the long breath

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

the long breath

Postby Freawaru » Fri Nov 13, 2009 9:08 pm

Hello All,

Currently, I am interested in the Satipatthana Sutta which I take as instructions.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nysa.html

It starts with the long breath (after the instruction to get to an empty place and to sit, I mean). As far as I know "long breath" refers to a breath of long temporal duration, about a minute or more for each breath circle. So that was my starting point: I slowed my breath down to 50 seconds (counting the seconds of a clock). When doing so for several breath circles I noticed something interesting: the whole-body awareness suddenly became more pronounced.

What I mean is: we are aware of our physical body in two ways: One is one part of our body (hand, leg, head, etc) at a time and the other is the physical body as a whole. Most of the time, at least for me, the "one part" awareness is dominating. To slow my breath I had to relax both mind and physical body. To relax the physical body I need to relax it part by part and whenever a new tension arises somewhere I had to purposefully address it and relax it again. And then, suddenly, the whole-body awareness became dominant as if an image of my tactile sense of the whole body flashed in and off, slowly starting to stabilise.

Has anybody else tried to slow the breath to about a minute and experienced the same?

And regarding the satipatthana sutta: is this whole-body awareness that started to dominate during the long breath the "whole (breath-) body" in the satipatthana sutta? :

Ever mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out. Breathing in a long breath, he knows, "I am breathing in a long breath"; breathing out a long breath, he knows, "I am breathing out a long breath"; breathing in a short breath, he knows, "I am breathing in a short breath"; breathing out a short breath, he knows, "I am breathing out a short breath."

"Experiencing the whole (breath-) body, I shall breathe in," thus he trains himself. "Experiencing the whole (breath-) body, I shall breathe out," thus he trains himself.


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Re: the long breath

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Nov 13, 2009 9:41 pm

Welcome Freawaru! :hello:

In my understanding, most Theravada teachers (and the Commentary, see http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/soma/wayof.html, I believe) interpret what you quote as being aware of the nature of the breath (whether it happens to be short, long, etc) not controlling it. However, Ven Thanissaro's teachers seemed to teach a certain amount of control, so some of his discussions on Access to Insight might be in the style you are wanting. e.g. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... thmed.html

The "body" thing is also contested. The Commentary takes it as "body of the breath" i.e. being aware of the beginning, middle, and end of the breath. Some teachers think of it as being aware of the whole (physical) body while breathing.

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Re: the long breath

Postby IanAnd » Fri Nov 13, 2009 10:09 pm

Hi Freawaru,

Welcome. Nice to see you made it here.
Freawaru wrote:Currently, I am interested in the Satipatthana Sutta which I take as instructions....

It starts with the long breath (after the instruction to get to an empty place and to sit, I mean). As far as I know "long breath" refers to a breath of long temporal duration, about a minute or more for each breath circle. So that was my starting point: I slowed my breath down to 50 seconds (counting the seconds of a clock). When doing so for several breath circles I noticed something interesting: the whole-body awareness suddenly became more pronounced.

Has anybody else tried to slow the breath to about a minute and experienced the same?

Not really.

It is not really necessary to control the breath the way you are doing by slowing it down. Although if you find that this works in some way for you, then nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The instruction is to watch the breath and to know (to discern) if it is long or short, not to make it long or short. Let the breath be what it wants to be without forcing it. (Although, as I said, if you want to experiment with this, it's perfectly okay.)

The Satipatthana Sutta is a meditation exercise that uses both calm (samatha) and insight (vipassana) within its execution. It is meant to help the practitioner develop "mindfulness and clear comprehension" (sati-sampajjana). Clear comprehension means or equates with "clear seeing." This is why the meditator is asked to be able to discern between the length and shortness of the breath. To develop "clear seeing" of this process, as simple as it is.

Freawaru wrote:And regarding the satipatthana sutta: is this whole-body awareness that started to dominate during the long breath the "whole (breath-) body" in the satipatthana sutta? :

Ever mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out. Breathing in a long breath, he knows, "I am breathing in a long breath"; breathing out a long breath, he knows, "I am breathing out a long breath"; breathing in a short breath, he knows, "I am breathing in a short breath"; breathing out a short breath, he knows, "I am breathing out a short breath."

