Author Topic: Whole 'body' breathing awareness - The Ajahn Brahm method vs Thanissaro Bhikku  (Read 24961 times)

Pacific Flow

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Would else could one do besides observing bodily sensations and hence the mental structure interacting with them without fabricating things? If there is anything else I am not aware of it at this point and would certainly like to learn!

Dharmic Tui

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I think after all the observing there is a further letting go which goes beyond trying to pick up on reactions of your central nervous system like breathing out your nose or noticing your abdomen move, and picks up on the essense of being alive itself. Those are just words though, it is very hard to explain.

Tathāgata

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Hello friends.

Observation - to experience, need no entity as source… There need not be “anyone” observing, “witnessing”, or having the experience. It is the sum of what mind have wrapped itself with, using whatever is readily available. Mind itself being a phenomenon – the conditioned in contrast to that, which is hidden by the void.

There is the case, when one enters the Sphere of Infinite Space, seeing through all the realms constituing form. There is no “breathing” anymore - no ānā, no pāna, so no ānāpānasati. So one has to let go of the breath at some point, abandoning the breath as object in order to persuit higher - more subtle states of mind.

Mettā
"When this is, that is.
From the arising of this, comes the arising of that.
When this isn't, that isn't.
From the cessation of this, comes the cessation of that."

               – Siddhārtha Gautama

Sylvia1982

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Hello friends.

Observation - to experience, need no entity as source… There need not be “anyone” observing, “witnessing”, or having the experience. It is the sum of what mind have wrapped itself with, using whatever is readily available. Mind itself being a phenomenon – the conditioned in contrast to that, which is hidden by the void.

There is the case, when one enters the Sphere of Infinite Space, seeing through all the realms constituing form. There is no “breathing” anymore - no ānā, no pāna, so no ānāpānasati. So one has to let go of the breath at some point, abandoning the breath as object in order to persuit higher - more subtle states of mind.

Mettā

perfect. sounds very similar to the advise from a chief monk from my recent retreat

Pacific Flow

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Thanks DT and Tathagata for your interesting replies. I think i do understand what your saying. And i also know i haven't reached such a stage through meditation yet. Note to self: be patient, aware and observe whatever shows up.

ommanipadmehum

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Back to the breath - there is little text based instruction that I have found that details how to identify when the conduit of the breath has done its job and when jhana has arisen so you can make it your focus.  This part of the practice really necessitates a teacher.  Even teachers however vary on allowing it to build up before moving to the jhana vs immediately letting go of the breath and moving attention to the sensations of absorption.  It appears multiple strategies work just fine as long as it's been tried and tested by a master.  You just don't want to go making up techniques on your own.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2014, 03:38:04 PM by ommanipadmehum »
"A little bit of insight brings a little bit of calm, and a little bit of calm brings a little bit of insight."
 --Ayya Khema

Dharmic Tui

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Im not certain Jhana and focus really go together.

ommanipadmehum

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By focus I mean object of attention.  Place your attention on your hands and feet.  Now place your attention on your breath.  This is moving or changing focus. 
« Last Edit: January 18, 2014, 07:04:52 PM by ommanipadmehum »
"A little bit of insight brings a little bit of calm, and a little bit of calm brings a little bit of insight."
 --Ayya Khema

Dharmic Tui

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Correct, hence I don't think Jhana fits in there. It's not an object in the traditional sense, it is a state. You experience or access it rather than attend to it or focus on it.

ommanipadmehum

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But you can pay attention to a state just like a thought, emotion or a cool breeze.  It only depends on the purpose of the attention - insight or concentration.
"A little bit of insight brings a little bit of calm, and a little bit of calm brings a little bit of insight."
 --Ayya Khema

Dharmic Tui

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So what insights have you gleaned from your attention to entering Jhanic states?

ommanipadmehum

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That calm is dependent on conditions and the states that arise as a result of calm are impermanent.  By themselves they do not lead to enlightenment. 
"A little bit of insight brings a little bit of calm, and a little bit of calm brings a little bit of insight."
 --Ayya Khema

Matthew

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That calm is dependent on conditions and the states that arise as a result of calm are impermanent.  By themselves they do not lead to enlightenment. 

Correct ... also need to follow other folds of the path ....
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

J0rrit

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I really want to bump up this thread. Anymore opinions on this?

I went from the method of Ajahn Brahm (only and exclusively the breath) to follow the breath and be aware of the whole body at the same time (I'm not using Thanissaro's method, is full of concepts and fabrications).

The problem I encounter with the methods is this:

In the method of Ajahn Brahm (attention on the breath alone) I get the problem that eventually, I have either the feeling I'm concentrating too hard, or too less, I can't find the perfect middle way. With full body breathing, It's the perfect middle way in my opinion. But with this method I find that my awareness is broad and not as one-pointed as before. My mind feels dull and a little unconcentrated. This gives me an experience of being sleepy or not clear at all.

Any suggestions or opinions ?

Matthew

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Hi J0rrit,

As I said on your other thread 'keep on going' - maybe this was a bit cryptic. It will take time to transition from one practice to another, it takestine to find the right balance and it takes time to transition from understanding the practice intellectually to understanding it on a visceral, felt level.

You've moved to a more relaxed way of developing concentration so it didn't surprise that you are having trouble finding the right balance of Serenity and concentration. One of the key things is to be sure you are not intellectualising the idea of following the breath. That's why the instructions on the homepage and regularly my posts repeat the mantra of feeling the bodily sensations created by breathing: it's an important way of taking practice from thinking to being.

