Great success with "full body" breath meditation

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Manopubbangama
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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by Manopubbangama » Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:21 pm

Benjamin wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:15 pm
Manopubbangama wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:35 am
Benjamin wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 4:10 am
I've noticed that since beginning Thanissaro's style of meditation - the sort where full body awareness is focused on along with the breath - I've had significant improvements in concentration.
Benjamin, pardon my ignorance of the exact method but is this basically like kayagatasati?

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
Well, I'd consider that more of a contemplation on the body itself, rather than a breath meditation which is grounded in the body, which is more what Thanissaro is getting at. My original "eureka" moment with the technique is that I never had great success with focusing on the breath sensations exclusively, and what Thanissaro Bhikku teaches is essentially a whole body awareness via the breath.

Basically, use the internal sensation of breathing to fill the body, but maintain an awareness of the body throughout the meditation. This way, when the breath becomes subtle or simply between individual breaths, there is still this strong sense of "breath energy" in the body, which IMO is really just his way of referring to the internal energetic experience of the body. So, a little bit different than that sutta which seems to focus more on developing disenchantment with regards to the body via analysis of constituent parts.
Hi Benjamin, I'd prefer to keep the Mahasi controversies in their own threads, but this is your thread so if you want to chat about it at anytime, I'd be more than willing to. As you can probably tell, I'm sold on the idea that the Mahasi method is indeed suttanta-based and others feel this way, as well.

That being said, I can only listen in astonistment of your praise of the Thanissaro tecnique.

If the meditation works, the proof is in the pudding and you definitely inspired me to look more into it.

I think different tools in the tool box is a great idea.

I will give it a shot and if it works for me, great, if not, than oh well, just like if people don't like the Mahasi method they are still my brothers in the Triple Gem.


With much metta,
M

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Benjamin
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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by Benjamin » Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:25 pm

Manopubbangama wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:21 pm


Hi Benjamin, I'd prefer to keep the Mahasi controversies in their own threads, but this is your thread so if you want to chat about it at anytime, I'd be more than willing to. As you can probably tell, I'm sold on the idea that the Mahasi method is indeed suttanta-based and others feel this way, as well.

That being said, I can only listen in astonistment of your praise of the Thanissaro tecnique.

If the meditation works, the proof is in the pudding and you definitely inspired me to look more into it.

I think different tools in the tool box is a great idea.

I will give it a shot and if it works for me, great, if not, than oh well, just like if people don't like the Mahasi method they are still my brothers in the Triple Gem.
Agreed. I've enjoyed the civil discussion!

Here's a particular talk by thanissaro that I've found helpful in describing his views.

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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by Manopubbangama » Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:39 pm

Benjamin wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:25 pm
Manopubbangama wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:21 pm


Hi Benjamin, I'd prefer to keep the Mahasi controversies in their own threads, but this is your thread so if you want to chat about it at anytime, I'd be more than willing to. As you can probably tell, I'm sold on the idea that the Mahasi method is indeed suttanta-based and others feel this way, as well.

That being said, I can only listen in astonistment of your praise of the Thanissaro tecnique.

If the meditation works, the proof is in the pudding and you definitely inspired me to look more into it.

I think different tools in the tool box is a great idea.

I will give it a shot and if it works for me, great, if not, than oh well, just like if people don't like the Mahasi method they are still my brothers in the Triple Gem.
Agreed. I've enjoyed the civil discussion!

Here's a particular talk by thanissaro that I've found helpful in describing his views.

Thank you brother.

I have to admit, the first time I listened to Thanissaro I found his style of talk to be rather arrogant and over-intellectualized, but I am aware that that often says more about the listener than the speaker, and the more I hear from him the more I like him, especially his refusal to bow to the (non)issue of bikkhuni ordination that all of the male feminist bikkhus thought was the most pressing issue since sliced bread.

He said to liberalism and its eunuch-like inquisitors 'non serviam' despite not being particularly passionate about the issue but refused to bow, and for this he alone he has my ear and my respect. For that alone I would prefer to study under him than say, sujato and analayo (despite the obvious schoarly skills of the latter).

I will listen to this in full later on today.

Thanks Benjamin. :namaste:

On a side note, if someone has a tool box with tools called "mahasi" or "thanisarro" I think they can keep both and probaby created a better finished product with both than fighting over who has the shiniest trinket. :anjali:

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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by Benjamin » Sat Jan 05, 2019 1:15 pm

Manopubbangama wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:39 pm

Thank you brother.

I have to admit, the first time I listened to Thanissaro I found his style of talk to be rather arrogant and over-intellectualized, but I am aware that that often says more about the listener than the speaker, and the more I hear from him the more I like him, especially his refusal to bow to the (non)issue of bikkhuni ordination that all of the male feminist bikkhus thought was the most pressing issue since sliced bread.

He said to liberalism and its eunuch-like inquisitors 'non serviam' despite not being particularly passionate about the issue but refused to bow, and for this he alone he has my ear and my respect. For that alone I would prefer to study under him than say, sujato and analayo (despite the obvious schoarly skills of the latter).

