Meditation Noob - Need Help with Mindfulness of Breath

Truth Seeker, modified 2 Months ago.

Meditation Noob - Need Help with Mindfulness of Breath

Posts: 25 Join Date: 2/27/21 Recent Posts
I am finally starting with my practice and could use some clarification for those that are experienced with Breath as their meditation object. I looked at various sources (Ingram, Brasington, etc.) to cross-compare the process to get to Access Concentration and then absorption into Jhana 1. After doing so, I am a little confused at how exactly to go about it. At first I thought the process was to find an ideal location on your body to anchor your mind to and follow the sensations from breath contact there. Once you are fully with those sensations and they start to lessen, you shift your mind to a location on body with a pleasant sensation. Then by focusing soley on the pleasantness aspect of that pleasant sensation, you enter Jhana 1. 

Then after reading a part in MCTB2 it states "Try not to pay too much attention to the individual sensations themselves, but conceptualize the breath as a coherent and continuous entity, with many different types of sensations all being thought of as being the breath." This seems to relate to the seventh limb with Raja Yoga so I feel this is more than likely the way to go. Is it more about conceptualizing and tying all sensations to that concept rather than following the breath contact at a select location? Do you shift to a pleasant sensation like Brasington mentioned or stay with the concept or either method works?
Ben Sulsky, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Meditation Noob - Need Help with Mindfulness of Breath

Posts: 131 Join Date: 11/5/19 Recent Posts
I like the plan of beginning practice by developing access concentration and the first jhana.  It's how I started.

Find a comfortable posture and pay attention to the breath at the tips of the nostrils.  When you get distracted and know that you're distracted, gently bring the attention back to the tips of the nostrils.  When you're getting distracted infrequently enough that the attention can mostly stay on the object, you've got access concentration.

Developing access concentration tends to be unpleasant and a lot of work.  5 minutes a day might be plenty of practice.

Once access concentration gets going, the first jhana will naturally arise.  Single pointed focus on the object feels good.  Since access concentation mostly feels bad and the mind wants to slip off the breath, a clue you're in jhana might be that the mind is mostly wanting to stay put and something feels good.  Stay with the feel good feeling and play around with it.  

You might find the first jhana is a lot of effort to stay in because of its narrow single pointed focus.  Even though it feels good, it's a lot of work to maintain.
Truth Seeker, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Meditation Noob - Need Help with Mindfulness of Breath

Posts: 25 Join Date: 2/27/21 Recent Posts
Thank you, Ben.

Over the past couple sessions I've had, I noticed I might have to breathe through my mouth instead of nose due to this jaw issue I have and tension I get when keeping it close. Based on what you said, it seems isolating your awareness to one select contact location is needed so I will probably do the mouth instead of nostrils. 

My sessions have been quite a lot longer than 5 minutes and around the 30-40 minute range. I actually have the opposite feeling and enjoy doing the meditation. 

I am curious over the part where you mention playing around with the feel good feeling as I thought you weren't supposed to manipulate it. However, when I get to that point I'll try both approaches and see what the results are first hand.

Thanks again! Appreciate it emoticon
Ben Sulsky, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Meditation Noob - Need Help with Mindfulness of Breath

Posts: 131 Join Date: 11/5/19 Recent Posts
Hi TruthSeeker,

"Play around with it" was shorthand for a lot of the things Daniel talks about in MCTB2.  You might see how fast you can get into jhana, how long you can make it last, how intense you can make it, you might try different objects, you might investigate the sensations that make up the jhana, the access to jhana might awaken new interests etc.  
Truth Seeker, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Meditation Noob - Need Help with Mindfulness of Breath

Posts: 25 Join Date: 2/27/21 Recent Posts
Ah, that makes sense now. That sounds like the Five Masteries, which I totally forgot about so thank you for reminding me. I have updated my evolving meditation manual with this.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Meditation Noob - Need Help with Mindfulness of Breath

