Author Topic: Calming the body as you breathe  (Read 1354 times)

unanything

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Calming the body as you breathe
« on: April 24, 2016, 11:18:19 PM »
Hello, I am inexperienced when it comes to meditation, as I've only been doing it consistently in the past couple of weeks. I was hoping to get some insight/advice from fellow members of this community to clear up a few confusions I've encountered.

I have been using this as my reference/guide for meditating and have a few questions.

http://www.vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php?page=2

First,
Quote
i) Breathing and Relaxing.

Breathe in paying attention to bodily sensations as you breathe and calming the body as you breathe. Breathe out paying attention to bodily sensations and calming the body as you breathe.

I can grasp the concept of paying attention to bodily sensations as I breathe in and out, but what does "calming the body as you breathe" entail, as in, how does one do this?

For example, I sit in full lotus posture and the main discomfort in general seems to stem from my right foot, due to it being bent pretty sharply in order to maintain this position (I am also very new to this posture, so my body is still adjusting). So, although all of the various sensations at times can seem to be fighting for my attention (an itch, pressure on foot, heaviness in shoulders etc.) but the throbbing in my right foot/ankle area seems to dominate my attention when "paying attention to bodily sensations as I breathe". Keep in mind this is if I don't force my focus on any particular bodily sensation and just let my attention take the "path of least resistance" so to speak when focusing on bodily sensations. So, it is my understanding that one should not force or "try" to maintain focus on any particular bodily sensation, but be aware of them - calming them as they rise and fall. I guess my issue is that, again this one "discomforted area" seems to dominate my focus until about 15 minutes into the meditation when nearly everything from my thighs down goes numb from the posture.

So, I guess my questions are

1) How do you calm bodily sensations as you breathe? What actual steps does that entail? Say your chin itches and that is the bodily sensation that presents itself in your awareness. As you are aware of it, what actual action of the will is taken to "calm" it. I hope this makes sense.

2) Is it normal for one particular area of discomfort to seemingly "dominate" your focal center of attention due to it being more painful than any other area of your body during your session?

Any advice, input is greatly appreciated!

Nicky

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Re: Calming the body as you breathe
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2016, 01:02:52 AM »
It is not possible to calm body sensations from pain over a prolonged period. The longer you sit, the greater the pain will become, despite your efforts to calm this pain. Before his enlightenment, the Buddha practised trying to be calm in the face of physical pain, which he discovered was a fruitless task.

In the Buddhist scriptures, the phrase you are quoting is: "calming the kaya sankhara". The "kaya sankhara" is the breath. So this meditation means calming the breath rather than directly calming body sensations, such as physical pain.

If physical pain starts to hinder your meditation, you should simply adjust or change your posture. That is why the Buddha taught four meditation postures: sitting, standing, walking & lying down (for before sleep).

Kind regards  :)

Quote
Assāsapassāsā kāyasaṅkhāro.

In-&-out breaths are the bodily fabricator.


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.044.than.html

Quote
Passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ assasissāmīti sikkhati. Passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ passasissāmīti sikkhati

He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming the bodily fabricator.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming the bodily fabricator.'


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.118.than.html

Quote
STEP FOUR: CALMING THE BREATH

After we know that we can regulate the flesh-body with the breath-body, we begin to practice step four. The Lord Buddha described step four as "calming the body-conditioner (passambhayam kayasankharam)." We are able to do this once we know that we can use the breath-body to control the flesh-body. (79)

The subject of step four is to calm the body-conditioner (kaya-sankhara) while breathing in and calm the body-conditioner while breathing out. This means we can make the body-conditioner (breath) calmer and calmer at the same time that we inhale and exhale. This is the matter which we now will explain. (80)

Note the specific wording of this step. "Calming the body­-conditioner" refers to calming the breath-body. In step four, the aim of our practice is to calm the breath. We make it fine and peaceful using various techniques which are available to us. If we can calm the breath, there will be very interesting and powerful results. First of all, the flesh-body will become very gentle, relaxed, and tranquil. Then there will arise a calming of the mind, also. There will be other results as well, but they will be left alone until later. The immediate lesson is to calm the breath. To mange the breath is the first point to be considered in the practice of step four.


http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books3/Bhikkhu_Buddhadasa_Anapanasati_Mindfulness_with_Breathing.htm

unanything

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Re: Calming the body as you breathe
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2016, 08:26:44 PM »
Thank you Nicky. I appreciate your input and attempted calming my breathe instead of bodily sensations/pain and I'll admit I felt much calmer upon doing this, I always "thought" that the point was to "observe" the breathing and not alter or try to change it as one observes it. I see some people on this forum in other threads oppose or disagree whether it is the bodily sensations or the "breathe" (which I'm still not certain how to observe, without simultaneously observing "bodily sensations". As I'm sure I'm making quite evident here, I am confused. If I am over thinking/complicating things please come right out and say so. :)

Nicky

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Re: Calming the body as you breathe
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2016, 02:55:58 AM »
Thank you Nicky. I appreciate your input and attempted calming my breathe instead of bodily sensations/pain and I'll admit I felt much calmer upon doing this

I am glad you felt much calmer.

Quote
I always "thought" that the point was to "observe" the breathing and not alter or try to change it as one observes it.

The point is to just observe. The mere act of observing also leading to calming the breath. However, when using mere observing there will be 'fluctuations' in-between calmings as stored tensions rise to the surface in order to dissolve.

The mind can use its 'will' to calm the breathing but sometimes this results in suppression of stored tensions rather than the dissolution of stored tensions.

In summary, mere observation will also lead to calming the breath.

Quote
I see some people on this forum in other threads oppose or disagree whether it is the bodily sensations or the "breathe" (which I'm still not certain how to observe, without simultaneously observing "bodily sensations". As I'm sure I'm making quite evident here, I am confused. If I am over thinking/complicating things please come right out and say so. :)

If you keep practising and your mind becomes more sensitive, it will be able to observe both the breath & body sensations that surround the breath (but not the sensations in your feet, etc). The important body sensations to feel are those related to mental tension stored in the body (rather than pain in the legs, etc) because this helps you understand how negative mental states make the body & breath tense and how non-judging-mere-observing mental states make the body & breath relax & calm.

With metta  :)


 

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