Some thoughts on anapanasati practice

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Pseudobabble
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Some thoughts on anapanasati practice

Post by Pseudobabble » Wed May 24, 2017 8:55 am

HI Everyone,

I've been practising, and have had some thoughts - would appreciate your views.


- Where and how should attention be?

I have had what feels like something of a breakthrough with this. Previously, I always focussed attention very tightly in one particular place. Now, having reviewed the couple of times I entered what I think was access concentration, and comparing it with other activities which require concentration and mindfulness, I've found a different way of paying attention. Fixing a 'wide-view' type of mindfulness on the whole body (being aware of the feeling of the whole body, as far as is possible), while having the experienced aspects of breathing in the centre of the view, if that makes any sense. So awareness of the whole field of experience, while placing one aspect of it in the centre. I want to emphasise fixing though - it feels like planting a flag or placing a post and then watching the movements and sensations of the breath as they move past the fixed point, but the fixed point is the 'wide-view' attention on the whole body. I'm very aware of how badly subjective descriptions translate, especially through text.


- Flexibility

Not sticking to one 'routine'. Even though this is recommended in the Canon, I am only just understanding it. When the mind is distracted, body scanning is hard, the mind bounces around everywhere, but just watching the breath is very pleasant and calming. When the mind is dull, watching the breath sends me to sleep, but body scanning is interesting, wakes me up. This is probably very obvious to some people, but really experientially understanding it has been a great help. Of course, there is a main practise (anapanasati, for me), but having some flexibility with how I practise it has really helped in corralling the mind.


- Bath Attendant Simile, or Weaving A Rope

The famous bath attendant simile. It really makes sense to me now - the bath attendant is collecting all the little particles of thought, and kneading them together to create a unified whole - slowly, over time, with effort, and attention. He has to be aware of the particles that are not yet worked into the whole, and has to make sure the whole is not breaking apart, while applying the right amount of pressure at the right time, in the right place.

I came up with my own: weaving a rope. Thought trains are like threads of attention, and all the loose threads need to be collected together and bound into one thick, strong, unified strand. Each time I discover the mind wandering, it isn't a problem, its a stroke of luck - having found a stray thread, I can bind it in, and make the rope stronger. There's a technique, and one has to use skill, otherwise the rope you end up with is frayed, loose, weak. It's just like a craft.


- A calm and pleasant abiding

This is so true. Having felt a bit of piti-sukha, and being attentive to it, feeling it grow as I get more concentrated - it is far far better than sensual pleasure.


What do you guys think? Any pointers?
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

R1111 = rightviewftw
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Re: Some thoughts on anapanasati practice

Post by R1111 = rightviewftw » Wed May 24, 2017 2:40 pm

Recently i experimented with Anapanasati, i noted the long/short in and out breaths at the nostrils while trying to be aware of the body as in the saw similie for "base" and tried to Recollect/Establish Sati at Satipatthanas rapidly. I did not body scan.

However i went back to training Mahasi Method because i have faith in the technique and it feels more or less like the same thing tbh.

I am not sure which is better but i do know that body scanning is not a necessity for attainment of Nibbana nor does it "break" the Sukkha feeling.

It seems like the Sukkha feeling is born of non-regret, seclusion from unwholesome states and serenity rather than a technique as in dependent on "staying with the breath".

I can definitely do the whole Mahasi technique with rising-falling-sitting+points of touching while maintaining the same pleasurable feelings that id get from staying with the breath for long time.

As i see it one should not pursue the pleasure from the meditation because that is an Imperfection of Insight, it is not worth getting attached to it, it is the result of the practice, it is not the practice. I tend to stay with it and note it until i start frequently noticing other phenomena and just keep doing my thing. Sometimes it lasts very long time, sometimes it does not arise and i don't make it my goal in the practice, i see it as merely a by-product of virtue and concentration and ultimately Dukkha because it is branded with 3Cs.

