Should I follow my 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.

Should I follow my breath?

Postby pescador » Thu Jan 07, 2010 10:22 pm

Should I follow my breath inside and outside, or keep my attention on the tip of the nose watching the breath in and out?

I think I read some weeks ago a commentary dedicated to this but I forgot, sorry.
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Re: Should I follow my breath?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 07, 2010 10:29 pm

Greetings pescador,

Assuming you're doing anapanasati meditation, you may start with a wider range of focus, and then as your attention becomes more focused, narrow that range. As far as I'm aware though, there are no instructions within the suttas themselves giving a precise narrow location for where along the path of the breath one's attention should be focused.

Metta,
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Re: Should I follow my breath?

Postby Ben » Thu Jan 07, 2010 10:30 pm

Hi Pescador
Well, I think it depends on what your intention is, what it is you are attempting to achieve. First of all, I recommend going back and trying to find the commentary and re-reading it and seeing whether it makes sense.
Usually, I would recommend that a practitioner to either maintain awareness of the touch of the breath for longer and longer periods around the area around the nostril to develop samadhi (this is the samatha variant of anapanasati), or to observe the rise-and-fall of sensations either at the point of contact of breath and skin, or some other place such as the abdomen (vipassana variant of anapanasati).
metta

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Re: Should I follow my breath?

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jan 07, 2010 11:45 pm

pescador wrote:Should I follow my breath inside and outside, or keep my attention on the tip of the nose watching the breath in and out?

I think I read some weeks ago a commentary dedicated to this but I forgot, sorry.


or the mouth, helpful if you have a cold.
Parimukhaṃ can mean either in front of or all around the entrance (of air).
I would say you should start with the "tip of the nose watching the breath" to start, then once you are adept at that expand to "follow your breath inside and outside."
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Re: Should I follow my breath?

Postby withoutcolour » Fri Jan 08, 2010 1:45 am

I don't know if this helps, but when I do anapanasati meditation I tend to follow my chest expanding (and feeling the breath enter my lungs), and I also focus on my stomach muscles contracting and expanding. With each in breath (into my lungs), I acknowledge it as an in-breath, and when I breathe out (and feel my muscles push the air out), I acknowledge that as well.
Also, I know this is sort of an obscure reference, but I found that when Noah Levine (author of Dharma punx, the American fellow who is a follower of Jack Kornfield, http://www.dharmapunx.com/htm/mp3.htm) described "soft-belly" meditation in his dharma talks, that made it a lot easier for me to figure anapanasati out and be able to meditate much longer than I used to because I have stuff to focus on rather than go "shut up mind!".

best of luck! :buddha1:
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Re: Should I follow my breath?

Postby Kenshou » Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:17 am

Manapa wrote:or the mouth, helpful if you have a cold.


Any advice for trying anapanasati this way? I've been congested recently, and it really makes it hard to meditate. I've found that trying to breathe through the mouth ends up being distracting since I've got to consciously keep my jaw in place, which sort of impedes focus, and if I manage to get to get calm enough to the point where I'm able to observe the breath without controlling, naturally the body starts trying to nose-breath again and the discomfort comes back.

I've never really been able to find a good way to meditate while having a cold. In these winter months, this can be a problem, since my meditation consistency gets mangled.

Perhaps I should just do metta towards my mucus. (quite a challenge, I hate the stuff)
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Re: Should I follow my breath?

Postby Ben » Fri Jan 08, 2010 2:42 am

Hi Kenshou
Kenshou wrote:
Manapa wrote:or the mouth, helpful if you have a cold.


Any advice for trying anapanasati this way?


Yes. Take some cold & flu medication. Something that has some pseudo-ephedrine or something similar to clear and dry your nasal passages. Then you will be able to engage in anapanasati.
kind regards

Ben
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Re: Should I follow my breath?

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Jan 08, 2010 8:41 am

it is relatively the same, look for the sensation air around the lips, then follow the breath.
Kenshou wrote:
Manapa wrote:or the mouth, helpful if you have a cold.


Any advice for trying anapanasati this way? I've been congested recently, and it really makes it hard to meditate. I've found that trying to breathe through the mouth ends up being distracting since I've got to consciously keep my jaw in place, which sort of impedes focus, and if I manage to get to get calm enough to the point where I'm able to observe the breath without controlling, naturally the body starts trying to nose-breath again and the discomfort comes back.

I've never really been able to find a good way to meditate while having a cold. In these winter months, this can be a problem, since my meditation consistency gets mangled.

Perhaps I should just do metta towards my mucus. (quite a challenge, I hate the stuff)
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Should I follow my breath?

Postby pescador » Fri Jan 08, 2010 11:26 am

Ben wrote:Hi Pescador
Well, I think it depends on what your intention is, what it is you are attempting to achieve. First of all, I recommend going back and trying to find the commentary and re-reading it and seeing whether it makes sense.
Usually, I would recommend that a practitioner to either maintain awareness of the touch of the breath for longer and longer periods around the area around the nostril to develop samadhi (this is the samatha variant of anapanasati), or to observe the rise-and-fall of sensations either at the point of contact of breath and skin, or some other place such as the abdomen (vipassana variant of anapanasati).
metta

Ben


I don't know what I'm attempting to achieve, I suposse concentration. I don't remeber where I read it, maybe here or in a website or in a book. I have the sensation that it was like a converasation between two practitioners where one was saying to the other that the greater dificulty he had found during his practice of anapanasati was to stop following the breathing from outside to inside and just keep the attention outside while observing the breathing.

I don't know if this have any sense though. I just reminded it and thought it would be better to consult it.

Sorry for the typos.
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Re: Should I follow my breath?

Postby acinteyyo » Fri Jan 08, 2010 1:24 pm

Hi,

in my opinion, according to the Anapanasati-Sutta one shouldn't follow the breath inside and outside the body. One should set mindfulness to the fore. Do not follow the breath with mindfulness, set mindfulness on one point and just breath mindful, meaning "know" the breath but don't follow. I don't know how to express myself better. I hope you're able to understand exactly what I'm trying to say.
MN118 Anapanasati - Sutta wrote:There is the case where a monk, having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building, sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect, and setting mindfulness to the fore. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out.

The point itself where mindfulness is set isn't the most important thing. Like Ben already said, some prefer the area around the nostril, some the rise-and-fall of sensations either at the point of contact of breath and skin, or some other place such as the abdomen. All these places are interrelated with the breath, thus one is, when mindfulness is set, able to breath in, always mindful and breath out, mindful.

just my two cents,
best wishes, acinteyyo
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Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
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