problem breathing when focusing on breath.

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

problem breathing when focusing on breath.

Postby awakenedmind » Mon Oct 28, 2013 7:25 pm

I am following ajahn brahms method
and he says all you need to do is to let go and keep letting go.
the rest follows from that.
soon stage 1 evolves into stage 2 and then into stage 3 and onwards.

Now, I started meditating like this
only about a month ago and have only become regular
since the last 2 weeks.
Now, when I meditate I only focus on letting go.
basically I think of it as just sitting there
and letting meditation happen. and it feels awesome.
some days I find that my mind is restless
and then I start with counting from 1 to 50 and then back from 50 to 1
which calms down my mind and then I just sit being in the present moment.

the best results of my meditation are when I read his book or article before
sitting down to meditate. I dont know why but reading his book makes me so
calm and kind of gets me ready to let go. Specially his book "art of disappearing"

The only problem I am having is when I focus on breath.
not that it's only when I meditate but I feel a lump or tightness in my throat
at all times and sometimes I feel like I cant get enough air when I breathe,
which makes me gasp for air sometimes.

Now, when I focus on breath then this just makes it
a little more difficult to breathe properly
and I am not sure what to do about it.
do you guys have any ideas?
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Re: problem breathing when focusing on breath.

Postby reflection » Mon Oct 28, 2013 7:34 pm

Hi,

It may be that you are (unconsciously) trying to graps and control the breathing. Try to relax and only be watching the breath. Otherwise, just stay in the present moment and let the breath come to you instead of you going after it.

Hope this helps a bit.

Reflection
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Re: problem breathing when focusing on breath.

Postby barcsimalsi » Tue Oct 29, 2013 4:17 am

I had this problem too back then. From what i experienced, it was me unconsciously holding my belly like a fat guy trying to look slim in the easiest way. The movement of the body diaphragm with the in/out breath is very important, try watch out for the belly movement see if it is in line with the in and out breath.
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Re: problem breathing when focusing on breath.

Postby bodom » Tue Oct 29, 2013 4:30 am

From Bhante G:

Make no attempt to control the breath. This is not a breathing exercise of the sort done in Yoga. Focus on the natural and spontaneous movement of the breath. Don't try to regulate it or emphasize it in any way. Most beginners have some trouble in this area. In order to help themselves focus on the sensation, they unconsciously accentuate their breathing. The results is a forced and unnatural effort that actually inhibits concentration rather than helping it. Don't increase the depth of your breath or its sound. This latter point is especially important in group meditation. Loud breathing can be a real annoyance to those around you. Just let the breath move naturally, as if you were asleep. Let go and allow the process to go along at its own rhythm.

This sounds easy, but it is trickier than you think. Do not be discouraged if you find your own will getting in the way. Just use that as an opportunity to observe the nature of conscious intention. Watch the delicate interrelation between the breath, the impulse to control the breath and the impulse to cease controlling the breath. You may find it frustrating for a while, but it is highly profitable as a learning experience, and it is a passing phase. Eventually, the breathing process will move along under its own steam. And you will feel no impulse to manipulate it. At this point you will have learned a major lesson about your own compulsive need to control the universe.


http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/mpe7.html

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: problem breathing when focusing on breath.

Postby Kamran » Wed Oct 30, 2013 1:08 am

Sounds like you might be focusing too much on the breath, clamping down on it. You could try letting the mind just touch the breath lightly.
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.
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Re: problem breathing when focusing on breath.

Postby pegembara » Wed Oct 30, 2013 3:08 am

Breath is not the only primary object of meditation. In fact the Buddha gave 40 objects that can be used depending on the temperament of the meditator. It just so happens that the breath is the "easiest" for most people. Other primary objects can include rising-falling abdomen, body sensations, chanting mantra, kasinas, sound of silence etc.

viewtopic.php?f=41&t=18192
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: problem breathing when focusing on breath.

Postby Samma » Wed Oct 30, 2013 3:46 am

I've read about problems like this several times, but there never seems to be anything conclusive. I remember reading an article that said that certain people get anxious rather than calm focusing on the breath.

May want to see a doctor specializing in respiration.
If you feel comfortable enough, try breathing in different ways, play around with the breath, and try to find a way that's comfortable. As other said one thing to try to focus on breathing deep down in belly.
There is a book, The Breathing Book: Good Health and Vitality Through Essential Breath Work by Donna Farhi
But you may want to hold off on focusing on breath if you don't have an experienced teacher available. Focus on something like the brahmaviharas for now. Some make metta their main practice.
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Re: problem breathing when focusing on breath.

Postby fivebells » Wed Oct 30, 2013 5:15 pm

awakenedmind, Ajaan Brahm's instructions are very good, but for this kind of tension issue, I find Ajaan Lee's instructions (via Ajaan Thanissaro) very helpful. Use the attention on the breath to explore comfortable ways of breathing. Try to find a comfortable spot to rest attention and just ignore the tense parts for now. When you get good stable attention that way, you can try to spread the sense of comfort into the tense areas.

There are many ways to focus on the breath, and if the way you're doing it now is not calming your body or otherwise leading to skillful results it is perfectly sane and concordant with the Buddha's teachings to try another way.
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Re: problem breathing when focusing on breath.

Postby PimonratC » Wed Oct 30, 2013 5:38 pm

.



Breath is not mine.
It just something come and go ... just as the air.



.
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Re: problem breathing when focusing on breath.

