Not Feeling the 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.
Post Reply
Nothing
Posts: 59
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2017 8:52 pm

Not Feeling the Breath

Post by Nothing » Tue May 29, 2018 9:27 pm

No doubt this has been raised numerous times but I have to say, I just cannot feel the breath at the tip of my nose at all. I've been meditating long enough (off and on has to be said) and it's not noticeable. I literally feel nothing. The only place I can feel it is in my nostrils and even then it's sometimes nonexistent. Not even in my abdomen can I feel a rising and falling.

The only place I can feel the breath is in my chest as that rises and falls.

It's an issue because I haven't got an anchor, so my mind is even more prone to wander.

Any advice, please?

Thank you

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 4506
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Not Feeling the Breath

Post by Sam Vara » Tue May 29, 2018 9:55 pm

Nothing wrote:
Tue May 29, 2018 9:27 pm
No doubt this has been raised numerous times but I have to say, I just cannot feel the breath at the tip of my nose at all. I've been meditating long enough (off and on has to be said) and it's not noticeable. I literally feel nothing. The only place I can feel it is in my nostrils and even then it's sometimes nonexistent. Not even in my abdomen can I feel a rising and falling.

The only place I can feel the breath is in my chest as that rises and falls.

It's an issue because I haven't got an anchor, so my mind is even more prone to wander.

Any advice, please?

Thank you
I'll assume that you are meditating in order to make the mind calm and tranquil; and also that you haven't got a teacher you could ask about this.

You are right about the mind needing, in this process, an "anchor"; something the attention can stay with rather than wandering. The first question to ask is why you think the breath at the tip of the nose is a suitable or recommended spot to fix the attention. You might find it easier to stick with a place where you can feel the breath, at least in the initial stages. The chest is OK for this. You don't even need to pick a small spot in the chest; just settle into a relaxed enjoyable awareness of the general movements of the chest as you breathe.

You could also pick some other object of attention, providing it is obvious and not too subtle to keep the attention on for long periods. Counting breaths, or counting to a particular number during each breath, is often good for this, because it is relatively easy to spot when the mind has drifted off. (e.g. if you are counting to, say, nine breaths, or counting up to nine during each breath, then when you catch yourself mentally repeating "twelve", you know that you have stopped paying attention!)

Once this process is working reasonably well and the mind can stay with it, you might want to transfer the attention to a more subtle object of awareness, such as the breath in the nostrils, or at the point where it first enters and leaves the body - just that soft touch of air. This is easier once the mind has settled somewhat at an earlier task. The touch of air at the nostrils is very gentle, so your mind sometimes needs to be more sensitive first.

I think the "tip of the nose" really just means that touch of air at the nostril. There is of course a very fine tingling which can be discerned at the fleshy tip of the nose, just as in other parts of the body, but again it takes practice and a calm sensitive mind to pick this up. I think you would do better to start with a relatively easy and "gross" sensation of breathing wherever it manifests itself, and stick with that. Then, if you want to, you can use the resultant refinement of consciousness to pick up the subtle movement of air at the nostrils.

You might also want to follow instructions from a manual, or from audio recordings of guided meditation sessions by a teacher you trust.

Nothing
Posts: 59
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2017 8:52 pm

Re: Not Feeling the Breath

Post by Nothing » Tue May 29, 2018 10:23 pm

Thank you for the advice Sam, it's appreciated.

I'll focus on my chest for the time being because it's really non existent around my nose.

I've been told to read 'With Each and Every Breath' (the pdf) and I am doing that so hopefully there's more advice in there.

Thanks again.

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 4506
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: Not Feeling the Breath

Post by Sam Vara » Tue May 29, 2018 10:30 pm

Nothing wrote:
Tue May 29, 2018 10:23 pm

I've been told to read 'With Each and Every Breath' (the pdf) and I am doing that so hopefully there's more advice in there.
That's good. There's a lot of theory in there as well, but all of it good. The basic meditation instructions are excellent, both pragmatic and engaging.

