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When you can't feel the breath

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When you can't feel the breath
Answer
7/9/11 3:41 PM
Hello all.

I'm new here. I'm a university student from Portugal and I'm 28.

I practice anapanasati, feeling the air passing through the nostrils. The problem is that my breath slows to the point where I can't feel it in my nostrils. What I've done is to focus on just whatever feelings I sense in the interior of the nose. Is this the way to go or is there another solution? The other question is that I get a bit anxious of not having enough oxigen with such a slow breathing, so from time to time I breathe in a long breath. The way I turn this into a positive thing is to relax the entire body as I exhale. Is this advisable?

Metta

RE: When you can't feel the breath
Answer
7/10/11 12:58 AM as a reply to Modus Ponens.
Modus Ponens:

I practice anapanasati, feeling the air passing through the nostrils. The problem is that my breath slows to the point where I can't feel it in my nostrils. What I've done is to focus on just whatever feelings I sense in the interior of the nose. Is this the way to go or is there another solution?

Hello Modus,

Welcome to the DhO.

At the point when the breath slows down to a shallow, are you aware of any sensations occurring? Is there a pleasantness and calm that becomes inviting, in other words? If so, encouraging that pleasantness and calm will take you deeper into absorption.

People who use the breath as a meditation object should not become upset when the breath begins to disappear. Simply switch your attention to any pleasant sensation that arises and follow that lead. It will take you into a deepening of concentration. And from there, you will be able to practice insight.

There is no wrong or right in this. It all depends on how you adjust to what is happening in the moment. Don't look for something that isn't there. Always follow whatever arises. When you finally realize that increased concentration is the prize, you should also notice that wherever concentration is, mindfulness follows. Mindfulness and concentration go together like salt and pepper. They are the building blocks for insight realizations. Use them in this way and you will be fine.

Many people mistakenly have the idea that meditation alone will somehow "magically" transform them, when that is plainly not the case at all. Meditation is used to strengthen the mental ability of concentration which in turn will allow the mind to observe, undisturbed and undistracted, the reality of the Dhamma that Gotama pointed toward, namely that all phenomena (dhammas) are anicca, dukkha, and anatta.

Modus Ponens:

The other question is that I get a bit anxious of not having enough oxygen with such a slow breathing, so from time to time I breathe in a long breath. The way I turn this into a positive thing is to relax the entire body as I exhale. Is this advisable?

Don't worry about taking in a long breath from time to time. Relaxing the body as you exhale is perfectly fine. Nothing wrong with it.

It seems that you may be over thinking all of this. Just relax and allow the mind to become absorbed by whatever it wishes. When that begins to happen, you should notice an increase in your concentration ability. That's what you should be looking for. When that occurs, you are then able to apply the mind to insight objects and toward gaining direct knowledge of those objects as you reprogram your outlook on reality. The simple act of increasing concentration will help you to make the realizations you seek.

In peace,
Ian

RE: When you can't feel the breath
Answer
7/10/11 8:16 AM as a reply to Ian And.
Thanks Ian.

Nice to see you here emoticon

RE: When you can't feel the breath
Answer
7/11/11 12:45 AM as a reply to Modus Ponens.
Modus Ponens:
Thanks Ian.

You're welcome. But...

Did that answer your question? Did you GET what I was endeavoring to get across?

The most important idea to get was: "Meditation is used to strengthen the mental ability of concentration which in turn will allow the mind to observe, undisturbed and undistracted, the reality of the Dhamma that Gotama pointed toward..."

When you can quiet the monkey mind and begin to hold onto whatever object you've taken as a meditation object (such as the breath), then you should be able to confirm from this that concentration has become established.

If you are having trouble with any of the five hindrances (such as restlessness and worry, or sloth and torpor), read through the Practical Aspects of Mindfulness thread to find out ways to defeat whatever hindrance may be depleting you.

Otherwise, there are endless ways to enter into absorption. The best way to approach it is to relax any preconceptions you may have and just allow the mind to naturally seek the pleasure of the breath out. It's something you have to learn by "feel." It's hard to describe this in words. So, just relax and try to enjoy the experience.

RE: When you can't feel the breath
Answer
7/11/11 4:30 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Hello Ian

Well, I think I got the answer(s) for the questions I asked.

It's ok to concentrate on the nose area until I begin to feel pleasant feelings/sensations. Then I should focus on that to deepen the concentration. Right?

Regarding insight, I'll only do it when I master the 4 jhanas _ mainly because of limitations you are somewhat aware of. I think my mind will be pacified when I master the 4 jhanas.

Be well emoticon

RE: When you can't feel the breath
Answer
7/12/11 1:01 AM as a reply to Modus Ponens.
Modus Ponens:
Hello Ian

Well, I think I got the answer(s) for the questions I asked.

It's ok to concentrate on the nose area until I begin to feel pleasant feelings/sensations. Then I should focus on that to deepen the concentration. Right?

Regarding insight, I'll only do it when I master the 4 jhanas _ mainly because of limitations you are somewhat aware of. I think my mind will be pacified when I master the 4 jhanas.

