the long breath

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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Cittasanto
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Re: the long breath

Post by Cittasanto » Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:04 pm

Hi Freawaru
Freawaru wrote:Hello Manapa,

Since talking with the people at DhammaStudyGroup I have thought a lot about this idea of "control". And I found out that I do not understand it. What is control? As you said, there is always control. Every thought, every emotion has a controlling effect on our breath (not to mention the rest of the body functions).

A bit farther down the satipatthana suttas states:
2. The Postures of the Body

And further, monks, a monk knows, when he is going, "I am going"; he knows, when he is standing, "I am standing"; he knows, when he is sitting, "I am sitting";...
I do not expect that anybody teaches not to stand up - a controled action, unlike breath which can be both controled consciously as well as unconsciously. Standing, sitting, going, lying down are all activities that require conscious control and the instruction is identical to the one on long and short breath.

Try practicing standing meditatin you may find out what is in control
But when doing the kind of meditation I described above I observed something else. At first I had to focus on controlling my breath - to make it long. I focused on controling my breath, I focused on counting the seconds and focused on linking both. But after a while this became a pattern that didn't require focus - or rather: no effort. Like when we learn to drive the car we need to focus on stirring and remember to look into the mirrors and the traffic and all that, but after some practice it comes so effortless we barely are aware that we have driven from home to work: a pattern, a program has been established in our mind that does not require control any more. So it was during that sitting. At first I needed to focus, I needed effort, but after a while, ten minutes or so, the control required for keeping the breath long was effortless, happening on it's own. That was why I was able to divert my attention to investigate that new, interesting, full-body awareness that blinked in and out. So was I controling the breath or not?

you tell me! was it you or the desire?
What if for those yogis like Buddhaghosa getting themselves into a long breath pattern came as natural as for us driving our own car to work? What if one just needed to tell them "breath long breaths" and all they asked "for how long?". They might have known how to control their breath for so long it came just as natural as standing up or sitting.

this idea is similar to a asthetic (can never remember how to spell that word) practices the buddha engaged in before he found the middle way.
I suspect that the point about "no control" is that one needs to have an established pattern, so one can detach from it and observe. Meaning: first step is to establish the required pattern, second step is to turn to "knowing".

or the first step is to watch the breath the scond is to control it as needed so as to be in tune with the body?
Again further down the satipatthana sutta states:
III. The Contemplation of Consciousness

And how, monks, does a monk live contemplating consciousness in consciousness?

Herein, monks, a monk knows the consciousness with lust, as with lust; the consciousness without lust, as without lust; the consciousness with hate, as with hate; the consciousness without hate, as without hate; ...
But how can one know the consciousnes with lust when lust never arises? How can one investigate hate when hate never arises?
does it never arise?
And again further down:
4. The Seven Factors of Enlightenment

And further, monks, a monk lives contemplating mental objects in the mental objects of the seven factors of enlightenment.

How, monks, does a monk live contemplating mental objects in the mental objects of the seven factors of enlightenment?

Herein, monks, when the enlightenment-factor of mindfulness is present, the monk knows, "The enlightenment-factor of mindfulness is in me," or when the enlightenment-factor of mindfulness is absent, he knows, "The enlightenment-factor of mindfulness is not in me";...
How can one know enlightenment-factor of mindfulness is present when it never is present? How can one know there is a long breath if there never is a long breath?

Freawaru
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AdvaitaJ
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Re: the long breath

Post by AdvaitaJ » Fri Nov 20, 2009 1:53 am

Freawaru,

There was a thread somewhere about 'what would you say to the Buddha if you met him on the street' -- getting clarification on this issue is near the top of my list.

I've never tried explicitly slowing my breath because my "shifting the mind into neutral" always slowed and lengthened my breathing naturally. I've also found it feels quite natural for me to define the phrase "whole (breath) body" as the sensations throughout the area affected by the breathing -- i.e., the entire nose, throat, brachial passages, etc. For me, the initial concentration on the tip of the nostrils, etc, just flows naturally into a larger awareness of all the body parts involved, including the indirect motion through the shoulders, arms, etc.

