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Sunlun Sayadaw method

Posted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:59 pm
by Javi
Lately I have become interested in the Sunlun method, particularly the fast sharp breathing used to develop a sense of vigor and a sharpness of attention. Just thought I would share some videos I found which demonstrate the practice:

Here is a video of a talk by Sayadaw U Wara on the Sunlun Method. I believe this is at Kaba-Aye Sunlun Monastery, Yangon (Rangoon). About 25 minutes into this video he begins talking about the breathing technique:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQRE2C-Y2DE

This shorter video also shows various laypersons and monks practicing the breathing method:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfBMwnpZPp0


Text material on the Sunlun method:
http://www.sunlun-meditation.net/ebooks/SLVENG.pdf
http://www.sunlun.com/smme.html

I have done a little of this before my usual natural breathing anapana and it seems to be helpful in establishing mindfulness. I thought I would mention it seems similar to the Indian Bhastrika pranayama exercise.

Has anyone else tried this method?

Re: Sunlun Sayadaw method

Posted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 7:23 am
by Saengnapha
Javi wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:59 pm
Lately I have become interested in the Sunlun method, particularly the fast sharp breathing used to develop a sense of vigor and a sharpness of attention. Just thought I would share some videos I found which demonstrate the practice:

Here is a video of a talk by Sayadaw U Wara on the Sunlun Method. I believe this is at Kaba-Aye Sunlun Monastery, Yangon (Rangoon). About 25 minutes into this video he begins talking about the breathing technique:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQRE2C-Y2DE

This shorter video also shows various laypersons and monks practicing the breathing method:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfBMwnpZPp0


Text material on the Sunlun method:
http://www.sunlun-meditation.net/ebooks/SLVENG.pdf
http://www.sunlun.com/smme.html

I have done a little of this before my usual natural breathing anapana and it seems to be helpful in establishing mindfulness. I thought I would mention it seems similar to the Indian Bhastrika pranayama exercise.

Has anyone else tried this method?
Definitely Indian in origin. The quick breathing video is quite humorous to watch. All this seems so unnecessary, IMO.

Re: Sunlun Sayadaw method

Posted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 8:09 am
by Mr Man
I remember getting Jack Kornfield's book "Living Buddhist Masters" many moons ago. I was immediately drawn to Sunlun Sayadaw. I guess those who have read that book would probably know why. :)

Re: Sunlun Sayadaw method

Posted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 12:28 pm
by Zom
Has anyone else tried this method?
It seems to go quite far from Buddhism. Looks more like holotropic breathwork - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breathwork

To me it sounds like intoxicating your body with excessive oxygen which alters you normal mental state. You may have experienced that if you inflate balloons.

Re: Sunlun Sayadaw method

Posted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 2:08 pm
by aflatun
Javi wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:59 pm
Lately I have become interested in the Sunlun method, particularly the fast sharp breathing used to develop a sense of vigor and a sharpness of attention. Just thought I would share some videos I found which demonstrate the practice:

Here is a video of a talk by Sayadaw U Wara on the Sunlun Method. I believe this is at Kaba-Aye Sunlun Monastery, Yangon (Rangoon). About 25 minutes into this video he begins talking about the breathing technique:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQRE2C-Y2DE

This shorter video also shows various laypersons and monks practicing the breathing method:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfBMwnpZPp0


Text material on the Sunlun method:
http://www.sunlun-meditation.net/ebooks/SLVENG.pdf
http://www.sunlun.com/smme.html

I have done a little of this before my usual natural breathing anapana and it seems to be helpful in establishing mindfulness. I thought I would mention it seems similar to the Indian Bhastrika pranayama exercise.

Has anyone else tried this method?
Thanks for this Javi, I have not tried this method but I do work with the breath at times, I will check it out. Your efforts to share the many interesting things you're tuned into with the forum are greatly appreciated :thumbsup:

Re: Sunlun Sayadaw method

Posted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 2:59 pm
by Javi
Zom wrote:
Fri Oct 06, 2017 12:28 pm
Has anyone else tried this method?
It seems to go quite far from Buddhism. Looks more like holotropic breathwork - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breathwork

To me it sounds like intoxicating your body with excessive oxygen which alters you normal mental state. You may have experienced that if you inflate balloons.
I am not sure why you seem to think it goes quite far from Buddhism. If it is a practice which helps arouse sati and viriya, why would it be so?

Re: Sunlun Sayadaw method

Posted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 7:40 pm
by cjmacie
Saengnapha wrote:
Fri Oct 06, 2017 7:23 am
...
Definitely Indian in origin. The quick breathing video is quite humorous to watch. All this seems so unnecessary, IMO.
And the Chinese would most likely claim ownership of this technique in certain supposedly ancient Taoist practices.

Re: Sunlun Sayadaw method

Posted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 10:47 pm
by Javi
Saengnapha wrote:
Fri Oct 06, 2017 7:23 am
Javi wrote:
Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:59 pm
Lately I have become interested in the Sunlun method, particularly the fast sharp breathing used to develop a sense of vigor and a sharpness of attention. Just thought I would share some videos I found which demonstrate the practice:

Here is a video of a talk by Sayadaw U Wara on the Sunlun Method. I believe this is at Kaba-Aye Sunlun Monastery, Yangon (Rangoon). About 25 minutes into this video he begins talking about the breathing technique:



This shorter video also shows various laypersons and monks practicing the breathing method:




Text material on the Sunlun method:
http://www.sunlun-meditation.net/ebooks/SLVENG.pdf
http://www.sunlun.com/smme.html

I have done a little of this before my usual natural breathing anapana and it seems to be helpful in establishing mindfulness. I thought I would mention it seems similar to the Indian Bhastrika pranayama exercise.

Has anyone else tried this method?
Definitely Indian in origin. The quick breathing video is quite humorous to watch. All this seems so unnecessary, IMO.
Actually, Sunlun Sayadaw taught himself to practice, with little instructions, which is probably why he developed a style which is atypical. Even though it is similar to some forms of Indian pranayama, the evidence points to being something he came up with himself. Either way, its obviously not for everyone, but it seems to have been helpful for him and many others since he became quite a popular teacher.

Re: Sunlun Sayadaw method

Posted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:16 am
by Zom
I am not sure why you seem to think it goes quite far from Buddhism. If it is a practice which helps arouse sati and viriya, why would it be so?
It simply goes against canonical texts, including, of course, the major one - anapanasati sutta, which speaks about calming the breath (and calming other things as well), not forcing it.

Re: Sunlun Sayadaw method

Posted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 3:24 am
by Javi
Zom wrote:
Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:16 am
I am not sure why you seem to think it goes quite far from Buddhism. If it is a practice which helps arouse sati and viriya, why would it be so?
It simply goes against canonical texts, including, of course, the major one - anapanasati sutta, which speaks about calming the breath (and calming other things as well), not forcing it.
That's only one part of the sutta. It also speaks of arousing mindfulness and energy (viriya) - and it doesn't really explain how, this is just as good a method as any other to arouse vigor.

Also, this is only the first part of the practice, after the breathing, they sit still for an hour or two doing vedanussati.

Re: Sunlun Sayadaw method

Posted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 4:06 am
by Javi
He also seems to teach a form of breath holding technique which seems quite similar to Indian kumbhaka and Tibetan "vase breathing":
First, in being mindful of unpleasant sensation, collect the body and mind together and keep both perfectly still. Watch the unpleasant sensation with bated breath. Hold the breath as long as you can easily hold it. This is not an exercise in breath retention. It is just the normal practice effected in carrying out the common duties of life. Whenever something is done with great attention the breath is naturally held back. For example, in putting a thread through a needle hole, the operator normally holds his breath till the task is accomplished. In like manner, the meditator should watch unpleasant sensation with bated breath. This will enable him to exercise greater awareness and more rigorous mindfulness. If the unpleasant sensation is too intense for proper attention with bated breath the meditator should stiffen himself against it. He tenses his whole body against the sensation to support the work of the mind. He holds his arms tighter against the sides of his body, he closes his fists, he stiffens his neck and clenches his teeth. He puts forth energy as he would in a physical struggle against a strong opponent. All the time he keeps rigorously mindful of the sensation.
This is from the book Living Dharma by Kornfield
http://www.gospodini.com/pdf/download/i ... ype=stream

