how breathing helps

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

how breathing helps

Postby effort » Fri Aug 21, 2009 2:44 pm

hello all,

its really nice to see you all here, and WHY YOU DIDN'T TELL ME YOU ARE HERE!!!

would you please tell me in simple words how mindfulness of breathing helps?
i know observing body or mind helps you get familiar with your body and mind and lead to the feeling of "this is just body", "this is just mind". but how mindfulness of breath helps?
User avatar
effort
 
Posts: 219
Joined: Thu Aug 13, 2009 11:32 am

Re: how breathing helps

Postby Jechbi » Fri Aug 21, 2009 3:06 pm

Hi and welcome. :hello:

One thing I've noticed is that the breath is connected with underlying states of body and mind. So if I have a disturbing thought, my breath becomes slightly more rapid or deeper, for example. That means, if I am aware of my breathing, I might be more apt to notice things that otherwise would slip through the radar, so to speak. (And then return my attention to my breath.)

Other folks might have different (and better) answers.

:smile:
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
User avatar
Jechbi
 
Posts: 1268
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:38 am

Re: how breathing helps

Postby cooran » Fri Aug 21, 2009 11:17 pm

Hello effort, all,

This article may be of assistance:
"Mindfulness of Breathing is mainly aimed to calm and focus the mind, and is therefore what is known as a samatha (Sanskrit, shamatha), or calming practice."
"The traditional name for this meditation practice is Anapanasati. This word simply means mindfulness (sati) of breathing (pana) in and out. This is a meditation practice where we use the breath as the object of attention to which we return every time we notice that the mind has wandered."
"In a nutshell, this practice works mainly through us withdrawing our attention from distracting thoughts and redirecting our attention to the physical sensations of the breath. By doing so, we are putting less energy into the emotional states of restlessness, anxiety, craving, ill will, etc that drive those thoughts. Over time the mind becomes calmer and our emotional states become more balanced and positive, and our experience becomes more positive."
http://www.wildmind.org/mindfulness

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 ---
User avatar
cooran
 
Posts: 7763
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: how breathing helps

Postby Jechbi » Sat Aug 22, 2009 5:38 am

A quote from the same source:
It’s important to note that the practice involves noticing that the mind has been wandering and bringing it back to the breath. Distractedness is an inevitable part of the process of meditating and not a sign of failure!

In other words, it's not about escapism. It's about engagement, letting be, and letting go. In my experience, any way. fwiw
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
User avatar
Jechbi
 
Posts: 1268
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:38 am

Re: how breathing helps

Postby kannada » Mon Aug 24, 2009 9:46 am

effort wrote:hello all,

its really nice to see you all here, and WHY YOU DIDN'T TELL ME YOU ARE HERE!!!

would you please tell me in simple words how mindfulness of breathing helps?
i know observing body or mind helps you get familiar with your body and mind and lead to the feeling of "this is just body", "this is just mind". but how mindfulness of breath helps?

In brief: Watching the rise and fall of the breathing is a distraction technique whereby complete focus on the respiration allows one to forget everything else. The method is for concentration / samadhi culminating in complete absorption.

Regards

k
Just a view - nothing more...
kannada
 
Posts: 94
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2009 8:35 am

Re: how breathing helps

Postby Jechbi » Mon Aug 24, 2009 6:31 pm

kannada wrote:Watching the rise and fall of the breathing is a distraction technique whereby complete focus on the respiration allows one to forget everything else.

Ok, for the sake of discussion only, and not to try to say what's right or what's wrong, I don't think this is a very practical way to think about awareness of breath. A distraction that helps you forget everything else? That seems like a form of avoidance, and the problem is, as soon as you start sitting, you're not going to get very far if your goal is to avoid.

If someone tries to use the breath as a way of avoiding everything else, I don't think it's going to work. Either the person will become discouraged, or the person may learn how to develop a trance state that's not particularly good samadhi. And all those things being avoided will just bubble back up again eventually. Awareness of breath is a focussing technique, not a distraction technique, in my opinion. I realize views and experiences may vary.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
User avatar
Jechbi
 
Posts: 1268
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:38 am

Re: how breathing helps

Postby kannada » Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:30 am

Hi Jechbi, thanks for your post...

Meditation is my favourite subject.

I interpreted 'efforts' post to mean that s/he was already familiar with Vipassana meditation but wanted to know more about Samatha / absorption, in as few words as possible – hence my reply. Your comments seem to relate more to Vipassana, the 'watching' of arisings rather than just focussing entirely on the breath, as in Samatha.