I will listen to this in full later on today.

Thanks Benjamin. :namaste:

On a side note, if someone has a tool box with tools called "mahasi" or "thanisarro" I think they can keep both and probaby created a better finished product with both than fighting over who has the shiniest trinket. :anjali:
Agreed; I respect the man.

Perhaps we can try a mini-experiment of sorts, and others could find a partner to participate in as well. Switch meditation techniques for a week, and report back the results here in a new thread for sake of discussion based on real experience and such. I've tried the Mahasi method a bit before, but I'd love to experiment and have more of an informed dialogue.
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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:42 pm

Benjamin wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:41 pm
That is an interesting topic, which I'd like to start a separate discussion of if it hasn't already been discussed elsewhere. Why this splitting of vipassana and shamatha into separate meditations when that doesn't seem to be found in the canon? I know it must come from later commentaries and the insight movement led by Mahasi and others, but I find it strange when insight so obviously and effortless occurs during jhana/concentration practice.
I don't think there is such a separation in the Mahasi approach, which seeks to develop concentration and insight in tandem (at least, that's my experience - there are many teachers teaching various developments). It's much like what you described in your first post - develop concentration with a grounding object (such as the breath) but also pay attention to whatever else arises.

The Mahasi approach was developed in a background in Burma where jhana was considered a highly-absorbed state (as in the Visuddhimagga, or according to teachers like Vens Brahm, Sujato, etc). In such a highly-absorbed state, insight would not be possible. However, if one has a "lighter" interpretation of jhana (where insight work is considered to be possible during jhana, rather than something one does after emerging) then there's not so much difference between Mahasi's approach and the approach of Thanissaro, etc. There is simply a difference in terminology of what is "jhana".

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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by budo » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:53 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:42 pm
then there's not so much difference between Mahasi's approach and the approach of Thanissaro, etc. There is simply a difference in terminology of what is "jhana".
Imho,

Moving your attention to the most prominent object and staying with it until it passes

vs

Sticking to the same object and returning to it regardless of distractions (objects that try to take your attention away) aka letting go of distractions.

Is a huge difference in practice that yields different paths and results.

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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:32 pm

budo wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:53 pm
Moving your attention to the most prominent object and staying with it until it passes
vs
Sticking to the same object and returning to it regardless of distractions (objects that try to take your attention away) aka letting go of distractions.
Is a huge difference in practice that yields different paths and results.
Well, of course, those two extremes do have a different feel, but you'll find teachers across the whole spectrum (and, of course, any good teacher will help a student figure out the best approach for the student). My impression is that Thanissaro isn't so strongly "go back to the grounding object as fast as possible" as teachers going for deep absorption, such as Brahm.

However, my main point was that both Mahasi, etc and Thanissaro, etc, teach approaches aim to develop tranquillity and insight in tandem. "Dry" (in the commentaries and in the context of Mahasi, etc) means "without having developed deeply absorbed jhana", not "no concentration". Whereas the teachers of highly-absorbed jhana (such as Brahm, Sujato, Pa Auk, etc) teach coming out of the strong absorption to do insight practice.

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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by Manopubbangama » Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:40 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:32 pm
However, my main point was that both Mahasi, etc and Thanissaro, etc, teach approaches aim to develop tranquillity and insight in tandem. "Dry" (in the commentaries and in the context of Mahasi, etc) means "without having developed deeply absorbed jhana", not "no concentration". Whereas the teachers of highly-absorbed jhana (such as Brahm, Sujato, Pa Auk, etc) teach coming out of the strong absorption to do insight practice.

:heart:
Mike
This is a mistake that is extremely common but it just betrays peoples lack of understanding of what they are criticising, that is admittedly, an extremely dense text that requires rereading, reflecting and cross-referencing.
Last edited by mikenz66 on Sun Jan 06, 2019 1:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Edited to display quotations correctly - mikenz66

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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by Pseudobabble » Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:45 am

Manopubbangama wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:21 pm

That being said, I can only listen in astonistment of your praise of the Thanissaro tecnique.

If the meditation works, the proof is in the pudding and you definitely inspired me to look more into it.

I can second that Thanissaro's technique works well. It took a little while for my materialist-inclined mind to understand what 'breath energy' means, but once I got it (it's just as Benjamin says), the whole thing became effective.

I think a lot of Thanissaro's 'strange' translations and this 'breath energy' phrase/idea comes from his emphasis on intentionally selecting which perceptions to attend to, and how to attend to them. He talks a lot about choosing the right way to frame issues to oneself, so that they become more useful on the path by means of that deliberately chosen frame. So it seems that framing the body-sensation as 'energy' allows one to approach the experience of the body in meditation, and the activity itself, differently - more effectively (for me at least).

