How do I watch the breath (without controlling it)?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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Re: How do I watch the breath?

Post by acinteyyo »

dhamma_spoon wrote:
Jetavana wrote:Dear Dhamma Spoon,

Thanks your email comment. Yes, I refer to Anapana Sutta first Tetrad as it is just concentration for beginner. In the Second Tetrad, it is Vipassana, for Insight.

Hi, Jet and Kenshou -

It is a good question to ask if the second tetrad begins insight meditation, after concentration (samatha) is developed by the first.
If I understand it correctly from the suttas MN 118 and MN 10, the four tetrads are equivalent to the four foundations of mindfulness (satipatthana).
The first tetrad is mindfulness in the "body". The second is mindfulness in the feelings. And so on.

I think the satipatthana development is samatha first then vipassana. The samatha is achieved by just the the first half of the first tetrad.

I see things differently. As I understand the four foundations there is a samatha part as well as a vipassana part in every of the four foundations (i.e. rupa, vedana, citta, dhamma). IMHO samatha and vipassana have to be practiced together. In MN10 the "he remains focused..." parts represent the samatha part, while the "he discerns..." parts represent the vipassana part. You will find that these two phrasings (or similar) appear in every of the four foundations. There are many different objects for samatha mentioned in MN10, wich have to be focused on and discernd, which stands for the vipassana part. Discernment can only lead to wisdom when one remains properly focused. If there's not enough focus, one will be distracted to easily and there won't be any chance for deep discernment, which means, that without deep discernment there won't arise genuine wisdom.

I prefer the breath, because of its advantages mentioned in MN118. In MN118 one can easily see, that there are also parts to focus on (samatha) and parts to discern (vipassan) like in MN10, although those parts differ a little bit, but the similarities are obvious.

This may be different from what other teachers say, but it is my experience and how I see things at the moment.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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Re: How do I watch the breath?

Post by 5heaps »

Moth wrote:If I am unaware of my breath it moves by itself, automatically. However, if I focus on my breath it becomes manual--I have to control it. If I try not to control my breath, while still focusing on it, I stop breathing. If I continue this naturally I will breathe out of need for air, but this way feels very rigid and unnatural. Any advice?
it'll even out by itself as you begin to concentrate. being aware that you are controlling your breath is after all not concentrating on the breath correctly is it? so just try and stick to your object as specifically as possible, over and over until you build memory and perseverance and you overcome gross dullness and gross agitation. by that time your concentration is half-decent and your familiarity with your object + developed mental skill of memory etc will allow you to quickly stop fixating on controlling the breath.
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Re: How do I watch the breath?

Post by Jetavana »

Hi thanks for good respond reasoning.

Samatha is conditioned concentration whereas Insight Vipassana is noting each arising and ceasing of Phenomenon.


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Re: How do I watch the breath?

Post by m0rl0ck »

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I found the above a great help. Bhante Vimalaramsi teaching from the sutta itself. His comments on the body during breath meditation were especially helpful to me.
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

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