Sole focus on the respiration is what is required in a Samatha session. The focus is entirely on the rise and fall of the breath, there is no 'avoidance' in it, just focus as in any practice that requires ones full attention. An archer shooting at his target focusses solely on the bulls-eye. The surgeon operating on his patient pays full attention to his task, the student focusses entirely on the exam to be completed. There is no avoidance in any of these examples, just total attention on the current task – why should meditation be treated any differently?

As I understand it, Buddhist meditation is practised in three ways (not counting kasina practices here), they are either straight Vipasanna, a blend of Vipassana and Samatha, and straight Samatha. In a straight Vipassana session the focus is on the arisings, presentation and subsidings of mental content and physical sensations. The Vipassana / Samatha pratice begins with watching arisings / subsidings but when the mind is not productive of content then the attention is returned to the respiration, in the straight Samatha practice, the whole session is devoted to complete absorption in the respiration.

The straight Vipassana practice is excellent practice for active minds with little or any breaks between mental content or a fidgety, demanding body. The Vipassana / Samatha practice is excellent for a more quieter mind that will subside somewhere within the allotted time of the session, so that the quieter mind can then be focussed upon the breath and the Samatha only meditation session is excellent for those minds with little, if any mental content, that can easily be turned to the breath without undue effort.

There is yet another aspect to Vipasanna that need not be mentioned here.

I hope my comments have helped...

All the best

k
Just a view - nothing more...
kannada
 
Posts: 94
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2009 8:35 am

Re: how breathing helps

Postby Jechbi » Tue Aug 25, 2009 2:43 pm

Hi Kannada,

This paragraph resonates with my understanding:
kannada wrote:The focus is entirely on the rise and fall of the breath, there is no 'avoidance' in it, just focus as in any practice that requires ones full attention. An archer shooting at his target focusses solely on the bulls-eye. The surgeon operating on his patient pays full attention to his task, the student focusses entirely on the exam to be completed. There is no avoidance in any of these examples, just total attention on the current task – why should meditation be treated any differently?

I think sometimes people become discouraged if their experience of meditation ends up being riddled with distractions, and they're like an archer shooting arrows in a blizzard. My observation is, that's ok. Sometimes there's going to be a blizzard, and everything takes practice, but stick with it. And even the experienced meditator might find him/herself in the midst of mental storms now and then. That's ok, too. At a very basic level, focus on the breath can help a person become aware of how the mind has been working throughout this lifetime. I think it's important for people also to accept that sitting practice won't always go as expected, and that's no reason to beat up oneself. Focus on the breath is a way of facing the storm with calm.

I believe your comments are helpful.

Metta
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
User avatar
Jechbi
 
Posts: 1268
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:38 am

Re: how breathing helps

Postby kannada » Wed Aug 26, 2009 8:26 am

Jechbi wrote:Hi Kannada,
I think sometimes people become discouraged if their experience of meditation ends up being riddled with distractions, and they're like an archer shooting arrows in a blizzard. My observation is, that's ok. Sometimes there's going to be a blizzard, and everything takes practice, but stick with it. And even the experienced meditator might find him/herself in the midst of mental storms now and then. That's ok, too. At a very basic level, focus on the breath can help a person become aware of how the mind has been working throughout this lifetime. I think it's important for people also to accept that sitting practice won't always go as expected, and that's no reason to beat up oneself. Focus on the breath is a way of facing the storm with calm.

I believe your comments are helpful.

Metta


Thanks Jechbi,

I think if I were an archer in a blizzard, I'd put on my skis and go home. There are those that can tough it out but it's not in accordance with the Dharma whose practices cater for the more and less productive minds.

If we want to be precise however, we can practice from the standpoint of Anatta whereby there is no-one (no asserted 'self') practicing, no-one to attain, no-one to succeed, no-one to fail - and no-one to beat up. Sitting is done in absolute innocence - no-one sitting. It is Awareness (Mind-full-ness) that is awake and aware to arisings or no arisings. There is no naming of arisings that present themselves, no past, present or future. Mindfullness will be turned not only toward mental content but to the space between the content, the seemingly forgotten half of practice. For it is in the space between content where no definition can arise. This can both be practiced in formal meditation periods and throughout the day, whenever and wherever the opportunity presents itself. It is in those golden moments where 'I' and 'other' ceases to be - where definition no longer names. Of course one needs some practice coupled with a fair grasp of the Dharma in order to begin this 'practice' but it isn't difficult by any means.

Regards

k
Just a view - nothing more...
kannada
 
Posts: 94
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2009 8:35 am

Re: how breathing helps

Postby Jechbi » Wed Aug 26, 2009 3:48 pm

Thanks, k.
kannada wrote:.. we can practice from the standpoint of Anatta whereby there is no-one (no asserted 'self') practicing, no-one to attain, no-one to succeed, no-one to fail - and no-one to beat up.
Well sure, but that means there is no one to be discouraged, and that flies in the face of the reality some people experience when they're full of expectations about what meditation will give them, particularly if they expect smooth sailing and a clear course around obstacles.