Right. You got it. All the best in your efforts. emoticon

RE: When you can't feel the breath
Answer
7/21/11 7:41 AM as a reply to Modus Ponens.
Most folks that teach anapanasati recommend keeping the mind focused on the area that you last experienced the breath sensation. if you stop focusing on the breath and focus on the piti or sukkha then your switching your attention to results rather than causes. I've personally found when switching focus to the pleasur it goes away quiker than it would if I kept my attention on the touch point at the nostril. in all 16 steps of anapana sati it never says stop focusing on the breath. But, rather says to mindfully breath in and out focusing on: long, short breath, whole body, calming bodily formations (i.e. the breath) piti, sukkha, sensitive to mental formation (ie vitakka-vicara) and calming mental fabrication, sensitive to mind, satisfying mind, steadying mind, releasing mind, inconstancy, dispassion, cessation, relinquishment.
this is the 4th step of anapanasati you are experiencing where one "trains' oneself to breath in and out calming bodily fabrications (in and out breath).
the breath can take you all the way through jhana and to the unconditioned!

RE: When you can't feel the breath
Answer
7/29/11 9:56 PM as a reply to Ross A. K..
Well, my idea was to swich focus to the piti as instructed in the anapanasati sutta, ie, breathing in sensitive to rapture, breathing out sensitive to rapture (or elation, or whatever other name for piti).

RE: When you can't feel the breath
Answer
7/30/11 1:18 AM as a reply to Modus Ponens.
This is taken from the best jhana instruction I have ever found on the net (despite it's poor English and repetition). It addresses this problem specifically.

http://metta.lk/english/ways-jhana.htm

"I remember Ajahn Chah once teaching that if you lose attention on the breath, and you cannot find the breath, then just stop breathing for a few moments. The next breath will be a very coarse breath and you will find it easy to watch. You have been breathing, but the breath has been refined, too refined for you to notice. So you have to go to a coarser object and keep on that coarser object of the breath until you can really maintain full attention on it. Sometimes this is a bit restraining and restricting, because very often at this stage you are getting very close to very beautiful states of mind. Sometimes you may want to rush forward into a samadhinimitta or rush into a jhana, but you find that if you do not make this stage of full awareness of the breath solid, a samadhinimitta, once it arises, will very quickly disappear again. If you go into a jhana then you will go in and bounce straight back again. It is because the faculty of the mind to sustain and hold an object for a long period of time, enough for the jhana to fully develop and to maintain itself, has not been developed. You have to train the mind at this stage on a full awareness of the breath. Constantly, until you have that ability very underhand and you can do it. If you can maintain full awareness of the breath, and all other objects disappear, then you can start to quieten that breath down: as it were to allow it to settle until the physical feeling of the breath starts to give way to its mental object".

RE: When you can't feel the breath
Answer
7/31/11 8:19 AM as a reply to Modus Ponens.
Breathing in and out while sensative to the breath, is just that. while you are mindful of your breath you learn to be sensative to rapture without droping the attention to the breath. you can experience piti while keeping focus on the breath. this is the trick to progress smoothly. if you go all out for the piti and forget the breath or the last place you felt it you may get overwhelmed by piti start shaking and breathing fast and heavy lights flashing. if you want a fireworks show go for that. If you want to truly progress through the other steps in anapana sati then keep mind primary focus on the breath and think of the piti as a secodary focus. the piti arises because of your refined perception of the breath and you Breath "bodily formations" calming. stick with the causes and let the results worry about themselves!

RE: When you can't feel the breath
Answer
10/22/12 2:07 PM as a reply to Modus Ponens.
Modus Ponens:
Hello all.

I'm new here. I'm a university student from Portugal and I'm 28.

I practice anapanasati, feeling the air passing through the nostrils. The problem is that my breath slows to the point where I can't feel it in my nostrils. What I've done is to focus on just whatever feelings I sense in the interior of the nose. Is this the way to go or is there another solution? The other question is that I get a bit anxious of not having enough oxigen with such a slow breathing, so from time to time I breathe in a long breath. The way I turn this into a positive thing is to relax the entire body as I exhale. Is this advisable?

Metta

The other post I just wrote could be pasted in here emoticon
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3637701

That is good when you can drop the movement of air below the threshold of turbulence in the air passageways. The breath is more efficient that way. Just use the diaphragm-psoas-perineum dynamic to facilitate breath and forget about the air passageways. If you can feel air through them the downstream result of that is merely neural activity, and in seeking a quiet mind it is best to attenuate these firings of nerves and bring it to a minimum. Enough of that neural activity is partially what causes the mind and awareness to gap and then the thought-stream-energy manifests.

If your blood oxygen gets too low there is a feedback mechanism that will get triggered and will increase heart rate and trigger the urge to breathe. If those feedbacks are not triggered then you are doing well - if they are getting triggered, then you are moving just a little too fast. Sometimes it takes time and many many sessions (and eventually a calmer less hectic stressful lifestyle) to really attenuate things sufficiently. It is a whole matrix of feedbacks that wind up getting attenuated, so pushing any one aspect of it too quickly will trigger the feedback mechanisms that thwart progress.

Breathing deeply enough (see link to the other post) should help keep the blood o2 levels high enough that the feedbacks arent triggered.