Developing an Anapanasati practice over time?

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Developing an Anapanasati practice over time?

Postby Mojo » Tue Mar 19, 2013 12:13 am

Is it best when beginning an Anapanasati practice to spend a certain amount of time on each step before attempting to go top the next step. Like today I'll be aware of my in and out breath and then tomorrow, after I've settled into an awareness of my on and out breath I'll start to note if that in or out breath is long or short? Then the next day, I'll do the same and after settling into a solid awareness of the length of each in and out breath, then I'll start to put effort into experiencing the whole body?

Also, are the steps cumulative?

Does anyone know of a good and free program to help ease one into a full Anapanasati routine over an extended amount of time?

Thanks, Mojo
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Re: Developing an Anapanasati practice over time?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Tue Mar 19, 2013 1:16 am

It's important, first of all, to note that the first two steps are not something that one really practices, at least in the same way that one practices the next 14.

(1) While breathing in long he fully comprehends: I breathe in long. While breathing out long he fully comprehends: I breathe out long. 16

(2) While breathing in short he fully comprehends: I breathe in short. While breathing out short he fully comprehends: I breathe out short.

(3) He trains himself: thoroughly experiencing all bodies I shall breathe in. He trains himself: thoroughly experiencing all bodies I shall breathe out.17

(4) He trains himself: calming the body-conditioner I shall breathe in. He trains himself: calming the body-conditioner I shall breathe out.18

Only when one starts thoroughly experiencing all bodies does training become involved. The first two lines are a general framework for the whole practice. Think of it like someone putting together an exercise routine; they might start by saying, "Be conscious of when you're getting tired and when you have the energy, okay? Now, I want this many sit-ups, this many laps, etc." Does that make sense? So don't spend time sitting there, breathing long and then short. You only need to start "training yourself" when you thoroughly experience all bodies.

Anyway, as for the main questions, it's important to fully master one step before moving on to the next one because each one leads to the other. Unless you fully know the breath, you can't calm the body; and unless you fully calm the body, you can't experience piti; and unless you fully experience piti, you can't experience sukha, etc.

So practice until you can fully watch every aspect of the breath before you move on. It's sometimes frustrating, but I've heard from many that the speed it takes to master each step starts to shrink as you go on. Good luck!
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

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Re: Developing an Anapanasati practice over time?

Postby Digity » Tue Mar 19, 2013 2:17 am

I tended to pick one aspect and focused on it. For instance, when I first started out the biggest problem I had was that my breath felt rough. I just spent weeks and weeks on calming the breath and making it more natural. In doing that, I'd sometimes just naturally fall into these states of feeling calm and centered. Anyway, I would pick one aspect to focus on and work with it for some time rather than jumping from one thing to another. Just my advice...I'm by no means an expert.
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Re: Developing an Anapanasati practice over time?

Postby Mojo » Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:55 am

As far as guide, I was thinking something along the lines of Sharon Salzburg's Insight Meditation workbook set http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1564559068 except Anapanasati and preferably free...can all be digital.
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Re: Developing an Anapanasati practice over time?

Postby polarbuddha101 » Tue Mar 19, 2013 5:08 am

http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writ ... 130123.pdf - Meditation Guide by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

http://what-buddha-taught.net/Books3/Bh ... athing.htm - Meditation Guide by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: Developing an Anapanasati practice over time?

Postby Rasko » Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:14 am

Mojo wrote:Does anyone know of a good and free program to help ease one into a full Anapanasati routine over an extended amount of time?

Anapanasati Practice - Mindfulness of Breathing
"Recordings of the Dharma Practice day series on Anapanasati Practice offered by Gil Fronsdal."

The recordings start with an Introduction (September 7, 2007).
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Re: Developing an Anapanasati practice over time?

Postby daverupa » Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:23 am

It may be helpful to consider each tetrad as a unit, rather than focusing on each step.

Within each tetrad of anapanasati, the steps are designed to lead the practitioner towards letting go in terms of that frame; but any particular frame may be in the field of attention at any time, as daily practice of satisampajanna can show you.

It takes repeated effort, and in my experience it's best to pick up the theme of ones own mind with the first tetrad; the "group it up & lean away" which is learned there becomes a tool for recognizing skillful effort in the next tetrad, and so on up, so it's helpful to practice progressively in this fashion.

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    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Developing an Anapanasati practice over time?

Postby Mojo » Tue Mar 19, 2013 2:45 pm

Rasko wrote:
Mojo wrote:Does anyone know of a good and free program to help ease one into a full Anapanasati routine over an extended amount of time?

