Author Topic: Breath Counting  (Read 2812 times)

Psychtrea

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Breath Counting
« on: July 28, 2009, 11:22:17 PM »
Hello everyone!

(I'm new to the forums but I've been practicing meditation on and off for the past year and half and I'm trying to make it a part of my daily routine.) The two texts I've worked mainly with are Osho's Meditation: The First and Last Freedom and Lawrence LeShan's How to Meditate. Also as a kind of supplement text that LeShan recommends for the path of the intellectual I've been reading Aldous Huxley's The Perennial Philosophy. The technique that I have worked with the most is Breath Counting that LeShan outlines however I was hoping to ask a few questions about the technique with someone who is a veteran practitioner. Namely: Is it acceptable to visualize the numbers while counting? Also, I seem to have the problem of my eyes becoming strained while closed oddly enough which I think is due to my focusing on the lack of light behind my eyelids. Is the solution to this simply meditating with my eyes open? As I said, the LeShan text is the one I primarily use, but if there are any others that anyone would recommend feel free to comment. Thanks!

Matthew

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Re: Breath Counting
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2009, 09:03:31 AM »
Psychtrea,

Welcome to the forums.

I do not know of anyone on the site who is familiar with LeShan's methods and work. I can offer some comments however.

Breath counting is a temporary crutch to help develop focus on the breath- it is best dropped quickly once you are focussing on breath and being aware of breath which is the point of the meditation. Counting itself lends to habit forming. Unforming habits is a key aspect to achieving real deep awareness. I would not advise visualising numbers which are symbols you face every day and which are associated with many conscious and unconscious experiences, thoughts and ideas. Counting numbers is a form of "fabrication".

My mantra for good meditation is "Fabricate nothing!". Fabricate NOTHING. Do not fabricate calm. Do not fabricate comfort. Do not fabricate peace. Fabricate NOTHING. ACCEPT WHAT IS.

Eye ache. This shows there is a serious problem with your meditation. When eyes are closed for meditation they should be dropped gently without any tension as if one is sleeping. Eye pain indicates too much effort someowhere in your practice - basically use of force. All meditation is aimed at developing compassion amongst other things and compassion for oneself first. The force you are using that is causing eye pain could be physical or psychic (e.g. a problem with your back causing muscular imbalance in your neck and cranial headaches manifesting in the eye or too much effort and force in meditation to supress the mind instead of befriending the mind).

I would suggest you read Mindfulness in plain English which is available as an e-book, linked from our library.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
« Last Edit: July 30, 2009, 09:07:00 AM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Psychtrea

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Re: Breath Counting
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2009, 03:18:40 PM »
Thank you for your help sir! I actually recently became aware of Mindfulness in Plain English before coming to this forum and it got great reviews. I'll start working with it soon. Should I instead replace the breath counting with just regular focus on the breath? I had read of concentrating on the rise and fall of the belly. Is this acceptable?

Regards,

Psychtrea

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Breath Counting
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2009, 08:25:12 PM »
Psychtrea,

Rising and falling of the belly or the area between the lip and the nose where the air hits are good areas to focus. I use belly. Seeing how many breaths you can count before thought intrudes is a useful adjunct to practice but in the main I recommend simple awareness of breathing process.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
« Last Edit: July 30, 2009, 08:26:38 PM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Psychtrea

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Re: Breath Counting
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2009, 06:31:55 PM »
I'm still having some major problems with eye tension when I try to focus on my breath. What is worse is that the past few days when I sit down to meditate I start thinking about eye tension because I know it is a problem, and then it just appears. This has occurred before perhaps once or twice but was never much of a problem until now. I suspect that it is something psychological that is going on. For a long time I have been showing symptoms of OCD however I have never actually gone to doctor to get a diagnosis, and I am wondering if it is starting to effect my practice. Could a possible solution be to meditate with the eyes slightly open? I have been keeping in mind what you said about using force while I meditate and I have had some success at allowing myself to relax a bit more but then it seems I'm not really focusing on my breath any longer. Do you have any other suggestions? Thanks!


Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Breath Counting
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2009, 07:03:15 AM »
Meditation is like a violin string .. you need the tension just right. You can have your eyes gently open/relaxed and look at the floor 1 - 2 metres ahead of you as you sit.

You only recently started focussing on the breath and many transitions at once complicates things. I suspect you willl find concentration on the breath easier soon enough. My suggestion would be to keep practicing. Also try not to intellectualise too much about it all as that takes away some potency from practice.

In the Dhamma,

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

Renze

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Re: Breath Counting
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2009, 03:05:21 PM »
Sorry to change the subject a bit.

My mantra for good meditation is "Fabricate nothing!". Fabricate NOTHING. Do not fabricate calm. Do not fabricate comfort. Do not fabricate peace. Fabricate NOTHING. ACCEPT WHAT IS.

I learned to meditate by mentally labelling/naming the objects of meditation. When my belly rises, in my head I say 'rising, rising'. When I'm planning during meditation, I say 'planning, planning'. This is what I was taught to do in the meditation course I took, and this method is also described on this page. It seems to be an easy way to practice awareness, but isn't it also a form of fabrication? Is it possible to be aware of thoughts, emotions etc. without making verbal labels?

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Breath Counting
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2009, 12:06:22 AM »
Renze

Sometimes we need a stepping stone or a crutch to get where we need to be. Most aids to meditation such as labelling, counting breaths can be dropped once one is more familiar with the landscape.

In the Dhamma,

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

Renze

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Re: Breath Counting
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2009, 09:14:09 AM »
Sounds clear. Thanks for the reply.

Regards,

Renze