I don't concern myself with Jhana or Access Concentration because most people and monks can't agree on the definitions. What matters is does your practice make you a better person, does it lead to seeing clearly, does it remove defilements, are you being mindful? I think that is a good approach and this is what i have been taught to do.

When mind is drowsy or sleepy that is a good object to stay with but one should definitely simplify the task at hand so to speak, as in perhaps note the minimum and not try to do the bodyscan or the whole Mahasi sequence. Sitting in these states is very good for one can see their eventual cessation, that or one will fall asleep, it is a win-win either way.

I appreciated the practical Sati part of this Anapanasati article but i didn't care about the Jhana section and the rest.
https://pathpress.wordpress.com/2014/07 ... editation/

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Re: Some thoughts on anapanasati practice

Post by binocular » Wed May 24, 2017 2:58 pm

R1111 wrote:What matters is does your practice make you a better person, does it lead to seeing clearly, does it remove defilements, are you being mindful? I think that is a good approach and this is what i have been taught to do.
How does one measure these things?
How does one measure whether one is becoming a better person, whether one seeing more clearly, whether one's defilements are being removed, whether one is being mindful?

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Re: Some thoughts on anapanasati practice

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed May 24, 2017 3:15 pm

binocular wrote:
R1111 wrote:What matters is does your practice make you a better person, does it lead to seeing clearly, does it remove defilements, are you being mindful? I think that is a good approach and this is what i have been taught to do.
How does one measure these things?
How does one measure whether one is becoming a better person, whether one seeing more clearly, whether one's defilements are being removed, whether one is being mindful?
Even if a monk is not skilful in reading the minds of others, he should be skilful in reading his own mind.
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Re: Some thoughts on anapanasati practice

Post by R1111 = rightviewftw » Wed May 24, 2017 3:24 pm

binocular wrote: How does one measure these things?
To put it simply one should notice becoming more content, fewness of wishes one should be getting on the good path and have an easier time staying on the good path, avoiding getting on the bad path and getting off the wrong path more quickly. Another thing would be changes in behavior and habits, ie things that used to provoke do not provoke, things that used to cause discomfort dont cause as much discomfort, less obsessive thinking and overcoming obstacles in meditation.
binocular wrote: How does one measure whether one is becoming a better person
One thing one could do is to observe oneself in regards to these two things: Do one's unskillful tendencies increase or decrease? Do ones skillful tendencies increase or decrease?
binocular wrote:Whether one seeing more clearly
I think right perception should be creeping in as discernment is cultivated, perception of impermanence, unattractiveness and non-self arising in regards to things and people.
binocular wrote:whether one's defilements are being removed
Less cognitive dissonance, better understanding of the Dhamma, less skeptical doubt, less craving, less anger, more discernment and more skillful decisions.
binocular wrote:If one is being mindful
This one is easily discerned if one develops Sati, then the lack of it will be more apparent, specifically in regards to meditation there are times when one is not being mindful even tho one's intention was to be mindful but mind starts rambling, distracted and one is drifting, getting caught up in planning or ruminating etc. It becomes stressful and if one does not snap out of it and "come over the top" by establishing Sati it will become overwhelming and one probably wont have a good time so to speak.

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Re: Some thoughts on anapanasati practice

Post by BasementBuddhist » Wed May 24, 2017 5:00 pm

Good job on coming to this realization. Varrying meditation styles leads to interesting results and some new discoveries.

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Re: Some thoughts on anapanasati practice

Post by binocular » Thu May 25, 2017 5:37 am

R1111 wrote:To put it simply one should notice becoming more content, fewness of wishes one should be getting on the good path and have an easier time staying on the good path, avoiding getting on the bad path and getting off the wrong path more quickly. Another thing would be changes in behavior and habits, ie things that used to provoke do not provoke, things that used to cause discomfort dont cause as much discomfort, less obsessive thinking and overcoming obstacles in meditation.
/.../
Thank you both for your replies!

This has given me a lot ot think about, and to work out a way to put this into regular practice, in terms of actionable items.

