Breath games and thought addiciton.

Bertrand Borley, modified 1 Year ago at 12/13/22 11:29 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/13/22 11:29 PM

Breath games and thought addiciton.

Post: 1 Join Date: 12/13/22 Recent Posts
I have been meditating on and off for four years, but devoted more energy to studies and personal projects until recently. My meditaiton practice has been short and short lived, but pockets where I've stuck the habit have born fruit in the past. I am now at the point in my life to make it a priority, and I am. I' currently on retreat in India practicing anapanasati 3-5 hours a day, and I am making some progress. Having lived with dharma for years, meditated on and off to varying degrees of success, and read a fairly diverse set of buddhist literature, I feel am satisfied with the wholesome qualities I have developed, satisfied with my sila, and patient when it comes to insight. My difficutly is concentration.

Sadly, I am a fairly mindless person. I don't judge myself for this, but the reality asserts itself whenver I sit down on a pillow. Fantasies dominate me. These days, they are pretty wholesome fantasies, which I count as an endoursement of my sila. But I am still too weak to stop them arising and capturing my attention, most of the time. I would like to make better progress with this diffculty, as stable attention is so essential for all the other teachings I'd like to incorporate. I am practicing breath meditation in the style of the Mind Illuminated, and I am currently reading MTCB and loving it. I am also quite familiar with the teachings of Rob Burbea and enjoy using his imaginal practice to bolster my concetration efforts.

My difficulties are with forgetting the breath. Somedays, I can stay with it very well and I can sit for 30 minutes to an hour with very little mind wandering, the breath always present in my awareness and often brightly so. I wouldn't call it 'stable' in the sense of access concentration, but then again I don't really know how to judge. I can meditate like this only sometimes, perhaps 20%. I don't know why I'm so inconsistent. It feels like somedays my sub-selves are willing and somedays they are in revolt.

Part of my ability to focus on the breath is to do with the games I play to make it more interesting. TMI reccomends looking closely at the breath to notice multiple sensations on the in and out breath to make a game of it. I can seperate the in, out, and stops very clearly at the nose, much more sublty than I used to able to. But I cannot divide it into individual subtler sensations. Everytime I try I lose it, and each time I lose it I go into a progressively worse set of mind wandering. I find Burbea's imaginal stratagies more succesful: I picture myself breathing in each colour of the rainbow, breathing in blue fire and 'processing it' with the energy body, breathing in the wind of a bucolic field of wild flowers. This is better. My fantastically oriented self prefers such entertainment, it seems. But even so I often fail and end up mind wandering. It's as if I either give more momentum to one thing: the object or my indulgent fantasies, and as one or the other builds momentum it wins the fight. Usually this is the fantasies.

I am very careful and quite devoted to maintaining body awareness, as I've found it to be so important.

I am looking for general advice of course, but I have a specific question. What games do you play or reccomend to make the breath more interesting? Should I focus on imporving the subtely of my attention (ie. focusing deeply on the breath such that I can notice indivudal sensations), or should my priority for now be to simply stay with the breath by any means possible (ie. use imaginal or any other strategy that keeps me there). I am quite dilligent at cutting my fantasies short but they don't get any weaker.

Sometimes it feels as if there is some deep knot of something, quite faint to my awareness, that doesn't want to let go and collapse into the breath. I don't know how to let go of it. I wonder if some subroutine or aspect of my being is unwilling to let go of these fantasies, having been so relient on them for a whole lifetime.

That is my main area of inquiry, but I do have two a smaller questions. I have the option to go on a vipassana (Goenka) or a metta retreat, both ten days, starting in less than a week. Which would you guys reccomend? I would also love to find a teacher and have a teacher/student relationship. Where would you reccomend to look? In real life or online? I'll be moving to Australia in a month or so.

Thanks for taking the time to read and I hope today finds you well emoticon
Tao Te Kat, modified 1 Year ago at 12/14/22 2:48 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/14/22 2:28 AM

RE: Breath games and thought addiciton.

Posts: 8 Join Date: 5/24/22 Recent Posts
 Go for metta.