Posts: 2219 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
I also come from the concentration based breath meditation. It can help to keep the narrative in your mind about the in and outbreathing. You actually tell the story of breathing in when actually breathing in and you actually tell the story of breathing out when actually breathing out. You can even encourage a mind image of the belly falling and rising or just the image of the mouth or nostrils (I worked with belly fall and rise). I find it to be of benefit, in both the noting and breath meditation, to not have much lapse in mindfulness. So if its about mindfulness of breathing then make it count emoticon And what is better than keeping ALL focus on the breathing in and out, by letting the mind chit chat about the actuall in and outbreathing and actual rise and fall of the abdomen (image in the mind). Some might think that one needs to be silent and have no thinking and just plain focused but in truth its about getting the mind gladdened an this does not mean "no-thinking" emoticon One can keep talking and thinking about the object and yet absorptions can take place once mind gets glad to be here and now. I hope these words are of benefit and not to cause confusion emoticon Best wishes Truth Seeker!

EDIT; yes, I would suggest at least 30-35 minutes of such meditation and do certainly longer once stuff gets going ! emoticon Break a leg! emoticon 
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Meditation Noob - Need Help with Mindfulness of Breath

Posts: 1031 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Truth Seeker
I am finally starting with my practice and could use some clarification for those that are experienced with Breath as their meditation object. I looked at various sources (Ingram, Brasington, etc.) to cross-compare the process to get to Access Concentration and then absorption into Jhana 1. After doing so, I am a little confused at how exactly to go about it. At first I thought the process was to find an ideal location on your body to anchor your mind to and follow the sensations from breath contact there. Once you are fully with those sensations and they start to lessen, you shift your mind to a location on body with a pleasant sensation. Then by focusing soley on the pleasantness aspect of that pleasant sensation, you enter Jhana 1. 

Then after reading a part in MCTB2 it states "Try not to pay too much attention to the individual sensations themselves, but conceptualize the breath as a coherent and continuous entity, with many different types of sensations all being thought of as being the breath." This seems to relate to the seventh limb with Raja Yoga so I feel this is more than likely the way to go. Is it more about conceptualizing and tying all sensations to that concept rather than following the breath contact at a select location? Do you shift to a pleasant sensation like Brasington mentioned or stay with the concept or either method works?


This is a tough question to answer because there are so many styles of meditation and reasons (goals) for meditating.
If you are a beginner I would recommend you keep reading and learning so you can steer your practice to accomplish your reasons for practicing.


These articles on my blog might help:
http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/10/easy-meditation.html

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/10/a-quick-guide-to-producing-bliss-with.html

If you can say more about your reasons / goals for meditating you might get better advice. Why are you starting meditation? (There is no right or wrong or good or bad answer. Some people feel drawn to seek enlightenment and that's fine, other people feel they have more important things to do than meditate all day long and that's fine too.) A forum is a good place to discuss this because there many different persepctives participating.
Truth Seeker, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Meditation Noob - Need Help with Mindfulness of Breath

Posts: 25 Join Date: 2/27/21 Recent Posts
Papa: The idea of encouraging the continuity of the breathing process through rise/fall of abdoment or in/out of nostril/breath resonates with me so I will merge that with my current process/method and see what happens.

Jim: I'm starting to see that after reading multiple approaches from various sources. However, it's starting to paint a larger picture for me on how to get to present moment with a form so it's beneficial in an odd way. I am a beginner with practice itself, however I am at a point in my spiritual journey where practice is very important to progress forward. I am trying to get out of the habit of collecting a lot of knowledge without actually verifying it through direct experience. I was addicted to conceptualizing with ideas and trying to find what might be and what i might be able to believe in and only doing that at the mental level. I don't know if that will make sense to you or not. I'm having trouble putting it into words. 

As for reason/goal:

Long Term Goal: Enlightenment/Awakening/Heaven/Moksha/Insert Name Here emoticon

Short Term Goal: Get a process down to enter Jhana 1, then 2, then study that data and determine an optimal method to transferring and utilizing that knowledge to merge with Now/Present throughout my everday life
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Meditation Noob - Need Help with Mindfulness of Breath

Posts: 1031 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Truth Seeker
...