All in all I am quite fascinated by this Sunlun fellow, he seems to have developed his own anapana method which is a bit outside of the norm for Theravada. I understand that there are those who believe that this is totally wrong and unorthodox, however, I just see it as a useful technique for arousing energy, something which is often neglected by Western Theravada teachers who prefer to talk about relaxing, being very calm and light with our effort. This is nice, but sometimes one needs the opposite approach. I have done breath holding for a bit before practicing anapana (something which I learned from Tibetans) and I have also found it effective in arousing energy and getting one out of a dull or slothful mind state. I have never thought about using it for dealing with pain, I shall try this next time.

I honestly don't know why people would have a problem with Sunlun's style, there are just as many quotes from the suttas in which the Buddha says we should practice vigorously and energetically.

While there is a sutta which shows the Buddha rejecting holding the breath for a very long time (which apparently caused him headaches), that does not mean he would reject any technique which includes breath holding or similar practices. After all, he rejected extended fasting, but not 'intermittent fasting', allowing for a practice in which one just eats one meal. There are also suttas in which the Khecharividya, the practice of pressing the tongue against the palate, are promoted - a practice which the Buddha seems to have picked up from other teachers. So it is clear that the Buddha was not shy of taking methods which require a certain amount of vigorous effort and adopting it to the his Dhamma.

Either way, I think that as long as one does not overdo it, these techniques can be helpful aids, and are not against the middle way. After all, Sunlun here says "Hold the breath as long as you can easily hold it" and this makes all the difference. It is still not a form of "forceful" (Hatha) yoga.

Re: Sunlun Sayadaw method

Posted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 4:25 am
by Javi
Interestingly enough, here's another Theravadin on holding the breath:
If you want to understand what the heart is, you can try an experiment. Breathe in deeply and hold your breath for a moment. At that point there won't be anything at all except for one thing: neutral awareness. That's the heart, or 'what knows.' But if you try to catch hold of the heart in this way, you can't hold on to it for very long — only as long as you can hold your breath — but you can give it a try just to see what the true heart is like.

(Holding the breath can help reduce physical pain. People who are suffering from great pain have to hold their breath as one way — fairly effective — of relieving their pain.)
Buddho by Phra Ajaan Thate Desaransi
translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai ... uddho.html

Re: Sunlun Sayadaw method

Posted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 5:36 am
by Saengnapha
cjmacie wrote:
Fri Oct 06, 2017 7:40 pm
Saengnapha wrote:
Fri Oct 06, 2017 7:23 am
...
Definitely Indian in origin. The quick breathing video is quite humorous to watch. All this seems so unnecessary, IMO.
And the Chinese would most likely claim ownership of this technique in certain supposedly ancient Taoist practices.
Many Daoist practices have their equivalents in Indian yogic techniques. The first time I came upon this practice of the breath was in the late 60's when a Sikh guru, Yogi Bajan, made the rounds of the world circuit with his breath of fire. I'm sure he didn't originate it, but it was new and novel at the time for westerners.

Re: Sunlun Sayadaw method

Posted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 3:42 pm
by Javi
Bhante Gunaratna also recommends breath holding as an antidote to drowsiness

Re: Sunlun Sayadaw method

Posted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 7:27 am
by mikenz66
Hi Javi,

James Baraz mentions Sunlun in one of the talks here: viewtopic.php?t=25644 based on Jack's book and some of his own experience. That is an interesting series: he gives short guided meditation for each person he covers.

Patrick Kearney mentions the movement peripherally in some of his retreat talks. He recalls visiting a Sunlun-style monastery in Burma, and being urged to stay. By that time, people in Asia were realising the importance of having Western followers to boost their following, and the Sunlun followers didn't want to get left behind the Mahasi/Pa Auk/Chah/Buddhadasa/etc groups. However, after a day or so it was clear to Patrick that this method would probably be hard to sell in the West, and moved on...

I don't recall where he mentioned it. It was probably when he was comparing the styles of Sayadaws U Pandita and U Tejaniya, and he thew in Sunlun Sayadaw as something completely different again...

:heart:
Mike