About "entertaining" in meditation, you should consider the possibility that in meditation you also train yourself in "doing nothing", so if you gamify the practice you take a great part of its virtue with it. Like going out to run but on a car... 

So the point probably is not in how do meditation "amusing" but how to make the subject (you) able of doing nothing (Wu Wei)

It's difficult to do nothing? yes. But the solution is not making meditation something like a game... something full of mental activities to entertain, but just the opposite.

It's better 20 minutes doing nothing than 3 hours in a "gamifyed meditation". Mostly because it's not meditation.

Best regards 
David V, modified 1 Year ago at 12/14/22 3:32 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/14/22 3:32 AM

RE: Breath games and thought addiciton.

Posts: 11 Join Date: 4/1/22 Recent Posts
I used to play with right/left nostril sensations... e.g. breathing in through left, breathing out through right, beathing in through right, breathing out through both etc. But only at the beginning of sitting, just to sharpen my concentration and bringing some interest into practice. I had a feeling it was helping. After few minutes (my guess) of playing this game I  always let flow the breath naturally.
What I also found useful is appreciating the moment when the mind remembers to be mindful and returns to the breath (or other meditation object) - at the same time noticing if there is any tension somewhere in the body or mind and releasing it with the outbreath. The idea is to create a positive feedback that returning to the breath (to the present) is pleasant.
Just to add: It was in the context of samatha practice.
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Dream Walker, modified 1 Year ago at 12/14/22 6:46 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/14/22 6:46 AM

RE: Breath games and thought addiciton.

Posts: 1735 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Bertrand Borley
I have been meditating on and off for four years, but devoted more energy to studies and personal projects until recently. My meditaiton practice has been short and short lived, but pockets where I've stuck the habit have born fruit in the past. I am now at the point in my life to make it a priority, and I am. I' currently on retreat in India practicing anapanasati 3-5 hours a day, and I am making some progress. Having lived with dharma for years, meditated on and off to varying degrees of success, and read a fairly diverse set of buddhist literature, I feel am satisfied with the wholesome qualities I have developed, satisfied with my sila, and patient when it comes to insight. My difficutly is concentration.
Sounds ok so far. I wonder what you mean be your terms. I have anapanasatied my life of Dharma sila with my insight into qualities has really become developed.....blah blah blah
OK, Concentration such I shall asume Jhana....If not, shrug got nothing to say.

Sadly, I am a fairly mindless person. I don't judge myself for this, but the reality asserts itself whenver I sit down on a pillow. Fantasies dominate me. These days, they are pretty wholesome fantasies, which I count as an endoursement of my sila. But I am still too weak to stop them arising and capturing my attention, most of the time. I would like to make better progress with this diffculty, as stable attention is so essential for all the other teachings I'd like to incorporate. I am practicing breath meditation in the style of the Mind Illuminated, and I am currently reading MTCB and loving it. I am also quite familiar with the teachings of Rob Burbea and enjoy using his imaginal practice to bolster my concetration efforts.
Cool, anything working so far?

My difficulties are with forgetting the breath. Somedays, I can stay with it very well and I can sit for 30 minutes to an hour with very little mind wandering, the breath always present in my awareness and often brightly so. I wouldn't call it 'stable' in the sense of access concentration, but then again I don't really know how to judge. I can meditate like this only sometimes, perhaps 20%. I don't know why I'm so inconsistent. It feels like somedays my sub-selves are willing and somedays they are in revolt.
Sometimes good, sometimes not, yep. Consistancy is key.

Part of my ability to focus on the breath is to do with the games I play to make it more interesting. TMI reccomends looking closely at the breath to notice multiple sensations on the in and out breath to make a game of it. I can seperate the in, out, and stops very clearly at the nose, much more sublty than I used to able to. But I cannot divide it into individual subtler sensations. Everytime I try I lose it, and each time I lose it I go into a progressively worse set of mind wandering. I find Burbea's imaginal stratagies more succesful: I picture myself breathing in each colour of the rainbow, breathing in blue fire and 'processing it' with the energy body, breathing in the wind of a bucolic field of wild flowers. This is better. My fantastically oriented self prefers such entertainment, it seems. But even so I often fail and end up mind wandering. It's as if I either give more momentum to one thing: the object or my indulgent fantasies, and as one or the other builds momentum it wins the fight. Usually this is the fantasies.