Anapanasati Practice - Mindfulness of Breathing
"Recordings of the Dharma Practice day series on Anapanasati Practice offered by Gil Fronsdal."

The recordings start with an Introduction (September 7, 2007).


Thank you. I found a short bio of Gil on wikipedia. It said he had trained in Zen then Insight meditation. I didn't see anything about Anapanasati proper. Is he considered a good source of instruction on Anapanasati?

Thanks,

Mojo
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Re: Developing an Anapanasati practice over time?

Postby Heaviside » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:48 pm

LonesomeYogurt wrote:It's important, first of all, to note that the first two steps are not something that one really practices, at least in the same way that one practices the next 14.

(1) While breathing in long he fully comprehends: I breathe in long. While breathing out long he fully comprehends: I breathe out long. 16

(2) While breathing in short he fully comprehends: I breathe in short. While breathing out short he fully comprehends: I breathe out short.

(3) He trains himself: thoroughly experiencing all bodies I shall breathe in. He trains himself: thoroughly experiencing all bodies I shall breathe out.17

(4) He trains himself: calming the body-conditioner I shall breathe in. He trains himself: calming the body-conditioner I shall breathe out.18

Only when one starts thoroughly experiencing all bodies does training become involved. The first two lines are a general framework for the whole practice. Think of it like someone putting together an exercise routine; they might start by saying, "Be conscious of when you're getting tired and when you have the energy, okay? Now, I want this many sit-ups, this many
laps, etc." Does that make sense? So don't spend time sitting there, breathing long and then short. You only need to start "training yourself" when you thoroughly experience all bodies.

Anyway, as for the main questions, it's important to fully master one step before moving on to the next one because each one leads to the other. Unless you fully know the breath, you can't calm the body; and unless you fully calm the body, you can't experience piti; and unless you fully experience piti, you can't experience sukha, etc.

So practice until you can fully watch every aspect of the breath before you move on. It's sometimes frustrating, but I've heard from many that the speed it takes to master each step starts to shrink as you go on. Good luck!


Lonesome Yogurt,

A very helpful response for me, but I wonder about the meanings of the two words I highlighted in red. For me, this is the thorniest problem in understanding the suttas. For instance these two terms seem so imprecise and indefinite. :reading: In physics, "bodies" means material objects, and the only meaning of "body conditioner" I can think of at the moment refers to something my wife uses in the shower! :jumping:
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Re: Developing an Anapanasati practice over time?

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Tue Mar 19, 2013 5:53 pm

Heaviside wrote:A very helpful response for me, but I wonder about the meanings of the two words I highlighted in red. For me, this is the thorniest problem in understanding the suttas. For instance these two terms seem so imprecise and indefinite. :reading: In physics, "bodies" means material objects, and the only meaning of "body conditioner" I can think of at the moment refers to something my wife uses in the shower! :jumping:

:D

The word for body in Pali (the language these suttas are all written in) is "kaya" and, while it does mean body literally, it often just means group or collection. The mind is referred to sometimes as the namakaya or "mind-body." Even a battalion of soldiers is called a "kaya" of soldiers. So when we talk about the breath-body, it just means the whole of the breath. When the Buddha says to "experience all bodies," he means that we must experience the breath-body inside the larger flesh-body - a fancy way of saying, "Be aware of how your breathing affects your body." It is at this point when we expand awareness to cover our entire body. We keep our attention still on the breath, but we expand the circle of that attention until it reaches all areas of the body affected by the breath. Imagine a candle right under your nose; there's only one point of light (where your attention is) but the burning illuminates everything around it. Does that make sense?

Now here's where it gets a little complex. The word for "conditioner" is sankhara and it is one of the most variable words in Pali. It can mean "conditioned thing," in which case it just refers to anything that has come together in the world or in one's mind, or it can mean "conditioner" in which case it refers to a thing that conditions another thing, usually a volitional action in the mind but sometimes not. It can also mean the act of conditioning. Sankhara is a hard word to get your head around, but it's a very important one. It's also the fourth of the five khandhas, or aggregates, and it plays a huge part in the chain of dependent origination.

So the body-conditioner, or "kayasankharam," is the thing that conditions or affects the body - in this case, the breath. So when we calm the body-conditioner, it means we calm the breath so as to calm the body. The language is a little odd at first but the terms begin to make more sense as you get deeper into Pali and its structure. For now, a basic translation would just be, "Experience the breath and how it affects the body, then calm the breath until the body is calm."

Does that make sense?
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: Developing an Anapanasati practice over time?