Good luck! :anjali:

User avatar
Dhammarakkhito
Posts: 1115
Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2017 7:31 am
Contact:

Re: Not Feeling the Breath

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Wed May 30, 2018 2:11 am

stop trying to feel the breath at the tip of the nose; not what the buddha taught
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

https://www.facebook.com/noblebuddhadha ... 34/?type=3

http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://sites.google.com/site/santipada ... allytaught

Nothing
Posts: 59
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2017 8:52 pm

Re: Not Feeling the Breath

Post by Nothing » Wed May 30, 2018 8:00 am

Dhammarakkhito wrote:
Wed May 30, 2018 2:11 am
stop trying to feel the breath at the tip of the nose; not what the buddha taught
Did the Buddha says where in particular to focus on the breath?

I read 'tip of the nose' in a book a few years ago and I've just gone with that. It might have held me back for all I know. I'd love to know how to do this like the Buddha taught. I've tried reading what the Buddha says but I find it difficult to follow.

Dinsdale
Posts: 6096
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Not Feeling the Breath

Post by Dinsdale » Wed May 30, 2018 8:26 am

Nothing wrote:
Tue May 29, 2018 9:27 pm
The only place I can feel the breath is in my chest as that rises and falls.
It's fine to focus on that - wherever you feel the process of breathing. :thumbsup:

I sometimes use a mantra like "rising" and "falling" on the in-breath and out-breath respectively.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 3169
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: Not Feeling the Breath

Post by DooDoot » Wed May 30, 2018 8:35 am

Nothing wrote:
Wed May 30, 2018 8:00 am
Did the Buddha says where in particular to focus on the breath?
If we must walk up a very steep hill, our mind will automatically become aware of the breathing of the body. Similarly, when the mind is quiet, still & relaxed, it will automatically know the breathing (similar to how the mind automatically knows a sound when the mind is quiet & receptive). The Buddha didn't ever teach "to focus" on breathing. The Buddha taught to give up craving. When craving is given up, the mind will be quiet and automatically know & merge with the breathing.
And what is the faculty of concentration? There is the case where a monk, a disciple of the noble ones, making it his object to let go, attains concentration, attains singleness of mind.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
The more busy one makes their mind in trying to follow the breathing, the lesser the results will be.
Nothing wrote:
Tue May 29, 2018 9:27 pm
No doubt this has been raised numerous times but I have to say, I just cannot feel the breath at the tip of my nose at all. I've been meditating long enough (off and on has to be said) and it's not noticeable. I literally feel nothing. The only place I can feel it is in my nostrils and even then it's sometimes nonexistent. Not even in my abdomen can I feel a rising and falling. The only place I can feel the breath is in my chest as that rises and falls.
Try listening to the breathing. Also, gently rest your hands on different places on your abdomen, chest, throat & upper lift to feel the movement of the breathing. All the Buddha taught in the scriptures is to "know" the breathing. To know the breathing, the mind must be quiet & receptive. Trying to "focus" is simply too busy because "trying to focus" is a form of "thinking". The breathing is to be "felt" by body consciousness. Let the body feel rather than tighten/focus the mind/brain. Its best for the mind/brain to remain open & aloof.

chownah
Posts: 7579
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Not Feeling the Breath

Post by chownah » Wed May 30, 2018 9:24 am

Nothing wrote:
Tue May 29, 2018 9:27 pm
The only place I can feel the breath is in my chest as that rises and falls.
For all I know it is perfectly fine to feel the breath in your chest when engaged in mindfulness of the breath.

What I want to mention is that it is widely held that breathing from the diaphragm is considered by many (maybe most) people to be better for stress reduction and overall health. You might want to read up on it. Here is a link which I have not looked at closely but it can be a starting point (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaphragmatic_breathing). I'm mentioning this to you because if you are unable to feel your breath in your abdomen then it might be that you do not usually use diaphragmatic breathing and if you don't usually use it then you might benefit by learning to do so.

I'm not trying to tell you how to breath but am trying to give you an option if you haven't already heard of it.
chownah

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16477
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Not Feeling the Breath

Post by mikenz66 » Wed May 30, 2018 10:21 am

Nothing wrote:
Wed May 30, 2018 8:00 am
Dhammarakkhito wrote:
Wed May 30, 2018 2:11 am
stop trying to feel the breath at the tip of the nose; not what the buddha taught
Did the Buddha says where in particular to focus on the breath?

