Can the breath disappear all at once?

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
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Maarten
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Can the breath disappear all at once?

Post by Maarten »

I've been meditating mostly following Ajahn Brahms instructions. When I was just starting out I had an accidental experience of Jhana. This happened basically exactly like Ajahn Brahm discribes. In the stage before Jhana the breath became very subtle, the in and out breaths vanished and there was just the breath for a while. Then the breath disappeared

What has been happening lately is that the breaths become slower and after a really slow outbreath, the breath just suddenly stops. My reaction is usually something like: 'it's not supposed to go like this', or 'maybe i'll suffocate'. And then I'll deliberately take an inbreath. Is this correct or should I do something else? Any advice would be appreciated!

Metta,

Maarten
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bodom
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Re: Can the breath disappear all at once?

Post by bodom »

Awareness remains with the breath and over time it will penetrate deeper and deeper inside, becoming progressively more refined. Ultimately, awareness of the breath becomes so refined that the sensation of the breath seems to disappear. You could say either that awareness of the sensation of the breath has disappeared, or that the breath itself has disappeared. Then there arises a new kind of awareness - awareness that the breath has disappeared. In other words, awareness of the breath becomes so refined that it's difficult to define it.

So it might be that you are just sitting there and there's no breath. Really, the breath is still there, but it has become so refined that it seems to have disappeared. Why? Because the mind is at its most refined, with a special kind of knowing. All that remains is the knowing. Even though the breath has vanished, the mind is still concentrated with the knowledge that the breath is not there. As you continue, what should you take up as the object of meditation? Take this very knowing as the meditation object - in other words the knowledge that there is no breath - and sustain this. You could say that a specific kind of knowledge has been established in the mind.

At this point, some people might have doubts arising, because it is here that nimitta1 can arise. These can be of many kinds, including both forms and sounds. It is here that all sorts of unexpected things can arise in the course of the practice. Ifnimitta do arise (some people have them, some don't) you must understand them in accordance with the truth. Don't doubt or allow yourself to become alarmed.

At this stage, you should make the mind unshakeable in its concentration and be especially mindful. Some people become startled when they notice that the breath has disappeared, because they're used to having the breath there. When it appears that the breath has gone, you might panic or become afraid that you are going to die. Here you must establish the understanding that it is just the nature of the practice to progress in this way. What will you observe as the object of meditation now? Observe this feeling that there is no breath and sustain it as the object of awareness as you continue to meditate. The Buddha described this as the firmest, most unshakeable form of samādhi.
https://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Evening_Sitting.php" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:namaste:
This is our foundation: to have sati, recollection, and sampajañña, self-awareness, whether standing, walking, sitting, or reclining. Whatever arises, just leave it be, don’t cling to it. Whether it’s like or dislike, happiness or suffering, doubt or certainty... Don’t try to label everything, just know it. See that all the things that arise in the mind are simply sensations. They are transient. They arise, exist and cease. That’s all there is to them, they have no self or being, they are neither ‘us’ nor ‘them’. None of them are worthy of clinging to.

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katavedi
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Re: Can the breath disappear all at once?

Post by katavedi »

Hello Maarten,

From Leigh Brasington's instructions:
If your practice is anapana-sati, there are additional signs to indicate you have arrived at access concentration. You may discover that the breath becomes very subtle; instead of a normal breath, you notice you are breathing very shallow. It may even seem that you've stopped breathing altogether. These are signs that you've arrived at access concentration. If the breath gets very shallow, and particularly if it feels like you've stopped breathing, the natural thing to do is to take a nice, deep breath and get it going again. Wrong! This will tend to weaken your concentration. By taking that nice deep breath, you drop down the level of concentration. Just stay with that shallow breathing. It's okay. You don't need a lot of oxygen, because you are very quiet.
Best wishes,
katavedi
“But, Gotamī, when you know of certain things: ‘These things lead to dispassion, not to passion; to detachment, not to attachment; to diminution, not to accumulation; to having few wishes, not to having many wishes; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to socializing; to the arousing of energy, not to indolence; to simple living, not to luxurious living’ – of such things you can be certain: ‘This is the Dhamma; this is the Discipline; this is the Master’s Teaching.’”
SarathW
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Re: Can the breath disappear all at once?

