Focusing on the nostrils?

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

Focusing on the nostrils?

Postby GusVanSpent » Wed Aug 14, 2013 5:07 am

I have a very hard time focusing on the tip of my nostrils. It will take me a good 15 minutes to get my concentration zeroed in on the tips of my nostrils, but at that point I'll have culminated some sort of a physical feeling that I can't really describe, almost as though the tips of my nostrils take on a physical form. Now I can't always do this, sometimes I will sit for 30 minutes and it won't happen, because I more or less have to manifest this physical attachment during meditation because the feeling I get at the tip of my nostrils is so faint that I have to amplify it I suppose.

Now, I can feel the air coming in and out within my nose, right near the nasal cavity before it enters, I'm wondering if maybe my nostrils are too large for the air to be as present at the outer ridges of my nostrils, though it seems pretty clear that you must focus on the tips because your mind has to become like a gatekeeper allowing air in and out, allowing life in and out, and I feel as though I won't be doing it properly if I focus on the inner portion of my nose. The thing is it's starting to ruin meditation for me, because I feel that if I'm not doing it right, I may just cause more harm than good.

Might anyone give me an idea of the importance of specificity of the central point of focus on Vipassana meditation?



Another side question, I apologize for asking so much.

I used to be very into meditation, I mean I can't really explain it but there was a sort of perception shift, I felt like I could see way more detail in things, that I could near instantly analyse objects and sometimes I felt as though they were....I apologize I really cannot explain it, but something like a bag would take on such a rich feeling, and almost seem as though it weren't a bag but something else. I also was very kind, and loving, and harbored no ill will towards anyone, I quit smoking (so easily, I would chuckle when my mind would try and get me to smoke, I felt as though my desires were as strong as they always are, but my will to overcome them was so far beyond that moments of weakness were laughable at best).

Now to attain this, I focused on the nostrils, to the best of my ability, but somehow my sessions turned out to be following the breath in and out, in and out for long periods of time, sometimes to the point that I would reach a place that can't be described as vivid, as it were more real than everyday life was most of the time, but I would be in a meadow and see myself breathing, and would imagine a crescent moon and feel so free.

The reason I had to detail all of this, is that I've lost all of it, I just fell out of meditation, and now I'm trying to get back into it. I'm reading all the same books, making the same efforts, this time I have faith because I've experienced it, but I feel there is some sort of dullness to life, to meditation that I can't overcome, I don't get that perception shift anymore where anything and everything is beautiful, I don't feel inspired to practice Metta or to love others, I try in vain to quit smoking but it defeats me with ease every time. You can understand my dismay being this way now, having tasted the bliss of loving kindness and Vipassana. Is it possible for someone to make some sort of a mistake, or be damaged spiritually to a point where they can no longer return back to the path? I'm afraid I'm in that situation.
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Re: Focusing on the nostrils?

Postby clw_uk » Wed Aug 14, 2013 5:14 am

anapanasati is about anchoring awareness on breathing

It doesn't matter if that's around the nose of just the sensation of breathing in general

There is no "correct" way to do it really, different strokes for different folks

The important thing is awareness and concentration. The awareness of breathing is both concentration and mindfulness (the last two paths of the NEFP)

However dont try to become aware, just recognise awareness.



Just be as it is
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: Focusing on the nostrils?

Postby Arali » Sat Aug 17, 2013 10:39 pm

GusVanSpent,

I understand your frustration, you are using the same focus, reading the same books, and making the same effort, but not receiving the same results. All I can think of is that you aren't the same as before, you're a different person, your renewed practice should be one for the person you are now.

As far as smoking goes, quitting is incredibly difficult, I haven't smoked in two years and I still get hit with the occasional craving. What helped me when I first quit, (and I dunno, it may sound weird), was focusing on my throat, (or rather the sensation of breath rising up and falling down the throat). When one smokes for a long time, their throat tends to get very sore, but the longer one refrains from smoking the soreness fades, until eventually it heals completely. Also sometimes the lungs hurt or feel fuzzy or heavy when one smokes awhile. These sensations also fade.

Maybe this will work for you, maybe it won't. Like clw_uk said, "different strokes for different folks". Keep trying new things and keep practicing. I wish you the best.
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Re: Focusing on the nostrils?

Postby mal4mac » Sun Aug 18, 2013 4:10 pm

You seem to be too concerned about exact position, one book I read advised to just feel it where you feel it, some people feel it at the nostrils, others on the top lip, others in the nose, like you. And some methods focus on the belly!

Many books say that you don't always get wonderful feelings during meditation, and not to mind this, not to expect it. If you don't expect wonderful feelings, you will not feel frustration. Just do it everyday, maybe for a shorter period each day until things get better? Anyone can do ten minutes, nice feelings or not...

With smoking, I wouldn't just hope meditation will eventually stop it; try other methods to stop. Maybe stopping will improve your meditation!
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Re: Focusing on the nostrils?

Postby Heaviside » Fri Sep 06, 2013 11:15 pm

mal4mac said:

"Many books say that you don't always get wonderful feelings during meditation, and not to mind this, not to expect it. If you don't expect wonderful feelings, you will not feel frustration. Just do it everyday, maybe for a shorter period each day until things get better? Anyone can do ten minutes, nice feelings or not..."

My question is---then why meditate? Please understand that I am not being sarcastic here. I hear and see everywhere the oft repeated injunction that 'wanting it makes it go away." But if I didn't want it, I wouldn't be expending all that effort.

Seems to me to a hopeless process!

Can someone resolve this seemingly paradoxical situation?
Do the best you can with what you have to work with.
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Re: Focusing on the nostrils?

Postby Mkoll » Thu Sep 12, 2013 3:18 pm

Heaviside wrote:mal4mac said:

"Many books say that you don't always get wonderful feelings during meditation, and not to mind this, not to expect it. If you don't expect wonderful feelings, you will not feel frustration. Just do it everyday, maybe for a shorter period each day until things get better? Anyone can do ten minutes, nice feelings or not..."

My question is---then why meditate? Please understand that I am not being sarcastic here. I hear and see everywhere the oft repeated injunction that 'wanting it makes it go away." But if I didn't want it, I wouldn't be expending all that effort.

Seems to me to a hopeless process!

Can someone resolve this seemingly paradoxical situation?


One wants the pleasant states, but at the same time one knows they will take much time and effort to attain. Balancing patience and energy, contentment and mindfulness, this is the practice. I haven't experienced samadhi and very rarely get wonderful feelings. But I persist because I have faith that I will achieve these things when their causes and conditions have been fulfilled through my continued practice.

Health is the most precious gain
and contentment the greatest wealth.
A trustworthy person is the best kinsman,
Nibbana the highest bliss.

-http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/dhp/dhp.15.budd.html#dhp-204

Heedfulness is the path to the Deathless.
Heedlessness is the path to death.
The heedful die not.
The heedless are as if dead already.

-http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/dhp/dhp.02.budd.html
Peace,
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