Metta
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
User avatar
Jechbi
 
Posts: 1268
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:38 am

Re: how breathing helps

Postby kannada » Thu Aug 27, 2009 9:36 am

Jechbi wrote:Well sure, but that means there is no one to be discouraged, and that flies in the face of the reality some people experience when they're full of expectations about what meditation will give them, particularly if they expect smooth sailing and a clear course around obstacles.

Metta

Hi Jechbi,

As I'm sure you already know, 'Meditation' is a name for a toolbox containing many tools for a variety of purposes, most of them not associated with Buddhism. If a practitioner doesn't know how to meditate they probably wouldn't understand anatta or its fundamental importance in Buddhist meditation either. It is easy to pick up meditation methods without knowing what they are for, or how to apply them.

These 'push button' methods require no prior learning to produce effects that are all too easy to misunderstand. It's much like putting someone who has never driven a car in the drivers seat of the family sedan, anything could happen - or fortunately for them, nothing could happen. Newbies need to understand that if they are interested in practicing Buddhist meditation methods they need to have at least a rudimentary understanding of the 'road rules' and how their 'vehicle' works before undertaking their journey. To extend the metaphor, they need to make sure that they don't have one foot on the brake and the other one on the accelerator...

Best wishes

k
Just a view - nothing more...
kannada
 
Posts: 94
Joined: Fri Jul 31, 2009 8:35 am

Re: how breathing helps

Postby PeterB » Sat Aug 29, 2009 4:34 pm

Chris wrote:Hello effort, all,

This article may be of assistance:
"Mindfulness of Breathing is mainly aimed to calm and focus the mind, and is therefore what is known as a samatha (Sanskrit, shamatha), or calming practice."
"The traditional name for this meditation practice is Anapanasati. This word simply means mindfulness (sati) of breathing (pana) in and out. This is a meditation practice where we use the breath as the object of attention to which we return every time we notice that the mind has wandered."
"In a nutshell, this practice works mainly through us withdrawing our attention from distracting thoughts and redirecting our attention to the physical sensations of the breath. By doing so, we are putting less energy into the emotional states of restlessness, anxiety, craving, ill will, etc that drive those thoughts. Over time the mind becomes calmer and our emotional states become more balanced and positive, and our experience becomes more positive."
http://www.wildmind.org/mindfulness

metta
Chris

bump.

There is no need at all for anyone who feels drawn to Buddhist meditation to look outside of the community of those who have gone for Refuge to Buddha Dhamma and Sangha. The nature of consciouness has not changed in 2500 years. The Buddha prescribed the medication which is still effective for an understanding of the nature of dukkha and the means to go to its source.
PeterB
 
Posts: 3907
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:35 pm

Re: how breathing helps

Postby salaatti » Sun Sep 13, 2009 12:03 pm

If someone has practiced meditation for example twenty years. Do they still practice awareness on breathing or is it just objectless meditation?
salaatti
 
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 4:42 pm

Re: how breathing helps

Postby appicchato » Sun Sep 13, 2009 8:36 pm

salaatti wrote:Do they still practice awareness on breathing or is it just objectless meditation?


Yes, they do...and no, it isn't...
User avatar
appicchato
 
Posts: 1603
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:47 am
Location: Bridge on the River Kwae

Re: how breathing helps

Postby EOD » Mon Sep 14, 2009 2:48 pm

salaatti wrote:If someone has practiced meditation for example twenty years.

Practiced meditation für twenty years or practized meditation for let's say one hour a day for twenty years? ;-) That's not the same thing. After 20 years of meditation (not the one-hour-a-day-thing) you should already be liberated if you practiced correctly:

"Now, if anyone would develop these four frames of reference in this way for seven years, one of two fruits can be expected for him: either gnosis right here & now, or — if there be any remnant of clinging/sustenance — non-return.

"Let alone seven years. If anyone would develop these four frames of reference in this way for six years... five... four... three... two years... one year... seven months... six months... five... four... three... two months... one month... half a month, one of two fruits can be expected for him: either gnosis right here & now, or — if there be any remnant of clinging/sustenance — non-return.

"Let alone half a month. If anyone would develop these four frames of reference in this way for seven days, one of two fruits can be expected for him: either gnosis right here & now, or — if there be any remnant of clinging/sustenance — non-return.

"'This is the direct path for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow & lamentation, for the disappearance of pain & distress, for the attainment of the right method, & for the realization of Unbinding — in other words, the four frames of reference.' Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said."

(MN 10)


EOD
EOD
 
Posts: 25
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:16 pm


Return to Theravada Meditation

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests