MIndfulness of Breathing Observations/Question

A Dietrich Ringle, modified 10 Years ago at 1/19/12 11:06 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/19/12 11:06 AM

MIndfulness of Breathing Observations/Question

Posts: 882 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
Hello all,

I am fairly new here. I started a practice of mindfulness in September, with periods of sitting starting sometime in late October/early November. I am mostly basing my practice of off the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh (who seems to advocate a kind of actualism/vipassana hybrid if you ask me, with absolutely no emphasis on maps), as well as the side trips over to the more workshop and technical oriented traditions here and in other Theravada realms.

Currently (last week or two) if you were to ask me I would tell you I am cycling between Desire for Deliverance/Re-observation/Equanimity on a daily if not hourly basis.The mid morning-early afternoon periods seem to be the roughest with me sitting around beating my head against the wall wondering what I am missing until I usually give up and just get locked into my breath, noticing the niceness of it. This typically lasts into the evening.

Well, yesterday I had a very "productive" day. I was pretty much constantly "locked-in" with my breath for the majority of the day, with basically no troublesome thoughts or emotions other than a short re-observation period in the morning. This led me to this kind of epiphany of sorts that I had last night, or at least it seemed that way to me. I could be going down the wrong track here.

I was reflecting on the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing where it says "breathing in I am aware that I am breathing in, breathing out I am aware that I am breathing out." The thought occurred to me that maybe (a crazy idea) what I have always thought of as my in breath is actually my out breath.

You see, when I first started meditating the exhalation was longer than my inhalation, so of course I saw this as my out breath. But as time has gone on the in/out ratio has evened out and I noticed when I am walking I get into a theme where the exhalation seems to be anchoring the breath much more than the inhalation. Thus I was sitting last night and realized that my sets of breath now seemed to be emanating with the exhalation and that this movement indeed does involve an "inward" expansion of the diaphragm, with the inhalation involving an "outward" expansion of the said muscle.

What happened later of course threw a wrench into the whole thing because as I was experimenting with this novel concept the rise and fall of my abdomen seemed to be out of sync with the flow of air at the tip of my nostrils.

What is your experience with this idea? Am I on to something here or just entertaining delusion? lol
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josh r s, modified 10 Years ago at 1/19/12 12:02 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/19/12 12:02 PM

RE: MIndfulness of Breathing Observations/Question (Answer)

Posts: 337 Join Date: 9/16/11 Recent Posts
I know just what your talking about, and it's just another way to perceive the breathing process. You can look at as expanding+contracting, breathing in+out, moving up then moving down... you can think of the breath as coming in the abdomen and going out the nose, coming in and out of the nose, in and out of the abdomen, in and out of the feet etc. you can also look at the breath as warmness, coolness, movement, energy etc. these are all different perceptions you can play with, I'd suggest that you try and be very sensitive to what the mind and body need in each moment and adjust your actual breathing and perception of it in accordance with those needs, that is how you start to generate alot of pleasure and get into the first few jhanas.
A Dietrich Ringle, modified 10 Years ago at 1/21/12 7:27 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/21/12 7:27 PM

RE: MIndfulness of Breathing Observations/Question

Posts: 882 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
I think I am starting to see how this kind of breathing could be related to the Jhanas, because it always seems to pull me out of my shitty periods when they occur (usually feel decent when I first wake up, then it kind of goes downhill during the day, and then gets better in the evening after my dinner has digested and the sun is down). The breath is solid and steady, and it usually gets finer until I really start to feel better in terms of mood and all. I think I have actually got to the beginning of the first Jhana this way, but haven't actually gone further because I felt good enough.

I guess I am just at a point where I am really not sure what to "do" in terms of my insight practice. If I want it to be my mind can be quite clear of thoughts, but often times I just kind of drift into revisiting past memories or other topics in a rather detached way (there doesn't seem to be a sense of suffering or longing attached to this thinking, its more like I am bored and going through things that I have forgotten about). On the other hand, if I really try to concentrate on following the breath and its every whim as I have in the past, I get tired and usually a headache.
A Dietrich Ringle, modified 10 Years ago at 1/21/12 10:29 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/21/12 10:29 PM

RE: MIndfulness of Breathing Observations/Question

Posts: 882 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
Eh actually I think I am going in a good direction.
I think by following my intuition and common sense I will continue making progress. The last day or so I am really starting to understand more what is meant by the stepwise development of concentration and insight. Its all about developing tools in your tool box - different styles of breathing and different ways of interacting, observing, being, etc with the breath will yield results as long as everything is in balance, I feel.

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