"Experiencing the whole (breath-) body, I shall breathe in," thus he trains himself. "Experiencing the whole (breath-) body, I shall breathe out," thus he trains himself.


Yes, it can be. Either full body awareness, or just the "breath-body" awareness as mikenz66 pointed out. Either way, the effect will work.

I used to be of the faction of practitioners who used only the "breath-body" awareness, as I found that paying attention to this was all I needed in order to dive into jhana. But after a closer reading of Thanissaro Bhikkhu's instruction in his book Mind Like Fire Unbound, I saw that this other method (directing awareness to the full or whole body) was also conducive to being able to enter absorption. Read the first several paragraphs of his piece and see what I mean. It's really up to your own discretion, how you wish to perform it. Enjoy!
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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Re: the long breath

Postby Freawaru » Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:30 pm

Hello Mike,


mikenz66 wrote:Welcome Freawaru! :hello:


Thank you :hug:

In my understanding, most Theravada teachers (and the Commentary, see http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/soma/wayof.html, I believe) interpret what you quote as being aware of the nature of the breath (whether it happens to be short, long, etc) not controlling it.


Yes, I tried that approach first - but though there were natural shorter and longer breaths there never came a LONG breath on it's own. Maybe it is so for yogis but I am not that advanced. So to be able to discern between a long and a short breath I tried the control approach.

However, Ven Thanissaro's teachers seemed to teach a certain amount of control, so some of his discussions on Access to Insight might be in the style you are wanting. e.g. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... thmed.html


Yes, Ven Thanissaro's style seems to be very similar to the pranayama I practised. No wonder - as he said, breathing is not restricted to Buddhists.

Another aspect: Ven. Thanissaro writes:

Let your attention settle comfortably there, and then let your conscious awareness spread to fill the entire body, from the head down to the toes, so that you're like a spider sitting in the middle of a web: It's sitting in one spot, but it's sensitive to the entire web. Keep your awareness expanded like this — you have to work at this, for its tendency will be to shrink to a single spot —


When only breathing slow I really have to work on this. The whole-body awareness is difficult to get and to hold. But during the long breath it came automatically, on it's own. Quite naturally, no need to work for it, effortless. I had been wondering if this is the reason the sutta starts with the long breath: to get the whole body awareness in an easy way.

The "body" thing is also contested. The Commentary takes it as "body of the breath" i.e. being aware of the beginning, middle, and end of the breath. Some teachers think of it as being aware of the whole (physical) body while breathing.


It is odd but when one's breath is prolonged to about a minute both "bodies" are easy to be aware of. I think it might be because when breathing that long one needs to have a relaxed body and mind. So to calm them comes automatically if one forces oneself to breath more and more slowly.

Thank you for the links :-)

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Re: the long breath

Postby Dmytro » Sun Nov 15, 2009 1:43 pm

Hello again Freawaru, : )

Freawaru wrote:It is odd but when one's breath is prolonged to about a minute both "bodies" are easy to be aware of.


IMHO you are on the right track. If you manage to be aware simultaneously of the physical body, whole length of air contact in the nostrils area, and the air nimitta, then jhana is on the way. ; )

However, to be exact, it is not literally simultaneous - the mind switches very fast between these three:

Sign [nimitta], in-breath, out-breath, are not object
Of a single consciousness;
By one who knows not these three things,
Development is not obtained.

Sign, in-breath, out-breath, are not object
Of a single consciousness;
By one who does know these three things,
Development will be obtained.

http://bps.lk/bp_library/bp502s/bp502_part3.html

Metta,
Dmytro

P.S. In the Samatha Trust, according to the method of Nai Boonman Poonyathiro, various lenghts of breath are practiced.
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Re: the long breath

Postby Freawaru » Sun Nov 15, 2009 4:38 pm

Hello IanAnd and Dmytro,

glad to find the "gang" here :group:


IanAnd wrote:Yes, it can be. Either full body awareness, or just the "breath-body" awareness as mikenz66 pointed out. Either way, the effect will work.


Then I guess I will experiment with both - so see the difference. :popcorn:

I used to be of the faction of practitioners who used only the "breath-body" awareness, as I found that paying attention to this was all I needed in order to dive into jhana.



