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Tips on generating pleasure by breathing

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Tips on generating pleasure by breathing End in Sight 12/29/11 9:34 PM
RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing josh r s 12/29/11 10:02 PM
RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing End in Sight 12/29/11 10:16 PM
RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing josh r s 12/29/11 10:33 PM
RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing End in Sight 12/29/11 10:40 PM
RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing Bruno Loff 12/30/11 9:24 AM
RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing End in Sight 12/30/11 9:42 AM
RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing Steph S 12/30/11 12:18 PM
RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing End in Sight 12/30/11 12:35 PM
RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing Steph S 12/30/11 1:43 PM
RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing josh r s 12/30/11 10:17 AM
RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing (D Z) Dhru Val 12/30/11 6:27 PM
RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing End in Sight 12/30/11 9:03 PM
RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing End in Sight 12/30/11 9:09 PM
RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing Christian Vlad 12/31/11 6:38 AM
RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing End in Sight 1/1/12 10:19 PM
RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing Christian Vlad 1/2/12 11:26 AM
RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing End in Sight 1/2/12 11:05 PM
RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing Christian Vlad 1/3/12 12:05 PM
RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing End in Sight 1/1/12 10:26 PM
RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing John Hooper 1/4/12 11:31 AM
RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing End in Sight 1/5/12 9:36 AM
RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing End in Sight 1/13/12 12:46 PM
This issue (how to breathe in a pleasurable way) seems to be a sticking point for a number of people, so here are some thoughts which might be helpful.

1) Generating pleasure by breathing seems to be a specific skill, sort of related to concentration but not exactly the same thing. As a specific skill, you probably have to go out of your way to learn it. As a specific skill, you can get better at it if you practice it more often, especially if you devote formal practice time to developing it to the exclusion of all else.

2) The basic method that I use is to focus at the anapana spot. But, the crucial point to keep in mind is that there isn't one breath sensation there, but at least two.

* One breath sensation occurs in the attention wave; for me it is a prominent and fairly precisely delineated sensation of slightly prickly cold.

* One breath sensation is the sense-experience itself; for me it is "diffuse".

If one focuses on the former, there will likely be a sense that one's attention is sharp and precise and well-concentrated...and yet, no pleasure. If one focuses on the latter, it may seem as if one is not expending sufficient effort, but pleasure seems to come from that nonetheless.

You cannot 'try' to focus on the latter, any attempt to 'try' will get you the former to the degree that you try...so, the optimal method in my experience is to notice the breath (at the anapana spot, or more broadly if you like) and relax. The more you relax without losing mindfulness, the more the former will eventually become clear. So don't worry about making it clear, at least at first...worry about relaxing and staying alert.

3a) Though pleasure often occurs at the skin, I have found that pleasure generated by breathing tends to first appear at a location in the body (usually along the midline / chakras) where there are prominent vibrations, OR where there is a "blind" area that is not well-perceived. So, I have found it helpful to keep some attention on those areas and breathe pleasure "into" them.

3b) Depending on where the pleasure is, and depending on your sensitivity to your own body, there can sometimes be a sense that the pleasure is "nowhere" or is mental rather than physical. If this happens, simply reflect on whether the sensation is actually pleasurable, and if it is, don't worry. One's gross body image resides in the attention wave, and so anything that happens prior to it can have a quality which might be described as formless or unbounded or unlocated in some sense, which can make pleasure hard to locate if you're not used to it (cf. the different kinds of breath sensations).

3c) Pleasure is still, but the attention wave will continue to vibrate, so the easiest way to tell if you're doing this right is if you feel a sensation that is actually pleasurable, rather than tingly or whatever else. It will not be a grandiose sensation...at low or moderate levels, it will be very simple, unassuming, but wholesome-seeming.

4) Once you get a little pleasure going, you only have to keep doing what you're doing. There may be a limit to how much you can generate dependent on your current level of concentration, but in my experience it's generally possible to get a fair amount even when concentration isn't especially high (this is dependent on practice).

5a) It is important not to try to pay too much active attention to the pleasure, because (as with paying attention to the breath), this only makes the distorted attention wave more prominent.

