Author Topic: To control or not to control?  (Read 2636 times)

Flipasso

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To control or not to control?
« on: April 14, 2008, 07:36:13 PM »
I've heard a lot, in Yoga classes and in meditation books, that it is important to not try to control the breath. I've a heard to that you may get to a point where you are aware of your breath yet you don't control it.
Is it important to try to not control the breath?
How does one get to the point of awareness and no control? Does one try to reach that point?
Or does one just get aware of the breath not trying to control it nor trying not to control it?
I usually control my breathing(to a certain degree), not because I want to, but because it is the only way I can be aware of it.

happiness@you.all

pamojjam

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Re: To control or not to control?
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2008, 05:01:18 AM »

Hi Flipasso,

Or does one just get aware of the breath not trying to control it nor trying not to control it?
I usually control my breathing(to a certain degree), not because I want to, but because it is the only way I can be aware of it.

happiness@you.all

I had a similiar experience the first years of meditating, that whenever establishing awareness of breathing - alone the act of adding awareness seemed to alter the breath subtly.

Whenever you become aware of this tendency, just be aware of this tendency ;-)
Of course, don't control deliberately. In one way your breaths do reflect your mind. And being aware of this tendency is enough.

If you condinue practicing your mind will change many times, and then you'll know how it is to be aware of the breath without this subtle tendency of altering it thereby.

kind regards..

Stefan

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Re: To control or not to control?
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2008, 07:17:39 PM »
Hei Flip,

the question is: which kind of technique are you practicing? There are a lot of Pranayama exercises where you have to control your breath. If you do Anapana, you shouldn't control the breath, but you should train your awareness & concentration by just observing the breath. It is tricky: observing without interfering. But that's part of the technique.

Metta, Stefan
anicca

Flipasso

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Re: To control or not to control?
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2008, 08:32:34 PM »
stefan
I'm following ven. Sujiva a Mahasi Sayadaw disciple's indications.
It's Vipassana.
One observes the breath and when something disturbs the attention one notes that (eg. when thinking, one says mentally thinking, when happy one says happy, when itchy one says itchy, etc.)

pamojjam
I thought about giving a week to just trying not to control, but then I thought: what's more important, controling or not controling, or minfulness?
I think this is one of those questions that answers itself.
So you just "suddenly" stopped controling?

I have the same problem with metta bhavana:
1st I generate the metta feeling
2nd I notice the metta feeling
3rd I start thinking (usually about the metta feeling)
4th the metta feeling goes away due to thinking about it

I guess your advice would be much the same... time and practice will do the trick.

happiness@you.all

Matthew

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Re: To control or not to control?
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2008, 09:31:12 AM »
Controlling and trying not to control are the same thing in reality. Just keep noticing what is going on, sorry, but yes, just keep practicing.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

deanmw

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Re: To control or not to control?
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2008, 07:36:09 PM »
How does one get to the point of awareness and no control? Does one try to reach that point?
Or does one just get aware of the breath not trying to control it nor trying not to control it?
I usually control my breathing(to a certain degree), not because I want to, but because it is the only way I can be aware of it.

Have you considered that perhaps you aren't controlling your breathing - you only think you are because of the scrutiny?

When I am focusing on the sensations of the breath, I don't tend to worry whether or not I'm controlling the breathing. I think if you're not bothered about it, you tend to breathe more naturally anyway. For me the important thing is to remain mindful and equanimous with what comes up. Breathing naturally is not the point, but rather a consequence of a relaxed mind, in my opinion.

I think the same caveat applies to thoughts & sensations. If you are bothered about the thoughts & sensations which come up in your practice, you will perpetuate or get lost in them. Stepping back and just observing them allows your body & mind to return to a more natural flow of experience.

Shinzen Young describes moments in meditation where the universe seems to be meditating you, rather than you being the one in control. By this I think he means that when you open to the flow of experience, and let it lead you, you are no longer doing anything, except witnessing "what is". The trick is not to resist or hold onto the flow...

Flipasso

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Re: To control or not to control?
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2008, 10:27:48 PM »
Have you considered that perhaps you aren't controlling your breathing - you only think you are because of the scrutiny?

When I am focusing on the sensations of the breath, I don't tend to worry whether or not I'm controlling the breathing. I think if you're not bothered about it, you tend to breathe more naturally anyway. For me the important thing is to remain mindful and equanimous with what comes up. Breathing naturally is not the point, but rather a consequence of a relaxed mind, in my opinion.

I think the same caveat applies to thoughts & sensations. If you are bothered about the thoughts & sensations which come up in your practice, you will perpetuate or get lost in them. Stepping back and just observing them allows your body & mind to return to a more natural flow of experience.
Agree...
It's just that I've heard so many times that one shouldn't control the breath, that it kinda stuck into me.
I believe there is some ratio of control. I notice that I control, but I also notice that I'm not totally in control. i.e., if I start with a faster and deeper breath, after 5mins I will notice that inspite of controlling I'll be breathing softlier.
I also just control when I fix (with "strengh") my attention on the breath, as my attention slides a bit away from the breath the breath will breath itself. But if I think about controlling the breath, then I'm controlling.
I would like to get to the point where I can watch (with "strengh", or not) and be totally aware and not in control.

practice, practice...

Shinzen Young describes moments in meditation where the universe seems to be meditating you, rather than you being the one in control. By this I think he means that when you open to the flow of experience, and let it lead you, you are no longer doing anything, except witnessing "what is". The trick is not to resist or hold onto the flow...
I had a similar feeling once.
That's what the wuwei (non-doing) of Taoism, must be about.

BTW: I'm in practice between practice. That is, I'm practicing (guided by a book) and waiting for a meditation course (with a teacher, not Goenka's) to open.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2008, 10:41:32 PM by Flipasso »

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: To control or not to control?
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2008, 02:21:28 PM »
Flipasso,

There are many ways to notice the breath: you can notice it filling your lungs, you can notice the rise and fall of your belly, you can notice the air hitting under your nose or the back of your throat. I would suggest experimenting with all these ways and seeing if there is one where you can maintain an awareness that helps stabilise the mind without you "controlling" your breathing.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Stefan

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Re: To control or not to control?
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2008, 08:39:52 PM »
Controlling and trying not to control are the same thing in reality.

This is so true. Like craving and aversion are the same, too.

Metta, Stefan
anicca