Counting the Breaths (Help)

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Counting the Breaths (Help)

Postby jollybean » Fri Mar 07, 2014 6:22 am

In The Path To Arahantship by Ajahn Maha Boowa, he talks about how at the beginning of his meditation, he would repeat with mindfulness "Buddho" from the time he wakes up in the morning until the time he went to sleep, day after day.

And he said this laid a solid foundation for his practice.

I'm wondering if one counts the breath... "one... two... three... ten" instead of using "Buddho", does this serve the same purpose?

Can one mentally count the breaths instead of using "Buddho" throughout the day, and similarly lay a solid foundation for his practice this way?
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Re: Counting the Breaths (Help)

Postby culaavuso » Fri Mar 07, 2014 6:36 am

jollybean wrote:I'm wondering if one counts the breath... "one... two... three... ten" instead of using "Buddho", does this serve the same purpose?


Mostly, yes. The word "Buddho" also means "Awake" which can also serve as a reminder to contemplate with the practice, but the very practice of remembering every breath and keeping track of the count forces a level of mindfulness on its own. Both repeating "Buddho" and counting serve to occupy the process of verbal fabrication so it doesn't go creating elaborate thoughts and stories. Both "Buddho" and counting eventually are dropped when the mind grows still enough that it is no longer necessary to keep verbal fabrications occupied or to have that kind of verbal indicator or reminder. In general it seems the basic purpose of the word "Buddho" and the counting that is taught for introductory breath meditation is for the same basic purpose.

As an interesting point of reference, Keeping the Breath in Mind by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo teaches a method of breath meditation that involves a combination of counting and the word "Buddho".
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Re: Counting the Breaths (Help)

Postby jollybean » Fri Mar 07, 2014 6:46 am

culaavuso wrote:
jollybean wrote:I'm wondering if one counts the breath... "one... two... three... ten" instead of using "Buddho", does this serve the same purpose?


Mostly, yes. The word "Buddho" also means "Awake" which can also serve as a reminder to contemplate with the practice, but the very practice of remembering every breath and keeping track of the count forces a level of mindfulness on its own. Both repeating "Buddho" and counting serve to occupy the process of verbal fabrication so it doesn't go creating elaborate thoughts and stories. Both "Buddho" and counting eventually are dropped when the mind grows still enough that it is no longer necessary to keep verbal fabrications occupied or to have that kind of verbal indicator or reminder. In general it seems the basic purpose of the word "Buddho" and the counting that is taught for introductory breath meditation is for the same basic purpose.

As an interesting point of reference, Keeping the Breath in Mind by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo teaches a method of breath meditation that involves a combination of counting and the word "Buddho".


Thanks a lot for the explanation.

The reason why is asked is simply because I find that counting the breaths "work" better for me than Buddho. Can't really explain why, maybe these things happen on a subconscious level or something, but counting the breaths instead of repeating the word "Buddho" feels light/less stressful for me, if that makes any sense at all.

Haven't read that book before, but Ajahn Maha Boowa also talks about combining "Buddho" with the breath, "Bud" on the in, "dho" on the out, if one finds this technique more suitable for oneself.
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Re: Counting the Breaths (Help)

Postby Aloka » Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:15 am

Hi jollybean,

Ajahn Sumedho talks about watching the breath(Anapanasati) and also the mantra 'Buddho' in this booklet.(Inhalation ="Bud" & exhalation = "dho")

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/deathless.pdf

With kind wishes,


Aloka :)
Last edited by Aloka on Fri Mar 07, 2014 4:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Counting the Breaths (Help)

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Mar 07, 2014 9:17 am

jollybean wrote:Can one mentally count the breaths instead of using "Buddho" throughout the day, and similarly lay a solid foundation for his practice this way?


There are various aids to mindfulness of breathing meditation and maintaining mindfulness off the cushion - counting is one of them. I'd suggest experimenting a bit to see what works best for you. I've tried "Buddho" but personally don't find it helpful.
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Re: Counting the Breaths (Help)

Postby binocular » Fri Mar 07, 2014 2:10 pm

jollybean wrote:In The Path To Arahantship by Ajahn Maha Boowa, he talks about how at the beginning of his meditation, he would repeat with mindfulness "Buddho" from the time he wakes up in the morning until the time he went to sleep, day after day.
And he said this laid a solid foundation for his practice.
I'm wondering if one counts the breath... "one... two... three... ten" instead of using "Buddho", does this serve the same purpose?
Can one mentally count the breaths instead of using "Buddho" throughout the day, and similarly lay a solid foundation for his practice this way?


When you count your breaths, how far do you count?

One exercise is to try to reduce the number to which one counts. Eg. decide that for the given session, one will count to 5 and then begin again. That can be a good test of how much attention one is actually paying.

I find that one problem with "Buddho" is similar as if I were to count my breaths to 1, one by one: if I decide to count my breaths 1 ... 1 ... 1, it tends to happen that I catch myself only at around 3 or later, because I just automatically count forward, not actually noticing the breath nor the counting.
10 is a range that seems easier to be mindful of. Less than 10 is more difficult. 1 is much more challenging. And "Buddho" basically counts for one, requiring that one be able to pay attention to each and every breath. And training oneself to be able to pay attention to each and every breath - that has got to be a solid foundation for one's practice.
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Re: Counting the Breaths (Help)

Postby Kamran » Sat Mar 08, 2014 5:55 am

Counting 1-5, then 1-6, 1-7, 1-8, 1-9, 1-10 and then starting again at 1 to 5 will get the mind settled down, but then it gets in the way of sensing the subtler breath and body sensations at which point the counting can be dropped.
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: Counting the Breaths (Help)

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Mar 08, 2014 9:16 am

binocular wrote: And training oneself to be able to pay attention to each and every breath - that has got to be a solid foundation for one's practice.


I agree, and IMO methods like counting and "Buddho" can be a distraction to this basic practice of paying attention - we can end up doing mindfulness of counting or a word, or whatever.
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Re: Counting the Breaths (Help)

Postby jollybean » Sun Mar 09, 2014 3:45 pm

Hey guys,

Thanks for the helpful comments so far.

My meditation is going along just fine. And I just want to add one thing that may be helpful to meditators...

I used to start my meditation immediately counting/observing the breath, but now I always start off contemplating and reflecting on the four protections - the buddha, loving kindness, loathsomeness of the body, and recollection of death. I knew about these pre-meditation contemplations, but I often felt lazy to do it, so I would skip it and just dived right into anapanasati.

But now I'm starting to realize how extremely helpful it is to do these contemplations because they 'uplift' the mind, and make it much so much easier to settle the mind. Not to mention, I have noticed it empowers my daily life/routine because I feel generally happier, more open minded and accepting.

Cheers.

P.S It would be nice to hear about how important you guys find these preliminaries, based on your experience.
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Re: Counting the Breaths (Help)

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Mar 10, 2014 9:19 am

jollybean wrote:P.S It would be nice to hear about how important you guys find these preliminaries, based on your experience.


I generally do a bit of metta bhavana at the beginning of a sit. I sometimes also do a short sutta reading or some chanting.
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Re: Counting the Breaths (Help)

Postby Bakmoon » Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:33 pm

In my personal opinion, counting is just as effective as using Buddho. For me personally, I like it even better because I change the number I count to (Starting counting 1 to 5, then 1 to 6, all the way to ten and then restarting going up to 5) and because of that, if I get distracted, I forget what number I was counting up to and I catch myself right away.
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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