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Re: Some thoughts on anapanasati practice

Post by R1111 = rightviewftw » Thu May 25, 2017 7:49 am

binocular wrote: a way to put this into regular practice, in terms of actionable items.
That is not the practice tho, this is also a result of the practice. Just develop Sati and the results will come, as a factor of Enlightenment Sati will be the foundation for the other factors. Formal Satipatthana meditation cultivates the enlightenment factor of Sati most quickly.

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Re: Some thoughts on anapanasati practice

Post by binocular » Thu May 25, 2017 8:05 am

R1111 wrote:Just develop Sati and the results will come, as a factor of Enlightenment Sati will be the foundation for the other factors.
This sounds like a strange idea to me.

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Re: Some thoughts on anapanasati practice

Post by R1111 = rightviewftw » Thu May 25, 2017 11:38 am

binocular wrote:
R1111 wrote:Just develop Sati and the results will come, as a factor of Enlightenment Sati will be the foundation for the other factors.
This sounds like a strange idea to me.
The Blessed One said this: "This is the direct path for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow & lamentation, for the disappearance of pain & distress, for the attainment of the right method, & for the realization of Unbinding — in other words, the four frames of reference. Which four?

"There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings... mind... mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.
"Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit. Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, brings the four frames of reference to their culmination. The four frames of reference, when developed & pursued, bring the seven factors for Awakening to their culmination.
"Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued
This means formal Satipatthana Training when developed & pursued the skill in establishing Sati on the Four Satipatthanas will result in culmination of the Seven Factors of Awakening and bring about Unbinding.
"Just so, when the mind is sluggish it is the wrong time to cultivate the enlightenment-factors of tranquillity, concentration and equanimity, because a sluggish mind is hard to arouse through these factors.
...
"Just so, monks, when the mind is agitated, that is the right time to cultivate the enlightenment-factors of tranquillity, concentration, equanimity. An agitated mind is easy to calm through these factors.

"But as for mindfulness, monks, I declare that it is always useful."
When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there.When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress."

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Re: Some thoughts on anapanasati practice

Post by binocular » Thu May 25, 2017 6:00 pm

Thak you, I am familiar with the references you state. I just can't even imagine the connection between this kind of practice and the results it supposedly brings about!

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Re: Some thoughts on anapanasati practice

Post by R1111 = rightviewftw » Thu May 25, 2017 10:02 pm

binocular wrote:Thak you, I am familiar with the references you state. I just can't even imagine the connection between this kind of practice and the results it supposedly brings about!
You should not be skeptical to the words of Tathagata and i would prefer not to explain this because i might say something wrong but fwiw my take on it as it is at this point in my practice:

What happens is that everytime Sati is established properly on one of the Satipatthanas that is a moment of meditation, at that moment we see clearly.
What is Thinking? Far easier is it to answer that it is not for It is not Seeing, it is not Hearing, it is not Feeling, it is not Tasting nor is it Smelling.
When we establish Sati we do not grasp at the particulars and we dont extrapolate, we are simply aware of a phenomena arising, we observe it's arising and ceasing and since we do not extrapolate on what is presented the appropriation does not take place. At the moments of Sati we are truly seeing clearly, we do not postulate a self, we see the arising and ceasing of phenomena and it sticks with us. At the moment of the clear thought the mind is clear of delusion, this is very calming by itself. Discernment is cultivated by means of investigation, repeatedly seeing the arising and ceasing and non-self or rather the lack of self in what the sense present serves as evidence, the conclusion of unsatisfactoryness and impermanence of everything is where this will gradually lead. Equanimity is the natural attitude that the mind will develop in regards to that which is considered non-self and impermanent. Concentration is trained by constantly making effort to apply Sati. It is natural for a discerning mind to be Virtuous as the mind will incline to non-regret, as phenomena are investigated and cause of regret is seen the mind will incline to Non-Regret, Non-Regret leads to joy.

This is not an exact or comprehensive explanation, just off the top of my head.

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