As far as I understand it any object can be used for entering jhana, right? But I expect it will make another kind of difference ... well, we will see. I like this: playing with the mind.

Thank you for the reference :coffee:

Hi Dmytro,

IMHO you are on the right track. If you manage to be aware simultaneously of the physical body, whole length of air contact in the nostrils area, and the air nimitta, then jhana is on the way.


Thank you :juggling:

Freawaru

PS. I love all those smilies :rofl:
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Re: the long breath

Postby Dmytro » Sun Nov 15, 2009 6:04 pm

Hi Freawaru,

Freawaru wrote:glad to find the "gang" here :group:


Nice to see you again :anjali:

IMHO you are on the right track. If you manage to be aware simultaneously of the physical body, whole length of air contact in the nostrils area, and the air nimitta, then jhana is on the way.


Thank you :juggling:


The mind can be compared to the restaurant where various mental qualities (dhamma) get their food (ahara).

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

If you dedicate the whole friendly space of the restaurant to the skillful qualities (by being aware of the whole body), and feed only them, without interruption (during the whole length of breath), lighting everything with nimitta, the unskillful qualities will transform by themselves, in order to get more food. :console:

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Re: the long breath

Postby Freawaru » Sun Nov 15, 2009 8:38 pm

Hello Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:
In my understanding, most Theravada teachers (and the Commentary, see http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/soma/wayof.html, I believe) interpret what you quote as being aware of the nature of the breath (whether it happens to be short, long, etc) not controlling it.


In the link you provided I found this:

The Contemplation of the Body
The Section on Breathing
...
Digham va assasanto digham assasamiti pajanati digham va passasanto digham passasamiti pajanati: = "He, thinking, 'I breathe in long,' understands when he is breathing in long; or thinking, 'I breathe out long,' he understands when he is breathing out long.

"When breathing in long, how does he understand, 'I breathe in long.'? When breathing out long, how does he understand 'I breathe out long'? He breathes in a long breath during a long stretch of time, he breathes out a long breath during a long stretch of time, and he breathes in and he breathes out long breaths, each during a long stretch of time. As he breathes in and breathes out long breaths, each during a long stretch of time, desire [or intention; chanda] arises in him. With desire he breathes in a long breath finer than the last during a long stretch of time; with desire he breathes out a long breath finer than the last during a long stretch of time; and with desire he breathes in and he breathes out long breaths finer than the last, each during a long stretch of time. As with desire he breathes in and he breathes out long breaths finer than the last, each during a long stretch of time, joy [piti] arises in him.
...


It seems to control the breath to prolong it was taught by Buddhaghosa after all. IMO, "chanda" (intention or desire) indicates that the practitioner applies control to make the breath finer and finer and thus longer and longer. The finer the breath is the less air moves through the nostrils at any point of time, so it is not strong and heavy breathing like when doing sports, but soundless, light and, well, fine.

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Re: the long breath

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Nov 15, 2009 11:57 pm

hi,
there is more before the breath you know :tongue:
but anyway, your interpretation does have some validity although the standard interpretation is watching the breath as it is and simply knowing the breath as it is, as has already been pointed out Thanissaro teaches some control is useful, knowing or letting the body know (don't mean we tell it what todo but allow it to know what to do without our interferance which prevents its knowing and self reliance) what it needs is a more midde ground than the strictly watching itor controlling it interpretations.
we are constantly controlling the body through different means, we concoct a frigtaning, or arousing thought and the heart races (causing stress), lyedown in parculiar postures and then complain when our joints freeze up (over stressed) attending to the wrong thought (stress) do it to much and a breakdown may happen (stress to over stressed), allow thing to be as they are but watch where problems could arise and alter the method to negate the problem before it arises, or after it starts to arise, then control isn't used and knowing the body is fully brought about.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: the long breath

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Nov 16, 2009 1:08 am

Hi Freawaru,

Thank you for the extract.
Freawaru wrote:It seems to control the breath to prolong it was taught by Buddhaghosa after all. IMO, "chanda" (intention or desire) indicates that the practitioner applies control to make the breath finer and finer and thus longer and longer. The finer the breath is the less air moves through the nostrils at any point of time, so it is not strong and heavy breathing like when doing sports, but soundless, light and, well, fine.

