Why does mindfulness cause the breathing to calm?

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
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DooDoot
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Why does mindfulness cause the breathing to calm?

Post by DooDoot » Sun Jun 30, 2019 3:22 am

Dear forum

It seems the suttas instruct us to establish mindfulness (sati) & clear-comprehension (sampajanna), which can manifest as concentration (samadhi), as follows:
Here a bhikkhu, gone to the forest or to the root of a tree or to an empty hut, sits down; having folded his legs crosswise, set his body erect, and established mindfulness in front of him.
However, the suttas also seem to instruct the "calming of breathing" ("passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ"), as follows:
He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in tranquillising the kāyasaṅkhāraṃ’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out tranquillising the kāyasaṅkhāraṃ.’
My question for discussion is, if mindfulness, clear-comprehension & samadhi are established, where there are no major hindrances, why does breathing calm?

Even though mindfulness is established, why does breathing lack calmness so it must be calmed?

Thanks :smile:
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Idappaccayata
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Re: Why does mindfulness cause the breathing to calm?

Post by Idappaccayata » Sun Jun 30, 2019 3:39 am

It's a good question. I don't have a sutta reference, but from my own observation I think the calming of sankhara is what causes it. I think that thinking, especially when the hindrances are involved, takes energy. Including physical energy.

So sati sort of unifies the mental and physical energy (for lack of a better word), calming both.
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Akashad
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Re: Why does mindfulness cause the breathing to calm?

Post by Akashad » Sun Jun 30, 2019 5:03 am

DooDoot wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 3:22 am
Dear forum


Even though mindfulness is established, why does breathing lack calmness so it must be calmed?

Thanks :smile:
I think because calmness is not the same as mindfulness.

For example,too much calm or tranquility or concentration can lead us to the bhavanga area or sleep if it lacks mindfulness.That tells us that mindfulness and concentration is not the exact same thing.

Samadhi has the quality of resting in something while mindfulness has the quality of being aware of something.

The way it is practically done is mindfulness or clear comprehension is like an anchor pinning a boat to a certain region while tranquilising the breath part is letting go,resting,being at ease and you won't float to far away because the boat is anchored by mindfulness and clear comprehension.That focused way of letting go leads to immersion.🙏

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Re: Why does mindfulness cause the breathing to calm?

Post by DooDoot » Sun Jun 30, 2019 6:27 am

Idappaccayata wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 3:39 am
... from my own observation I think the calming of sankhara is what causes it. I think that thinking, especially when the hindrances are involved, takes energy. Including physical energy.
Thanks for this. But surely the breathing does not completely calm as soon as there are no major hindrances. Surely reaching the 4th jhana does not occur immediately when hindrances are absent. Surely, once hindrances are absent & thinking stops, there still remains a very prolonged gradual process of calming of breathing. If so, why? Thanks
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sunnat
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Re: Why does mindfulness cause the breathing to calm?

Post by sunnat » Sun Jun 30, 2019 8:38 am

Elsewhere the translations are :

“Calming the process of breathing, I shall breathe in”, thus he trains himself; “Calming the process of breathing, I shall breathe out”, thus he trains himself."

Or : "With the bodily activities calmed, I shall breathe in," thus he trains himself. "With the bodily activities calmed, I shall breathe out," thus he trains himself.

The second one makes sense. The result (of what went before) is calm

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Re: Why does mindfulness cause the breathing to calm?

Post by sunnat » Mon Jul 01, 2019 6:14 am

Some further thoughts. The literal translation is:
( download from http://dharmafarer.org )

‘Passambhaya kya,sakhra assasissmî’ ti sikkhati
(quote) calming / the-body formation / I breathe in (endquote) / he trains

When the mind becomes focused, in the way the satipatthana directs, the dhamma naturally starts to work and the mind and the body start to become tranquil. Why does the dhamma work the way it does?

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Re: Why does mindfulness cause the breathing to calm?

Post by Dinsdale » Mon Jul 01, 2019 7:21 am

sunnat wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 8:38 am
Elsewhere the translations are :

“Calming the process of breathing, I shall breathe in”, thus he trains himself; “Calming the process of breathing, I shall breathe out”, thus he trains himself."

Or : "With the bodily activities calmed, I shall breathe in," thus he trains himself. "With the bodily activities calmed, I shall breathe out," thus he trains himself.

The second one makes sense. The result (of what went before) is calm
To me the first translation makes more sense.

Simply put, mindfulness is used to know the breath, and then to calm it.

Knowing the breath is described in the first couple of lines of the first tetrad: "Breathing in long, he knows he is breathing in long.." and so on.

Note that MN118 just describes mindfulness being established for the first tetrad, and there is no indication of samadhi being established at this early stage.
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Re: Why does mindfulness cause the breathing to calm?

Post by sunnat » Mon Jul 01, 2019 9:06 am

That reminds me of pranayama breath control (hatha yoga) which does calm.
Not the same as just observing reality (the breath) as it is and as a result letting old kamma seed rise and pass away without re acting, clinging, which leads to calm

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Re: Why does mindfulness cause the breathing to calm?

Post by Dinsdale » Mon Jul 01, 2019 9:20 am

sunnat wrote:
Mon Jul 01, 2019 9:06 am
That reminds me of pranayama breath control (hatha yoga) which does calm.
Not the same as just observing reality (the breath) as it is and as a result letting old kamma seed rise and pass away without re acting, clinging, which leads to calm
Sure, but in order to observe something properly, you first have to get a feel for what you're really looking at. This isn't about controlling the breath, it's just about knowing what it is really like, seeing its characteristics.

What other explanation can you see for the first two lines of the first tetrad in MN118 - knowing that you are breathing long and short?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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Re: Why does mindfulness cause the breathing to calm?

Post by sunnat » Mon Jul 01, 2019 11:27 am

At the moment I'm thinking we understand the phrase in different ways but the meaning is understood to be the same. Later.

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Re: Why does mindfulness cause the breathing to calm?

Post by sunnat » Tue Jul 02, 2019 1:44 am

This is what the Venerable Ledi Sayadaw wrote :

"When the beginning, middle, and end of the out-breaths and in-breaths
have been clearly perceived, if the rough and coarse breaths do not
become automatically calmed and allayed to the point of disappearance,
then, in accordance with the text of the fourth section of the first tetrad
of the sutta, where it is said, “As he exhales, he tries to allay and calm
down the out-breath: as he inhales, he tries to allay and calm down the
in-breath (passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ assasissāmīti sikkhati,
passambhayaṃ kāyasaṅkhāraṃ passasissāmīti sikkhati),” a special
additional endeavour must be made to make them gentler and gentler,
and this must be pursued with resolution, not left unmindfully to take its
own course.

In the method given in the Commentary, however, it is stated that the
out-breaths and in-breaths become calmed down and allayed of their own
accord even from the stage of counting, and in my own experience, I
have come across persons whose breaths have automatically
disappeared"

The Noble Eightfold Path and Its Factors Explained
https://what-buddha-said.net/library/Wheels/wh245.pdf

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Re: Why does mindfulness cause the breathing to calm?

Post by sunnat » Tue Jul 02, 2019 2:06 am

Correction : the above is from : ffmt.fr/articles/maitres/LediS/anapana-dipani.ledi-sayadaw.pdf

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