Trouble with Anapana

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Trouble with Anapana

Postby Zimesky » Fri May 10, 2013 12:27 am

I would really like to get better at this meditation, but I seem to have a few road blocks keeping me from really progressing with the meditation. I keep reading how beneficial the meditation is, and how straight forward the practice is when I read instructions on how to do it.

Problem No.1
So I get really dreamy a lot when I meditate, pretty much using any technique. It's like I'll have 30% of my mind on watching the my breathing, and the extra 70% will slowly drift off and create random images and stories along with the meditation. Sometimes I don't even notice that I'm doing it until I realize I haven't been watching my breath, but the dream instead. I don't know how to exactly describe it, other than like being in a waking dream. Just like how somebody dosing on a bus will create or fabricate a dream out of a conversation or sound on the bus. Your not awake but the mind is still absorbing the info and it gets all mixed up in the dream world. It generally starts as an inner visual/mental representation of the breath work. A for instance, maybe my mind will create the image of clouds or wind pouring in with my in breath, and a stream of yellow movement on the out breath. Thats not how it always is, just an example of what my might conjure up while following the breath. Is this a manifestation of one of the hindrances, lethargy maybe??

Problem No.2
Letting my breath flow naturally is very difficult. It feels so robotic when I try to watch the in and out breathing. Sometimes I'll even just try letting my body breath on it's own and end up holding my breath, waiting for it to breath on it's own. When I try to focus on the stream of air inside my nostrils I just get a pressure sensation as if I'm just giving myself high blood pressure in my skull. It's all very frustrating!
Zimesky
 
Posts: 36
Joined: Wed May 01, 2013 5:13 am

Re: Trouble with Anapana

Postby James the Giant » Fri May 10, 2013 12:55 am

Cool, it sounds like you're very ready for some formal instruction or a meditation retreat. Have you done any retreats? You should think about it, they are really useful, and you get detailed guidance and answers to questions like this.

Zimesky wrote: it gets all mixed up in the dream world. It generally starts as an inner visual/mental representation of the breath work. A for instance, maybe my mind will create the image of clouds or wind pouring in with my in breath, and a stream of yellow movement on the out breath.

That happens to me too. The breath might become a school of darting fish, or a fixed point on the edge of a rotating disc, or something like your example. It is interesting!
But I have no easy answers sorry. When that happens, I eventually come out of it back to a direct perception of the breath, and the sensations of breathing. Maybe it helps to focus more on the physical sensations of breathing, I don't really know. But take solace in the fact that this is not an unknown thing.

Letting my breath flow naturally is very difficult. It feels so robotic when I try to watch the in and out breathing. Sometimes I'll even just try letting my body breath on it's own and end up holding my breath, waiting for it to breath on it's own.

Yes, that's also a common one. Someone else asked the same question here http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=11039 and got some good answers.
There's a lot of discussion about it on the internet, here's another http://www.wildmind.org/mindfulness/one/breath-control

But in the end, we are just folks on the internet. Much better to find a proper teacher at a retreat or something. You won't regret it! Well, you may regret it at the time, but in looking back on it, you won't regret it! :tongue:
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
User avatar
James the Giant
 
Posts: 791
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 6:41 am

Re: Trouble with Anapana

Postby Zimesky » Fri May 10, 2013 2:01 am

James the Giant wrote:That happens to me too. The breath might become a school of darting fish, or a fixed point on the edge of a rotating disc, or something like your example. It is interesting!
But I have no easy answers sorry. When that happens, I eventually come out of it back to a direct perception of the breath, and the sensations of breathing. Maybe it helps to focus more on the physical sensations of breathing, I don't really know. But take solace in the fact that this is not an unknown thing.


Glad to hear it's a common problem, I suppose! I definitely take solace in that.

