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Leigh Brasington: Don't breathe?

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Leigh Brasington: Don't breathe?
Answer
11/16/19 9:53 AM
It seems the only times during my meditation practice that something intense starts to happen, my breath also stops. But I don't know/think my case is the ideal case I've heard others mention, where they "don't need to breath". Leigh Brasington wrote this:

If your practice is anapana-sati, there are additional signs to indicate you have arrived at access concentration. You may discover that the breath becomes very subtle; instead of a normal breath, you notice you are breathing very shallow. It may even seem that you've stopped breathing altogether. These are signs that you've arrived at access concentration. If the breath gets very shallow, and particularly if it feels like you've stopped breathing, the natural thing to do is to take a nice, deep breath and get it going again. Wrong! This will tend to weaken your concentration. By taking that nice deep breath, you drop down the level of concentration. Just stay with that shallow breathing. It's okay. You don't need a lot of oxygen, because you are very quiet.

In my case, when something begins to intensify, it's usually after I exhale, before inhaling again, concentration will be so much on the object that I don't breathe, yet I do have to breathe. After a few seconds gasping for breath just happens anyway.

Is this "not breathing" a necessary prerequisite for access concentration, or concentration intensify without difficulty of breath automatically happening as well?
If so, I wonder how. I'd consider intentionally breathing in a specific rythm as a base, but I know "controlling ones breath" isn't supposed to work.

Thoughts?

RE: Leigh Brasington: Don't breathe?
Answer
11/16/19 11:15 AM as a reply to Jack.
In early insight stages (insight happens when one does concentration practice too, unless one has really bad observation skills), the attention system messes with the breath. It's a phase that will pass. Try not to worry about it. Of course you need to breathe, but it's not like you'll suffocate because of meditation. As you have already noticed, after a while you gasp for air. That's totally fine. The breath will get back to normal again by itself. No need to change the rhythm. And when you reach the stage of your practice when you really do need less oxygene, the breath will get more subtle and slow all by itself as well. 

RE: Leigh Brasington: Don't breathe?
Answer
11/16/19 11:23 AM as a reply to Jack.
Lots of micro-events are happening that I am not totally clear on.
Breathing exercises are designed to circulate oxygen throughout the system. With any stale c02 out of the way, the body's ph levels raise to alkaline, purifying the blood. But the major happening is on the cellular level. As this process of oxidization goes on and on, the collective "you" will need to breathe less. Normally cells have to ration the oxygen, but now every store is filled to the brim with fresh air!

There is a lot of stigma attached to reaching this stage. Mostly due to fear of the unknown surrounding the breath stopping, but it's true, you will be fine. The breath is always there, a complete cycle of inhale & exhale just takes much longer.

How many forms of breathing have been cataloged... there are too many to count. Different postures to oxygenate the body in various ways for applicable results. But "Controlling" the breath doesn't really happen easily until the mind is subjugated. 

RE: Leigh Brasington: Don't breathe?
Answer
11/16/19 11:43 AM as a reply to Jack.
Is this "not breathing" a necessary prerequisite for access concentration, or concentration intensify without difficulty of breath automatically happening as well?

No, it's not. What Brasington is saying is that it only seems like you stop breathing. Your attention just happens to be focused elsewhere.

RE: Leigh Brasington: Don't breathe?
Answer
11/16/19 12:46 PM as a reply to Jack.
I use braisingtons book as my guide also. It seems my breathing gets very slow and non existant at the same time when the pleasurable  feeling come. I think this is when we are supposed to take the pleasurable feelings as the primary object of concentration. It's easy to focus on something pleasurable....sometines here I see a few flashes of light.          This is where i get messed up to.       Do I go  back to breathing as my primary object? Or stay with the pleasurable feelings.    Focusing on the pleasure feels like more stillness  to me .. I just ignore the lights 

RE: Leigh Brasington: Don't breathe?
Answer
11/16/19 5:58 PM as a reply to Matthew Jon Rousseau.
That's good. Sensations are naturally the next step. But you can also rest in that spacious state and develope a better handle over it. The breath only feels gone but it's still there just more spread out. Mental hum exercises can help broaden your awareness.
You can always just jump to the next stone though. Can you describe those pleasurable sensations? Is it warm? Does it arise in a certain location of the body?
There is seemingly a sort of ladder system to this but its also true that in each stage there is always, always, something new to learn. Each new bit of insight is always applicable.
The breath is one object, and so too are the sensations just one object. The lights are also just another object. Take this for granted as each can be divided to hundreds more objects themselves. Think about how many objects you want to put your attention on. Maybe right now one object is just fine, or maybe two, the decision is yours. 

You wouldn't walk into the gym and start deadlifting 400 pounds, would you...? You work to that slowly... meditation like that too

RE: Leigh Brasington: Don't breathe?
Answer
11/16/19 9:54 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Thanks. And good responses from all. In reply to someone else, it's not that the breath "seems to have stopped", but that my diaphragm has contracted to its maximum and—as long as I want to pursue the intesifying concentration—it stays that way. If I gasp, then the concentration breaks and I start again.