5b) It is often hard not to pay active attention to the pleasure, or (conversely) not to zone out looking at the distorted 'pleasure' of the attention wave. It helps to get a sense of what the difference is to guard against this. For me, the distorted pleasure appears as a rapidly-billowing (visual) cloud. This could be a common experience, some kind of nimitta, or my own synaesthetic weirdness; I have no idea. So just figure out what it is for you so you don't end up looking at it more than you must.

6) Once you get the hang of generating pleasure, you can practice doing this during the day. Reasons include

* helps you retain mindfulness during the day (due to pleasantness)
* piti is a factor of enlightenment
* supports future jhana practice
* antidepressant effect / it's fun!

In terms of the path, in my opinion you should not worry about becoming attached to this pleasure, because this pleasure has nothing to do with sensuality...attachment to it leads to form-becoming, not sensuality-becoming, and this is perfectly wholesome during most of the path my opinion, as it will not interfere with the goal of attaining the stage of anagami (freed from sensual desire, which in my current understanding means no attention wave).


This is unfortunately not a how-to guide (I don't know if I could produce one), but hopefully it will provide some ideas for how to get this thing going if you're stuck.

RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing
Answer
12/29/11 10:02 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
Pleasure is still, but the attention wave will continue to vibrate, so the easiest way to tell if you're doing this right is if you feel a sensation that is actually pleasurable, rather than tingly or whatever else. It will not be a grandiose sensation...at low or moderate levels, it will be very simple, unassuming, but wholesome-seeming.


when you say actual here are you talking actual as opposed to affective or just "truly"? those two are probably the same thing in some cool way i dont understand...

I have found it helpful to keep some attention on those areas and breathe pleasure "into" them.


this has been my number one technique for generating pleasure

attaining the stage of anagami (freed from sensual desire, which in my current understanding means no attention wave).


oh god... then what the hell is arahantship o.o

RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing
Answer
12/29/11 10:16 PM as a reply to josh r s.
josh r s:
Pleasure is still, but the attention wave will continue to vibrate, so the easiest way to tell if you're doing this right is if you feel a sensation that is actually pleasurable, rather than tingly or whatever else. It will not be a grandiose sensation...at low or moderate levels, it will be very simple, unassuming, but wholesome-seeming.


when you say actual here are you talking actual as opposed to affective or just "truly"? those two are probably the same thing in some cool way i dont understand...


They are the same thing, and you understand it to the extent that you see that affective 'pleasure' is unpleasant. emoticon

attaining the stage of anagami (freed from sensual desire, which in my current understanding means no attention wave).


oh god... then what the hell is arahantship o.o


There have been a few occasions when I could kind of sort of notice what might have been a reduction of becoming which didn't have to do with reducing the attention wave (which were very profound experiences), but my ability to discern anything about that is pretty close to zero. So, I have no real idea worth sharing.

I hope it will be clearer to me when the time comes to deal with it.

FYI, the main reason I changed my opinion about this is that it struck me that "shadow" experiences are probably included under the sensual desire / ill will fetters, no matter how shadowy they are. And if so, the attention wave (or at least the clinging-becoming part) appears to be all about sensuality.

RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing
Answer
12/29/11 10:40 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
To clarify the meaning of this:

End in Sight:

3c) Pleasure is still, but the attention wave will continue to vibrate, so the easiest way to tell if you're doing this right is if you feel a sensation that is actually pleasurable, rather than tingly or whatever else. It will not be a grandiose sensation...at low or moderate levels, it will be very simple, unassuming, but wholesome-seeming.


So, you might generate something and wonder if it's pleasure. If you notice tingly sensations, simply ignore them, and see if the thing you generated is actually pleasurable. The tingly sensations are besides the point.

This is a little tricky to do, as if there is pleasure, the tingly sensations can present as if they have the quality of the pleasurable thing...so just try to find the thing that is pleasant, and ignore the rest to the extent that you can differentiate it all.

In general, tingly sensations tend to happen more frequently when there is pleasure around, so if pleasure and tingling seem to arise simultaneously, that is a good sign...but, intense tingling can also happen with only the tiniest bit of pleasure, so if there's lots of tingling and it seems desirable in some way but you're not sure if it's actually pleasant, that is a bad sign.

EDIT: Same goes for the experiences of feelings of liking, "wow", vibrations that seem harsh but somehow good, etc.

RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing
Answer
12/29/11 10:33 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
ok but when you get your arahantship make sure you get to a monastery in 7 days or that little girl from The Ring gets you

RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing
Answer
12/30/11 9:24 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
(1) where is the anapana spot?
(2) what is this "breathing into" that people talk about everywhere? How do I breath "into" places in my body? The intuitive thing to do, for me, given such an instruction, is to focus on the area (place my focus there) while being mindful of breathing. I mean, phenomenologically, this is what I do. What might happen is that I notice more how the muscular movements of the in and out breath cause stuff to move in the given area, which could be (loosely) interpreted as "breathing into" the area. Is this what is meant?

(3) by not paying active attention you mean "noticing" instead of "focusing on," I guess?


---

Being able to generate pleasure is something entirely new to me, as I had tried in the past several times to do it with no success. A few things seemed to be key in order to get it to work. On one hand my energy blockages are much diminished nowadays (compared to, say, a year ago), there is much less tension overall. On the other hand I changed my mode of paying attention from one of trying to focus on one spot, to a much more panoramic "let it happen" style. It is becoming easier and easier to "be mindful of the breath while paying attention to the entire body," which for me causes pleasure to arise much more reliably and repeatedly than "focusing on a single spot" (which always lead to distraction, strain or fatigue).

---

Another question: usually the arising of pleasure is accompanied by a change in the way I breathe. I always breath through the nose during meditation, but rather than smoothly breathing in and out, the breath will become more audible, and perhaps shorter while deeper (?), with an obvious resemblance to the kind of breath I usually get when sexually aroused, or when relaxing deeply after strenuous effort. Furthermore, I've noticed that just by breathing this way, some pleasure usually arises, and recently I have found myself spontaneously breathing in this manner at random times during the day.

Any advice / suggestion?

RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing
Answer
12/30/11 9:42 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
(1) where is the anapana spot?


I mean the place on the rim of the nostrils where the sensation of air passing by is clear.

(2) what is this "breathing into" that people talk about everywhere? How do I breath "into" places in my body? The intuitive thing to do, for me, given such an instruction, is to focus on the area (place my focus there) while being mindful of breathing. I mean, phenomenologically, this is what I do. What might happen is that I notice more how the muscular movements of the in and out breath cause stuff to move in the given area, which could be (loosely) interpreted as "breathing into" the area. Is this what is meant?


It is not a precise instruction...try it your way, try it without noticing the muscular movements (just split attention between breath and the area), try it a third way, whatever works.

One thing worth keeping in mind is that if you are trying to breathe into vibratory areas, the vibrations are imaginary, so something imaginary (rather than something focused on the actual musculature of your body) may be more helpful.

(3) by not paying active attention you mean "noticing" instead of "focusing on," I guess?


Something like that...it can be helpful to pay some active attention (i.e. trying to look at) any pleasure that has been generated, in order to sustain it and generate more, but that also sustains the attention wave, so one should limit this to the quantity that is necessary. As pleasure increases, it should become so obvious that there is no need to go much out of one's way to notice it.

Being able to generate pleasure is something entirely new to me, as I had tried in the past several times to do it with no success. A few things seemed to be key in order to get it to work. On one hand my energy blockages are much diminished nowadays (compared to, say, a year ago), there is much less tension overall. On the other hand I changed my mode of paying attention from one of trying to focus on one spot, to a much more panoramic "let it happen" style. It is becoming easier and easier to "be mindful of the breath while paying attention to the entire body," which for me causes pleasure to arise much more reliably and repeatedly than "focusing on a single spot" (which always lead to distraction, strain or fatigue).


As long as it works...are you satisfied with your ability to generate pleasure using that technique?

In my opinion the thing that really increases pleasure is "attentional preciseness", which is produced by asking the mind to look ever-closer at a tiny area (but not by 'trying' to look closer). So, you might experiment with getting some pleasure, then noticing just the movement of the abdomen and flow of air at the nostrils, then...etc.

Keep in mind that "attentional preciseness" does not tune things out and does not produce an experience of a narrowed perceptual field...it is just looking more closely. I realize that isn't a clear description, but perhaps it gives you the flavor of what I mean, and you can work something out based on that.

Another question: usually the arising of pleasure is accompanied by a change in the way I breathe. I always breath through the nose during meditation, but rather than smoothly breathing in and out, the breath will become more audible, and perhaps shorter while deeper (?), with an obvious resemblance to the kind of breath I usually get when sexually aroused, or when relaxing deeply after strenuous effort. Furthermore, I've noticed that just by breathing this way, some pleasure usually arises, and recently I have found myself spontaneously breathing in this manner at random times during the day.