Kindly,

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

VinceField

An important point I have learned regarding one-pointed concentration on the breath is that when your concentration starts to develop, you eventually begin to loose awareness of everything besides the breath, almost as if everything else is blocked from your awareness.  So not only is this not being fully mindful, which is what I believe the practice should be all about, but it also suppresses hinderances from arising due to the intense one-pointed concentration. 

This is different from allowing the hinderance to arise and then mindfully releasing it as takes place with full-body tranquility meditation, as apparently over time the constant mindful release of the hinderance is what weakens it.  The more you see the hinderance arise and release it, the more you recognize its impermanent and impersonal nature, the less power it has over you, and eventually it no longer arises. 

Apparently with the one-pointed concentration, the hinderances stop arising due to the intense focus, but the root cause of the hinderance retains its power and so the hinderances come right back up when the intense concentration is lost, as the hinderances are not being mindfully released and weakened but they are simply being temporarily blocked.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2014, 10:13:43 PM by VinceField »

Billymac629

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I really want to bump up this thread. Anymore opinions on this?

I went from the method of Ajahn Brahm (only and exclusively the breath) to follow the breath and be aware of the whole body at the same time (I'm not using Thanissaro's method, is full of concepts and fabrications).

The problem I encounter with the methods is this:

In the method of Ajahn Brahm (attention on the breath alone) I get the problem that eventually, I have either the feeling I'm concentrating too hard, or too less, I can't find the perfect middle way. With full body breathing, It's the perfect middle way in my opinion. But with this method I find that my awareness is broad and not as one-pointed as before. My mind feels dull and a little unconcentrated. This gives me an experience of being sleepy or not clear at all.

Any suggestions or opinions ?
The Buddha suggests a few different ways with dealing with hinderances...  In my experience this works..  You might need to make your meditation object (the breath) more interesting... or..  You may need to put more energy into our meditation.. or.. Even switch you object of meditation for a bit to increase energy. 
"The Cook" sutta comes to mind. 
others are the "Ahara Sutta" and "Capala Sutta"
maha metta
Nothing in this world is to be clung to as I, me, or mine...

J0rrit

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could you give me some ways to make the breath more interesting ?

Billymac629

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could you give me some ways to make the breath more interesting ?
how you look at the breath..  maybe really noticing the beginning and end of each in-breath and out-breath.  Noticing the slight still points at each beginning and each end....  also breathing out long breaths helps.  Noticing if the breathing feels tense or not...  At what stage does it feel tense? or where does it seem to be at ease?  What type of breathing calms the breath?  How does it effect the body?  How does the body effect the breath?

Switching the length of the breath helps a lot.. you might try breathing in long breaths and breathing out short breaths for drowsiness.  (The long in-breaths and short out-breaths help increase oxygen and blood flow) PS: do opposite for restlessness
Also, switching the areas in which you feel the breath might help...  If your feeling the breath in the body, ask yourself if you can feel it in the abdomen? in the back? in the sides? chest?  Find out how is the body breathing??   These questions (investigation) tend to energize the mind and starve out the drowsiness.

maha metta

« Last Edit: July 06, 2014, 12:41:38 AM by Billymac629 »
Nothing in this world is to be clung to as I, me, or mine...

yossarian

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could you give me some ways to make the breath more interesting ?


All good advice. I'd only like to add, what does the desire to have the breath feel more interesting aka boredom, feel like?  ;D

Billymac629

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could you give me some ways to make the breath more interesting ?


All good advice. I'd only like to add, what does the desire to have the breath feel more interesting aka boredom, feel like?  ;D
Right on ;D
Nothing in this world is to be clung to as I, me, or mine...

Alexander

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The importance of not clinging to a technique and the variety available is summed up well by Jack Kornfield's foreword on Ajahn brahm's book Mindfulness Bliss and Beyond: A Meditator's Handbook from page 10:

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books11/Ajahn_Brahm-Mindfulness_Bliss_and_Beyond-Chapters1-5.pdf


Matthew

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J0rrit,

Boredom is normal. Chogyam Trungpa said it is our best friend in Meditation: it makes us face ourselves. As others have indicated examining your aversion to boredom could be beneficial.

Kindly,

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

ommanipadmehum

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What is the purpose of all this breathing?  If we are following these instructions as part of the four tetrads of anapanasati the purpose then is to use it as a conduit to enter Jhana.  But Jhana isn't something you can "do".  Jhana is something that happens to you after you set up the right conditions.

If you want something to happen it will never occur.  Impatience and expectation can be impenetrable obstacles.  These are hindrances as Vince noted above.  You can categorize them as clinging or wanting (3), worry (2) or doubt (5). 

The Five Hindrances
1. Sloth and Torpor
2. Restlessness and Worry
3. Clinging
4. Aversion
5. Doubt

But however you categorize it, it has to be overcome before anything else will occur.  Some consider the hindrances to be a beginner aspect but they come up again and again for even advanced meditators.

Make a commitment not to look for jhana or anything else for the next two to four weeks.  Conquer the desire for something "special" to happen.  Don't push too hard and don't come up with your own technique.  Relax and follow the instructions as they have been given to you by your teacher or the books in this post.  If you are tired or bored, rest.  Practice again the next day when you are refreshed, that's why most do it in the morning. 

When in doubt, kindness and clear sense of purpose are our greatest allies in these practices.
"A little bit of insight brings a little bit of calm, and a little bit of calm brings a little bit of insight."
 --Ayya Khema

Alexander

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What's the deal when Thanissaro says you can stop breathing and your skin will suffice for respiration because I don't recall that being covered at medical school. Is it a metaphor, to be taken literally or the end of the conception of duality?

 

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