Is focusing on breath sensations not mindfulness of breathing?

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identification
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Is focusing on breath sensations not mindfulness of breathing?

Post by identification » Sun Jan 25, 2015 7:13 am

I have read that mindfulness of breathing is good for all temperaments. My understanding of mindfulness of breathing is to focus on the stomach or nose. But I was recently told focusing on the stomach is mindfulness of the wind element, not mindfulness of breathing, and it is for the intellectual temperament and not good for the delusional temperament which I think I am. I was told that mindfulness of breathing is focusing on the concept and not the sensation. So if I am the delusional temperament is it bad that I practice mindfulness of the wind element at the stomach or am I going to go insane? :juggling:

perkele
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Re: Is focusing on breath sensations not mindfulness of breathing?

Post by perkele » Sun Jan 25, 2015 8:23 am

If I were to categorize myself into one of those "temperaments" I think "delusional" would be the best fit for me as well. That is, characterized by constant thinking and speculating and hardly ever able to stop for even one moment.
I have found that focussing on the breath sensations at the nose is the most effective means to try and put a stop to this to gain some tranquility. Focussing on the rise and fall of the stomach would not work so well.

So if you have a tendency to go crazy from too much thinking, I would recommend focussing on the breath at the nose from my experience. However, this is just my very limited perspective and I think individual experience will never perfectly fit into all of these neat and ready categories. Just give it a try, with both of it, and see what's best for you in gaining clarity of mind I'd say.

The statement that focussing on the stomach would be mindfulness of the wind element is something I once heard expressed by Bhante Yuttadhammo, and is possibly a generally held opinion among Mahasi style teachers/practitioners. The point is, I think, that you would not actually focus on the sensations so much as on the stomach's expansion/contraction in space. In terms of the elements this would correspond to the wind element (expansion/contraction = wind; solidity = earth; liquid = water; temperature = fire), whereas while focussing on the breath at the nose, probably most commonly one would focus just on the sensations.
So as I'd interpret it, it would actually seem that it's rather the focussing on the stomach expansion/contraction which could be called focussing on a "concept" whereas at the nose its more focussing on sensation. But perhaps this is just all a bit over my head, and you can see from my post how delusional I am as well. Perhaps someone else would chime in here and elucidate this with more clarity. In any case I hope it might be of some little help.

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Kumara
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Re: Is focusing on breath sensations not mindfulness of breathing?

Post by Kumara » Sun Jan 25, 2015 9:07 am

I'm inspired by this thread to post this 3.5 page appendix from my book draft.

Introduction:
Nowadays, when Buddhists speak of ānāpānasati (mindfulness of breathing), they often mean concentrating on the breathing sensation around the nose tip to the exclusion of everything else. It’s to be expected, because that’s how ‘ānāpānasati’ is traditionally taught. A less traditional way is imagining the air entering the nose, through the throat, down to the stomach, and then back out.1 This may have evolved out of the mistranslation “ breath-mindfulness”. Are any of these taught in the Suttas?

[With new input on "parimukha", I've improved the draft. For the record, earlier versions have been downloaded 78 times.]
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Last edited by Kumara on Wed Feb 17, 2016 5:56 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Ben
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Re: Is focusing on breath sensations not mindfulness of breathing?

Post by Ben » Sun Jan 25, 2015 9:32 am

identification wrote:I have read that mindfulness of breathing is good for all temperaments. My understanding of mindfulness of breathing is to focus on the stomach or nose. But I was recently told focusing on the stomach is mindfulness of the wind element, not mindfulness of breathing, and it is for the intellectual temperament and not good for the delusional temperament which I think I am. I was told that mindfulness of breathing is focusing on the concept and not the sensation. So if I am the delusional temperament is it bad that I practice mindfulness of the wind element at the stomach or am I going to go insane? :juggling:
I doubt whether you'll go insane from practicing anapanasati.
If you are observing the wind element with the rise and fall of the abdomen then stick with that. Discuss any practice-related issues with your teacher or guide.
Speculating whether this or that technique is more authentic, relevant or best for you can be just another form of papanca. Be wary of that.
with metta,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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VinceField
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Re: Is focusing on breath sensations not mindfulness of breathing?