As for the retreat, I love the idea of detailed instructions and a huge dedicated time for practice. Ever since I was a kid I loved the idea of meditating in a misty forest somewhere. I was a weird kid! As for actually going out and finding a teacher, I'm a fairly reserved practitioner, probably, more likely very probably, to my own detriment. I'm more than a bit skeptical when it comes to people talking about this kind of stuff. There are a few Buddhist centers around my city, but I get the "New Age" vibe from them. Into the crystals, candles, and ceremony, instead of being run by a meditation master figure, like Ajahn Mun. This could be my own prejudice thinking though.. I always read about the wondrous teaching abilities that figures like Ajahn Mun, and other great masters had, and I'm sure others, somewhere, currently have. I would dearly love to find a teacher like that, I just don't know how to start looking. Even if I found somebody like that, I'm not sure I'd be wise enough to recognize it! This may be a topic for a different thread though?? I dunno.

Thanks for your input and the links though!
Zimesky
 
Posts: 36
Joined: Wed May 01, 2013 5:13 am

Re: Trouble with Anapana

Postby daverupa » Fri May 10, 2013 2:22 am

It may also be helpful, if you are not already doing so, to bring satipatthana along with you as a daily practice. It is difficult to do this outside of a monastic environment, but one can begin by first anchoring mindfulness to routine tasks; brushing teeth, toiletries, bathing, and so forth.

This feeds into the seated practice, which feeds back into the day-to-day, and ultimately helps address Problem No. 1, in my experience. There may come a time when, instead of coming to awareness when it's already in full swing, you see it start. It can be very encouraging to see such results directly for oneself.

As for the second problem, what I found helpful was incorporating the rest of the body; it occurred to me that there wasn't a breath, there was just breathing, and thinking of the whole body together in this way taught me that disengaging from the breath could happen in the same sort of way that one disengages from, say, arm control. There is a qualitative difference between moving the arm, and having it at rest, and it was a matter of 'doing' that with the breathing-body-part.

If that makes sense.

:heart:
    "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]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 4505
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Trouble with Anapana

Postby 5heaps » Fri May 10, 2013 8:26 am

Zimesky wrote:Problem No.1

its a natural problem that comes up. basically youre getting bored with watching the breath. the antidote is to bring to mind very clearly the benefits of meditation and why youre doing it. then form a strong intention to stay on your meditation object and to pay attention to the moment you wander off your object. the stronger the intention the more mental force there will be in its actions. the more knowledge and understanding you have about the benefits of meditation and why youre doing it, the stronger and easier the intention will be (thas why correct study is very important)

without a strong determination and intention to manage your behaviour there will be no progress.

Problem No.2

dont be too tensed or strict about it. do half and half. half breathing on its own, half where you do little tweaks to the breath (which usually occur at the beginning and end of the breath cycle)
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
5heaps
 
Posts: 334
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:19 am

Re: Trouble with Anapana

Postby Kamran » Fri May 10, 2013 2:28 pm

I would just keep watching, and eventually the mind will reveal something about itself.

As Thanissaro Bikhu has said, the best meditators are not the ones for whom everything goes smoothly all the time. They're the ones that had to put up with difficulties. Learned to observe the mind when it was difficult and find a way around it.
When this concentration is thus developed, thus well developed by you, then wherever you go, you will go in comfort. Wherever you stand, you will stand in comfort. Wherever you sit, you will sit in comfort. Wherever you lie down, you will lie down in comfort.
User avatar
Kamran
 
Posts: 196
Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2011 3:14 am

Re: Trouble with Anapana

Postby Zimesky » Sat May 11, 2013 5:55 am

Kamran wrote:As Thanissaro Bikhu has said, the best meditators are not the ones for whom everything goes smoothly all the time. They're the ones that had to put up with difficulties. Learned to observe the mind when it was difficult and find a way around it.


I have ADHD along with OCD so meditating can be pretty difficult at times, but using this logic one day I will become a damn fine meditator! :rofl:
On a similar note, sort of, I remember reading an article about a Medicine Man explaining that people with serious or chronic Illnesses have great potential to be powerful healers. Some time after I read that article, I heard the story of a great Buddhist monk, I can't remember the name unfortunately, who was seriously Ill as a child, at deaths bed. He became well and from that moment on he followed his Buddhist path and became a highly attained teacher. I hope this doesn't sound like I'm creating self prophecy for myself or anything like that, I just thought it was interesting food for thought after your post, thank you!