It's interesting that the commentary on mindfulness of breathing in the Visiddhimagga (XIII.164-70, pages 291 to 294 of the Nanamoli translation) gives less indication of "control". It talks about how when breathing in and out knowing that it is a long breath, zeal arises, and the breathing becomes more subtle. It then says that the same explanation applies to short breaths (except that they are short, not long...)
So it should be understood when this bhikkhu knows in-breaths and out-breaths in these nine ways as 'a [long] extent' and as 'a little [duration]' that, 'breathing in long, he knows "I breathe in long"; ... breathing out short, he knows "I breathe out short"' it is said of him. And when he knows thus
'The long kind and the short as well,
'Th in-breath and the out-breath too,
'Such then are the four kinds that happen
'At the bhikkhu's nose tip here'.

Anyway, it seems clear that the point of all this is to build concentration (it's classified as concentration practise in the Visuddhimagga) and variations may be helpful (the Visuddhimagga discusses using counting as a preliminary method, for example).

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Re: the long breath

Postby Freawaru » Mon Nov 16, 2009 12:10 pm

Hi Dmytro,

The mind can be compared to the restaurant where various mental qualities (dhamma) get their food (ahara).

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

If you dedicate the whole friendly space of the restaurant to the skillful qualities (by being aware of the whole body), and feed only them, without interruption (during the whole length of breath), lighting everything with nimitta, the unskillful qualities will transform by themselves, in order to get more food. :console:
[/quote]

Thank you :-D

What is the pali term translated as "theme" here? :

"And what is the food for the arising of unarisen sensual desire, or for the growth & increase of sensual desire once it has arisen? There is the theme of beauty. To foster inappropriate attention to it: This is the food for the arising of unarisen sensual desire, or for the growth & increase of sensual desire once it has arisen.


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Re: the long breath

Postby Dmytro » Wed Nov 18, 2009 11:22 am

Hi Freawaru,

Freawaru wrote:What is the pali term translated as "theme" here? :

"And what is the food for the arising of unarisen sensual desire, or for the growth & increase of sensual desire once it has arisen? There is the theme of beauty. To foster inappropriate attention to it: This is the food for the arising of unarisen sensual desire, or for the growth & increase of sensual desire once it has arisen.


It's our good old friend 'nimitta' :^)

As for the fine breath, here's an explanation from the Pali Canon:

The Simile of the Gong

60. (If) it is thus, (it is objected): “`Calming the bodily formation, I shall breathe in,’ thus he trains himself; ‘calming the bodily formation, I shall breathe out,’ thus he trains himself’—this being so, there is no production of awareness of wind, and there is no production of the in-and-out breathing, and there is no production of respiration-mindfulness, and there is no production of respiration-mindfulness concentration, and accordingly the wise neither enter into, nor emerge from, that attainment.”

(Yet since) it is thus, (it is replied): “`Calming the bodily formation, I shall breathe in,’ thus he trains himself; ‘calming the bodily formation, I shall breathe out,’ thus he trains himself’—this being so, there is production of awareness of wind,[82] and there is production of the in-and-out breathing, and there is production of respiration-mindfulness, and there is production of respiration-mindfulness concentration, and accordingly the wise do enter into, and emerge from, that attainment.”

Like what? Just as when a metal gong is struck; at first gross sounds occur, and (consciousness proceeds) because the sign [nimitta] [83] of the gross sounds is well grasped, well brought to mind, well considered; and when the gross sounds have ceased, then afterwards faint sounds occur, and (consciousness proceeds) because the sign of the faint sounds is well grasped, well brought to mind, well considered; and when the faint sounds have ceased, then afterwards consciousness proceeds because of having the sign of the faint sounds as object: so indeed, at first gross in-breaths and out-breaths occur and (consciousness does not become distracted) because the sign of the gross in-breaths and out-breaths is well grasped, well brought to mind, well considered; and when the gross in-breaths and out-breaths have ceased, then afterwards faint in-breaths and out-breaths occur, and (consciousness does not become distracted) because the sign of the faint in-breaths and out-breaths is well grasped, well brought to mind, well considered; and when the faint in- and out-breaths have ceased, then afterwards consciousness does not become distracted because of having the sign of the faint in- and out-breaths as object.

