Mojo wrote:I'm not asking about piti and sukkha because I want to experience them for the sake of the experience but because I see them as my gateway into going further down formal Anapanasati practice that culminates with vipassana.
Every tetrad (satipatthana) of Anapanasati includes vipassana. The 1st tetrad includes vipassana of in breathing & out breathing. The 2nd tetrad includes vipassana of piti & sukkha. The 3rd tetrad includes vipassana of underlying mental states (revealed after piti & sukkha have calmed). The 4th tetrad is full scale vipassana, where impermanence itself is predominant. Piti & sukkha are not obstacles to vipassana but, instead, objects of vipassana.
I would suggest to make the 1st sign post vipassana of the in breathing & out breathing, which necessitates learning to establish a concentration that has sufficient release, malleability & clarity so the impermanence of in breathing & out breathing can be discerned. Quality takes precedence over quantity. An old Sufi saying is: "Stop aiming to shoot those long distance skyward arrows. Instead, let the arrow drop".
In the first steps of this practice, those concerned with the kaya (body), we study the breath in a special way. We note every kind of breath that occurs and study what each is like. Long breaths, short breaths, calm breaths, violent breaths, fast breaths, and slow breaths: we must know them all. Of all the different kinds of breath which arise, know what nature each one has, know its characteristics, and know its functions.
Observe what influence the different breaths have upon the flesh-body. The breath has a great influence on the rest of the physical body and this influence needs to be seen clearly. Observe both sides of the relationship until it is obvious that they are interconnected and inseparable. See that the breath-body conditions and concocts the flesh-body.
We must learn how to observe in more detail, that is, to observe the reaction or influence of the different kinds of breathing. What reactions do they cause, how do they influence our awareness? For example, when the breathing is long, how does it influence our awareness. What reactions does the short breathing cause? What are the influences of coarse and fine breathing, comfortable and uncomfortable breathing? We observe the different types of breath and their different influences until we can distinguish clearly how the long and short breaths, coarse and fine breaths, and comfortable uncomfortable breaths differ . We must know the variations in the reactions to and influences of these various properties of the breath, of these qualities that influence our awareness, our sensitivity, our mind. (52)
Along with the above observations, we need to watch the effect or flavor of the different kinds of breath. The flavors that arise are kinds of feelings, such as, happiness, non-happiness, dukkha, annoyance, and contentment. Observe and experience the flavors or effects caused, especially, by the long breath and short breath, by the coarse breath and fine breath, and by the easy breath and uneasy breath. Find out how it is they have different flavors. For instance, we will see that the long breath gives a greater sense of peace and well being, it has a happier taste than the short breath. Different kinds of breath bring different kinds of happiness. We learn to analyze and distinguish the different flavors that come with the different kinds of breath that we have scrutinized. (53)
Finally, we will discover the various causes that make the breath either long or short. We gradually will find this out for and by ourselves. What causes the breathing to be long? What kind of mood makes the breath long? What kind of mood makes it short? Thus, we come to know the causes and conditions that make the breath long or short.
The body which is the causal conditioner is given the name kaya-sankhara (body conditioner) to distinguish it from the other, the one effected by the conditioning, the “conditioned body." Work on this fact in the mind, seeing it as if it were physically tangible. See the one group condition and nurture the other. See them arise together, fall together, coarsen together, become fine together, grow comfortable together, and become uncomfortable together. Realize how intimately they are connected.
This is what is meant by "seeing all bodies," Watch both bodies together and see them condition each other. This is valuable for seeing truth more extensively, for realizing anatta, even. In seeing this interrelationship, we see that what occurs is merely a natural process of conditioning. There is no atta, no self, no soul, no such thing at all involved. Such understanding can have the highest benefit, although it may be somewhat beyond the specific object of this step. For now, however, we only need to understand this fact of conditioning enough to be able to regulate the flesh-body, to calm it by regulating the breath-body.