With regards to literal whole-body awareness, I find it a fascinating object of observation. I used to trigger it while driving by focusing piece-by-piece on the contact of my clothing. I'd do a whole-body scan section by section deliberately sensing where my clothes make contact. By the time I had cycled through all the touch-points, it was usually pretty easy to morph into the whole-body awareness. These days, I find it easiest with my walking meditation.

Good thread! :thumbsup:

Regards: AdvaitaJ
The birds have vanished down the sky. Now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains.
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Freawaru
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Re: the long breath

Post by Freawaru » Fri Nov 20, 2009 2:34 pm

Hi Dmytro,
Dmytro wrote:Hi Freawaru,
Freawaru wrote:What is the pali term translated as "theme" here? :
"And what is the food for the arising of unarisen sensual desire, or for the growth & increase of sensual desire once it has arisen? There is the theme of beauty. To foster inappropriate attention to it: This is the food for the arising of unarisen sensual desire, or for the growth & increase of sensual desire once it has arisen.
It's our good old friend 'nimitta' :^)
Ah, I see. Thank you . Now I just have to find out the meaning of the term "inappropriate" in this context. :thinking:

Thank you for the Simile of the Gong. It is all about brachiation from one nimitta to the next, right?
As for the fine breath, here's an explanation from the Pali Canon:

The Simile of the Gong

60. (If) it is thus, (it is objected): “`Calming the bodily formation, I shall breathe in,’ thus he trains himself; ‘calming the bodily formation, I shall breathe out,’ thus he trains himself’—this being so, there is no production of awareness of wind, and there is no production of the in-and-out breathing, and there is no production of respiration-mindfulness, and there is no production of respiration-mindfulness concentration, and accordingly the wise neither enter into, nor emerge from, that attainment.”

(Yet since) it is thus, (it is replied): “`Calming the bodily formation, I shall breathe in,’ thus he trains himself; ‘calming the bodily formation, I shall breathe out,’ thus he trains himself’—this being so, there is production of awareness of wind,[82] and there is production of the in-and-out breathing, and there is production of respiration-mindfulness, and there is production of respiration-mindfulness concentration, and accordingly the wise do enter into, and emerge from, that attainment.”

Like what? Just as when a metal gong is struck; at first gross sounds occur, and (consciousness proceeds) because the sign [nimitta] [83] of the gross sounds is well grasped, well brought to mind, well considered; and when the gross sounds have ceased, then afterwards faint sounds occur, and (consciousness proceeds) because the sign of the faint sounds is well grasped, well brought to mind, well considered; and when the faint sounds have ceased, then afterwards consciousness proceeds because of having the sign of the faint sounds as object: so indeed, at first gross in-breaths and out-breaths occur and (consciousness does not become distracted) because the sign of the gross in-breaths and out-breaths is well grasped, well brought to mind, well considered; and when the gross in-breaths and out-breaths have ceased, then afterwards faint in-breaths and out-breaths occur, and (consciousness does not become distracted) because the sign of the faint in-breaths and out-breaths is well grasped, well brought to mind, well considered; and when the faint in- and out-breaths have ceased, then afterwards consciousness does not become distracted because of having the sign of the faint in- and out-breaths as object.

This being so, there is production of awareness of wind, and there is production of the in-and out breathing, and there is production of respiration-mindfulness, and there is production of respiration-mindfulness concentration, and accordingly the wise do enter into, and emerge from, that attainment.

http://bps.lk/bp_library/bp502s/bp502_part3.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Metta, Dmytro
Freawaru

Freawaru
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Re: the long breath