This being so, there is production of awareness of wind, and there is production of the in-and out breathing, and there is production of respiration-mindfulness, and there is production of respiration-mindfulness concentration, and accordingly the wise do enter into, and emerge from, that attainment.

http://bps.lk/bp_library/bp502s/bp502_part3.html

Metta, Dmytro
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Re: the long breath

Postby meindzai » Thu Nov 19, 2009 1:41 pm

I think this thread revolves around the argument of whether suttas like the Satipatthana and Anapanasati are intended to describe "steps" or whether they are describing different aspects of meditation .

Anapanasati to me seems to follow a progression from basic awareness to release. If that's the case, "step one" then involves the long breath. I've never been 100% convinced by the argument that we weren't meant to control the breath, honestly. I do think that HOW you control it can make a big difference. A long breath need not be the forced and labored sort of breath that the teacher tells you to take in your yoga class. (I never listen to them anyway) You can induce a long breath with a minimal amount of effort and by focusing the breath in the belly, and by fully releasing the air in the lungs. It will come pretty naturally. I'm not saying this is what the Buddha is teaching, but I know that this is what happened in my early meditation experiences before I was told "oh no, we Buddhists don't do that yogi stuff!"

What I find is that deep breaths (induced as above) seem to be very clarifying and a great way to begin to settle into meditation. I don't do very many - sometimes none at all. But it seems to help if the mind and body are restless. I often do them at the beginning and may return to them if the need arises. Too many of them seems to raise the heart rate and cause anxiety and such things for me.

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Re: the long breath

Postby Freawaru » Thu Nov 19, 2009 8:42 pm

Hello Manapa,

Manapa wrote:hi,
there is more before the breath you know :tongue:
but anyway, your interpretation does have some validity although the standard interpretation is watching the breath as it is and simply knowing the breath as it is, as has already been pointed out Thanissaro teaches some control is useful, knowing or letting the body know (don't mean we tell it what todo but allow it to know what to do without our interferance which prevents its knowing and self reliance) what it needs is a more midde ground than the strictly watching itor controlling it interpretations.
we are constantly controlling the body through different means, we concoct a frigtaning, or arousing thought and the heart races (causing stress), lyedown in parculiar postures and then complain when our joints freeze up (over stressed) attending to the wrong thought (stress) do it to much and a breakdown may happen (stress to over stressed), allow thing to be as they are but watch where problems could arise and alter the method to negate the problem before it arises, or after it starts to arise, then control isn't used and knowing the body is fully brought about.


Since talking with the people at DhammaStudyGroup I have thought a lot about this idea of "control". And I found out that I do not understand it. What is control? As you said, there is always control. Every thought, every emotion has a controlling effect on our breath (not to mention the rest of the body functions).

A bit farther down the satipatthana suttas states:
2. The Postures of the Body

And further, monks, a monk knows, when he is going, "I am going"; he knows, when he is standing, "I am standing"; he knows, when he is sitting, "I am sitting";...


I do not expect that anybody teaches not to stand up - a controled action, unlike breath which can be both controled consciously as well as unconsciously. Standing, sitting, going, lying down are all activities that require conscious control and the instruction is identical to the one on long and short breath.

But when doing the kind of meditation I described above I observed something else. At first I had to focus on controlling my breath - to make it long. I focused on controling my breath, I focused on counting the seconds and focused on linking both. But after a while this became a pattern that didn't require focus - or rather: no effort. Like when we learn to drive the car we need to focus on stirring and remember to look into the mirrors and the traffic and all that, but after some practice it comes so effortless we barely are aware that we have driven from home to work: a pattern, a program has been established in our mind that does not require control any more. So it was during that sitting. At first I needed to focus, I needed effort, but after a while, ten minutes or so, the control required for keeping the breath long was effortless, happening on it's own. That was why I was able to divert my attention to investigate that new, interesting, full-body awareness that blinked in and out. So was I controling the breath or not?

What if for those yogis like Buddhaghosa getting themselves into a long breath pattern came as natural as for us driving our own car to work? What if one just needed to tell them "breath long breaths" and all they asked "for how long?". They might have known how to control their breath for so long it came just as natural as standing up or sitting.