5heaps wrote:the antidote is to bring to mind very clearly the benefits of meditation and why youre doing it


I would like to attain Jhana meditation, or Samadhi as I first heard it called, so if this happens should I concentrate on the benefits that arise from this state?

daverupa wrote:It may also be helpful, if you are not already doing so, to bring satipatthana along with you as a daily practice.


I'm not entirely sure what this is, could you explain it to me?
Zimesky
 
Posts: 36
Joined: Wed May 01, 2013 5:13 am

Re: Trouble with Anapana

Postby Bakmoon » Sat May 11, 2013 6:15 am

How long are you sitting each session? In my experience habitually sitting for longer makes a big difference.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
Bakmoon
 
Posts: 247
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 3:14 pm

Re: Trouble with Anapana

Postby 5heaps » Sat May 11, 2013 6:50 am

Zimesky wrote:
5heaps wrote:the antidote is to bring to mind very clearly the benefits of meditation and why youre doing it

I would like to attain Jhana meditation, or Samadhi as I first heard it called, so if this happens should I concentrate on the benefits that arise from this state?

jhana is a perfected type of samadhi. you can have samadhi and no jhana, but you cannot have jhana and no samadhi.

the more clearly you infer the benefits of meditation and the instructions on how to get there, the less doubt will be in your mind with respect to those topics. the less doubt there is, and the more clear knowledge there is, the greater the force of your intention to stay on the object will be. the greater the force of your intention to notice the moment that you wander off your object will be.
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
5heaps
 
Posts: 334
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:19 am

Re: Trouble with Anapana

Postby dxm_dxm » Sat May 11, 2013 1:35 pm

problem number 1: there is a somehow easy answer to this. If you are lying down, this is normal to happen. Using the half-lotus position will almost completely solve this problem. This problem will be smaller and smaller while you progress more in meditation. I have scoliosis so I meditate mostly lying down too cause I am a beginner. I meditate lying down when I go to sleep in order to fall asleep very fast because "time is money" (or let's say usetfull) and I know it is a recommended way to fall asleep for insomniacs.


problem number 2: focus on the physical sensation of the breathing. You will imagine the nose or stuff as you described will happen. What I find usetfull is is looking at the blackness/redness you see cause your eyes are close for one second and feel the breath then and after that it will be much more easy to just feel the sensation more clearly.

The start is very hard but very soon after you get to first jhana your enthusiasm will explode.

About the second tip I had I would like to hear what others think. It is the only way I managed to concentrate on that feeling clearly
dxm_dxm
 
Posts: 125
Joined: Sun Aug 28, 2011 2:32 am
Location: Romania, Bucharest

Re: Trouble with Anapana

Postby daverupa » Sat May 11, 2013 1:56 pm

Zimesky wrote:
daverupa wrote:It may also be helpful, if you are not already doing so, to bring satipatthana along with you as a daily practice.


I'm not entirely sure what this is, could you explain it to me?


What I'm basically referring to is the practice of satisampajanna; this thread discussed SN 47.35, which offers some standard definitions:

"And how is a monk mindful? There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — subduing greed & distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings... mind... mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — subduing greed & distress with reference to the world. This is how a monk is mindful.

"And how is a monk alert? There is the case where feelings are known to the monk as they arise, known as they persist, known as they subside. Thoughts are known to him as they arise, known as they persist, known as they subside. Perceptions are known to him as they arise, known as they persist, known as they subside. This is how a monk is alert.


The first part is the standard summary of satipatthana, which prompted my comment. The second part is half of the standard summary of alertness/clear comprehension; here is the other half:

"And how, O monks, is a monk clearly comprehending? He applies clear comprehension in going forward and going back; in looking straight on and in looking elsewhere; in bending and in stretching (his limbs); in wearing the robes and carrying the alms bowl; in eating, drinking, chewing and savoring; in obeying the calls of nature; in walking, standing sitting, falling asleep, waking, speaking and being silent — in all that he applies clear comprehension. So, monks, is a monk clearly comprehending.


---

The reason I mention it is because it's part of the gradual training, but instead of a formally undertaken seated or walking practice, these pieces call for mindfulness to be close by (satipatthana) as much as possible, up to and including constant and unremitting mindfulness throughout the day and night. It's as though sati becomes a hobby, eventually the hobby; some people pull out a book or their phones when they're bored or experiencing some down time, but you can start doing satisampajanna as well as/instead of those sorts of things.