Jim: I'm starting to see that after reading multiple approaches from various sources. However, it's starting to paint a larger picture for me on how to get to present moment with a form so it's beneficial in an odd way. I am a beginner with practice itself, however I am at a point in my spiritual journey where practice is very important to progress forward. I am trying to get out of the habit of collecting a lot of knowledge without actually verifying it through direct experience. I was addicted to conceptualizing with ideas and trying to find what might be and what i might be able to believe in and only doing that at the mental level. I don't know if that will make sense to you or not. I'm having trouble putting it into words. 

As for reason/goal:

Long Term Goal: Enlightenment/Awakening/Heaven/Moksha/Insert Name Here emoticon

Short Term Goal: Get a process down to enter Jhana 1, then 2, then study that data and determine an optimal method to transferring and utilizing that knowledge to merge with Now/Present throughout my everday life


Analytical thinking is not good or bad, however it is better for it to be in balance with intuitive thinking. Both aspects of mind should be developed. Analytical thinking can be helpful when you are planning how to practice but when you sit down to meditate you may need to let go of it. Jhana practice (and metta practice) is great for cultivating intuitive thinking. So it sounds like you have got that part right. 

As far as entring jhana 1 and 2, I think the link I included above could help you. I've found access relaxation is more important than access concentration, as well as having the nutrition for the brain to support bliss. For example, people will notice how their mood can change after a meal. This effect is relevant to being able to enter jhanas. In my opinon there isn't an real trick to entering jhanas as far a meditation is concerned, the trick is trying to do it when your brain can do what you want it to do. People don't understand this so it seems like a mysterious process that is hard to master when it isn't. It is just that they are neglecting certain necessary factors, relaxation and nutrition/brain chemistry.

My attitudes to awakening are best described here:

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/04/my-views-on-gradual-awakening.html

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/c/message_boards/find_message?p_l_id=10262&messageId=23260094

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2021/07/a-path-part-ii.html

In the hope of clearing up any possible misconceptions about awakening, I'll add: people who describe awakening say, "you still have emotions but they don't stick in your mind", "you still have emotions but you don't overreact", "you're still a mammal", "it's the aggregates that are weeping".

According to Thanissaro Bhikkhu , the last step to full awakening is letting go of attachment to non-attachment. If you can avoid that from the beginning, I think you will make faster progress.

This information on vipassana might be helpful too:

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/onetool.html In the sutras on the jhanas it sounds like you can get to awakening by practicing the jhanas (concentration) alone without vipassana (insight) but that is not the full story, this link gives a broader explanation - Buddha taught his students to cultivate both concentration and insight.

Below is a free course on meditation based on the teachings of Shinzen Young
https://unifiedmindfulness.com/core/
"A Guide to Unified Mindfulness: Three Skills to 10x Your Happiness, Any Time, Anywhere" by Julianna Raye This e-book is available free on the internet (amazon.com etc).
Adi Vader, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Meditation Noob - Need Help with Mindfulness of Breath

Posts: 52 Join Date: 6/29/20 Recent Posts
Hi Truth Seeker

The absolute best manual on using the breath as a meditation object is a book called - The Mind Illuminated. By Culadasa (Dr John Yates). My strong suggestion is that you procure that book and get started with it.

In case you wish to gain an understanding of what 'bhavana' or the cultivation of skill is required to get to access concentration, from access concentration to the nimitta, from the nimitta to the first jhana (traditional theravada style), or from access concentration to the first jhana (Leigh Brasington style. then you can listen to these two talks. See if they help.

​​​​​​​https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/1z7aO-aG5czo9gJa-RCZggdzKbMrAn2gY
Truth Seeker, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Meditation Noob - Need Help with Mindfulness of Breath

Posts: 25 Join Date: 2/27/21 Recent Posts
Thank you Adi and Jim. You have given me much to look over, contemplate, and see what to use. I appreciate the help! emoticon

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