Always with the Breath or Back to the Breath?

On the cultivation of insight/wisdom
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Nothing
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Always with the Breath or Back to the Breath?

Post by Nothing » Sat May 13, 2017 8:27 pm

When sitting and meditating do we always focus on the breath, continually, unbroken, and non-stop for the entire duration of the meditation, or do we only focus on the breath when our minds wander, in an attempt to bring us back to the present moment?

Thank you

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mikenz66
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Re: Always with the Breath or Back to the Breath?

Post by mikenz66 » Sat May 13, 2017 9:22 pm

Hi Nothing,

Good question. First of all, although the breath is a popular focus, it is just one possible meditation object, and some people never use it, preferring to use metta, walking meditation, recollection of the Buddha, parts of the body, and so on...

However, even if the breath is being used as the main object of focus, there are several approaches to using it.

One is to try to maintain focus on the breath as much as possible. If there is any distraction, this is dealt with as quickly as possible and focus is returned to the breath. This approach will tend to give the most calm/unification/concentration.

Another is to focus on the breath, but when other phenomena arise, to examine them (thoughts, itches, sounds, etc), returning to the breath when they cease (or when the meditator is completely lost...). Most "insight/vipassana" approaches are like this. The idea is to use the breath to build up calm, but to eventually be aware of all experience. Often teachers will advise not "straying" for too long at the start, until some calm and skill is acquired.

I think your option "only focus on the breath when our minds wander" is a variation on the second approach, where the meditator has developed enough calm and skill to not need the grounding/primary/anchoring object (the breath) to be avoid getting lost.

There are, of course, many variations on the above, since different teachers have worked out different approaches and "tricks" that work well for them and their students.

Hope that helps!
:heart:

Mike

Nothing
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Re: Always with the Breath or Back to the Breath?

Post by Nothing » Sat May 13, 2017 9:34 pm

That does help Mike

Thank you

I'm having some difficulty focusing on my breath because it's so gentle. Sometimes I am aware of a cold in-breath and warm out-breath but not always. I was wondering if I can focus on my entire breathing as it fills my torso (belly and chest) as I am always aware of this and can easily recognise it?

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mikenz66
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Re: Always with the Breath or Back to the Breath?

Post by mikenz66 » Sat May 13, 2017 10:05 pm

Hi Nothing,

The normal recommendation from Mahasi-style teachers is to use the movement of the abdomen. The subtlety of the breath at the nostrils is useful for building very deep calm/concentration, but more difficult for an insight/vipassana approach.

I collected some resources here, but there are many different ways of approaching this:
https://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=341#p6695

:heart:
Mike

Nothing
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Re: Always with the Breath or Back to the Breath?

Post by Nothing » Sun May 14, 2017 7:57 am

Thank you Mike

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Re: Always with the Breath or Back to the Breath?

Post by Nothing » Sun May 14, 2017 8:02 am

I meditate for 30 minutes with my eyes closed and focus on the breath.

Out of the last five sessions, for four of them (including the last session), I've seen in my mind, a single eye looking back at me. It is fleeting and has no colour, but it is definitely there.

Anyone know if this eye signifies anything? I know we are not to dwell on these things, but as I say it's happened for the last four out of five sessions so I am now curious

Thanks all.

R1111
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Re: Always with the Breath or Back to the Breath?

Post by R1111 » Sun May 14, 2017 8:03 am

As i see it:
It will depend on your mindstate and what you are trying to accomplish, in general:
One pointedness is good for calming and concentration to enter Jhana
Going back and forth between most prevalent Satipatthanas with breath for a base is good for Insight Into 3Cs.
They seem to work together tho, it is kind of like when mind is calm and concentrated it will naturally incline to Jhana and when there are hindrances one cant help noting them in a way.
Last edited by R1111 on Sun May 14, 2017 8:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

R1111
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Re: Always with the Breath or Back to the Breath?

Post by R1111 » Sun May 14, 2017 8:05 am

Nothing wrote: Out of the last five sessions, for four of them (including the last session), I've seen in my mind, a single eye looking back at me. It is fleeting and has no colour, but it is definitely there.
Thanks all.
You have to be more specific about the texture of what you see and its characteristics.

Nothing
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Re: Always with the Breath or Back to the Breath?

Post by Nothing » Sun May 14, 2017 10:08 am

It is a human eye, and it is the same colour as the inside of your eyelid, i.e. a dark pinkish colour, with darker and lighter shades describing its form. If you close your eyes during daylight, you'll know the colouring I mention.

It is not just an eyeball, the eye is enclosed in a top and bottom eyelid just like a normal eye.

I do not feel anything when I see it, no fear, joy, nothing.

It does not move, or blink, it just appears, then disappears within a second.

It isn't large, it does not fill the entirety of my vision, it is small, but it is distinct.

R1111
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Re: Always with the Breath or Back to the Breath?

Post by R1111 » Sun May 14, 2017 10:21 am

It is probably nothing to be concerned with but im no expert. If it is very distinct and high def then it could be like the "signs" from Upakkilesa Sutta http://www.yellowrobe.com/component/con ... tions.html

Nothing
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Re: Always with the Breath or Back to the Breath?