I read 'tip of the nose' in a book a few years ago and I've just gone with that. It might have held me back for all I know. I'd love to know how to do this like the Buddha taught. I've tried reading what the Buddha says but I find it difficult to follow.
The suttas are ambivalent about focus, though some do interpret some passages as saying that
(https://suttacentral.net/mn118/en/sujato#17.1), and there are detailed discussions in the Commentaries describing this method. Eg. in the Visuddhimagga, Chapter VIII:
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... on2011.pdf

My limited experimentation suggests to me that focussing on the touch of the breath at the nostrils is quite helpful to developing a very strong focus, since it's quite a simple, constant experience (as opposed to the motion of the chest or abdomen, which his highly variable, and is good for more of a "whole body" focus).

Since the suttas are vague about this I think it's up to the individual to work out what works best for them. It's not necessarily what works best for some other person...

:heart:
Mike

Nothing
Posts: 59
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2017 8:52 pm

Re: Not Feeling the Breath

Post by Nothing » Wed May 30, 2018 11:35 am

Thank you all very much for the advice.

How do you go about finding a teacher to guide your meditation?

User avatar
Dhammanando
Posts: 4227
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:44 pm
Location: Ban Sri Pradu Rubber Forest, Phrao, Chiangmai

Re: Not Feeling the Breath

Post by Dhammanando » Wed May 30, 2018 11:53 am

chownah wrote:
Wed May 30, 2018 9:24 am
Nothing wrote:
Tue May 29, 2018 9:27 pm
The only place I can feel the breath is in my chest as that rises and falls.
For all I know it is perfectly fine to feel the breath in your chest when engaged in mindfulness of the breath.

What I want to mention is that it is widely held that breathing from the diaphragm is considered by many (maybe most) people to be better for stress reduction and overall health. You might want to read up on it. Here is a link which I have not looked at closely but it can be a starting point (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaphragmatic_breathing). I'm mentioning this to you because if you are unable to feel your breath in your abdomen then it might be that you do not usually use diaphragmatic breathing and if you don't usually use it then you might benefit by learning to do so.

I'm not trying to tell you how to breath but am trying to give you an option if you haven't already heard of it.
:goodpost:

Peter Harvey, with whom I've been taking an online meditation course for the last six months, lays a lot of stress on diaphragmatic breathing. One source that he recommended to me and which I found very helpful is a series of six videos by the singing instructor Marnell Sample:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... 6MCZFfb-ug


The second video is particularly good.

.

User avatar
rightviewftw
Posts: 2217
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:50 pm

Re: Not Feeling the Breath

Post by rightviewftw » Wed May 30, 2018 12:01 pm

As others have said the rising and falling of the chest will do just fine.
How to meditate: Anapanasati, Satipatthana.
Intro to General Semantics
Factors & Perceptions

Parallel Dhammapada Reading
Chinese to Eng Dhp
"The statements; 'With the remainderless stopping & fading of the six contact-media is it the case that there is anything else?' '.. is it the case that there is not anything else .. is it the case that there both is & is not anything else .. is it the case that there neither is nor is not anything else?' objectify non-objectification. However far the six contact-media go, that is how far objectification goes."

User avatar
Leeuwenhoek2
Posts: 194
Joined: Thu Jun 01, 2017 10:24 pm

Re: Not Feeling the Breath

Post by Leeuwenhoek2 » Sat Jun 02, 2018 11:02 am

Nothing wrote:
Tue May 29, 2018 9:27 pm
No doubt this has been raised numerous times but I have to say, I just cannot feel the breath at the tip of my nose at all. I've been meditating long enough (off and on has to be said) and it's not noticeable. I literally feel nothing. The only place I can feel it is in my nostrils and even then it's sometimes nonexistent. Not even in my abdomen can I feel a rising and falling.
It's frustrating to receive these instructions if you think they are given with the idea that you "should" feel the breath at a particular spot. In my case I can feel it in many spots but it's very subtle and thus easy to lose track of. I've tended to feel some resentment towards certain instructions about where to feel the breath because of it.

I've had training as a singer so I went with the awareness of breath I developed as a singer. In my case, over some time, my awareness in all those areas improved -- I think as a result of losing the expectation that the sensation "should" be a certain way.
One singer's trick is to put one hand on belly while breathing to bring awareness. Some of the very top singers do this as a regular exercise.

The Buddha is recorded saying that he wanted us to "islands unto ourselves". Meaning, I think, to figure out the meaning of the teaching for ourselves and then to experience and prove the truth of the teaching for ourselves.

Also: A formal teacher is great to have. But consider that a "spiritual friend(s)" -- anyone who can also practices is a great asset.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 24 guests