RE: Difference between Shamatha nd Annapannassatti

Sam Gentile, modified 3 Months ago.

Difference between Shamatha nd Annapannassatti

Posts: 908 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
I don't have access to my teacher anymore so I am asking the community my question. What is the difference (if any) between shamatha and regular mindfulness of the breath? TMI talks about shamatha all the time.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Difference between Shamatha nd Mindfulness of Breathing?

Posts: 1574 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
I'm sure you will get more replies on this but here is my take;

Shamatha as I've practiced it was based on Calm-abiding. With each (whole body) inbreathing calming the whole body and with each (whole body) outbreathing calming the whole body. In a way it's a zoomed out concentration practice. It's also acting as a silent mantra as in the start I would internally verbalize this (whole body breathing out, calming - whole body breathing in, calming). 
Later in this practice this inner verbalization drops away as it's not needed. 

Objects like feelings, mind states, etc pops up and passes away on its own and one just knows this without investigating anything. Just let it all pass away on its own and return back to calming the body with each in and outbreathing. It's a practice of returning back to calming the body with in and outbreathing. 

If you decide on this then just do that and give it at least 6 months before deciding if it's of benefit or not. 

Best wishes to you mate! 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Difference between Shamatha nd Mindfulness of Breathing?

Posts: 1574 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Oh, forgot; 

mindfulness of breathing can be anything from noticing body sensations associated with breathing or counting the breaths or just knowing if it's an in or outbreath or just plain knowing it all unfolding or ... I guess it can be any or all of these.
Sam Gentile, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Difference between Shamatha nd Mindfulness of Breathing?

Posts: 908 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
I should have said difference between shamatha and Annapannassatti?
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Difference between Shamatha nd Mindfulness of Breathing?

Posts: 1574 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Ah yes Anapanasatti emoticon well, I'm sure folks will faster agree on Shamatha than on Pali Sutta about Anapanasatti emoticon 

"What Buddha really meant" emoticon (hide) 

I am not qualified to answer that one. Sorry mate emoticon 

(Papa runs away in panic) 

emoticon 
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Jim Smith, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Difference between Shamatha nd Annapannassatti

Posts: 941 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Samatha is quieting, calming, and concentrating the mind. Anapanasatti includes this but also includes elements of vipassana. 

(I understand "concentrating" to mean quieting mental turbulence so the mind can maintain mindfulness. There is some difference of opinion on whether Buddha taught intense forms of concentration, for example hard jhanas or soft jhanas. I tend to favor the side that advocates less intense concentration.)

I also think it is not entirely possible to separate samatha and vipassana completely - there are elements of vipassana in samatha and elements of samatha in vipassana. Every time you get distracted trying to concentrate (samatha) you are reminded you don't control your mind (vipassana), most forms of vipassana develop concentration (samatha) as you focus the mind on the meditation techinque.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.118.than.html


Anapanasati Sutta: Mindfulness of Breathing
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
...
"[1] Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.' [2] Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.' [3] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.'[2] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' [4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.'[3] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.'

"[5] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.' [6] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.' [7] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to mental fabrication.'[4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to mental fabrication.' [8] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming mental fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming mental fabrication.'

"[9] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the mind.' [10] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in satisfying the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out satisfying the mind.' [11] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in steadying the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out steadying the mind.' [12] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in releasing the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out releasing the mind.'[5]

"[13] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on inconstancy.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on inconstancy.' [14] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on dispassion [literally, fading].' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on dispassion.' [15] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on cessation.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on cessation.' [16] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on relinquishment.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on relinquishment.'

https://accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/onetool.html


One Tool Among Many
The Place of Vipassana in Buddhist Practice
by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
...
But if you look directly at the Pali discourses — the earliest extant sources for our knowledge of the Buddha's teachings — you'll find that although they do use the word samatha to mean tranquillity, and vipassana to mean clear-seeing, they otherwise confirm none of the received wisdom about these terms. Only rarely do they make use of the word vipassana — a sharp contrast to their frequent use of the word jhana. When they depict the Buddha telling his disciples to go meditate, they never quote him as saying "go do vipassana," but always "go do jhana." And they never equate the word vipassana with any mindfulness techniques. In the few instances where they do mention vipassana, they almost always pair it with samatha — not as two alternative methods, but as two qualities of mind that a person may "gain" or "be endowed with," and that should be developed together.
...
"How should the mind be steadied? How should it be made to settle down? How should it be unified? How should it be concentrated?" and then follow that person's instructions so as to develop samatha.
...
"How should fabrications (sankhara) be regarded? How should they be investigated? How should they be viewed with insight?" and then develop vipassana in line with that person's instructions.