I suspect that the point about "no control" is that one needs to have an established pattern, so one can detach from it and observe. Meaning: first step is to establish the required pattern, second step is to turn to "knowing".

Again further down the satipatthana sutta states:
III. The Contemplation of Consciousness

And how, monks, does a monk live contemplating consciousness in consciousness?

Herein, monks, a monk knows the consciousness with lust, as with lust; the consciousness without lust, as without lust; the consciousness with hate, as with hate; the consciousness without hate, as without hate; ...


But how can one know the consciousnes with lust when lust never arises? How can one investigate hate when hate never arises?

And again further down:
4. The Seven Factors of Enlightenment

And further, monks, a monk lives contemplating mental objects in the mental objects of the seven factors of enlightenment.

How, monks, does a monk live contemplating mental objects in the mental objects of the seven factors of enlightenment?

Herein, monks, when the enlightenment-factor of mindfulness is present, the monk knows, "The enlightenment-factor of mindfulness is in me," or when the enlightenment-factor of mindfulness is absent, he knows, "The enlightenment-factor of mindfulness is not in me";...


How can one know enlightenment-factor of mindfulness is present when it never is present? How can one know there is a long breath if there never is a long breath?

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Re: the long breath

Postby Freawaru » Thu Nov 19, 2009 8:54 pm

Hi Mike,

mikenz66 wrote:Thank you for the extract.
It's interesting that the commentary on mindfulness of breathing in the Visiddhimagga (XIII.164-70, pages 291 to 294 of the Nanamoli translation) gives less indication of "control". It talks about how when breathing in and out knowing that it is a long breath, zeal arises, and the breathing becomes more subtle. It then says that the same explanation applies to short breaths (except that they are short, not long...)


Hmm, yes, after controling and focusing on the breath like that for a short time a certain enjoyment and fascination arises that helps one along. I mean, I often read that practitioners consider meditation boring (both samatha as well as sati) and have trouble to get themselves to sit but in my experience after a first little inner resistance - similar to standing up for doing sports - it is a lot of fun.

So it should be understood when this bhikkhu knows in-breaths and out-breaths in these nine ways as 'a [long] extent' and as 'a little [duration]' that, 'breathing in long, he knows "I breathe in long"; ... breathing out short, he knows "I breathe out short"' it is said of him. And when he knows thus
'The long kind and the short as well,
'Th in-breath and the out-breath too,
'Such then are the four kinds that happen
'At the bhikkhu's nose tip here'.

Anyway, it seems clear that the point of all this is to build concentration (it's classified as concentration practise in the Visuddhimagga) and variations may be helpful (the Visuddhimagga discusses using counting as a preliminary method, for example).


Yes, it is very useful for building concentration. But this aspect of knowing what is going on, how the changes happen, whatever new arises or is opened when entering a new level of concentration goes already into the direction of vipassana, IMO.

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Re: the long breath

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:04 pm

Hi Freawaru
Freawaru wrote:Hello Manapa,

Since talking with the people at DhammaStudyGroup I have thought a lot about this idea of "control". And I found out that I do not understand it. What is control? As you said, there is always control. Every thought, every emotion has a controlling effect on our breath (not to mention the rest of the body functions).

A bit farther down the satipatthana suttas states:
2. The Postures of the Body

And further, monks, a monk knows, when he is going, "I am going"; he knows, when he is standing, "I am standing"; he knows, when he is sitting, "I am sitting";...


I do not expect that anybody teaches not to stand up - a controled action, unlike breath which can be both controled consciously as well as unconsciously. Standing, sitting, going, lying down are all activities that require conscious control and the instruction is identical to the one on long and short breath.

Try practicing standing meditatin you may find out what is in control

But when doing the kind of meditation I described above I observed something else. At first I had to focus on controlling my breath - to make it long. I focused on controling my breath, I focused on counting the seconds and focused on linking both. But after a while this became a pattern that didn't require focus - or rather: no effort. Like when we learn to drive the car we need to focus on stirring and remember to look into the mirrors and the traffic and all that, but after some practice it comes so effortless we barely are aware that we have driven from home to work: a pattern, a program has been established in our mind that does not require control any more. So it was during that sitting. At first I needed to focus, I needed effort, but after a while, ten minutes or so, the control required for keeping the breath long was effortless, happening on it's own. That was why I was able to divert my attention to investigate that new, interesting, full-body awareness that blinked in and out. So was I controling the breath or not?

you tell me! was it you or the desire?

