Anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) Am I doing it right?

Gregory R H, modified 8 Years ago at 1/8/14 10:07 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 1/8/14 10:07 AM

Anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) Am I doing it right?

Posts: 8 Join Date: 1/8/14 Recent Posts
Have been meditating for a while now, swaying between Shikantaza and Anapanasati. I would love to stay with Anapanasati as the resources for it are numerous and I just trust it for some reason emoticon Well, here it goes. A few months ago I developed a very strong tension between my eyebrows. It would appear just as I sat on my cushion, it seems it gets tighter when I try to stay with the breath as best as I can. Being frustrated a lot with the tension I took a couple of months break and did only Shikantaza. Now I am back at it and the tension is building up. I am not sure what I am doing wrong but this is all I am doing: I sit down, relax and then I begin to feel the breath, sometimes I count it and when I do, the breath seems to be unnatural as if i was waiting for the next inhalation to count it or something. I would love your advice guys.

Thanks

Greg
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Dream Walker, modified 8 Years ago at 1/8/14 5:12 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 1/8/14 5:12 PM

RE: Anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) Am I doing it right?

Posts: 1414 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Gregory R. H.:
Have been meditating for a while now, swaying between Shikantaza and Anapanasati.

How long is a while?
Gregory R. H.:
I would love to stay with Anapanasati as the resources for it are numerous and I just trust it for some reason emoticon
Here is another resource - Hamilton project, You trust it to do what for you? what is your goal?

Gregory R. H.:
Well, here it goes. A few months ago I developed a very strong tension between my eyebrows.

Good for you. Sometimes nothing happens when meditating and this can be very frustrating.
Gregory R. H.:
It would appear just as I sat on my cushion, it seems it gets tighter when I try to stay with the breath as best as I can. Being frustrated a lot with the tension I took a couple of months break and did only Shikantaza.

Oh, bad for you. tension is frustrating....exactly why? Is it actually painful? how painful is it? Is is constant? is there a beginning to the tension? middle, end? Is it centrally located? exactly where? can you move it? strengthen it? lessen it? split it? how are you feeling it? what qualities are there? does it vibrate? how fast? have you talked to the tension? asked it if there is a message related about it? can you probe it? poke it with your imagination? what happens? can you ignore it?
You say it appears before you even start "staying" on breathing? If so what is the trigger? Do you just think about meditating and it happens?...when exactly? right before your butt hit the cushion? after?
I would investigate the hell out of this phenomenon until I knew everything about it.
Gregory R. H.:
Now I am back at it and the tension is building up. I am not sure what I am doing wrong but this is all I am doing: I sit down, relax and then I begin to feel the breath,

Maybe nothing is wrong. Why do you think something is wrong? again, what is your goal....are you sure your doing it wrong? Are you focused on concentration practice or insite practice? Have you read MCTB?
Gregory R. H.:
sometimes I count it and when I do, the breath seems to be unnatural as if i was waiting for the next inhalation to count it or something. I would love your advice guys.

Don't wait to notice the next breath...notice everything you can....
Good luck,
~D
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katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 8 Years ago at 1/8/14 8:46 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 1/8/14 8:42 PM

RE: Anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) Am I doing it right?

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Hi Gregory,

Welcome to the Dharma Overground :]

Now I am back at it and the tension is building up. I am not sure what I am doing wrong but this is all I am doing: I sit down, relax and then I begin to feel the breath, sometimes I count it and when I do, the breath seems to be unnatural as if i was waiting for the next inhalation to count it or something. I would love your advice guys.

Like you I have practiced shikantaza and anapanasati.

Sometimes tension is there just because it is the first time as practitioners we may become attentive to our breathing. So tension may come from a little self-consciousness and even some alarm that this process is ultimately not volitional. So it can become a little affected. That's okay. I remember as a child really listening to my heart beat; I reacted with some tension to becoming aware of my heart beat.

Sometimes tension is there because some practitioners may practice anapanasati at the tip of the nose-upper lip area when they are somehow better suited to be aware of the whole body when breathing. And some practitioners may get bored and spacey because they may practice body-wide awareness of the breath when they are somehow better suited to focusing at the nose/upper lip area. Pali scholars can make a case for either location: a) body-wide awareness of breathing and b) localized awareness of the breath. Aka: a) Wide open sensate attention and b) local small aperture sensate attention.