Post by SarathW »

Question re fourth Jhana : If breathing ceases, the person will not have oxygen. How does a person live without oxygen?


http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... urth+Jhana" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
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katavedi
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Re: Can the breath disappear all at once?

Post by katavedi »

Hello Sarath,
SarathW wrote:Question re fourth Jhana : If breathing ceases, the person will not have oxygen. How does a person live without oxygen?
The breath is still there in the fourth jhana, but it has become so subtle, smooth, and shallow that it may not be detected in one's experience (unless one shifts one's attention to it, which knocks one out of fourth jhana). The body becomes very still in the fourth jhana, as does the mind. It's at this stage that the perception of the body begins to dissolve (and disappears completely in the first formless attainment), due to its stillness and due to the depth of absorption in the equanimity of the fourth jhana.

Kind wishes,
katavedi
“But, Gotamī, when you know of certain things: ‘These things lead to dispassion, not to passion; to detachment, not to attachment; to diminution, not to accumulation; to having few wishes, not to having many wishes; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to socializing; to the arousing of energy, not to indolence; to simple living, not to luxurious living’ – of such things you can be certain: ‘This is the Dhamma; this is the Discipline; this is the Master’s Teaching.’”
SarathW
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Re: Can the breath disappear all at once?

Post by SarathW »

We have to define what breathing means.
If I hold the breath by not letting out, am I breathing?
If I hold the breath by not taking in , am I breathing?
Can we extend this holding process?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
pegembara
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Re: Can the breath disappear all at once?

Post by pegembara »

What has been happening lately is that the breaths become slower and after a really slow outbreath, the breath just suddenly stops. My reaction is usually something like: 'it's not supposed to go like this', or 'maybe i'll suffocate'. And then I'll deliberately take an inbreath. Is this correct or should I do something else? Any advice would be appreciated!
Don't worry if the breath appear to have stopped. The body is intelligent and will not suffocate. Just let it do its own thing ie. breathe. Just because you don't notice the breath anymore doesn't mean that breathing has actually stopped. Relax and watch the whole show.
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
Maarten
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Re: Can the breath disappear all at once?

Post by Maarten »

Thanks for the support! I'll give all the sugestions a try. I have a feeling I won't be getting into Jhana anytime soon anyway. :)

One difference between my previous experience of the breath disappearing more gently is that there were no concerns about it, while the sudden disapearance seems to provoke anxiety.
lostitude
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Re: Can the breath disappear all at once?

Post by lostitude »

SarathW wrote:We have to define what breathing means.
If I hold the breath by not letting out, am I breathing?
If I hold the breath by not taking in , am I breathing?
Can we extend this holding process?
But is it really a case of holding your breath?

In no way have I ever reached such depths of concentration, but I often feel my breath stop. And I don't hold it. I can even feel the air continue to pass through my windpipe in natural drafts of wind, only my body doesn't 'suck in' the air, it just lets it in, like an open window. Not sure if it's the same thing but it's only my two cents.
SarathW
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Re: Can the breath disappear all at once?

Post by SarathW »

it just lets it in, like an open window
Interesting explanation.
I am not sure whether this is possible physically.
I haven't experience this level as yet, so I keep my mind open.
:)
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”
lostitude
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Re: Can the breath disappear all at once?

Post by lostitude »

SarathW wrote:
it just lets it in, like an open window
Interesting explanation.
I am not sure whether this is possible physically.
I haven't experience this level as yet, so I keep my mind open.
:)
I promise I'm not describing any advanced level at all, I noticed this during my 3rd or 4th sitting. It might of course just be an impression, but at the same time it is physically accepted that oxygen and carbone dioxyde can diffuse freely in any open space, your lungs being part of it when all 'pipes' are open.
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