Post by Freawaru » Fri Nov 20, 2009 3:00 pm

Hello Meindzai,

:Happy:
meindzai wrote:I think this thread revolves around the argument of whether suttas like the Satipatthana and Anapanasati are intended to describe "steps" or whether they are describing different aspects of meditation .
Yes. I suspect it is really steps, one following after the previous and basing on the previous. But to see if this is true one has to follow it for a while.
Anapanasati to me seems to follow a progression from basic awareness to release. If that's the case, "step one" then involves the long breath. I've never been 100% convinced by the argument that we weren't meant to control the breath, honestly. I do think that HOW you control it can make a big difference. A long breath need not be the forced and labored sort of breath that the teacher tells you to take in your yoga class. (I never listen to them anyway) You can induce a long breath with a minimal amount of effort and by focusing the breath in the belly, and by fully releasing the air in the lungs. It will come pretty naturally. I'm not saying this is what the Buddha is teaching, but I know that this is what happened in my early meditation experiences before I was told "oh no, we Buddhists don't do that yogi stuff!"
To me this "we Buddhists don't do that yogi stuff" seems to be a modern interpretation, limited to Theravada. I never found such an aversion to Hatha Yoga in Tibetan Buddhism. Also, doesn't the term "yogi" appear in the suttas?
What I find is that deep breaths (induced as above) seem to be very clarifying and a great way to begin to settle into meditation. I don't do very many - sometimes none at all. But it seems to help if the mind and body are restless. I often do them at the beginning and may return to them if the need arises. Too many of them seems to raise the heart rate and cause anxiety and such things for me.
At first I encountered that problem, too. But now I use a "trick": After each breathing out there is a pause; no breath-movement. This is the point of relaxation and it can be prolonged the more relaxed one is. If one waits for the in-breath to start again on it's own one can breath long for a very long time, going deeper and deeper into mental and physical relaxation. One can really wait for the impulse to breath in again; it helps focusing, too.

Freawaru

Freawaru
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Re: the long breath

Post by Freawaru » Fri Nov 20, 2009 6:47 pm

Hi Manapa,
Manapa wrote:Hi Freawaru
Try practicing standing meditatin you may find out what is in control
Cerebrum to balance system: "keep body in standing position !" ;)

Freawaru

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Re: the long breath

Post by Freawaru » Sat Nov 21, 2009 10:27 am

Hello AdvaitaJ,
AdvaitaJ wrote: I've never tried explicitly slowing my breath because my "shifting the mind into neutral" always slowed and lengthened my breathing naturally. I've also found it feels quite natural for me to define the phrase "whole (breath) body" as the sensations throughout the area affected by the breathing -- i.e., the entire nose, throat, brachial passages, etc. For me, the initial concentration on the tip of the nostrils, etc, just flows naturally into a larger awareness of all the body parts involved, including the indirect motion through the shoulders, arms, etc.
You must have a very good tactile sense.

When I concentrate on a part of my body, such as the nostrils, sooner or later a kind of image arises. As if I was actually seeing my physical body - usually from the inside. As if the tactile impression was converted into a sight. I have been wondering a lot about this effect. Does this happen to you, too?
With regards to literal whole-body awareness, I find it a fascinating object of observation. I used to trigger it while driving by focusing piece-by-piece on the contact of my clothing. I'd do a whole-body scan section by section deliberately sensing where my clothes make contact. By the time I had cycled through all the touch-points, it was usually pretty easy to morph into the whole-body awareness.
I have experienced it before, too. But (except for one case) I had to work for it. My technique was similar to yours, but I didn't use my clothes but the drag of gravitation on each part of the body. Also, I rarely get all parts - usually I can't seem to access some parts of my back. To morph into the whole body awareness I practiced like Ven. Thanissaro wrote here:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... thmed.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

What surprised me while doing the Long Breath that the whole body awareness came by it's own. If this was a "cause-effect" it would explain why the suttas starts with the Long Breath (and not the Short).

Freawaru
These days, I find it easiest with my walking meditation.
Cool !

Freawaru

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AdvaitaJ
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Re: the long breath

Post by AdvaitaJ » Sat Nov 21, 2009 1:51 pm

Freawaru wrote:You must have a very good tactile sense.

When I concentrate on a part of my body, such as the nostrils, sooner or later a kind of image arises. As if I was actually seeing my physical body - usually from the inside. As if the tactile impression was converted into a sight. I have been wondering a lot about this effect. Does this happen to you, too?
A good tactile sense? Not really. The sensation changes based on location; in the nose and throat, I can feel the air moving but farther down in the lungs it switches to pressure and physical rib-cage expansion. Obviously, these things don't happen at exactly the same time. There is a sort of flow to the observation that reverses with exhalation after the pause .

With regards to your question, my biggest challenge isn't visualizing the body parts, it's switching to hearing the breath or, worse yet, superimposing sound effects over the breath. :cookoo:

Regards: AdvaitaJ
The birds have vanished down the sky. Now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains.
Li Bai

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