Postby kmath » Thu Oct 31, 2013 3:12 am

bodom wrote:From Bhante G:

Make no attempt to control the breath. This is not a breathing exercise of the sort done in Yoga. Focus on the natural and spontaneous movement of the breath. Don't try to regulate it or emphasize it in any way. Most beginners have some trouble in this area. In order to help themselves focus on the sensation, they unconsciously accentuate their breathing. The results is a forced and unnatural effort that actually inhibits concentration rather than helping it. Don't increase the depth of your breath or its sound. This latter point is especially important in group meditation. Loud breathing can be a real annoyance to those around you. Just let the breath move naturally, as if you were asleep. Let go and allow the process to go along at its own rhythm.

This sounds easy, but it is trickier than you think. Do not be discouraged if you find your own will getting in the way. Just use that as an opportunity to observe the nature of conscious intention. Watch the delicate interrelation between the breath, the impulse to control the breath and the impulse to cease controlling the breath. You may find it frustrating for a while, but it is highly profitable as a learning experience, and it is a passing phase. Eventually, the breathing process will move along under its own steam. And you will feel no impulse to manipulate it. At this point you will have learned a major lesson about your own compulsive need to control the universe.


http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/mpe7.html

:anjali:


If you can just do that, you're a pretty good meditator.
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Re: problem breathing when focusing on breath.

Postby awakenedmind » Sat Dec 14, 2013 10:38 am

I have noticed once when I was not paying too much attention to the breath
and it seems that I am doing reverse breathing.
I mean my belly goes out when I exhale and it goes in when I inhale.
and maybe that's why I am having this problem.
so, what do I do to correct this and breath normally
i.e. belly out when inhaling and in when exhaling.

I have been trying not too focus too much but I am just unable to do so,
and when I came to know of this reverse breathing of mine,
it's become even more difficult to not focus on it. :meditate:
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Re: problem breathing when focusing on breath.

Postby barcsimalsi » Sat Dec 14, 2013 12:52 pm

awakenedmind wrote:I have noticed once when I was not paying too much attention to the breath
and it seems that I am doing reverse breathing.
I mean my belly goes out when I exhale and it goes in when I inhale.
and maybe that's why I am having this problem.
so, what do I do to correct this and breath normally
i.e. belly out when inhaling and in when exhaling.

I have been trying not too focus too much but I am just unable to do so,
and when I came to know of this reverse breathing of mine,
it's become even more difficult to not focus on it. :meditate:

There’s a need to focus on the breath until one is able to calm it:

"[1] Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.' [2] Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.' [3] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.'[2] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' [4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.'[3] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

If that reverse breathing already become a strong unnatural habit, it will take some time to retune it. But if you are willing to try something a little exotic, i suggest doing some heavy exercise like 15 to 30 reps of squats until you came close to being out of breath then sit down and watch the breath, it is likely the theme of your breathing will return natural when your lungs are really grasping for air. If it works, you can continue to observe the breathing and be alert as at which point it becomes out of tune.
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Re: problem breathing when focusing on breath.

Postby Mkoll » Sat Dec 14, 2013 7:27 pm

The diaphragm is a muscle that contracts and moves downwards when you breath in. It relaxes and moves upwards when you breath out. The belly should distend when you inhale because the diaphragm presses down on the abdominal viscera. It's distension should reverse when you exhale because the diaphragm is moving upwards and relieving the pressure. What is your diaphragm doing when you are breathing?

I would suggest noticing what is happening with your body, especially your diaphragm. Also, I would learn about negative pressure breathing if you haven't already.

breathing.jpg
breathing.jpg (103.97 KiB) Viewed 480 times


:anjali:
Peace,
James
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Re: problem breathing when focusing on breath.

Postby Kamran » Sat Dec 14, 2013 11:03 pm

I experience headaches and uncomfortable tension with breath meditation.

The following methods work for me in creating refreshing breath and sense of ease throughout the body.

Method 1:
- Do some shoulder shrugs/neck stretches to release tension and get blood flowing to the region. Then stay focused on shoulder/neck area and consciously relax them as I breath in; when breathing out, let breath/awareness energy flow through whole body out my toes.

Method 2 (this works really well !)
- Do body part meditation in combination with the breath. In addition to visualizing the body parts ( see http://www.32parts.com ) I send breath/awareness energy to the body parts. This gets the breath and mind very still and at ease.

Thanks,
Kamran
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.
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Re: problem breathing when focusing on breath.

Postby awakenedmind » Sun Dec 15, 2013 7:07 am

okay, I thoroughly checked by putting my hand on the belly when
it seemed that I was reverse breathing, and actually I was not.
I was just breathing normally, but there was just too much focus on the breathing
caused tightening up and therefore a shortness of breath.

Actually last night, when I found that I was breathing normally,
it was easier for me to calm down and stop trying to control the breath.
I allowed myself to just sit and watch the display of what was going on.
I was kind of noting whatever arised, so if there was a sound and I was irritated,
I noted hearning and irritated and similarly for other sensations.
so, instead of focusing on the breath, I just knew that breath was there and
was sitting and watching.
I got into a very deep meditation and I also found myself kind of shaking
kind of moving to and fro and my head was moving too.
why does all this moving happen?
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Re: problem breathing when focusing on breath.

Postby Mkoll » Sun Dec 15, 2013 8:51 am

awakenedmind wrote:I got into a very deep meditation and I also found myself kind of shaking
kind of moving to and fro and my head was moving too.
why does all this moving happen?

From what I've read this is stress and anxiety leaving the body; it's a fairly common experience from a quick google search. I'm guessing that you feel either good or neutral when this happens? With your increased calm you are giving your body and mind the opportunity to let go of tension in the muscles and in the mind, respectively. The connection between the nervous system and musculature of the body is such that muscles can become chronically tense because of nervous habits. With the release in tension the muscles' function is restored and they're like :woohoo: . I'm just speculating here with the neurophysiology.

I'm sure it will go away in time and I wouldn't worry about it.

Metta.
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