Any advice / suggestion?


No clue about that, but keep breathing in that way and see what happens. How effective is it for you?

In my experience pleasure itself does not change the way I breathe, but as the attention wave is reduced, the breath becomes extremely shallow and slow. If I accidentally exaggerate the attention wave (which can happen during the generation phase as a reaction to pleasure), it does change the way I breathe somehow, but I haven't taken note of how, because I stop doing that when I notice it.

I also found that the out-breath generates more pleasure than the in-breath, so I try to extend it in length at the beginning.

RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing
Answer
12/30/11 10:17 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Another question: usually the arising of pleasure is accompanied by a change in the way I breathe. I always breath through the nose during meditation, but rather than smoothly breathing in and out, the breath will become more audible, and perhaps shorter while deeper (?), with an obvious resemblance to the kind of breath I usually get when sexually aroused, or when relaxing deeply after strenuous effort. Furthermore, I've noticed that just by breathing this way, some pleasure usually arises, and recently I have found myself spontaneously breathing in this manner at random times during the day.


I think you might be doing the "breathing into" thing here, specifically breathing into the chest or abdomen. Have you tried taking a sit where you just breathe this way the whole time (it will probably stop generating pleasure after a while)? Or adjusting the breath slightly each breath cycle so as to generate the most of this pleasure as possible? Try to stabilize this type of pleasure while also being equanimous and unfocused (spatially) and see what happens, what you described is sort of how the beginning of generating pleasure looks for me but it shifts into a more subtle thing in which I'm not changing the physical aspects of the breathing just the mental/attentional ones.

RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing
Answer
12/30/11 12:18 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:

Bruno Loff:

(2) what is this "breathing into" that people talk about everywhere? How do I breath "into" places in my body? The intuitive thing to do, for me, given such an instruction, is to focus on the area (place my focus there) while being mindful of breathing. I mean, phenomenologically, this is what I do. What might happen is that I notice more how the muscular movements of the in and out breath cause stuff to move in the given area, which could be (loosely) interpreted as "breathing into" the area. Is this what is meant?


It is not a precise instruction...try it your way, try it without noticing the muscular movements (just split attention between breath and the area), try it a third way, whatever works.

One thing worth keeping in mind is that if you are trying to breathe into vibratory areas, the vibrations are imaginary, so something imaginary (rather than something focused on the actual musculature of your body) may be more helpful.


What I've done to "breathe into" the body has been to simply notice how the breath circulates through the body. Any spots where I noticed tension I would notice the breath at that spot and very gently increase the flow of the breath at that spot. Thinking about it now, this could be an affecty thing because it might just be attention going back & forth between the tension spot and the actual breath, so I'll have to experiment more. When I did this it had the effect of seeming like the breath was giving the inside of my body a massage and gave way to alot of pleasantness.

Edit:

Maybe a technicality, but generating pleasure might not be the most helpful description. I wrote EiS a message asking about the generating force behind pleasure because physically speaking, things that are generated or have degrees of intensity have some sort of multiplying energetic factor. Thinking about this more, and basing this on what happens with PCE's, I'm thinking it's not a generation of pleasure, but probably more along the lines of affect/tensions getting out of the way to reveal the inherent pleasure that's already here. The more affect/tension is reduced, the more noticeable the actual pleasure is.

RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing
Answer
12/30/11 12:35 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Steph S:
Thinking about this more, and basing this on what happens with PCE's, I'm thinking it's not a generation of pleasure, but probably more along the lines of affect/tensions getting out of the way to reveal the inherent pleasure that's already here. The more affect/tension is reduced, the more noticeable the actual pleasure is.


The amount of pleasure that can be experienced in jhana (starting with this breath stuff) is so extreme that I would say that pleasure is definitely being generated...however, getting rid of the tensions will reveal some pleasure that may not have been noticed before, so that can be one way to start.

RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing
Answer
12/30/11 1:43 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
oh ok. well my other question about the generating factor still stands. not sure if it's useful for practice, so feel free to answer offline if it's not. just curious cuz i'm interested in how stuff works in general.

RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing
Answer
12/30/11 6:27 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:


3c) Pleasure is still, but the attention wave will continue to vibrate, so the easiest way to tell if you're doing this right is if you feel a sensation that is actually pleasurable, rather than tingly or whatever else. It will not be a grandiose sensation...at low or moderate levels, it will be very simple, unassuming, but wholesome-seeming.


Is it a sort of a cool calmness, underlying the attention wave ?

Just gave this a go. When I just tried it right now the cool calmness built, while the attention wave got distorted to the point where I had a cessation,

Then after the cessation that just left the cool / calmness, and when I open my eyes the sensory clarity of a EE / PCE type experience is present.

Not sure if I am doing this right, or if cessation + this type of pleasure will always trigger an EE / PCE, but going to keep in the toolbox.

RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing
Answer
12/30/11 9:03 PM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
D Z:
End in Sight:


3c) Pleasure is still, but the attention wave will continue to vibrate, so the easiest way to tell if you're doing this right is if you feel a sensation that is actually pleasurable, rather than tingly or whatever else. It will not be a grandiose sensation...at low or moderate levels, it will be very simple, unassuming, but wholesome-seeming.


Is it a sort of a cool calmness, underlying the attention wave ?

Just gave this a go. When I just tried it right now the cool calmness built, while the attention wave got distorted to the point where I had a cessation,

Then after the cessation that just left the cool / calmness, and when I open my eyes the sensory clarity of a EE / PCE type experience is present.

Not sure if I am doing this right, or if cessation + this type of pleasure will always trigger an EE / PCE, but going to keep in the toolbox.


People seem to have some different descriptions of what pleasure can be compared to. Instead of picking something to compare to, just ask, is it nice and lacking in tension? There's your criterion.

Apart from that caveat, when pleasure first begins to appear, I notice something that may be like what you're describing. Could be a small amout of piti / sukha, or could be neutral vedana (you would get the latter if you were hanging out in equanimity prior to starting). The process that generates them is the same. So keep it up and see what happens.

RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing
Answer
12/30/11 9:09 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
One more thought about what can be done with pleasure once cultivated. It's possible to cultivate it and observe a feeling (associated with the attention wave) of liking that pleasure. This feeling can be "grounded' and perceived as its own vibration in the body. Doing this would be a good way to engage with Kenneth Folk's Direct Mode practice, as there would always be something pleasant around, and always some mental reaction to it to continually ground.

This kind of 'grounding' practice will make all the stuff about tension that some people talk about very clear if it isn't already.

RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing
Answer
12/31/11 6:38 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
I have tried incorporating your instuctions in my daily morning sit today, and tried to put emphasis on keeping very relaxed while not trying to focus too hard on the breath, but rather just staying mindful of the air going in and out softly.
What I noticed was that my attention never got lost in thought for long times as it usually does, but rather it kept going out very frequently (every few seconds) without going too far (1 or 2 sentences of thought, a short visual replay of some memory etc.), meaning I was able to turn back to being mindful of the breath very quickly every time.

Finding the difference between the 2 sensations (the precise sensation of the breath vs. the sense sensation itself) that you described seemed to be somewhat difficult, I don't think I can really feel the difference there yet.

You said that it's easier to generate pleasure on the out-breath, but I personally found the in-breath to feel much smoother, while the out-breath feels more choppy/uneven. I believe that I still might have some undetected tension in the chest and throat area that is responsible for that, not quite sure though.

In the end, I can't say I experienced any kind of feeling that could be described as pleasurable (nothing unpleasurable either).
However, close to the end of the sit (around the 35 to 40min mark), I suddenly got that strong pressure feeling around the temples again, almost like my head is in a vise. It's not painful though, just a pretty strong pressure sensation.
I tried to relax the it somehow, but was completely unable to (while staying mindful of the breath). I wonder what to make of this since it keeps coming up in almost every single sit for a couple of weeks now.

RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing
Answer
1/1/12 10:19 PM as a reply to Christian Vlad.
Christian Vlad:
Finding the difference between the 2 sensations (the precise sensation of the breath vs. the sense sensation itself) that you described seemed to be somewhat difficult, I don't think I can really feel the difference there yet.


See if you can notice, at least, that sometimes the breath-sensation is less pleasant than other times.

You said that it's easier to generate pleasure on the out-breath, but I personally found the in-breath to feel much smoother, while the out-breath feels more choppy/uneven.


