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.

Re: Breath

Postby PeterB » Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:42 am

If anyone does, will it really help Collective, or might it send you into another struggle ?
If every time we plant seeds we dig them up to see how they are doing, or tug the little shoots to make them grow, or decide to plant something else in the same plot, we wont have much of a garden.
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Re: Breath

Postby Collective » Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:39 am

PeterB wrote:If anyone does, will it really help Collective, or might it send you into another struggle ?
If every time we plant seeds we dig them up to see how they are doing, or tug the little shoots to make them grow, or decide to plant something else in the same plot, we wont have much of a garden.

True, good example. But the actual technique, the breathing, that won't change (that's the irony here), just my aim. I feel I need to relax more than gain insight.
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Re: Breath

Postby Moggalana » Tue Feb 23, 2010 1:46 pm

Collective wrote:Could someone recommend a book that introduces this type of meditation, cultivating jhana?

    Ajahn Brahm - Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond: A Meditator's Handbook (read the first five chapters online, Samadhi Retreat recording)
    Shaila Catherine - Focused and Fearless: A Meditator's Guide to States of Deep Joy, Calm, and Clarity
    Bhante Gunaratana - Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English: An Introductory guide to Deeper States of Meditation
    Stephen Snyder, Tina Rasmussen - Practicing the Jhanas: Traditional Concentration Meditation as Presented by the Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw (Audio Talks)
Personally, I would recommend the first two, the third is not bad either, the fourth I don't know.
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Re: Breath

Postby Kenshou » Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:20 pm

Perhaps Collective is the sort of person who, in the old days, would be recommended to start out with kasina practice.

Edit: There's a short bit from Focused & Fearless which I think might be relevant:

"The first formal instruction I received for jhana practice surprised me. My teacher told me to meditate in any way that supported the development of three qualities: mental brightness, spaciousness, and relaxation. I had expected the early instructions to emphasize vigorous focus on a narrow object. It soon became clear, however, that demanding effort can create tension; in the wake of tension, aversion and the hindrances thrive. Conversely, a mind that is relaxed, bright, and spacious contributes to mental and physical ease and encourages a natural release into present-moment experience."

Why not try that out? Also, I believe Ajahn Brahm's view is that it isn't terribly important exactly where the breath is watched, so you would probably do no harm just trying to calmly watch the entire breathing process and not get too worked up over any one particular thing. I wouldn't be surprised if doing just these things would be enough to make some steps toward samadhi. There's more than one way of going about things.
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Re: Breath

Postby Moggalana » Tue Feb 23, 2010 7:35 pm

Kenshou wrote: Also, I believe Ajahn Brahm's view is that it isn't terribly important exactly where the breath is watched, so you would probably do no harm just trying to calmly watch the entire breathing process and not get too worked up over any one particular thing. I wouldn't be surprised if doing just these things would be enough to make some steps toward samadhi. There's more than one way of going about things.

Indeed.
Ajahn Brahm wrote:When you focus on the breath, you focus on the experience of the breath happening now. You experience `that which tells you what the breath is doing', whether it is going in or out or in between. Some teachers say to watch the breath at the tip of the nose, some say to watch it at the abdomen and some say to move it here and then move it there. I have found through experience that it does not matter where you watch the breath. In fact it is best not to locate the breath anywhere! If you locate the breath at the tip of your nose then it becomes nose awareness, not breath awareness, and if you locate it at your abdomen then it becomes abdomen awareness. Just ask yourself the question right now, "Am I breathing in or am I breathing out?" How do you know? There! That experience which tells you what the breath is doing, that is what you focus on in breath meditation. Let go of concern about where this experience is located; just focus on the experience itself.

There are many ways. Whatever works :)
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Re: Breath

Postby Collective » Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:58 pm

Now that is what I wanted to hear.

This is what I was trying to explain earlier, that I just watch the whole breath, the very act of experiencing the whole breath. I don't know, call it body breathing :) It isn't at the abdomen, the nose, or even the chest, yet it's all those but none in particular.

This what I do, and, more importantly, I can always locate it. :namaste:
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Re: Breath

Postby Kenshou » Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:32 pm

That sounds like just the ticket, then.

I don't believe that what the object is is so important (at least for samatha), it's just that it's needed as something for the mind to cohere to, so that it can withdraw* from outside preoccupations, calm the wandering of thoughts, and dive into the experience of the present. And the breath happens to both be convenient, and intimately connected to us, so it's a good object, for those who are comfortable using it.

Look at the classic 1st jhana description, There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal*, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation (upon the object used to settle the mind and enter the state)

So if you have an object, whatever it is, that you can find easily, can concentrate the mind upon without tension, and is conductive to relaxation, then I would say that you've probably got the basic toolkit necessary to make progress. Now you have to go play with it!
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Re: Breath

Postby Collective » Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:34 am

And I guess the beauty of all this, is when you come off the cushion, there's a billion things you can choose to focus on throughout the day.
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Re: Breath

Postby Collective » Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:34 am

Is it important to actually feel sensation in my nostrils? Or can I just focus my attention on the nostrils and know for a surety that the breath passes through them?
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Re: Breath

Postby Reductor » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:07 am

Collective wrote:Is it important to actually feel sensation in my nostrils? Or can I just focus my attention on the nostrils and know for a surety that the breath passes through them?


That will work. I don't focus on the sensation of breath going in and out of the nostrils but just 'center' my awareness on some part of my face or head. Sometimes the lips, sometimes the forehead, sometimes the tip of the nose. As long as I have a sense of being centered there.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Breath

Postby Collective » Mon Mar 01, 2010 9:34 am

thereductor wrote:
Collective wrote:Is it important to actually feel sensation in my nostrils? Or can I just focus my attention on the nostrils and know for a surety that the breath passes through them?


That will work. I don't focus on the sensation of breath going in and out of the nostrils but just 'center' my awareness on some part of my face or head. Sometimes the lips, sometimes the forehead, sometimes the tip of the nose. As long as I have a sense of being centered there.

I think that's the important bit. Maybe it's not so much the breath that's important, it's more the being present, and not being in the past or future.

Thank you :)
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Re: Breath

Postby catmoon » Mon Mar 01, 2010 1:53 pm

Hiya collective


If you have anxiety in meditation, look at your motivation. You have mentioned relaxation, focus, insight .. basically everything but bodhicitta.

Ask yourself "Why am I doing these meditations?"

You need to recover the ultimate aim. Then things will go better.
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Re: Breath

Postby Collective » Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:18 pm

catmoon wrote:Hiya collective


If you have anxiety in meditation, look at your motivation. You have mentioned relaxation, focus, insight .. basically everything but bodhicitta.

Ask yourself "Why am I doing these meditations?"

You need to recover the ultimate aim. Then things will go better.

I thought all these techniques were a path to bodhicitta
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Re: Breath

Postby Virgo » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:12 pm

Collective wrote:I'm practising vipassana.

The instructions are to just focus on the breath, the sensation in the nose. Warm, cool, that kind of thing. But it gets so subtle, I can't.

You should focus on developing all of the Ten Perfections. Why? Because they are the root of cultivating kusala in a Buddhist sense, and kusala mental states lead to calm. The more the Perfections are practiced, the more conditions there are for kusala mind states, and therefore it is easier for your meditation to develop. It is impossible to develop meditation effectively without developing the Perfections. Why? Because There are simply too many akusala mental states, which means lots of lobha and dosa - attachment and aversion - and therefore the mind does not settle on it's object.
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Re: Breath

Postby Kenshou » Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:35 pm

Having a mindstate conductive to the development of meditation (or rather, success in meditation) requires adequate morality, and practice. If you want to talk about the ten perfections, they'll be developed naturally in following the eightfold path. How is that developed? Practice. Learning to keep the mind centered upon the breath when it becomes more subtle strikes me as more of an issue of practice-makes-perfect rather than insufficient paramis. One probably must already have a level of development in the perfections to take any interest in the dhamma in the first place, but in the bizarre situation where someone had a high development of paramis but very little skill in meditation, I bet they'd need some time to practice, too.

Telling someone to develop the perfections seems tantamount to telling someone to "get more enlightened". Of course that's what we're all trying to do, but that's just too vague to be useful.
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Re: Breath

Postby Virgo » Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:17 pm

Kenshou wrote:Having a mindstate conductive to the development of meditation (or rather, success in meditation) requires adequate morality, and practice. If you want to talk about the ten perfections, they'll be developed naturally in following the eightfold path. How is that developed? Practice. Learning to keep the mind centered upon the breath when it becomes more subtle strikes me as more of an issue of practice-makes-perfect rather than insufficient paramis. One probably must already have a level of development in the perfections to take any interest in the dhamma in the first place, but in the bizarre situation where someone had a high development of paramis but very little skill in meditation, I bet they'd need some time to practice, too.

Telling someone to develop the perfections seems tantamount to telling someone to "get more enlightened". Of course that's what we're all trying to do, but that's just too vague to be useful.

The point is that only kusala citta lead to calm. When the mind is calm and kusala ones meditation can develop. The way to having kusala citta arise more and more is to condition it through the Perfections such as Generosity, Patience, and so on. When we focus on these things, less unwholesome mind states arise and then our mind can settle down during samatha meditation because it is not pushed and pulled with attachment and aversion so much.
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Re: Breath

Postby catmoon » Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:27 am

Collective wrote:
catmoon wrote:Hiya collective


If you have anxiety in meditation, look at your motivation. You have mentioned relaxation, focus, insight .. basically everything but bodhicitta.

Ask yourself "Why am I doing these meditations?"

You need to recover the ultimate aim. Then things will go better.

I thought all these techniques were a path to bodhicitta


Are you doing metta meditations?
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Re: Breath

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:13 am

Greetings Collective, Catmoon, all,

Collective wrote:
catmoon wrote:Hiya collective

If you have anxiety in meditation, look at your motivation. You have mentioned relaxation, focus, insight .. basically everything but bodhicitta.

Ask yourself "Why am I doing these meditations?"

You need to recover the ultimate aim. Then things will go better.

I thought all these techniques were a path to bodhicitta


Bodhicitta is a Mahayana term is not found in the Pali Canon or in the instructions of Theravada meditation teachers... therefore it's not really appropriate to this sub-forum.

:focus:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Breath

Postby Collective » Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:41 am

I like the idea of following the 8 fold path to enhance a calm mind. Generosity, Patience, Forgiveness etc. Focusing on these virtues means less attention to negative thoughts/feelings, which in turn settles us down because it is "not pushed and pulled with attachment and aversion so much".

Thanks for that :namaste:
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Re: Breath

Postby Virgo » Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:55 pm

Collective wrote:I like the idea of following the 8 fold path to enhance a calm mind. Generosity, Patience, Forgiveness etc. Focusing on these virtues means less attention to negative thoughts/feelings, which in turn settles us down because it is "not pushed and pulled with attachment and aversion so much".

Thanks for that :namaste:

Your welcome.

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