Frequency of Breath and trouble focusing on the in-between

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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Frequency of Breath and trouble focusing on the in-between

Post by anon500 » Sun Jan 05, 2014 7:01 pm

Hey all,

Beginner's question here. I've been meditating daily for a few months, and I've discovered something interesting. I am actually getting quite good at focusing on the breath in and the breath out. It is something concrete to focus on. My trouble is that I tend to lose focus during the empty space in between breaths. Sure, sometimes I naturally breathe fluidly, one breath after the other, and those times are quite easy to focus during. But more often than not, I find that my natural breathing is more sporadic. I will breathe, and then I will be at rest without breathing for several seconds. I am trying to follow the breathing meditation style that follows the natural breath rather than regulating my own breathing rhythmically. And I guess sometimes my natural breathing is choppy and non-fluid.

So for the experienced meditators, does this sound familiar? Or should I try to figure out why my breathing is not so fluid while meditating? It seems so weird that I am totally okay with focusing on the breath but that the spaces in between are causing my mind to wander off. Anyway, sorry for rambling. But I am just trying to see if this has happened to anybody else. Thanks for reading.

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Re: Frequency of Breath and trouble focusing on the in-betwe

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Jan 05, 2014 8:19 pm

Hi anon500,

I think it's reasonably common that when you develop some calm an mindfulness you realise that there is nothing going on between the outbreaths and inbreaths. That's a good sign --- you learned something! I'm not sure why would you want it to be different. It is what it is. So perhaps just paying attention to there not being a breath just yet will "solve" the problem.

However, if you are still losing focus then a common approach is to "fill in" the space by paying attention to something else, e.g. the touch of the cushion, or the feeling of the body supporting itself.

Exactly what is best for you will depend on how you are trying to develop the meditation, and you'd have to explain what your approach is. Are you following a particular teacher/book/website/interpretation of a sutta?


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Re: Frequency of Breath and trouble focusing on the in-betwe

Post by Goofaholix » Sun Jan 05, 2014 8:30 pm

Developing breathing is not the purpose of the meditation, the purpose is to develop awarenesss.

If you are noticing the minds tendenency to drift when there is nothing for it to latch onto then that's good, that's the point where you need to train the mind, that's where you need to develop awareness.

So this is where you should put your effort now, make a point of maintaining awareness through the gap between breaths. Don't worry each time you fail, the next breath is a new opportunity.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Re: Frequency of Breath and trouble focusing on the in-betwe

Post by PsychedelicSunSet » Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:35 pm

I suggest approaching it from the perspective of the breath. Try not to think of it as an empty space where there is no breath, try thinking of it as the "neither in nor out" breath. Focus on the feeling of the "neither in nor out" breath. I think people have a tendency to not pay attention to neutral feelings, like for example feelings of "neither pleasure nor pain."


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