Best Guide for Breath Meditation For Beginners

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blo0mz
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Best Guide for Breath Meditation For Beginners

Post by blo0mz »

Hello all,

Wondering where I can find a good guide or book with steps for breath meditation suitable for a beginner, who does not have access to a meditation center or in-person guidance.

Metta,
blo0mz
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Ceisiwr
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Re: Best Guide for Breath Meditation For Beginners

Post by Ceisiwr »

Greetings,

I would recommend the practice laid out in the Visuddhimagga: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... on2011.pdf

Pa Auk also teaches based on this method: http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/know-see.pdf

I would also recommend Ven. Nanamoli's book "Mindfulness of Breathing" which includes the Anapanasati Sutta, the Visud. teaching on it and extracts from the Patisambhidamagga on mindfulness of breathing: https://www.urbandharma.org/pdf1/Mindfu ... athing.pdf
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Laurens
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Re: Best Guide for Breath Meditation For Beginners

Post by Laurens »

I think that one has to accept that there are many different interpretations on the practises described in the anapanasati sutta. All have the breath as focus but use different techniques. There is no real way to know for certain which is correct or whether or not the correct practice as exactly taught by the Buddha is now lost (the sutta itself is open to interpretation). So there is going to always be an element of personal discrimination when it comes to which technique to use in your own practice. In this regard it can be helpful to find a teacher whom you admire and adopt their practice based upon their authority as a good teacher.

The search for the most accurate, clearest instructions might just lead to frustration as everyone is going to have a different answer to that. So I'd say look for a teacher whose credentials and teaching you admire and follow them. It can be someone online, or in person.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

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Re: Best Guide for Breath Meditation For Beginners

Post by bodom »

blo0mz wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 2:59 am Hello all,

Wondering where I can find a good guide or book with steps for breath meditation suitable for a beginner, who does not have access to a meditation center or in-person guidance.

Metta,
blo0mz
Mindfulness in Plain English is one of the very best introductions to Meditation you can read. It can be found online here:

https://www.vipassana.com/meditation/mi ... nglish.php

:namaste:
With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasaka Kee Nanayon
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bodom
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Re: Best Guide for Breath Meditation For Beginners

Post by bodom »

I also compiled a comprehensive list found here

Recommend Reading
https://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=341

:namaste:
With no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasaka Kee Nanayon
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Re: Best Guide for Breath Meditation For Beginners

Post by frank k »

B. Thanissaro's book is comprehensive, suitable for beginners and advanced, congruent with the early suttas.
https://www.dhammatalks.org/ebook_index ... erybreath

About the worst thing you can do is learn breath meditation from late Theravada commentary sources, such as Vism. and Pa Auk tradition, as someone else in the thread has recommended. At the very least, you'll want to do some research between early Buddhist interpretation of breath meditation and Vism. They are completely different practices.
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blo0mz
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Re: Best Guide for Breath Meditation For Beginners

Post by blo0mz »

My problem is... I wind up combining the different instructions.

I'll start of trying to just follow the 16 Anapanasati Steps... then wind up trying to follow what Thanissaro said about breath energy... then I'll think of the steps from Mindfulness in Plain English... all of which have slight variations but I wind up meditation inconsistently! Probably better to pick one and stick to it but I'm having trouble!
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Re: Best Guide for Breath Meditation For Beginners

Post by Laurens »

blo0mz wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 1:58 pm My problem is... I wind up combining the different instructions.

I'll start of trying to just follow the 16 Anapanasati Steps... then wind up trying to follow what Thanissaro said about breath energy... then I'll think of the steps from Mindfulness in Plain English... all of which have slight variations but I wind up meditation inconsistently! Probably better to pick one and stick to it but I'm having trouble!
Do you have a particular teacher that you admire greatly?
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

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Re: Best Guide for Breath Meditation For Beginners

Post by Ceisiwr »

frank k wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 11:12 am B. Thanissaro's book is comprehensive, suitable for beginners and advanced, congruent with the early suttas.
https://www.dhammatalks.org/ebook_index ... erybreath

About the worst thing you can do is learn breath meditation from late Theravada commentary sources, such as Vism. and Pa Auk tradition, as someone else in the thread has recommended. At the very least, you'll want to do some research between early Buddhist interpretation of breath meditation and Vism. They are completely different practices.
:roll:
"Analysis and synthesis are praised by the wise,
liberation in the Sāsana comes from analysis and synthesis;
the purpose of the method of analysis and synthesis is the ultimate"


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Re: Best Guide for Breath Meditation For Beginners

Post by DooDoot »