If you're interested in some experimentation, I've found that pairing Thanissaro's technique with the framework outlined in Culadasa's The Mind Illuminated has had good results. Culadasa places a lot of emphasis on working with the natural ways of the mind, within a framework of combined Theravada, Vajrayana, and cognitive psychology. For example, he talks about how positive reinforcement is more effective in training the mind than negative reinforcement, so one should feel joy when one discovers that one has lost the meditation object, because this trains the mind that that discovery is something which leads to happiness, which causes the unconscious processes of the mind to direct themselves toward doing that more. I also found his distinction between attention and peripheral awareness very, very useful for understanding how to 'move' the mind (so to speak) properly in meditation.
"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

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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by Manopubbangama » Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:57 am

Pseudobabble wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:45 am
Manopubbangama wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:21 pm

That being said, I can only listen in astonistment of your praise of the Thanissaro tecnique.

If the meditation works, the proof is in the pudding and you definitely inspired me to look more into it.

I can second that Thanissaro's technique works well. It took a little while for my materialist-inclined mind to understand what 'breath energy' means, but once I got it (it's just as Benjamin says), the whole thing became effective.

Wow, thanks guys for the feedback, I think I will have to check it out.

Thanissaro has evolved almost his own school of thought like Ajahn Mun or Mahasi Sayadaw when you look the body of literature he has created.

The youtube link, favorited, is going to be listened to tonight.

Is this method effective for developing jhana?

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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by Pseudobabble » Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:05 pm

Manopubbangama wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:57 am
Is this method effective for developing jhana?
Yes.
"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

'Some fart freely, some try to hide and silence it. Which one is correct?' - Saegnapha

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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by Manopubbangama » Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:12 pm

Pseudobabble wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:05 pm
Manopubbangama wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:57 am
Is this method effective for developing jhana?
Yes.
Update, I will attempt this evening, in all my mental and spiritual frailty, to follow the Thanissaro steps.

Will let you guys know tomorrow.

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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by JohnK » Thu Jan 10, 2019 12:38 am

I am a late-comer to this thread, but thought I would post this link to Thanissaro's guided meditation audio (as I did not see it here).
https://www.dhammatalks.org/mp3_guidedMed_index.html
He gave a talk a couple of months ago in which the image he presented as a possibility for full body breath meditation was to think of yourself as a sponge, breathing in and out from all pores. I found it effective for maintaining continuous full body breath attention for the rest of the meditation period; I think it was an hour.
Culadasa was also mentioned in this thread -- I believe he also emphasizes the value of full body breath meditation.
Those who grasp at perceptions & views wander the internet creating friction. [based on Sn4:9,v.847]

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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by Manopubbangama » Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:25 pm

Manopubbangama wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 8:12 pm
Pseudobabble wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:05 pm
Manopubbangama wrote:
Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:57 am
Is this method effective for developing jhana?
Yes.
Update, I will attempt this evening, in all my mental and spiritual frailty, to follow the Thanissaro steps.

Will let you guys know tomorrow.
So getting back I will say the following:

For either lack of will-power, or just out of plan habit, I did not eliminate the regular noting during meditation 100%, despite that this is not a part of the Thanissaro method. Noting helps me get back to the primary object if/when I get distracted.

While adding the awareness into the body from the breath itself, I felt a very high amount off subtle energy pervading my body. It reminded me of chi-gung or tai-chi to some extent.

I think the Mahasi method is purely left-brain logic oriented in the sense of noting cause and effect, while the Thanissaro method is more intuitive and feeling-based.

That being said, I will go out on a limb and ask: can these two methods blend together like milk and water?

Meaning can you focus on the full body as well as rise and fall or at least alternate the two as an object?

I think its clearly "possible" but I wonder if it is advised or not and if so/not why?
JohnK wrote:
Thu Jan 10, 2019 12:38 am
I am a late-comer to this thread, but thought I would post this link to Thanissaro's guided meditation audio (as I did not see it here).
https://www.dhammatalks.org/mp3_guidedMed_index.html
He gave a talk a couple of months ago in which the image he presented as a possibility for full body breath meditation was to think of yourself as a sponge, breathing in and out from all pores. I found it effective for maintaining continuous full body breath attention for the rest of the meditation period; I think it was an hour.
Culadasa was also mentioned in this thread -- I believe he also emphasizes the value of full body breath meditation.

Thanks very much, John. :anjali:

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Re: Great success with "full body" breath meditation

Post by Benjamin » Sat Jan 12, 2019 11:11 am

Manopubbangama wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:25 pm

I will go out on a limb and ask: can these two methods blend together like milk and water?

I would say definitely compatible, and arguably better for many if combined. Since talking with you a week or so ago, I've begun working with Patrick Kearney's lectures on the Mahasi Method, and I've found taking Thanissaro's perception of breath energy as the primary object to be an awesome combination. I'm also adding in the "relax and re-smile" bit from Bhante Vimalaramsi's 6R's with great results, though I have some reservations about him as a monk. I would say don't

I'm going to write a much longer post in a few hours about this combination of techniques, as it's been really beneficial for me and hopefully others will get something out of it.
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