What if for those yogis like Buddhaghosa getting themselves into a long breath pattern came as natural as for us driving our own car to work? What if one just needed to tell them "breath long breaths" and all they asked "for how long?". They might have known how to control their breath for so long it came just as natural as standing up or sitting.

this idea is similar to a asthetic (can never remember how to spell that word) practices the buddha engaged in before he found the middle way.

I suspect that the point about "no control" is that one needs to have an established pattern, so one can detach from it and observe. Meaning: first step is to establish the required pattern, second step is to turn to "knowing".

or the first step is to watch the breath the scond is to control it as needed so as to be in tune with the body?
Again further down the satipatthana sutta states:
III. The Contemplation of Consciousness

And how, monks, does a monk live contemplating consciousness in consciousness?

Herein, monks, a monk knows the consciousness with lust, as with lust; the consciousness without lust, as without lust; the consciousness with hate, as with hate; the consciousness without hate, as without hate; ...


But how can one know the consciousnes with lust when lust never arises? How can one investigate hate when hate never arises?

does it never arise?
And again further down:
4. The Seven Factors of Enlightenment

And further, monks, a monk lives contemplating mental objects in the mental objects of the seven factors of enlightenment.

How, monks, does a monk live contemplating mental objects in the mental objects of the seven factors of enlightenment?

Herein, monks, when the enlightenment-factor of mindfulness is present, the monk knows, "The enlightenment-factor of mindfulness is in me," or when the enlightenment-factor of mindfulness is absent, he knows, "The enlightenment-factor of mindfulness is not in me";...


How can one know enlightenment-factor of mindfulness is present when it never is present? How can one know there is a long breath if there never is a long breath?

Freawaru

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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
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Re: the long breath

Postby AdvaitaJ » Fri Nov 20, 2009 1:53 am

Freawaru,

There was a thread somewhere about 'what would you say to the Buddha if you met him on the street' -- getting clarification on this issue is near the top of my list.

I've never tried explicitly slowing my breath because my "shifting the mind into neutral" always slowed and lengthened my breathing naturally. I've also found it feels quite natural for me to define the phrase "whole (breath) body" as the sensations throughout the area affected by the breathing -- i.e., the entire nose, throat, brachial passages, etc. For me, the initial concentration on the tip of the nostrils, etc, just flows naturally into a larger awareness of all the body parts involved, including the indirect motion through the shoulders, arms, etc.

With regards to literal whole-body awareness, I find it a fascinating object of observation. I used to trigger it while driving by focusing piece-by-piece on the contact of my clothing. I'd do a whole-body scan section by section deliberately sensing where my clothes make contact. By the time I had cycled through all the touch-points, it was usually pretty easy to morph into the whole-body awareness. These days, I find it easiest with my walking meditation.

Good thread! :thumbsup:

Regards: AdvaitaJ
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We sit together, the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains.
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Re: the long breath

Postby Freawaru » Fri Nov 20, 2009 2:34 pm

Hi Dmytro,

Dmytro wrote:Hi Freawaru,

Freawaru wrote:What is the pali term translated as "theme" here? :

"And what is the food for the arising of unarisen sensual desire, or for the growth & increase of sensual desire once it has arisen? There is the theme of beauty. To foster inappropriate attention to it: This is the food for the arising of unarisen sensual desire, or for the growth & increase of sensual desire once it has arisen.


It's our good old friend 'nimitta' :^)


Ah, I see. Thank you . Now I just have to find out the meaning of the term "inappropriate" in this context. :thinking:

Thank you for the Simile of the Gong. It is all about brachiation from one nimitta to the next, right?

As for the fine breath, here's an explanation from the Pali Canon:

The Simile of the Gong

60. (If) it is thus, (it is objected): “`Calming the bodily formation, I shall breathe in,’ thus he trains himself; ‘calming the bodily formation, I shall breathe out,’ thus he trains himself’—this being so, there is no production of awareness of wind, and there is no production of the in-and-out breathing, and there is no production of respiration-mindfulness, and there is no production of respiration-mindfulness concentration, and accordingly the wise neither enter into, nor emerge from, that attainment.”