I would avoid the above books. Visuddhimagga is too complicated. The Pa Auk book quoted below is wrong & contrary to what the Buddha taught.
Pa Auk wrote:To begin meditating, sit in a comfortable position and try to be aware of the breath as it enters and leaves the body through the nostrils. You should be able to feel it either just below the nose or somewhere around the nostrils. Do not follow the breath into the body or out of the body, because then you will not be able to perfect your concentration. Just be aware of the breath at the most obvious place it brushes against or touches, either the top of the upper lip or around the nostrils. Then you will be able to develop and perfect your concentration. Do not pay attention to the individual characteristics, general characteristics or colour of the nimitta (sign of concentration). The individual characteristics are the characteristics of
the four elements in the breath: hardness, roughness, flowing, heat, supporting, pushing, etc. The general characteristics are the impermanent (anicca), suffering (dukkha), or non-self (anattà) characteristics of the breath. This means do not note ‘in, out, impermanent’, or ‘in, out, suffering’, or ‘in, out, non-self’. Simply be aware of the in-and-out breath as a concept.
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Re: Best Guide for Breath Meditation For Beginners

Post by mikenz66 »

blo0mz wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 1:58 pm My problem is... I wind up combining the different instructions.

I'll start of trying to just follow the 16 Anapanasati Steps... then wind up trying to follow what Thanissaro said about breath energy... then I'll think of the steps from Mindfulness in Plain English... all of which have slight variations but I wind up meditation inconsistently! Probably better to pick one and stick to it but I'm having trouble!
Yes, I think it's best to stick with one approach until you have some mastery of it. Which, for me, means weeks or months, not a day or two...

Different teachers have different instructions to get started - they can't cover everything immediately - so they can seem to be quite contradictory at first.

Once you have figured out how to solve difficulties in applying one particular approach, it's a bit easier to take on board things from others, which may at that point, be helpful.

:heart:
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Re: Best Guide for Breath Meditation For Beginners

Post by DooDoot »

blo0mz wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 2:59 amWondering where I can find a good guide or book with steps for breath meditation suitable for a beginner, who does not have access to a meditation center or in-person guidance.
Greetings

I have never actually read a good guide about Anapanasati. The only authoritative book about how the 16 stages should unfold is Unveiling the Secrets of Life: a Manual for Serious Beginners by Bhikkhu Budhdadasa. However this book only provides very crude basic advice on how to practise called the "Five Skillful Tricks", which summaries the method in the Visuddhimagga. While the first two of the Five Skillful Tricks as explained in the book are certainly useful to practise as best as we can, if successfully practised, there will come a time they have their shortcomings.

The most important things to understand about Anapanasati are the following:

1. The expert practitioner does not volitionally/deliberately attempt to watch the breathing. Instead, they only focus on keeping the mind pure, clear & non-attached; free from distracting & unwholesome thoughts & emotions. When the mind is pure, the mind's consciousness & the body's breathing will automatically unite, which will automatically result in awareness of breathing.

2. That above said, the above method of keeping the mind pure & non-attached can often be too subtle for a beginner if the beginner has emotional hindrances. Therefore, the beginner often needs to deliberately attempt to watch the breathing in order to give their mind something to do and in order to develop some basic calmness (samatha).

3. Therefore, the above two points need to be understood. While the beginner generally deliberately focuses on the breathing, the ultimate goal is actually to focus on merely gently keeping the mind pure; free from any craving. The reason for keeping the mind pure and for not deliberately directing the mind towards the breathing is because, in more advanced levels of practise, deliberately directing to mind towards the breathing is actually an obstacle to clear awareness of breathing because the mind remains too coarse or gross. A very "willful" mind cannot maintain awareness of subtle breathing because "willfulness" is itself a "thought" and all thoughts or concepts, including the "concept" method of Pa Auk, are obstacles to deep awareness of breathing.

4. In short, the mind's consciousness must be like clear fluid flowing water that can flow into the body to have deep awareness of breathing and to also allow stored mental formations in the body to rise to the surface & dissolve. Too much force will suppress stored emotions but, for the beginner, too little force will result in emotional hindrances arising. Therefore the beginner must find a balance of firmness & flexibility.
blo0mz wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 1:58 pm Thanissaro said about breath energy...
I would ignore the above. Experiencing sensations of breathing, energetic qualities of breathing, etc, will occur naturally & automatically when the mind is developed naturally with sensitivity. Again, there is no need to deliberately attempt to do the above.
blo0mz wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 1:58 pmMindfulness in Plain English...
I am browsing from Chapter 5 now. I would avoid getting caught up in observing bodily pains. Just change posture. Having a relaxed upright posture is the most important thing. If you can't sit cross-legged with a natural upright spine then find another posture so your spine is upright.

From bottom page 51 - using counting is OK. While Bhante does not say to avoid awareness of breathing rising & dropping in the chest & abdomen, Bhante does appear to over emphasize watching the breathing at the nostrils. The problem with attempting to always watch the breathing at the nostrils is it causes drowsiness & vagueness of awareness when the practise is done prematurely. In expert Anapanasti, the awareness/consciousness of the mind will converge at the nose-tip by itself, when the time is right.