What you say, Linda, seems solid. Just breathe in anyway and keep concentrating. Hoping eventually, this constant-concentration will be sustainable even while breathing.

RE: Leigh Brasington: Don't breathe?
Answer
11/19/19 12:09 AM as a reply to Jack.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/guided.html


A Guided Meditation
by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
...
Try to breathe as comfortably as possible. A very concrete way of learning how to provide for your own happiness in the immediate present — and at the same time, strengthening your alertness — is to let yourself breathe in a way that's comfortable. Experiment to see what kind of breathing feels best for the body right now. It might be long breathing, short breathing; in long, out short; or in short, out long. Heavy or light, fast or slow, shallow or deep. Once you find a rhythm that feels comfortable, stay with it for a while. Learn to savor the sensation of the breathing. Generally speaking, the smoother the texture of the breath, the better. Think of the breath, not simply as the air coming in and out of the lungs, but as the entire energy flow that courses through the body with each in-and-out breath. Be sensitive to the texture of that energy flow. You may find that the body changes after a while. One rhythm or texture may feel right for a while, and then something else will feel more comfortable. Learn how to listen and respond to what the body is telling you right now. What kind of breath energy does it need? How can you best provide for that need? If you feel tired, try to breathe in a way that energizes the body. If you feel tense, try to breathe in a way that's relaxing.

RE: Leigh Brasington: Don't breathe?
Answer
11/19/19 9:08 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
In my experience the Brasington-style "breath starts to disappear" is quite different from "I'm involuntarily holding my breath and my diaphragm is fully contracted."  I've had the breath start to disappear a handful of times when I'm really successfully relaxing and am either hovering on the edge of jhana or am in a light jhana that is starting to deepen and become more formless.  It's more like the breath starts to be tuned out of entirely, like it's the sound on the TV and the volume is slowly being turned down.  It might be jarring at first, but I expect that if you're able to relax to that degree consistently, that you'll eventually just get used to that holding.  I think that successfully getting to that point is equivalent to the TMI concentration stages 7 or 8 where effortless single-pointedness starts happening and physical pacification of the senses starts to occur.

I associate holding the breath and other strange breathing patterns more with insight territory or earlier concentration territory, where there's some bodily tension that hasn't been understood or welcomed or relaxed yet.  In terms of The Mind Illuminated stages, that sounds more like something in the general range of Stage 4-6 or early 7, where you can consistently put attention on the breath but need to use effort to maintain it there.  It may be worth looking at whether you're trying to use to much force or effort to keep yourself concentrated, since that kind of effortful/tight attitude towards concentration may make you more likely to encounter bodily tension and make it harder to actually let yourself go into jhana.

RE: Leigh Brasington: Don't breathe?
Answer
11/19/19 7:21 PM as a reply to JP.
Thanks JP. Yes, I probably err on too much effort. I feel it's either too much or not enough for me. I will revisit TMI, as last time I only read it up to stage four. How do TMI stages compare with, say, the 8 concentration jhanas? Or are all 8 TMI stages phases along the way to the first jhana?

RE: Leigh Brasington: Don't breathe?
Answer
11/20/19 12:55 PM as a reply to Jack.
I should mention first that I don't have a ton of TMI experience and that I haven't had even sporadic jhana access for a couple years now.

Cross-mapping TMI stages with nanas and jhanas is kind of tough and a bit controversial.  The TMI stages are ways of categorizing the contin uity of attention to an object, the scope of awareness, and the proportion of non-perceiving mind moments/dullness that's present.  They're also momentary descriptions meant to categorize the temporary quality of attention rather than stages that persist within a meditation session or over days.  The debates over how "deep" in you have to be for jhana to really count also probably enter into it as well.

One way to view it is that entering into jhana successfully means that your attention is effortless for the moment.  So you're at least temporarily in at least TMI Stage 7 or above.   The successive stages of 8, 9, and 10 where various other sensations drop from awareness could be viewed as an axis of entering into deeper and deeper jhanas.  I think Culadasa encourages trying out the Brasington-style pleasure jhanas in Stage 6 or 7 and the luminous/nimitta jhanas in stage 8 or 9.

I can't find a reference for it, but I think I've seen a more official mapping between the PoI stages and TMI stages that's something like Stage 6/7 is A&P, Stage 8/9 is Dark Night, and Stage 10 is Equanimity.  Not sure of the source though.


https://www.reddit.com/r/TheMindIlluminated/comments/9b86pl/mapping_the_initial_stages_of_progress_of_insight/

RE: Leigh Brasington: Don't breathe?
Answer
11/20/19 3:29 PM as a reply to JP.
I would assume that one drops to lower stages of TMI during most of the dukkha nanas. At least I tend to do that. It varies, though. Apart from that, I think your description of the TMI system and its function and its relation to the jhanas is excellent.