https://www.lionsroar.com/how-to-practice-shamatha/

How to Practice Shamatha Meditation
...
  • Adjust the body into a comfortable position, and start the practice by becoming aware of your breath. Notice the inhalation and exhalation.
  • As you notice the breath, continue to let go of thoughts as they arise. Each time you are distracted by clinging to a thought, return to the breath. Keep doing this over and over again.
  • Eventually, as you exhale, become aware of your breath escaping and dissolving into space. Experience the same thing with the inhalation.
  • Slowing down, begin to allow your awareness to mix into open space with the breath on both the inhale and exhale.
  • To deepen the practice, begin to hold the breath after the inhalation for a few seconds before exhaling. By doing this, you are splitting the breath into three parts: inhalation, holding, and exhalation. Keep doing this.
  • As you inhale, begin to chant om to yourself. As you hold, chant ah. As you exhale, chant hung. Chanting these sacred syllables helps to further support awareness and is believed to purify our minds.
  • As you continue with exhalation, relax more. Continue awareness practice, letting go of thoughts and returning to the breath. Do this for as long as you can.
Sam Gentile, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Difference between Shamatha nd Annapannassatti

Posts: 908 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Thanks Jim for your comprehensive answer.
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Original Mike, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Difference between Shamatha nd Annapannassatti

Posts: 16 Join Date: 10/14/20 Recent Posts
All of these terms have definitions that are quite fluid so I wouldn't get too hung up on the taxonomy.

I usually see the word samatha used in contrast to vipassana. A meditation is considered samatha if its intention is to cultivate a mental state of concentration and tranquility. When the goal of the meditation is to investigate phenomena to see their true nature, it is called vipassana. The object of the meditation is not relevant to this distinction; what matters is the intent of the practice.

Despite typically being used in opposition to each other, vipassana and samatha aren't really opposites. They are mutually reinforcing. If you believe in the seven factors of awakening, it is clear that you need to practice both.

As far as I understand it, anapanasati is meditation that uses the breath as the object of meditation. It seems to me that this could be either samatha or vipassana or both. If you are concentrating on the breath to practice stabilizing your attention, that's more of a samatha practice. If you are concentrating on the breath so that you can investigate its nature through the lens of impermanence, suffering, and not-self, that's more of a vipassana practice. In the same sit you are likely to do both.
Peter S, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Difference between Shamatha nd Annapannassatti

Posts: 68 Join Date: 3/25/15 Recent Posts
Sam, Anapanasati is an exercise within the field of Samatha practice. Samatha is a set of meditation practices with one goal in mind - stabilising the jhana absorption states. When one starts out in formal Samatha practice, one usually does Anapanasati right off the bat to begin getting familiar with basics like Access Concentration. Once one can enter and stabilise jhanas from here, one is usually instructed to move on to other objects. If you check out classic texts like the Visuddhimagga, you'll see there's a huge range of objects for this kind of meditation, from physical objects like coloured discs to mental objects like metta. But all of the objects are used to achieve the same goal - stabilising the jhanas. 

When you practice Anapanasati in the context of a Goenka retreat, it's a way of bringing attention to a single focal point in preparation for the body scanning exercise that comes later. The instructions never go so far as to show you how to take that initial Access Concentration and achieve an absorption from it. If so, they'd be going into Samatha territory, which Goenka clearly didn't want to do. Problem is, for many yogis on a Goenka retreat, if they work diligently enough at the Anapanasati, they'll get absorptions and have no idea what those amazing states were. 

So to sum up, you could think of Anapanasati as a way to begin training in concentration, whereas Samatha takes that concentration and generates jhana absorptions with it. 

All the best!
Sam Gentile, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Difference between Shamatha nd Annapannassatti

Posts: 908 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Peter S:
Sam, Anapanasati is an exercise within the field of Samatha practice. Samatha is a set of meditation practices with one goal in mind - stabilising the jhana absorption states. When one starts out in formal Samatha practice, one usually does Anapanasati right off the bat to begin getting familiar with basics like Access Concentration. Once one can enter and stabilise jhanas from here, one is usually instructed to move on to other objects. If you check out classic texts like the Visuddhimagga, you'll see there's a huge range of objects for this kind of meditation, from physical objects like coloured discs to mental objects like metta. But all of the objects are used to achieve the same goal - stabilising the jhanas. 

When you practice Anapanasati in the context of a Goenka retreat, it's a way of bringing attention to a single focal point in preparation for the body scanning exercise that comes later. The instructions never go so far as to show you how to take that initial Access Concentration and achieve an absorption from it. If so, they'd be going into Samatha territory, which Goenka clearly didn't want to do. Problem is, for many yogis on a Goenka retreat, if they work diligently enough at the Anapanasati, they'll get absorptions and have no idea what those amazing states were. 

So to sum up, you could think of Anapanasati as a way to begin training in concentration, whereas Samatha takes that concentration and generates jhana absorptions with it. 

All the best!
Thanks Peter! That was helpful.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: Difference between Shamatha nd Annapannassatti

Posts: 162 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
Sam Gentile:
I don't have access to my teacher anymore so I am asking the community my question. What is the difference (if any) between shamatha and regular mindfulness of the breath? TMI talks about shamatha all the time.
I won't give an opinion about definitions, it would probably throw a wrench in the gears of this discussion.  Listen to these recordings, 
 https://www.buddhistinquiry.org/resources/offerings-analayo/breathing-audio/ 
Read the Anapanasati sutta well, see if you can find a discontinuity there, between Samatha and Vipassana.

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