Postby IanAnd » Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:10 pm

Heaviside wrote:
LonesomeYogurt wrote:It's important, first of all, to note that the first two steps are not something that one really practices, at least in the same way that one practices the next 14.

(1) While breathing in long he fully comprehends: I breathe in long. While breathing out long he fully comprehends: I breathe out long. 16

(2) While breathing in short he fully comprehends: I breathe in short. While breathing out short he fully comprehends: I breathe out short.

(3) He trains himself: thoroughly experiencing all bodies I shall breathe in. He trains himself: thoroughly experiencing all bodies I shall breathe out.17

(4) He trains himself: calming the body-conditioner I shall breathe in. He trains himself: calming the body-conditioner I shall breathe out.18


Lonesome Yogurt,

A very helpful response for me, but I wonder about the meanings of the two words I highlighted in red. For me, this is the thorniest problem in understanding the suttas. For instance these two terms seem so imprecise and indefinite. :reading: In physics, "bodies" means material objects, and the only meaning of "body conditioner" I can think of at the moment refers to something my wife uses in the shower! :jumping:

Hi Heaviside,

Taking nothing away from LY's eventual reply to you, I find it helpful to realize that whenever you read something in which you are unable to make out the intended meaning, especially if is a translation from another text such as this (Pali to English) that it is best to find other translations (or someone whose translations you feel relatively comfortable relying upon, such as what follows) to compare in order to perhaps be able to discern the meaning as it was originally intended. Sometimes even the original intent is questioned by practitioners (both experienced and inexperienced), at which point it is helpful to have someone experienced in the practice to help guide you through one meaning or another.

In Bhikkhu Nanamoli's translation of this important sutta as published in the Wisdom Book edition of the Majjhima Nikaya (and edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi), he renders the passage as follows:

18. "Breathing in long, he understands: 'I breathe in long'; or breathing out long, he understands: 'I breathe out long.' Breathing in short, he understands: 'I breathe in short'; or breathing out short, he understands: 'I breathe out short.' He trains thus: 'I shall breath in experiencing the whole body' [of breath]; he trains thus: 'I shall breathe out experiencing the whole body [of breath].' He trains thus: 'I shall breathe in tranquillizing the bodily formations'; he trains thus; 'I shall breathe out tranquillizing the bodily formations.'

Thus, in the first instance, the term "all bodies" in LY's translated version would be equivalent to the reference to "the whole body [of breath]" in the second translation. This provides a whole new perspective for what might have been intended by the passage. Meaning that the practitioner calms the "whole body of the breath," which might mean from the inhalation through to the exhalation, the body of the breath being the tranquilization of the entire process of the breath.

So, too, in the second instance, where the term/phrase "body-conditioner" is used in LY's translated version which would be equivalent to the reference to "bodily formation" in the second translation. In this instance, bodily formation can refer to perceptions of the body as they are formed in the mind, thus tranquilizing the "bodily (mental) formations."

And while I recommend using the Wisdom Publication editions of the Nikayas as one's source for the translations of the discourses, it is because I have profited from these excellent translations (and their explanatory footnotes, which are indispensable) in my own practice. At any rate, whichever way one wants to view these translations as they relate to practical advice in meditation, it will serve one well to have the assistance of an experienced practitioner to help guide one through the avenues of ambiguity.

In peace,
Ian
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Re: Developing an Anapanasati practice over time?

Postby Rasko » Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:11 pm

Mojo wrote:
Rasko wrote:
Mojo wrote:Does anyone know of a good and free program to help ease one into a full Anapanasati routine over an extended amount of time?

Anapanasati Practice - Mindfulness of Breathing
"Recordings of the Dharma Practice day series on Anapanasati Practice offered by Gil Fronsdal."

The recordings start with an Introduction (September 7, 2007).


Thank you. I found a short bio of Gil on wikipedia. It said he had trained in Zen then Insight meditation. I didn't see anything about Anapanasati proper. Is he considered a good source of instruction on Anapanasati?

Thanks,

Mojo

Well, I don't know much about that, but he says that he has practised breath meditation for 30 years, the series is based on anapanasati sutta (his own translation from pali) and he seems to know the different interpretations and practise instructions. No "this is the one and only correct way" there. IMHO that series has some good instructions for a beginner and it's at least a nice addition to those guides by Thanissaro and Buddhadasa Bhikkhus.

October 12, 2007 part "Calming Bodily Formations (4 of 10)" has something on the steps 3 and 4 discussed above.
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Re: Developing an Anapanasati practice over time?

