Resources about breath disappearing in concentration states

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Griffin, modified 1 Year ago at 12/20/22 8:46 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/20/22 8:46 AM

Resources about breath disappearing in concentration states

Posts: 272 Join Date: 4/7/18 Recent Posts
Does anybody know of any resources (books, videos, threads) about how the breath becomes subtler during samatha practice, until it becomes almost imperceptible? With advice how to remain concentrated while this is happening etc.
Aviva HaMakom, modified 1 Year ago at 12/20/22 9:35 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/20/22 9:28 AM

RE: Resources about breath disappearing in concentration states

Posts: 101 Join Date: 12/17/22 Recent Posts
This is one of my favorite topics- what helped me to be confident in enjoying the long cessations was learning about the Taoist and Chan Buddhist (which is a heavily Taoist-inflected Buddhism) perspective on it. They call it embryonic breathing and say it is a sign that your internal energy circulation is turning on in the lower energy centers, and that this is a vital step in the transformation of the body-mind. So when it starts happening, feel encouraged and totally relax into it, knowing it as a sign of progress:

https://www.learnreligions.com/tai-hsi-taoist-embryonic-breathing-3182942

https://www.waterdragonarts.com/en/blog/embryonic-breathing?format=amp

Edited to add: my teacher also says this makes the breath a smaller and smaller object, so your concentration must ramp up to meet the challenge of such a subtle object. The key is keeping your awareness on where the breath last was, faithfully waiting for it with no sense of pressure or expectation, not worrying about its return but allowing yourself to ***notice and feel the tranquility and pleasure*** of having "nothing to do." It is a moment of pure being. 

Some Taoist-inflected traditions will also tell people to switch from noticing the breath at the nose or belly to the whole body when it becomes so subtle, by which they mean the circulation of breath energy in the whole body as the object. 
Martin, modified 1 Year ago at 12/20/22 10:08 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/20/22 10:08 AM

RE: Resources about breath disappearing in concentration states

Posts: 873 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
Ajahn Brahm says, while following the breath, be aware of the beautiful breath, and when the breath disappears, just be aware of the beautiful. 
George S, modified 1 Year ago at 12/21/22 10:26 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/21/22 10:26 AM

RE: Resources about breath disappearing in concentration states

Posts: 2722 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Anapanasati:

Steps 1-2: Focus on the specific mechanics of breathing in & out, length of breath and pauses

Step 3: Widen your attention to encompass the whole physical experience of breathing (sabba kaya = "whole body (of the breath)"

Step 4: Relax into any physical tensions you can feel ("calming physical formations" (kaya sankhara))

Every time you relax a physical tension some energy is released and you can feel this as a kind of vibration or tingling (piti) in the "energy body", which is like a more subtle correlate of the physical body (it feels more like in nervous system than the physical body).

Step 5: Fully immerse yourself in the experience of piti ("rapture"). At this point the physical body starts to disappear, though there can be quite a bit of falling back because big energy releases can stir up the physical body again. Also there can be fear/anxiety associated with losing awareness of the breath, so you need to just sit and allow yourself to feel all that leaving your system.

Step 6: As the piti calms down you can start to feel underling emotional happiness (sukha), which is even less physical and more mental. This is Ajahn Brahm's "beautiful breath".

Steps 7-8: Fully experience and release/calm all mental formations (citta sankhara = feelings + perceptions). Because you are so relaxed by this point and your defences are down, any old "negative" emotions/traumas will also be released, which again can stir up the physical and energetic bodies, so more looping back and repeating earlier relexation steps (this is the so-called "dark night" of vipassana jhanas).

Step 9: Experience the mind (citta) itself. This can also be tricky, it feels to me like trying to experience "the whole mind" as a single object (nimitta).

Steps 10-11: Gladening & concentrating the mind. This is what AB calls "shining the nimitta". It feels to me like erasing sun spots by injecting even more happiness and bliss into the experience of the nimitta/mind.

Step 12: Entry into hard jhana

Step 13: vipassana (contemplate impermanence of everything experienced thus far)

Step 14: Let go of everything experienced thus far

Step 15: Cessation/fruition (nirodha)

Step 16: Let go of that as well!
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 1 Year ago at 12/21/22 10:51 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/21/22 10:51 AM

RE: Resources about breath disappearing in concentration states

Posts: 3275 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Yes, the breath disappearing or becoming very subtle, diffuse, uninteresting, is very common, particularly out past the 2nd jhana, depending on how you define jhana and where you draw your lines. Taking the width of space, the qualities of the jhana (like tranquility or equanimity), the shape of attention, the phase of attention (typically getting very out of phase with phenomena in those sorts of spaces, and that can be a very good thing for renunciation, tranquility, isolation from hindrances and distractions, etc.), space itself, etc. as object can lead to some very deep, far out jhanic experiences.

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