time and note where the breath hits with those strong breaths. Then, when you return to the regular breathing, try and remember that spot and keep focused on it, even if originally you don't feel much. Keep at it and soon your concentration will develop to the point where you can start to pick it up.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Anapana Meditation Inquiry

Postby TravisGM » Thu Jul 12, 2012 6:16 pm

But the main point of Anapanasati meditation is to eventually focus on the breath at that point yes? Even after physical sensation has subsided?
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Re: Anapana Meditation Inquiry

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Thu Jul 12, 2012 6:23 pm

TravisGM wrote:But the main point of Anapanasati meditation is to eventually focus on the breath at that point yes? Even after physical sensation has subsided?

Yeah, there comes a point where you can almost place your attention "off the body" so to speak, focusing just on the breath itself. But sensation is always a guide. For now, if you're having trouble with the anapana spot, just try and breath heavily, note where it hits, and then keep your mind's eye on that spot until you slow down enough mentally to catch the breath hitting there.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Anapana Meditation Inquiry

Postby TravisGM » Thu Jul 12, 2012 6:31 pm

Yogurt, you've helped me twice in the same day. Your karma must be awesome :) thank you again. You've been a great help
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Re: Anapana Meditation Inquiry

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Thu Jul 12, 2012 6:42 pm

TravisGM wrote:Yogurt, you've helped me twice in the same day. Your karma must be awesome :) thank you again. You've been a great help

I'm just offering one approach from my tradition. Please don't take it as Gospel truth or anything. Other people, most of whom on this board are way more advanced in the practice than I am, might have other ideas. You're very welcome though! Any other questions, please do PM me.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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