Postby Mojo » Wed Mar 20, 2013 6:51 pm

Rasko wrote:
Mojo wrote:Does anyone know of a good and free program to help ease one into a full Anapanasati routine over an extended amount of time?

Anapanasati Practice - Mindfulness of Breathing
"Recordings of the Dharma Practice day series on Anapanasati Practice offered by Gil Fronsdal."

The recordings start with an Introduction (September 7, 2007).


I just started listening to these today and think they are pretty much what I'm looking for. Thank you!

Mojo
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Re: Developing an Anapanasati practice over time?

Postby Heaviside » Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:58 pm

Mojo,

I just wanted to thank you for initiating this discussion for it (in particular, Lonesomeyogurt and IanAnd) has shed some light on a couple of problems I have been struggling with.

All the best,
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Re: Developing an Anapanasati practice over time?

Postby Mojo » Thu Mar 21, 2013 1:41 am

Heaviside wrote:Mojo,

I just wanted to thank you for initiating this discussion for it (in particular, Lonesomeyogurt and IanAnd) has shed some light on a couple of problems I have been struggling with.

All the best,



:anjali:
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Re: Developing an Anapanasati practice over time?

Postby Mojo » Fri Mar 22, 2013 5:00 am

Well, I had the day off work today and ended up going through sections 2 through 10 of the September 7, 2007 talks/meditation exercises. I will be working in experiencing the quality of my breath for the next month I suppose before going onto the next set of talks/exercises.

The last exercise of the day included step 3, being aware of the whole body and Gil did give different common interpretations of this. I'm kinda torn between what he referred to Buddhadasa's method of watching the breath move from the nose at the beginning of the in breath down to the belly at the end if the in breath and back again vs watching the sensations of belly with the in and the out breaths. Also, I'm not sure if I should be focusing on this third step yet or not. Like I said it was the last exercise of the first set of lectures, but then he said that the first month of practice was to be watching the quality of the breath - learning the breath. So I suppose I'm asking people who've gone through this series of talks, should I wait until picking up the next set of talks before focusing on step 3?

Thanks,

Mojo
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Re: Developing an Anapanasati practice over time?

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:55 pm

daverupa wrote:Within each tetrad of anapanasati, the steps are designed to lead the practitioner towards letting go in terms of that frame;


Dave, could you elaborate on the "letting go" bit?
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Re: Developing an Anapanasati practice over time?

Postby daverupa » Fri Mar 22, 2013 3:19 pm

porpoise wrote:
daverupa wrote:Within each tetrad of anapanasati, the steps are designed to lead the practitioner towards letting go in terms of that frame;


Dave, could you elaborate on the "letting go" bit?


The culminating steps for each satipatthana involve calming, releasing, or relinquishing, which are already based upon seclusion, dispassion, and cessation (this last being itself the third step of the fourth tetrad, which further emphasizes the attitude here).
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Developing an Anapanasati practice over time?

Postby Rasko » Fri Mar 22, 2013 4:43 pm

Mojo wrote:Also, I'm not sure if I should be focusing on this third step yet or not. Like I said it was the last exercise of the first set of lectures, but then he said that the first month of practice was to be watching the quality of the breath - learning the breath. So I suppose I'm asking people who've gone through this series of talks, should I wait until picking up the next set of talks before focusing on step 3?

Thanks,

Mojo

Hi Mojo,

the way I understood it is that all those guided meditation exercises are things you can try and get familiar with before going forward. The first month is a useful preliminary part before the actual anapanasati steps and the real focusing on step 3 will come later.
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Re: Developing an Anapanasati practice over time?

Postby Mojo » Fri Mar 22, 2013 5:24 pm

Rasko wrote:
Mojo wrote:Also, I'm not sure if I should be focusing on this third step yet or not. Like I said it was the last exercise of the first set of lectures, but then he said that the first month of practice was to be watching the quality of the breath - learning the breath. So I suppose I'm asking people who've gone through this series of talks, should I wait until picking up the next set of talks before focusing on step 3?

Thanks,

Mojo

Hi Mojo,

the way I understood it is that all those guided meditation exercises are things you can try and get familiar with before going forward. The first month is a useful preliminary part before the actual anapanasati steps and the real focusing on step 3 will come later.


Thank you. When I got up this morning and meditated, I mostly just tried to watch the quality of my breath, but when I found myself struggling to keep up this concentration, I moved shortly to watching the movement that Gil referred to as the Buddhadasa style and then went back to watching the quality after I felt more concentrated again. :namaste:
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