Post by VinceField » Mon Jan 26, 2015 5:40 am

It would make sense to me that a delusional temperament would be better off focusing on the breathing sensations in the body rather than the conceptualizations that the mind fabricates about the breath. After all, delusion deals entirely in concepts, so I'd think a delusional temperament would run the risk of furthering their delusion by adding more concepts into the mix.

I also think that the idea that mindfulness of breathing is done by focusing on a concept is a minority approach. Most teachers out there recommend focusing on the breathing sensations within the body.

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Re: Is focusing on breath sensations not mindfulness of breathing?

Post by Goofaholix » Mon Jan 26, 2015 6:50 pm

You can't have breathing without the wind element, you can't have the concept of the breath without the breath that the concept is based on.

You can't be sure you have a delusional temperament, you could be deluded about that, the teaching of anatta should encourage us not to identify with traits like this.

If your teacher is giving you these instructions then follow them, if not then experiment and see what works for you.

Meditation is not about the breath, it's not about the wind element, it's about the mind. It doesn't matter what object you choose as long as you are enhancing the minds ability to be aware and continuously present with equanimity.
“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: Is focusing on breath sensations not mindfulness of breathing?

Post by Mkoll » Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:14 pm

:goodpost:
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Re: Is focusing on breath sensations not mindfulness of breathing?

Post by Kumara » Tue Jan 27, 2015 4:07 am

Goofaholix wrote:Meditation is not about the breath, it's not about the wind element, it's about the mind. It doesn't matter what object you choose as long as you are enhancing the minds ability to be aware and continuously present with equanimity.
Pretty well summed up introduction to meditation.
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Kumara
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Re: Is focusing on breath sensations not mindfulness of breathing?

Post by Kumara » Wed Feb 17, 2016 5:57 am

I've updated the file at http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 80#p326836" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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buddhist_from_india
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Re: Is focusing on breath sensations not mindfulness of breathing?

Post by buddhist_from_india » Thu Feb 18, 2016 5:16 pm

The key is to be Mindful - of everything :) (Not just breathing).

And not to be "Focused" anywhere.

You arent doing concentration meditation here.

thepea
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Re: Is focusing on breath sensations not mindfulness of breathing?

Post by thepea » Fri Feb 19, 2016 1:12 am

Goofaholix wrote:Meditation is not about the breath, it's not about the wind element, it's about the mind. It doesn't matter what object you choose as long as you are enhancing the minds ability to be aware and continuously present with equanimity.
So if a soldier points his rifle and concentrates on shooting the enemy soldier with an aware present and equanimous mind, he is well on his way to enlightenment?
Meditation does not simply seem to be about the mind, is it not the exploration of this mind /body phenomenon. The object of meditation must be the type to produce samma-samadhi, observation of the unforced, bare natural breath fits this category. The breath is the bridge that takes one to the depth of mind where insight can arise. Not all objects have this quality.

If one can observe breath at the area above the upper lip effectively, then why would one choose to work on a larger area such as the stomach?

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Re: Is focusing on breath sensations not mindfulness of breathing?

Post by Goofaholix » Fri Feb 19, 2016 1:55 am

thepea wrote:
Goofaholix wrote:Meditation is not about the breath, it's not about the wind element, it's about the mind. It doesn't matter what object you choose as long as you are enhancing the minds ability to be aware and continuously present with equanimity.
So if a soldier points his rifle and concentrates on shooting the enemy soldier with an aware present and equanimous mind, he is well on his way to enlightenment?
Meditation does not simply seem to be about the mind, is it not the exploration of this mind /body phenomenon. The object of meditation must be the type to produce samma-samadhi, observation of the unforced, bare natural breath fits this category. The breath is the bridge that takes one to the depth of mind where insight can arise. Not all objects have this quality.

If one can observe breath at the area above the upper lip effectively, then why would one choose to work on a larger area such as the stomach?
That's a pretty odd interpretation of a year old post.
“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

thepea
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Re: Is focusing on breath sensations not mindfulness of breathing?

Post by thepea » Fri Feb 19, 2016 1:58 am

Goofaholix wrote:
That's a pretty odd interpretation of a year old post.
Haha! I didn't notice your post was from last year. I thought this was a new thread.
Nevermind. :smile:

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