Author Topic: Watching the breath without altering it's depth or speed?  (Read 3219 times)

boe

  • Guest
Watching the breath without altering it's depth or speed?
« on: June 03, 2010, 03:23:13 PM »
Hey

I've been practicing vipassana for a while.
I basically learned this from 2 books:

Mindfullness in plain english - by Gunuratana
Vipassana - by Joseph Goldstein

I've been much calmer and have learned quite a bit of "who i really am",
but recently I've have this subtle problem I don't know how to deal with.



Because of the meditation sessions I have become "more aware" of myself during the day.
i often find myself noticing my breath... and i also notice myself breathing too slow sometimes.

It has happened more than once that my hands and feet get cold, and my feet start to sweat,
because my heartrate has dropped due to slow breathing.

I am young and don't have a heart condition. The heartrate problem and circulation problem
i have is directly connected with the breathing problem that I have recently developed.

How can i stop changing the breathing rate or how can i stop being aware of my breath
so i dont (sub)consciously manipulate it?
« Last Edit: June 03, 2010, 03:25:41 PM by boe »

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
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Re: Watching the breath without altering it's depth or speed?
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2010, 03:32:46 PM »
Awareness in meditation is focussed on the body not the breath. It is the sensations in the body as you breathe that are the first object of meditation. I would suggest you make this subtle shift to being mindful of your body during meditation and see what happens.

Warmly,

In the Dhamma,

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

boe

  • Guest
Re: Watching the breath without altering it's depth or speed?
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2010, 03:57:17 PM »
Thanks for the advice.
Any body part in particular or it does not matter?

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: Watching the breath without altering it's depth or speed?
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2010, 05:21:48 PM »
boe,

Yes it matters a great deal - the whole body. And NOT "body scanning". Just be aware of your whole body. The Anapanasati Sutta says:

Quote
The Seven Factors for Awakening

"And how are the four frames of reference developed & pursued so as to bring the seven factors for awakening to their culmination?

"[1] On whatever occasion the monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world, on that occasion his mindfulness is steady & without lapse. When his mindfulness is steady & without lapse, then mindfulness as a factor for awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

As you will note it is mindfulness of body whilst breathing that brings you to steady mindfulness. By focussing on the breathing process you may have been missing something important your body has to say.

"Breathe in training the mind to be sensitive to the body and calming the body, breathe out training the mind to be sensitive to the body and calming the body".

Warm regards and welcome to the forum,

In the Dhamma,

Matthew

Source: "Anapanasati Sutta: Mindfulness of Breathing"(MN 118), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, May 29, 2010
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Crystal Palace

  • Member
  • "Move on Bhikkus, Move On" - Buddha
    • Thai Forest Tradition
Re: Watching the breath without altering it's depth or speed?
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2010, 03:15:51 PM »
Hello boe and welcome to the forums!

While I second Matthew's advice to start with whole-body breathing since anapana at the nostrils is a bit tricky and can lead to self hypnosis for beginners, I would also suggest a proper method of practicing anapana at the nostrils should you ever choose to make the jump from whole body breathing.

The key is to follow your breath, and not make the breath follow you. In other words, you should glide with the breath - so that wherever and however it goes - you follow it. If it is deep, it is deep. If it is shallow, it is shallow. If the mind wanders, accept it without being disappointed or angry, and do not try too hard. This way you reduce your chances of falling in a state of hypnosis or establishing a 'false' calm. Since you have not modified your breath artificially, and consequently it is flowing in and out naturally, it cannot cause you physical damage as you describe.

It is worth repeating though that Anapana at the nostrils is only a subset of Shamatha practice.

Warmly,
Crystal Palace
"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

boe

  • Guest
Re: Watching the breath without altering it's depth or speed?
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2010, 03:27:29 PM »
I'm sorry, i'm still confused...  :P



I shouldn't focus on the breath, but instead on the whole body...
- Do i need to bring focus on the whole body all at once? So when I walk around i must become aware of the feeling in legs, the feeling in arms etc... all at the same time as watching my environment, but never watch the breath?


Your anapanasati sutta says "He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the mind.'
He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the mind'"

- Now should i or should i not become aware of the breath?

Crystal Palace

  • Member
  • "Move on Bhikkus, Move On" - Buddha
    • Thai Forest Tradition
Re: Watching the breath without altering it's depth or speed?
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2010, 03:33:17 PM »
Dear boe,

While practicing whole body breathing, be aware of the breath just as you would be aware of any other part of the body, or for that matter any thought or mental phenomenon.

My suggestion was for specific Anapana at the nostril practice and I think I may have confused you. For the time being therefore, reject what I have written and practice whole body breathing as Matthew describes.

Warmly,
Crystal Palace

 
"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

boe

  • Guest
Re: Watching the breath without altering it's depth or speed?
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2010, 06:48:42 PM »
Quote
While practicing whole body breathing, be aware of the breath just as you would be aware of any other part of the body, or for that matter any thought or mental phenomenon.

So when i'm walking on the street i should try to give equal attention to the breath, as my bodies limbs, my organs, my thoughts as well as the environment... all at the same time?

Crystal Palace

  • Member
  • "Move on Bhikkus, Move On" - Buddha
    • Thai Forest Tradition
Re: Watching the breath without altering it's depth or speed?
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2010, 06:52:34 PM »
Not when you are walking but when you are meditating. When you are walking you should focus on walking.

Warmly,
Crystal Palace
"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

boe

  • Guest
Re: Watching the breath without altering it's depth or speed?
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2010, 07:01:21 PM »
Sorry, I don't mean to be annoying,
but I'm kind of in a stage where I don't know how i should focus on "walking".

Do you mean focusing on the feeling in my body while walking, the environment i see around me, etc. ?
Please give a detailed description of what I should be putting my attention on, and what not.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2010, 07:03:57 PM by boe »

boe

  • Guest
Re: Watching the breath without altering it's depth or speed?
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2010, 09:47:11 PM »
Also,
when I practice whole body breathing,

Is it ok my focus to shift from one sensation in the body to the other
or should my focus remain on the whole of the body at all times?

I ask this beause i find that when I put my attention on the whole of the body,
my attention shifts from one place in the body to another.

Crystal Palace

  • Member
  • "Move on Bhikkus, Move On" - Buddha
    • Thai Forest Tradition
Re: Watching the breath without altering it's depth or speed?
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2010, 09:19:48 AM »
Dear boe,

Please do not think you are annoying. You can ask the same thing a 1000 times, and as long as you intent is honest, no one will mind it. This is precisely why this place was created.

Now, it seems to me you are completely confused about basic Shamatha practice. Matthew is our resident expert in this matter. I think he will be able to advise you much better and lucidly on how to go about it.

Matthew would you mind kindly taking over from here and explaining in detail to boe what he should do and more importantly should not do when it comes to practicing Shamatha?

Thanks,
Crystal Palace
"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

 

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