Is the choppiness due to the way you're actually breathing, or a choppiness in perception (due to vibrations / the attention wave)?

However, close to the end of the sit (around the 35 to 40min mark), I suddenly got that strong pressure feeling around the temples again, almost like my head is in a vise. It's not painful though, just a pretty strong pressure sensation.
I tried to relax the it somehow, but was completely unable to (while staying mindful of the breath). I wonder what to make of this since it keeps coming up in almost every single sit for a couple of weeks now.


Goenka might say that it is a sankhara arising due to your level of mindfulness and equanimity (which would be a good sign), and that if you watch it equanimously it will eventually go away. Whatever it is, it seems true that these things arise more often in mindful and equanimous moments.

In my experience, when you get enough concentration (using the method I described), all these things begin to go away for the duration of that concentration (at least).

How did you try to relax it?

RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing
Answer
1/1/12 10:26 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
Another thought on breathing: try keeping the throat slightly constricted during the in-breath AND out-breath, in order to make a slight noise and a slight sensation of friction. This is used in yoga, and has some kind of relaxing effect on the nervous system, but I don't know the full details.( Perhaps Katy would.)

In my experience, less is more; the constriction should be very slight (just enough to feel friction and hear a noise).

This can be done during formal meditation or all day long.

If you do this, it produces new "anapana spots" inside the throat, and on the soft palate. I find the former very useful.

RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing
Answer
1/2/12 11:26 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
See if you can notice, at least, that sometimes the breath-sensation is less pleasant than other times.


Yes, certainly the choppier out-breath felt less pleasant than the in-breath somewhat. But it's more like a tiny bit unpleasant vs. completely neutral.

Is the choppiness due to the way you're actually breathing, or a choppiness in perception (due to vibrations / the attention wave)?


I don't think it has to do with the perception/attention wave. The breath just doesn't flow as smoothly. It's like I have to put some slight pressure behind it if I want it to go out evenly. Otherwise there are like very small breaks during the breathing out (if I don't force anything).

How did you try to relax it?

Actually I just tried to let it go and stay very "soft" in the head/skull. emoticon


The tip with the constricted throat is very interesting (and certainly counter-intuitive). And since you mentioned the sound of breathing - I usually sit in a quiet environment where I can hear myself breathing pretty well. There was a time when I pretty much thought that listening to that sound equates breath awareness, but I found that I would drift off pretty good doing that, thats why I try to be more mindful of the actual physical/tactile sensations nowadays. Any thoughts on that? Should I try to be aware of both or is this one more of those things that actually don't matter?

RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing
Answer
1/2/12 11:05 PM as a reply to Christian Vlad.
Christian Vlad:
Is the choppiness due to the way you're actually breathing, or a choppiness in perception (due to vibrations / the attention wave)?


I don't think it has to do with the perception/attention wave. The breath just doesn't flow as smoothly. It's like I have to put some slight pressure behind it if I want it to go out evenly. Otherwise there are like very small breaks during the breathing out (if I don't force anything).


Are the very small breaks you describe experienced during the entire out-breath, or only during part of it? Would someone else in the room perceive them, or would a sound recorder pick up on them? "Very small breaks" is how I would describe how the attention wave manifests in context of the breath for me...further, in my case, the sensory part is the less salient part (the "break" in which there appears at first not to be breath) rather than the more salient part (the clear-seeming perception of breath). If this is true for you, then you could likely make the out-breath more pleasant by re-allocating attention to the breaks (in which you will find there to be an experience of breath, albeit subtler than you might expect) and ignoring the "clear" part.

And, if what you're describing is just a simple choppiness of the breath caused by the way you breathe...if you allow it to go out unevenly, rather than adding some pressure to it, would that be a problem?

The tip with the constricted throat is very interesting (and certainly counter-intuitive). And since you mentioned the sound of breathing - I usually sit in a quiet environment where I can hear myself breathing pretty well. There was a time when I pretty much thought that listening to that sound equates breath awareness, but I found that I would drift off pretty good doing that, thats why I try to be more mindful of the actual physical/tactile sensations nowadays. Any thoughts on that? Should I try to be aware of both or is this one more of those things that actually don't matter?


Sometimes I find the sound is a useful indicator related to concentration (with enough concentration, the feeling of my breath and the sound of breathing seem to become undifferentiated), but listening to it isn't crucial. It's just a side-effect of breathing against a slight constriction in the throat.

RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing
Answer
1/3/12 12:05 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
I will open up a personal practice thread now, so I don't feel like hijacking this more general thread with practical advice for everyone. Hope you will follow me there and keep giving good advice emoticon

RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing
Answer
1/4/12 11:31 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
Do you know if the same idea applies to kasina meditation, as far as generating pleasure? So far, the advice I have for kasina meditation is sparse and not always in agreement. For instance, some say that the idea is to be able to visualize the kasina in the mind, and therefore one should look at the kasina intently and then close the eyes to catch the afterimage, gradually building up until the physical kasina is no longer needed. On the other hand, Kenneth Folk just says to keep looking at the kasina and nothing else is needed. There seems to be a lot more information on using the breath for concentration meditation, but I have already invested a lot of hours into my kasina -- an eight inch brown cardboard circle. I have been following the simple instructions given by Kenneth Folk, so I just look at it. Nothing was mentioned about trying to increase pleasure or anything like that. Of course, others give different instructions, like working on getting the image with eyes closed.

RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing
Answer
1/5/12 9:36 AM as a reply to John Hooper.
I have never used a kasina, so I don't know whether it would be similar or different. But, my guess is that it would be much harder, as pleasure is an experience concerning the physical body, as is relaxation, and it's likely easier to incline towards these things when noticing breathing.

RE: Tips on generating pleasure by breathing
Answer
1/13/12 12:46 PM as a reply to End in Sight.
I found this article (http://www.arrowriver.ca/dhamma/nimitta.html), which is interesting. It quotes from the Vimuttimagga:

To the yogin who attends to the incoming breath with mind that is cleansed of the nine lesser defilements the image arises with a pleasant feeling similar to that which is produced in the action of spinning cotton or silk cotton. Also, it is likened to the pleasant feeling produced by a breeze. Thus in breathing in and out, air touches the nose or the lip and causes the setting-up of air perception mindfulness. This does not depend on colour or form. This is called the image. If the yogin develops the image and increases it at the nose-tip, between the eyebrows, on the forehead or establishes it in several places, he feels as if his head were filled with air. Through increasing in this way his whole body is charged with bliss. This is called perfection.


I can confirm that

1) Breathing in a certain way causes this tactile phenomenon,
2) The tactile phenomenon is related to the sensation of breathing, but not strictly identical to it, because it can occur inside the body (perhaps this is Thanissaro Bhikkhu's "breath energy"),
3) "As if the head were filled with air" is a fairly good characterization of it,
4) Cultivating this phenomenon leads to pleasure, and this is how I have done it in the past (corresponding to my advice to perceive the "actual breath" and then to "breathe pleasure into" other areas; cf. point 2 of my previous advice)
5a) The tactile perception is soft rather than harsh (cf. point 2 of my previous advice)
5b) The stronger my concentration, the stronger, clearer, and softer the tactile perception becomes.

In addition, I perceive the tactile phenomenon as being composed of a particular visual image of small particles (which I ignore).

It is readily possible for me to go through everyday life with this perception (and this is what I had in mind when I described cultivating pleasure during the course of the day). I find that it arises very quickly for me whenever I intend to generate it, and its presence is associated with a higher-than-normal level of stability of mind.

Practically, if the generation of pleasure is still elusive, I suggest

A) Actively figuring out how to generate this perception,
B ) Actively figuring out how to strengthen this perception,
C) Actively figuring out how to spread it beyond the point where the physical breath contacts the skin

(The perception, once recognized, is fairly unique and does not aggravate the attention wave when pursued, whereas looking for outright pleasure may if not approached correctly.)

As a separate bit of advice concerning meditation in general, I suggest there is value in simply generating this perception and observing experience in a detached way. I have found it very easy to see (e.g.) the way that this perception is immediately replaced by forms of tension in the head when volitional experiences of any kind arise...it is a way to gain more sensitivity to what aggravates and doesn't aggravate the attention wave, and (subsequently) what habitually-fabricated phenomena can be let go of in meditation or outside of it.

Related to that, it is possible to use this perception as an object of meditation, and doing that will likely make clear the difference between "noticing" and "trying". "Trying" (directed at it or any other object) weakens it. "Noticing" does not.

If anyone is familiar with or becomes familiar with this nimitta phenomenon, it would be good for them to share what they know, and any tips on generating it.