Post by Nothing » Mon May 15, 2017 8:57 am

R1111 wrote:It is probably nothing to be concerned with but im no expert. If it is very distinct and high def then it could be like the "signs" from Upakkilesa Sutta http://www.yellowrobe.com/component/con ... tions.html
Thank you

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Re: Always with the Breath or Back to the Breath?

Post by Nothing » Mon May 15, 2017 9:07 am

I just sat for 30 minutes, and when I did so, I was focusing on the breath. But then, I decided to focus on the breath only when my mind wandered. So for short periods of time, I was sitting there with an absence of thought.

It wasn't for very long but I became aware that there was some kind of separation or detachment between the thoughts arising and of something that was now aware of those thoughts arising. The thoughts were now, somehow detached from whatever was aware of them.

I am also aware of the watcher that is aware of the detachment. If that make sense.

Is this insight? I don't know

SarathW
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Re: Always with the Breath or Back to the Breath?

Post by SarathW » Mon May 15, 2017 10:16 am

I think breath is the anchor.
You always bring your mind back to the breath.
Please see the diagram in P270 - Satipatthana by Analayo.
=========

From awareness of the main object of meditation, the dynamics of
contemplation can at any given moment lead to any of the other
satipaììhãna exercises, and then revert to the main object. That is,
from being aware of the process of breathing, for example, awareness
might turn to any other occurrence in the realm of body, feelings,
mind, or dhammas which has become prominent, and then
revert to the breath. Otherwise, in the event that the newly-arisen
object of meditation should require sustained attention and deeper
investigation, it can become the new centre of the flower, with the
former object turned into one of the petals.

https://www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg ... t-path.pdf
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

pegembara
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Re: Always with the Breath or Back to the Breath?

Post by pegembara » Tue May 16, 2017 6:53 am

Nothing wrote:When sitting and meditating do we always focus on the breath, continually, unbroken, and non-stop for the entire duration of the meditation, or do we only focus on the breath when our minds wander, in an attempt to bring us back to the present moment?

Thank you
The breath is your anchor(mindfulness immerse in body) for restraining the senses.
"Then those six animals, of different ranges, of different habitats, would each pull toward its own range & habitat. The snake would pull, thinking, 'I'll go into the anthill.' The crocodile would pull, thinking, 'I'll go into the water.' The bird would pull, thinking, 'I'll fly up into the air.' The dog would pull, thinking, 'I'll go into the village.' The hyena would pull, thinking, 'I'll go into the charnel ground.' The monkey would pull, thinking, 'I'll go into the forest.' And when these six animals became internally exhausted, they would stand, sit, or lie down right there next to the post or stake. In the same way, when a monk whose mindfulness immersed in the body is developed & pursued, the eye does not pull toward pleasing forms, and unpleasing forms are not repellent. The ear does not pull toward pleasing sounds... The nose does not pull toward pleasing aromas... The tongue does not pull toward pleasing flavors... The body does not pull toward pleasing tactile sensations... The intellect does not pull toward pleasing ideas, and unpleasing ideas are not repellent. This, monks, is restraint.

"Thus you should train yourselves: 'We will develop mindfulness immersed in the body. We will pursue it, hand it the reins and take it as a basis, give it a grounding. We will steady it, consolidate it, and set about it properly.' That's how you should train yourselves."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

pegembara
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Re: Always with the Breath or Back to the Breath?

Post by pegembara » Tue May 16, 2017 6:58 am

Nothing wrote:I just sat for 30 minutes, and when I did so, I was focusing on the breath. But then, I decided to focus on the breath only when my mind wandered. So for short periods of time, I was sitting there with an absence of thought.

It wasn't for very long but I became aware that there was some kind of separation or detachment between the thoughts arising and of something that was now aware of those thoughts arising. The thoughts were now, somehow detached from whatever was aware of them.

I am also aware of the watcher that is aware of the detachment. If that make sense.

Is this insight? I don't know
You realise that you are not "your" thoughts. The second insight is that "you" are also not the "watcher" (that is aware of the detachment).
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

Nothing
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Re: Always with the Breath or Back to the Breath?

Post by Nothing » Tue May 16, 2017 7:12 am

Thank you pegembara

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_anicca_
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Re: Always with the Breath or Back to the Breath?

Post by _anicca_ » Wed May 17, 2017 6:38 am

There is coarse and refined engagement.

Coarse engagement is the repeated application of the mind to the meditation object.

Refined engagement is the mind that sticks with the meditation object after being applied.

The mind is engaged in a coarse and refined way and varying times during the sitting.
"A virtuous monk, Kotthita my friend, should attend in an appropriate way to the five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self."

:buddha1:

http://vipassanameditation.asia

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Aloka
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Re: Always with the Breath or Back to the Breath?

Post by Aloka » Wed May 17, 2017 7:01 am

Hi Nothing,

There's some information which you might find helpful in this little book by Ajahn Amaro, abbot of Amaravati Monastery UK.

"Finding the Missing Peace - A Primer of Buddhist Meditation".

http://cdn.amaravati.org/wp-content/upl ... _Amaro.pdf

With metta,

Aloka :anjali:

Nothing
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Re: Always with the Breath or Back to the Breath?

Post by Nothing » Wed May 17, 2017 7:09 am

Thanks all, much appreciated

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