:heart:
    "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]
User avatar
daverupa
 
Posts: 4505
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Trouble with Anapana

Postby Rasko » Sat May 11, 2013 2:12 pm

Zimesky wrote:Problem No.1
So I get really dreamy a lot when I meditate, pretty much using any technique. It's like I'll have 30% of my mind on watching the my breathing, and the extra 70% will slowly drift off and create random images and stories along with the meditation. Sometimes I don't even notice that I'm doing it until I realize I haven't been watching my breath, but the dream instead.

They say that concentration is like a muscle and that breathing is a very subtle object, so maybe you could develop that muscle first with a more coarse object.

For example, if you have a traditional wall or alarm clock, one with a seconds hand, you can practice with it. Keep your attention on the seconds hand and count the moves always up to ten 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,1,2,... Maybe start with three times two minutes counting periods, relaxing for a minute in between. Then increase the time, maybe three times three minutes, and then two times five minutes. After you manage that without losing your attention/count try anapana again.

The object is clearer and the movement is faster, so there's less opportunities for dreaming. A pure concentration object, no buddhist insight.

Just an idea...
Rasko
 
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:08 am

Re: Trouble with Anapana

Postby dxm_dxm » Sat May 11, 2013 2:31 pm

You should also have in mind that there are 2 schools of budhism one having more emphasis on concentration the other on insight (like this forum) but both use both techniques and buddha thaught both. In order to get advanced in insight you need a strong concentration developed plus, most of the "fun stuff" is in the concentration one lol :tongue: This practice should not be neglected entirely. I heard somewhere that you should first develop your concentration a little before starting insight
dxm_dxm
 
Posts: 125
Joined: Sun Aug 28, 2011 2:32 am
Location: Romania, Bucharest

Re: Trouble with Anapana

Postby Zimesky » Mon May 13, 2013 10:13 pm

Thank you all for the helpful advice and helpful links! Would anybody be able to tell me more about Jhana, as in do you need a teacher to help you get there, how long does it usually take to arrive at this state, things like this? What I initially learned about the first stage samadhi was what I've recently learned the 1st Jhana is, I think. Other than a few esoteric facts, like you shouldn't touch somebody in Samadhi/Jhana, but should wake them with a special chime or bell, thats about all I know. The information I learned this from was Master Nan Huai Chin's books, and a few videos.

This link is a video on breathing with Mantra practice
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ikaogv5ZdA

This link is a video on Anapana
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIqlZ6nn268

If anyone has any extra input on these videos or Anapana I'd really love the help!
Zimesky
 
Posts: 36
Joined: Wed May 01, 2013 5:13 am

Re: Trouble with Anapana

Postby dxm_dxm » Tue May 14, 2013 2:03 pm

This might be a useful link http://www.katinkahesselink.net/tibet/jhana-2.html

It depends how much it will take, not too much. The thing is that it is very difficult at the begining because nothing special happens and your body hurts for staying in the same position. After you get to first jhana something very pleasant will happen and it will be very easy and pleasant to meditate, your body will never bother you also. You will never think about the clock again. You don't need a teacher, all you have to do is focus on the breath. Keep in mind that after your reach the first jhana you also have to "master" it.
dxm_dxm
 
Posts: 125
Joined: Sun Aug 28, 2011 2:32 am
Location: Romania, Bucharest

Re: Trouble with Anapana

Postby fivebells » Tue May 14, 2013 8:06 pm

The most useful advice I've found on jhana is Thanissaro's in With Each and Every Breath. Start at the beginning instructions, they can take you into Jhana quite quickly. More discussion here.
fivebells
 
Posts: 299
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:52 am

Re: Trouble with Anapana

Postby Zimesky » Thu May 30, 2013 4:54 am

I want to thank everyone again for their help! The advice and the links everyone has offered have been invaluable. How many hours of meditation per day would be a good goal to work towards, in the direction of developing Jhana/Samadhi?
Zimesky
 
Posts: 36
Joined: Wed May 01, 2013 5:13 am


Return to Samatha Meditation and Jhana

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests