Breath this... Breath that...

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation
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mettafuture
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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby mettafuture » Fri Sep 03, 2010 2:58 pm


With metta and much appreciation, thank you.

:toast:

Goofaholix wrote:You still have to breath no matter what object you choose, do you not? So presumably the problem is that once you place your attention on the breath it becomes unnatural, this is a problem of the mind not the breath so it's worth exploring.

There are too many problems wrapped up in my breath. Most days, it's not a smooth or gentle object to follow like it is for everyone else. I'd rather just leave it alone, let it happen naturally, and focus on something else. Like I explained before, I don't believe the Buddha outlined 40 objects of contemplation for nothing. He wouldn't have given all those talks if he didn't feel they would benefit someone. He likely knew there were people like myself who would be able to make better progress with another object.

I think it's worth exploring why your respiratory problems are worse when you give attention to them, you may find by doing so you learn to let go of your resistance to it and relax around it and gain some freedom from it.

They don't necessarily worsen when I bring them to my attention. Bringing them to my attention only reminds me of how bad they are. It's kind of like my neighbors when they're playing obnoxious music downstairs. When I'm quiet and listening for it, I can hear it, and it bothers me. But if I'm busy working on a project for a client, and their music isn't the center of my attention, I'm able to look past it, and get my work done. Sure, I could learn how to look through my issues, but why should I? Why should I make my practice more difficult when I could simply focus on something else?

Vepacitta wrote:Far better that he can establish another type of meditation practise for now. So he can y'know ... practice. :smile:

:namaste:

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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby octathlon » Fri Sep 03, 2010 6:15 pm

I think I understand what you are saying, mettafuture. This is why I sit on a chair to meditate, though every so often I still try sitting on the floor/a cushion in one of the cross-legged positions. It comes down to I can either spend a lot of time generating and observing back pain without ever achieving deep concentration, or I can sit on a chair and do some real meditation. :meditate:

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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby Kenshou » Fri Sep 03, 2010 7:04 pm

I don't know if it's too tied up in the breath for you, but I've found that simple mindfulness of the body is a very useful exercise. Simply being aware of the sense of space which you occupy and keeping your mindfulness there as you would with the breath. I tend to practice this in tandem with anapanasati, since they go well together, but mindfulness of the body has the advantage of being easily done in basically any circumstance, not confined to sitting meditation. In any case it does train your mindfulness and focus, which is what really matters.

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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Sep 03, 2010 7:33 pm

mettafuture wrote:They don't necessarily worsen when I bring them to my attention. Bringing them to my attention only reminds me of how bad they are. It's kind of like my neighbors when they're playing obnoxious music downstairs. When I'm quiet and listening for it, I can hear it, and it bothers me. But if I'm busy working on a project for a client, and their music isn't the center of my attention, I'm able to look past it, and get my work done. Sure, I could learn how to look through my issues, but why should I? Why should I make my practice more difficult when I could simply focus on something else?


It depends on where you are at, and right now doing something else is probably the best thing for you as long as you are clear about why you are doing it. I would have thought looking through your issues and facing up to your difficulties is what insight meditation is all about, but sometimes one needs to build strength of mind before doing that, sometime in the future you might find you naturally want to investigate this and you might find you gain a lot of insight as a result.

So if you find metta strengthens your mind keep doing it, I'd also recommend looking at the sensations in the body and the awareness of the mind.

If visualisation/contemplation/mantra type meditations interest you then you can experiment, these have never interested me and as you've discovered don't seem to interest modern teachers. I think they are mostly designed as a specific antidote to a specific problem of mind, not a lifetime of practice.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah

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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby Nyana » Fri Sep 03, 2010 9:24 pm

Hi Mettafuture,

I practice earth kasiṇa and/or air kasiṇa meditation every day and find it very useful for developing deep calm (samatha). The aim of the practice is the attunement of apperception to the totality of whichever kasiṇa one is working with, but for developing calm I've found that it's best to start with the commentarial method of using a circular disk. I use potting soil leveled flat in a large shallow bowl for an earth kasiṇa disk, and also have a few color kasiṇas cut out of colored cloth. Anyway, a few sources on kasiṇa practice to get started:

The Meaning of Kasiṇa by Dmytro Ivakhnenko.

Colour-Kasiṇa Meditation.

Meditation of Divine Dwelling in Elements and Colours.

All the best,

Geoff

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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby bodom » Mon Sep 06, 2010 2:25 am

How about meditating on the mantra Buddho? No need to involve the breath at all.

Buddho by Phra Ajaan Thate Desaransi
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... uddho.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: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby Dan74 » Mon Sep 06, 2010 2:47 am

I am not sure if it bears mentioning, but it's really good practice to work on the Brahmaviharas - sila, rather than putting samadhi first.

We, westerners, sometimes rush into meditation without some preparatory work. Basically if my life is a mess, sitting on the cushion is only going to reflect that, I found.

And if my life isn't a mess and I still find meditation difficult, there is always more to work on with Brahmaviharas, and return to the cushion with fewer expectations.

Of course apart from the breath, in Theravada there is also Buddho (viewtopic.php?f=17&t=2552&hilit=buddho), chanting suttas (e.g. Metta Sutta), worship, etc etc
_/|\_

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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby samadhi_steve » Tue Sep 07, 2010 9:49 pm

Mentally reciting Buddho has got many to develop mindfulness & concentration
Ajahn Sao, Mun, Boowa, and Thate we particularly fond of this method of gathering the mind.

I have found myself to have a rather analytical mind, wanting to know this or that concept. But if you collect the mind with mindfulness such as in this case mentally reciting "buddho" your mind will gradually calm down and become more at ease.

Right Mindfulness develops into Right Concentration. Each part of the path develops/matures on its own, much as a fruit ripens.

Remember Right Effort must be present in reciting the mantra. Do not establish Buddho forcefully or out of aversion which will only cause tension. Think of it as a relief, a refuge.

Developing this doubt or delusion stands chance against the awareness that follows the calm mind.
Buddho is something cool and calm. It's the path for giving rise to peace and contentment — the only path that will release us from the suffering and stress in this world.

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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby bodom » Tue Sep 07, 2010 10:26 pm

Hi Steve

I use the mantra Buddho as my main meditation subject. I mentally recite "Buddho" "Buddho" "Buddho" all day and night, during each and every activity, be it eating, drinking, working, sitting, standing, walking etc. It has greatly enhanced my mindfulness and concentration and allows me to stay focused on each and every activity I undertake. In turn, the concentration I have developed OFF the cushion during daily life makes it so much easier to focus while ON the cushion during formal meditation.

See this thread if you would like to discuss more on Buddho:

viewtopic.php?t=2552

: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: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby samadhi_steve » Tue Sep 07, 2010 11:04 pm

Bodom,

It's a really good technique for those who have an anxious mind. Reciting a mantra such as Buddho really anchors you into awareness. I don't even dare to call it a technique because it is pure mindfulness and concentration. However it has brought me a great deal of peace and insight off and on the cushion.

:namaste:
Buddho is something cool and calm. It's the path for giving rise to peace and contentment — the only path that will release us from the suffering and stress in this world.

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mettafuture
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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby mettafuture » Sun Sep 19, 2010 6:01 am

With metta and much appreciation, thank you all for your replies.

octathlon wrote:I think I understand what you are saying, mettafuture. This is why I sit on a chair to meditate, though every so often I still try sitting on the floor/a cushion in one of the cross-legged positions. It comes down to I can either spend a lot of time generating and observing back pain without ever achieving deep concentration, or I can sit on a chair and do some real meditation. :meditate:

Exactly. Just because sitting in the lotus position is the most popular position, and the position the Buddha himself used, doesn't mean it's the only way one can sit.

Kenshou wrote:I don't know if it's too tied up in the breath for you, but I've found that simple mindfulness of the body is a very useful exercise. Simply being aware of the sense of space which you occupy and keeping your mindfulness there as you would with the breath. I tend to practice this in tandem with anapanasati, since they go well together, but mindfulness of the body has the advantage of being easily done in basically any circumstance, not confined to sitting meditation. In any case it does train your mindfulness and focus, which is what really matters.

I've done mindfulness of body. It's very relaxing, and it works well for easing tensions I didn't realize I had.

Goofaholix wrote:It depends on where you are at, and right now doing something else is probably the best thing for you as long as you are clear about why you are doing it.

Crystal clear.

For the last couple of weeks I've been focusing on just metta meditation, 4 elements meditation, and noting the 5 hindrances as they arise during these meditations. I truly feel I've made some progress, and practice has been a lot more comfortable.

My plan is to just stick with these meditations for the time being, and, when I finally have some vacation time, I'd like to go see a teacher and receive personal instruction on how to meditate on the kasinas.

I would have thought looking through your issues and facing up to your difficulties is what insight meditation is all about, but sometimes one needs to build strength of mind before doing that, sometime in the future you might find you naturally want to investigate this and you might find you gain a lot of insight as a result.

There's a difference between mental difficulties and physical difficulties though.

Ñāṇa wrote:[...]
All the best,

Geoff

Thank you, Geoff!

bodom wrote:How about meditating on the mantra Buddho? No need to involve the breath at all.

Buddho by Phra Ajaan Thate Desaransi
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... uddho.html

:anjali:

It's still a little breathy, but I could give it another try. :)

Thank you.

Dan74 wrote:I am not sure if it bears mentioning, but it's really good practice to work on the Brahmaviharas - sila, rather than putting samadhi first. We, westerners, sometimes rush into meditation without some preparatory work. Basically if my life is a mess, sitting on the cushion is only going to reflect that, I found.

Yes! As lay followers, I think we probably should have learned some of the recollections and the Brahmaviharas first before Anapanasati. But, unfortunately, recollecting the qualities of devas and equanimity are hard to "sell" to a Western audience. Ugh...

Personally, I love recollecting the qualities of the Buddha and the devas. It's very soothing. But it's too bad there aren't many English language instructions on how to do this. I received instructions, but I could use a refresher. I'll worry about that later, though.

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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby bodom » Sun Sep 19, 2010 5:32 pm

It's still a little breathy...


The focus of concentration is the mental repetition of buddho..buddho..buddho. You are not combining the mantra with the breath. The breath is not involved in this method.

: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: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby Ytrog » Tue Sep 21, 2010 5:42 am

So, what's really the best way to develop concentration? I know a bit of the techniques that involve watching things arise and fall with the breath as a fall-back option and I try to practice them (with varying success), but I believe that my concentration should be improved before I can go further. How to do this? :anjali:

I do know of a practice of breath meditation that I find useful:
First, count the breath until you've had five in and out breaths, then start again and count to six, then to seven until you reach ten. After ten you start again with 1..5, 1..6, 1..7, 1..8, 1..9 and 1..10. When you lose count somewhere you'll have to start all over with one to five. This has worked for me not only for breath, but also for cycles on a bicycle :)

It also has some motivation factor in it in the sense that you can challenge yourself with seeing how many cycles all the way to 10 you can maintain.
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


If you see any unskillful speech (or other action) from me let me know, so I can learn from it.

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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby Kenshou » Tue Sep 21, 2010 5:45 am

So, what's really the best way to develop concentration?


I'm not even trying to be mysterious and cryptic, but really; whatever works. More specifically, whatever works for you, and that'll take a little experimentation to figure out.

And the other answer would be, practice.

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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby Ytrog » Tue Sep 21, 2010 7:14 am

Kenshou wrote:
So, what's really the best way to develop concentration?


I'm not even trying to be mysterious and cryptic, but really; whatever works. More specifically, whatever works for you, and that'll take a little experimentation to figure out.

And the other answer would be, practice.


Well, what works for you? I might try it ;)
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


If you see any unskillful speech (or other action) from me let me know, so I can learn from it.

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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby manas » Tue Sep 21, 2010 8:48 am

My current understanding of anapanasati (or is it just how I practice it?) is influenced alot by Ajahn Brahm's teaching; I progressively let go of burdens, beginning with the coarse and progressing to the fine. The first burden to let go of is worry and agitation ("there are so many things to get done today...") -"Yes, there are, but there always will be...and right now is the time for training the mind, and this too 'needs to be done'...you will attend to those other things later...for now let them go utterly". I use inner talk in a skilful way (I hope!) to ease myself into a more calm state, with gentleness.

...edit...
Last edited by manas on Wed Sep 22, 2010 4:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby Ytrog » Tue Sep 21, 2010 10:44 am

Interesting entry. Do you keep a meditation diary? I've read about keeping those, though never kept one myself.
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


If you see any unskillful speech (or other action) from me let me know, so I can learn from it.

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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby manas » Wed Sep 22, 2010 4:53 am

Hi ytrog,
I usually write down only ones that stand out, that I can learn from, or inspire myself with in the future, should I ever start losing hope.
At present I am trying not to think too much about things, so not much writing going on now.
Thanks for the feedback, though. :)

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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby Kenshou » Wed Sep 22, 2010 9:02 am

Ytrog wrote:Well, what works for you? I might try it ;)


Practice!

If you're not staying with the breath as well as you'd like to, maybe like me you're something of a restless type, like me. If that's the case, it might help to intentionally try to relax a little. But of course not too much, you don't want to get dull and sleepy! Personally I sometimes like to become aware of the tension in the body as I breath in and then when exhaling "breath out" the tensions. And the side-effect is that this develops mindfulness of the body as you do it, which is good.

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Re: Breath this... Breath that...

Postby Ytrog » Wed Sep 22, 2010 10:32 am

Kenshou wrote:
Ytrog wrote:Well, what works for you? I might try it ;)


Practice!

If you're not staying with the breath as well as you'd like to, maybe like me you're something of a restless type, like me. If that's the case, it might help to intentionally try to relax a little. But of course not too much, you don't want to get dull and sleepy! Personally I sometimes like to become aware of the tension in the body as I breath in and then when exhaling "breath out" the tensions. And the side-effect is that this develops mindfulness of the body as you do it, which is good.


That's not even all that different from what I try to do :D
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


If you see any unskillful speech (or other action) from me let me know, so I can learn from it.


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