Do we need to make an effort to control or should we not try to control our breathing during meditation?

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
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Goofaholix
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Re: Do we need to make an effort to control or should we not try to control our breathing during meditation?

Post by Goofaholix »

mjaviem wrote: Wed Apr 10, 2024 12:48 pm Stilling the waters of perception. It's not about airflow control.
That's an important point, when you consider its about perception not airflow the idea of controlling the breath makes less sense.
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“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.”
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m4ri0
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Re: Do we need to make an effort to control or should we not try to control our breathing during meditation?

Post by m4ri0 »

I have practiced both ways and have this thing to add:
This "control" vs "no-control", isn't it a shallow way of analyzing? One can make argmuments in several ways that bring forth that it is uncontrolable to a certain extent; as well as the fact that because you observe it, it changes.
Intention underlies experience; the important thing, as some other have said, is to understand the purpose of the specific practice.

Anyway, even if you control it you will learn very wuick that you will want to stop controlling it. Like the Ajhan Lee method is controlling it at the beggining and the doing some adjustments. As frankk said, If you breathe shallow long enough, you just gonna get numb.

Resulting in: it is not the heart of the problem, whatever works for you do it.
I tend to sometimes control it, sometimes not.

"just let things be" works sometimes and sometimes it doesnt
emptyset
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Re: Do we need to make an effort to control or should we not try to control our breathing during meditation?

Post by emptyset »

frank k wrote: Wed Apr 10, 2024 11:57 am
sm2019 wrote: Mon Apr 08, 2024 10:38 am Some people say, in meditation we need to make an effort to make our breathing subtle, deep and slow, while others say we shouldn't try to control our breathing, we should just observe it. What is your opinion on this?
Best way is to try out all options and discover your own conclusions, keep an open mind. Some ways may work in some situations and not others.

I will say in my experience, over 30 years breath meditation and proficiency in jhāna,
I'd always leaned more towards letting the breath be natural and trying not to control it.
In hindsight, I regret that, and wish I trusted Ajahn Lee and Thanissaro's instructions to consciously breathe in a way to spread out breath sensations throughout the whole body.

Why?
Because trying to let the breath be natural and uncontrolled, tends to bias the breath toward shallowness.
And if you breath shallow for a long time, and your body is not strong, robust, it will tend to lead you towards drowsiness (after 20, 30, 60 min.).

So in my situation, and if similar meditators who are already pretty good at relaxed, singular focus, you should also have a longer term bigger view of the whole practice of good physical health, changing postures as needed, adjusting breath as needed to keep body and mind healthy, in order to get a deeper, longer lasting jhāna.

Remember the purpose of breath meditation, and kāyagata (immersed in body while remembering and applying Dharma), is that it drives out unwanted and unprofitable thoughts.
The physical act of being very attentive to breath (or other bodily activity) fills up the attention bandwidth and leaves much less room and energy to explore wrong thoughts.

So if you already skilled at stopping unwanted thoughts, worrying about "not controlling the breath" because the Theras advised against it, is unskillful, since you've already accomplished the main mission of ānāpāna and kāyagatā.

At this point, you should be more concerned of how to refine your practice to enter and deepen jhāna.
:goodpost:

Nailed it. If you can stay with the natural breath, so be it. Otherwise, try adjusting the breath with the goal of making it easier and more refined.
"Whoever sees dependent origination sees the Dhamma; whoever sees the Dhamma sees dependent origination."
auto
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Re: Do we need to make an effort to control or should we not try to control our breathing during meditation?

Post by auto »

Ceisiwr wrote: Wed Apr 10, 2024 7:38 pm
confusedlayman wrote: Wed Apr 10, 2024 6:38 pm how do you observe the breath without controlling?
You breathe automatically. Just notice it, and continue to notice it. Around the nostrils helps.
If to become aware of the breathing, it becomes gradually into manual one. Breath is stopped and there develops the suffering from craving to breath, which will remind you to breath even if forgotten the breathing. It is a stage on a cycle which also can consists of noticing a miniature light. Also becoming aware of different times of breath, for example during it is time to breath in. And the stages can be days, weeks, months apart. That said, the instruction of noticing breath around the nose tip or belly are all for something, but since cultivating to complete a stage takes so long, i believe it has become a complete method and thus won't lead very far.
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Re: Do we need to make an effort to control or should we not try to control our breathing during meditation?

Post by auto »

frank k wrote: Wed Apr 10, 2024 11:57 am In hindsight, I regret that, and wish I trusted Ajahn Lee and Thanissaro's instructions to consciously breathe in a way to spread out breath sensations throughout the whole body.
What is breath sensation?
https://abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhism/B%20-%20Theravada/Teachers/Ajaan%20Lee/Method%202/Ajaan%20Lee%27s%20Method%202.htm wrote: As soon as you find that your breathing feels comfortable, let this comfortable breath sensation spread to the different parts of the body.
..
wrote:A very concrete way of learning how to provide for your own happiness in the immediate present—and at the same time, strengthening your alertness—is to let yourself breathe in a way that's comfortable. Experiment to see what kind of breathing feels best for the body right now.
To be a cynic, that doesn't look like how life force(vayu, vitality) works.

Sutta mn43 says,
https://suttacentral.net/mn43/en/sujato?lang=en&layout=sidebyside&reference=none&notes=asterisk&highlight=false&script=latin wrote: “The vital forces are not the same things as the phenomena that are felt.
“Na kho, āvuso, teva āyusaṅkhārā te vedaniyā dhammā.
On that note,
paṭisaṁvedeti a term occurring in anapanasati sutta could refer to the dhamma what is felt. Curious, then the practices what are dealing with the vayus in body are 'higher' than the practices within the realms of cessation of perception and feeling(realms of identity). And thus i think the teachings of anapanasati could be pretty much what the quotes far above is about.
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Re: Do we need to make an effort to control or should we not try to control our breathing during meditation?

Post by Suddh »

Spiny Norman wrote: Wed Apr 10, 2024 6:49 am
Goofaholix wrote: Wed Apr 10, 2024 5:29 am
Suddh wrote: Wed Apr 10, 2024 4:57 am Note also that deciding to calm bodily fabrication - which is the in and out breath - explicitly requires controlling the breath.
I would suggest calming bodily fabrication means letting go of controlling and allowing the breath to become naturally calm, controlling agitates rather than calms.
:goodpost:
Yes, the point is to know what the breath is like, not to make it like this or that.
Just as a dexterous turner or his apprentice, when making a long turn, discerns, ‘I am making a long turn,’ or when making a short turn discerns, ‘I am making a short turn’; in the same way the monk, when breathing in long, discerns, ‘I am breathing in long’; or breathing out long, he discerns, ‘I am breathing out long.’ … He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication’; he trains himself, ‘I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.’

https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/MN/MN10.html
So does a dexterous lathe turner also let go of controlling the lathe?

Does he simply allow the lathe to make a long or short turn by itself?

What would happen if he did?
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