Author Topic: Questions about focus on breathing and "Half awareness"  (Read 210 times)

liron1903

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Questions about focus on breathing and "Half awareness"
« on: January 30, 2019, 03:52:29 PM »
Hi everyone!
I've started meditating 2 months ago with a Goenka retreat, and continued practicing for at least one hour every morning (10 min breath, 50 min body scan) + using Sam Harris's "Waking Up" app in the evenings.
I enjoy the practice and see the benefits from it, but obviously have some struggles and questions about the practice (I'm sorry if I'm repeating questions from the past):

1. Focusing on breath vs. Focusing on nose sensations:
Most of the time I find it hard to focus on the breath sensations for long periods of time. To the contrary, I can focus on the nose and mustache sensations (the ones which are not related to the breath) for a long time, as my sensitivity there increased dramatically during the retreat,  and I get sensations there every time I'm in "awareness" state in my daily life. Is it OK to switch my 10 min of concentration to nose sensations instead of breath sensations? Or should I try to continue with the breath sensations?

2. ‎"Half awareness" during body scans:
I can find my mind wandering to a thought during a body scan but still continuing the body scan "in the background" with the thought. Once I notice that I'm in a state where a body part was scanned but not with full awareness. Should I repeat that part from the last body part where I had full awareness?
This case didn't happen to me during the retreat.

3. Awarness to body sensations during normal day activities:
As I've written above, I got this sensitivity in my nose which I can have awareness  to a lot during the day, and continue doing tasks and having thoughts while I'm aware of it. Should I try to keep that awareness when it comes without too much effort? I saw in the FAQ thread that someone said he does it on his normal day life, but I'm afraid that maybe this creates a connection between body sensations and other normal day thoughts, thus creating the problem I'm having in question 2.

Thank you,
Liron

tbarron

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Re: Questions about focus on breathing and "Half awareness"
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2019, 12:23:12 AM »
Hi, Liron1903,

I'm fairly new here, too, but I thought I'd reach out and share my experience/opinion.

Hi everyone!
I've started meditating 2 months ago with a Goenka retreat, and continued practicing for at least one hour every morning (10 min breath, 50 min body scan) + using Sam Harris's "Waking Up" app in the evenings.
I enjoy the practice and see the benefits from it, but obviously have some struggles and questions about the practice (I'm sorry if I'm repeating questions from the past):

Good for you! I think meditation practice is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. Congratulations on getting your personal practice going.

Quote
1. Focusing on breath vs. Focusing on nose sensations:
Most of the time I find it hard to focus on the breath sensations for long periods of time. To the contrary, I can focus on the nose and mustache sensations (the ones which are not related to the breath) for a long time, as my sensitivity there increased dramatically during the retreat,  and I get sensations there every time I'm in "awareness" state in my daily life. Is it OK to switch my 10 min of concentration to nose sensations instead of breath sensations? Or should I try to continue with the breath sensations?

As I understand it, meditation is about a deep examination of the present moment. As such, whatever sensation you're aware of *right now* is the essence of your experience. Mindfulness is being aware of what you're being aware of, or knowing what your mind is doing in the moment. The opposite of mindfulness is being lost in thoughts or feelings and not realizing it. If you're being aware of breath sensations and you know that you are, that's mindfulness. If you're being aware of non-breath nose/moustache sensations and you know you are, that's mindfulness. If you're daydreaming (i.e., lost in the content of thought) while vaguely enjoying a delightful tickle in your nose, that's not mindfulness. If you're watching mental images come and go while enjoying a delightful tickle in your nose AND YOU KNOW THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE DOING, that's mindfulness.

That said, I wouldn't encourage neglecting any sensations. Mindfulness is about seeing them all clearly, pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.

Quote
2. ‎"Half awareness" during body scans:
I can find my mind wandering to a thought during a body scan but still continuing the body scan "in the background" with the thought. Once I notice that I'm in a state where a body part was scanned but not with full awareness. Should I repeat that part from the last body part where I had full awareness?
This case didn't happen to me during the retreat.

The instruction I've always heard is when you notice that you're no longer attending fully to the meditation object, simply return your attention to the meditation object without making a big deal about it. I've even read that you can thank your peripheral awareness for noticing that you're wandering and bringing you back. (We want to make meditation a positive experience by reinforcing what we do well rather than getting tense and frustrated and scolding ourselves about perceived "failures".)

When counting breaths, the typical instruction is that if you lose track, simply start over again with one. So I would say that your intuition is correct -- just start over from the last body part where you had full awareness.

Quote
3. Awarness to body sensations during normal day activities:
As I've written above, I got this sensitivity in my nose which I can have awareness  to a lot during the day, and continue doing tasks and having thoughts while I'm aware of it. Should I try to keep that awareness when it comes without too much effort? I saw in the FAQ thread that someone said he does it on his normal day life, but I'm afraid that maybe this creates a connection between body sensations and other normal day thoughts, thus creating the problem I'm having in question 2.

As long as you're AWARE of thinking and doing tasks and noticing your nose, and you KNOW that's what you're doing, you're being mindful. If you suddenly realize that you just completed a task on autopilot while enjoying your nose tickles and vaguely fantasizing about vacation next week, that wasn't mindfulness. :)

I have often had the experience of driving my car from point A to point B, and realize as I arrive that I was completely not present for the whole trip. That's not mindfulness.

I hope this helps. Good luck in your practice.

Tom

liron1903

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Re: Questions about focus on breathing and "Half awareness"
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2019, 12:14:39 AM »
Hey Tom,
I really like your underlying understanding of what is mindfullness and it will help on future issues like the ones that you've helped me here.
Thank you!
Liron

tbarron

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Re: Questions about focus on breathing and "Half awareness"
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2019, 01:25:19 AM »
Hi, Liron,

I'm glad what I wrote is helpful and thank you for letting me know.

Keep in touch and I hope your practice goes well.

Tom

king2163

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Re: Questions about focus on breathing and "Half awareness"
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2019, 03:23:13 PM »
Hi Liron,

Here I am sharing my experience:

1- In the earlier stage of mediation (first 2-3) month, I was also feeling the sensation in my body forehead.

2- After sometime body sensation has gone, but it was left in my forehead (not nose) and palm since I always put this in an upward direction and as soon as I start the mediation, the sensation will start instantly.

3- One thing I noticed when I try to do something which is related to bondage such as anger or state such as anxiety, an intensity of sensation will increase.
If you take control of your body, mind and energy. 90% chance, you will achieve what you are trying to, and meditation is one step towards getting the control.
Meditation Benefit