I am very careful and quite devoted to maintaining body awareness, as I've found it to be so important.
Hey! cool, I love experementing with technique! It"s MY meditation so I'll enjoy it and perfect what works for me.

I am looking for general advice of course, but I have a specific question. What games do you play or reccomend to make the breath more interesting? Should I focus on imporving the subtely of my attention (ie. focusing deeply on the breath such that I can notice indivudal sensations), or should my priority for now be to simply stay with the breath by any means possible (ie. use imaginal or any other strategy that keeps me there). I am quite dilligent at cutting my fantasies short but they don't get any weaker.
If you want to get into 1st Jhana---
(I dont buy into access concentration much besides as false humility or crap skill)
---BREATH LESS. Thats the game. Surf the edge of almost wanting to gasp but not quite because you can take a longer breath anytime then go back to surfing the edge again. How shallow can you go? how slow? how anything? pay attention! play!!! Try new things, Combine things, longer breath? play with that too!! just dont gasp, cause then you lose the game and have to start over (wink) Keep yourself on the edge of uncomfortable and play with that too.

If you want to get into 2nd Jhana---
Stop the previous game and imagine yourself on a swingset with the in and out of breath being the forward and back of the swing. Feel in your tummy the top of the swing and cultivate that feeling from memory as a child. Keep on the tummy breath movement and the wonderful feeling you create there. Expand it, how big? Where is it? does it move? vibrate? how can you effect it?Is this present feeling butterfleis like love? how does it evolve and change? INVESTIGATE. oh, and enjoy it, learn to hit that off the cushion too. Give it directionality to broadcast Metta.

Sometimes it feels as if there is some deep knot of something, quite faint to my awareness, that doesn't want to let go and collapse into the breath. I don't know how to let go of it. I wonder if some subroutine or aspect of my being is unwilling to let go of these fantasies, having been so relient on them for a whole lifetime.
sure, your inner self is a composite of bitches.....love them into adulthood. (wink)

That is my main area of inquiry, but I do have two a smaller questions. I have the option to go on a vipassana (Goenka) or a metta retreat, both ten days, starting in less than a week. Which would you guys reccomend? I would also love to find a teacher and have a teacher/student relationship. Where would you reccomend to look? In real life or online? I'll be moving to Australia in a month or so.
Go metta, Goenka is always there....
​​​​​​​Teachers are books and wherever you find them....like right here now

Thanks for taking the time to read and I hope today finds you well emoticon
Good luck,
D
Eric Abrahamsen, modified 1 Year ago at 12/14/22 12:04 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/14/22 12:04 PM

RE: Breath games and thought addiciton.

Posts: 67 Join Date: 6/9/21 Recent Posts
Bertrand Borley:
What games do you play or reccomend to make the breath more interesting? ... Sometimes it feels as if there is some deep knot of something, quite faint to my awareness, that doesn't want to let go and collapse into the breath. I don't know how to let go of it. I wonder if some subroutine or aspect of my being is unwilling to let go of these fantasies, having been so relient on them for a whole lifetime.


Seems like you've already diagnosed the problem! That sounds like plain old aversion to me -- you can't stick with the breath because a part of you is afraid of what will happen if you do. If I were you I wouldn't think of it in terms of making the breath more "interesting" (boredom, too, is aversion), but in terms of sitting with the aversion until it makes itself clear. What is the danger? What is the fear?
Rag G, modified 1 Year ago at 12/14/22 1:50 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/14/22 1:50 PM

RE: Breath games and thought addiciton.

Posts: 3 Join Date: 11/17/22 Recent Posts
Hi- Have you tried Fire Kasina yet? 
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Griffin, modified 1 Year ago at 12/14/22 6:42 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/14/22 6:42 PM

RE: Breath games and thought addiciton.

Posts: 271 Join Date: 4/7/18 Recent Posts
Is there some resource/book available on this "breathing less" jhana technique?

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