(Yet since) it is thus, (it is replied): “`Calming the bodily formation, I shall breathe in,’ thus he trains himself; ‘calming the bodily formation, I shall breathe out,’ thus he trains himself’—this being so, there is production of awareness of wind,[82] and there is production of the in-and-out breathing, and there is production of respiration-mindfulness, and there is production of respiration-mindfulness concentration, and accordingly the wise do enter into, and emerge from, that attainment.”

Like what? Just as when a metal gong is struck; at first gross sounds occur, and (consciousness proceeds) because the sign [nimitta] [83] of the gross sounds is well grasped, well brought to mind, well considered; and when the gross sounds have ceased, then afterwards faint sounds occur, and (consciousness proceeds) because the sign of the faint sounds is well grasped, well brought to mind, well considered; and when the faint sounds have ceased, then afterwards consciousness proceeds because of having the sign of the faint sounds as object: so indeed, at first gross in-breaths and out-breaths occur and (consciousness does not become distracted) because the sign of the gross in-breaths and out-breaths is well grasped, well brought to mind, well considered; and when the gross in-breaths and out-breaths have ceased, then afterwards faint in-breaths and out-breaths occur, and (consciousness does not become distracted) because the sign of the faint in-breaths and out-breaths is well grasped, well brought to mind, well considered; and when the faint in- and out-breaths have ceased, then afterwards consciousness does not become distracted because of having the sign of the faint in- and out-breaths as object.

This being so, there is production of awareness of wind, and there is production of the in-and out breathing, and there is production of respiration-mindfulness, and there is production of respiration-mindfulness concentration, and accordingly the wise do enter into, and emerge from, that attainment.

http://bps.lk/bp_library/bp502s/bp502_part3.html

Metta, Dmytro


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Re: the long breath

Postby Freawaru » Fri Nov 20, 2009 3:00 pm

Hello Meindzai,

:Happy:

meindzai wrote:I think this thread revolves around the argument of whether suttas like the Satipatthana and Anapanasati are intended to describe "steps" or whether they are describing different aspects of meditation .


Yes. I suspect it is really steps, one following after the previous and basing on the previous. But to see if this is true one has to follow it for a while.

Anapanasati to me seems to follow a progression from basic awareness to release. If that's the case, "step one" then involves the long breath. I've never been 100% convinced by the argument that we weren't meant to control the breath, honestly. I do think that HOW you control it can make a big difference. A long breath need not be the forced and labored sort of breath that the teacher tells you to take in your yoga class. (I never listen to them anyway) You can induce a long breath with a minimal amount of effort and by focusing the breath in the belly, and by fully releasing the air in the lungs. It will come pretty naturally. I'm not saying this is what the Buddha is teaching, but I know that this is what happened in my early meditation experiences before I was told "oh no, we Buddhists don't do that yogi stuff!"


To me this "we Buddhists don't do that yogi stuff" seems to be a modern interpretation, limited to Theravada. I never found such an aversion to Hatha Yoga in Tibetan Buddhism. Also, doesn't the term "yogi" appear in the suttas?

What I find is that deep breaths (induced as above) seem to be very clarifying and a great way to begin to settle into meditation. I don't do very many - sometimes none at all. But it seems to help if the mind and body are restless. I often do them at the beginning and may return to them if the need arises. Too many of them seems to raise the heart rate and cause anxiety and such things for me.


At first I encountered that problem, too. But now I use a "trick": After each breathing out there is a pause; no breath-movement. This is the point of relaxation and it can be prolonged the more relaxed one is. If one waits for the in-breath to start again on it's own one can breath long for a very long time, going deeper and deeper into mental and physical relaxation. One can really wait for the impulse to breath in again; it helps focusing, too.

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Re: the long breath

Postby Freawaru » Fri Nov 20, 2009 6:47 pm

Hi Manapa,

Manapa wrote:Hi Freawaru
Try practicing standing meditatin you may find out what is in control


Cerebrum to balance system: "keep body in standing position !" ;)

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