To me, the general instructions of Bhante in Chapter 5 sound OK however I disagree as suggested above, namely: (i) don't waste your time watching physical pain; (ii) change posture if required; (iii) ensure you have a suitable posture that allows optimal natural mental alertness & ease of body breathing; and (iv) don't overly emphasise watching breathing at the nose-tip. While nose-tip watching is an excellent exercise to do, ultimately most of the body (1st tetrad) development of anapanasati is done by experiencing the breathing within the body. Experts at anapanasati allow their pure clear non-attached mind to literally fall into the body and they experience the breathing within the body in step 3 and until 4 is nearly complete. In expert practise, its only at the very end of stage 4 does the mind naturally converge towards the nose, which will naturally soon result in stage 5 (rapture). However, as said, the newbie can watch at the nose-tip. Its excellent training. But don't hold too many expectations about it. If the mind gets vague, sleeping or 'sinking' ('nodding'), return to open broad awareness.

Best wishes. Dhamma is good. :meditate:
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Re: Best Guide for Breath Meditation For Beginners

Post by Volo »

blo0mz wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 2:59 am Wondering where I can find a good guide or book with steps for breath meditation suitable for a beginner, who does not have access to a meditation center or in-person guidance.
Pa-Auk / Vism breath meditation is (imo) truly the best. My limited experience and experience of some other people, who are more advanced in the practice than me, tells that no other method can give the same degree of calmness and one-pointedness as Pa-Auk, and entrance into a deep state happens quicker and more natural than by using other methods.

But in this method breath is experienced in more subtle way, than with other ones. This is the reason, why it brings deeper states, but also, why it can cause problems easier. If there is too much grasping, clinging, pushing, forcing, controlling in the mind, then people often experience tension, headaches, etc. So, "setting up" Pa-Auk method might take longer, than other (like focusing on the abdomen). But some misguided people, who are not able to do it, go around criticizing the method.

Anyway, there is nothing wrong with other methods, they were developed by practitioners for a reason. Once you let go most of control, you would be able to focus on a very subtle breath, and decide, which method brings you deeper. Therefore, for the time being, check what suits you best.

The only thing I would recommend is to follow instructions only of those people, who have taken ānāpānasati as their main practice for many, many years (irrelevant of particular details of their practice). I.e. not those who mainly practice, say, vipassana or metta, and anapanasati only occasionally.
Last edited by Volo on Sat Jun 06, 2020 3:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best Guide for Breath Meditation For Beginners

Post by Ceisiwr »

Volo wrote: Sat Jun 06, 2020 3:18 am
blo0mz wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 2:59 am Wondering where I can find a good guide or book with steps for breath meditation suitable for a beginner, who does not have access to a meditation center or in-person guidance.
Pa-Auk / Vism breath meditation is (imo) truly the best. My experience and experience of some other people, who are more advanced in the practice than me, tells that no other method can give the same degree of calmness and one-pointedness as Pa-Auk, and entrance into a deep state happens quicker and more natural than by using other methods.

But in this method breath is experienced in more subtle way, than with other ones. This is the reason, why it brings deeper states, but also, why it can cause problems easier. If there is too much grasping, clinging, pushing, forcing, controlling in the mind, then people often experience tension, headaches, etc. So, "setting up" Pa-Auk method might take longer, than other (like focusing on the abdomen). But some misguided people, who are not able to do it, go around criticizing the method.

Anyway, there is nothing wrong with other methods, they were developed by practitioners for a reason. Once you let go most of control, you would be able to focus on a very subtle breath, and decide, which method brings you deeper. Therefore, for the time being, check what suits you best.

The only thing I would recommend is to follow instructions only of those people, who have taken ānāpānasati as their main practice for many, many years (irrelevant of particular details of their practice). I.e. not those who mainly practice, say, vipassana or metta, and anapanasati only occasionally.

:goodpost:
"Analysis and synthesis are praised by the wise,
liberation in the Sāsana comes from analysis and synthesis;
the purpose of the method of analysis and synthesis is the ultimate"


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Re: Best Guide for Breath Meditation For Beginners

Post by DooDoot »

Ceisiwr wrote: Sat Jun 06, 2020 3:23 am :goodpost:
Its not in any way what the Buddha taught; not even a rough approximation. It is certainly not "ānāpānasati".

:offtopic: :focus:
Volo wrote: Sat Jun 06, 2020 3:18 am "setting up".... focusing on the abdomen).
The Pali suttas appears to show the Buddha didn't teach any of the above.
Volo wrote: Sat Jun 06, 2020 3:18 amBut some misguided people, who are not able to do it, go around criticizing the method.
The above appears to say the Buddha was "misguided"; including for teaching "kayanupassana" & "sabbakāyapaṭisaṃvedī".
Volo wrote: Sat Jun 06, 2020 3:18 amOnce you let go most of control, you would be able to focus on a very subtle breath, and decide, which method brings you deeper.
Since the Buddha taught the above "vossaga" in MN 118 & SN 48.10, its obviously the best method. The Buddha was fully enlightened. The Buddha his Path was "the best" (Dhp 273). :smile:
Last edited by DooDoot on Sat Jun 06, 2020 3:52 am, edited 6 times in total.
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

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