Which are you doing?

Also, telling oneself, "That's okay" when such a stress arises is a great way to calm the mind (the brain stem parts and amygdala, really)-- to develop over practice a calm, alert mind.

Thank you for your practice : )
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Eelco ten Have, modified 8 Years ago at 1/9/14 4:08 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 1/9/14 4:08 AM

RE: Anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) Am I doing it right?

Posts: 81 Join Date: 7/20/13 Recent Posts
Hi I had the tension aswell when I started not so long ago.
Especially when focusing on the movement of air in my nostrils.

I had a break from meditation for a few weeks and am now trying to focus on my belly rising and falling.
The tension between the eyebrows hasn't returned yet. I do find it difficult keeping with the belly though.

I can hear the air comming in at the nose(have a rather heavy and loud breathing), I feel the air in the nose, And feel the belly/sides rising and falling.

WHat keeps me busy is whether I should try to concentrate harder on just the belly, or on seeing the sepperated occurences of breath going in the nose, then the belly rising, sound of air, feeling nose, feeling belly.

My aim is vipassana, but am not "sharp" enough to see the breathing as sepperate as that as it feels like one continuous thing. nose, sound and belly at the same time?

Any suggestions?
My thoughts about are that according to the brief vipassana instruction i recieved years ago and the fingertip exercise Daniel talks about in his book is that is should be impossible to experience them at the same time so they should be sepperate sensate experiences..

With Love
Eelco
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katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 8 Years ago at 1/10/14 6:13 PM
Created 8 Years ago at 1/10/14 6:04 PM

RE: Anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) Am I doing it right?

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Hi Eelco,


I can hear the air comming in at the nose(have a rather heavy and loud breathing), I feel the air in the nose, And feel the belly/sides rising and falling.

WHat keeps me busy is whether I should try to concentrate harder on just the belly, or on seeing the sepperated occurences of breath going in the nose, then the belly rising, sound of air, feeling nose, feeling belly.

My aim is vipassana, but am not "sharp" enough to see the breathing as separate as that as it feels like one continuous thing. nose, sound and belly at the same time?

Any suggestions?

Well, concentration is, for me, not "Try harder". It is just becoming aware of being distracted, being okay with that, and gently bringing the mind to the practice: that practice may be a) anapanasati in the whole body or b) at the nostril-base&upper-lip area, or c) something else, like awareness at the senses, or at just one sense (like hearing).

By doing this without expectation and just doing it (the practice you've decided for yourself), trusting just the exercise is valuable to do for some time period (can be just a few minutes), the mind will learn to keep coming back to its designated "object" (the practice you've chosen).

If there's any "should do it this way", right/wrong thinking, boredom, frustration, aversion, then the brain's primary stress system (well, down in the brainy stem-- the reticular activating system (RAS)) fires up and this is a stressed state. When this happens, the RAS keeps your attention in stressed mode: its job is to keep you (us mammals) vigilant for trouble. So other parts of the brain are not activated so much (like learning, memory, nice feelings...).

What is beneficial in meditation is have that RAS calm down through gentleness and non-stress (which stress includes boredom, frustration). To get to the brain actually practicing (which is an open, alert state which lights up many parts of the brain, not the narrow stress filters-- RAS and amygdala, which block most experiences in order to focus us on self-protection) there has to be receptivity. Receptivity only comes up with the coast is clear --->

---> and this is where YOU : ) can coach your mind in a friendly way when it's wandering-- no right/wrong thinking. No, "I can't..." Just receptivity, friendliness, like, "Hey, there, attention. It's okay. Come back now to the sense/beath/body...", "Hello, attention, it's okay you're wandering. Come back to the practice place though," "aw, you funny sniffer-dog like attention, come on back to the practice...".

Honestly, this kind of gentle self-talk can work until it's habitual to just kindly return the attention back to its practice for that practice period.

If this practice is done very gently, the attention will start to like going to the practice activity and lots of natural things will happen, like 1st and 2nd jhanas... etc

For me, insight happens with the settling of 4th jhana. And I would not worry about or say "I am not 'sharp' enough..." I'm sure I did say that, but really meditation is so simple. It really is just leading that stray doggy back to its object, very gently, kindly.

I hope that helps.
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Eelco ten Have, modified 8 Years ago at 1/11/14 1:03 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 1/11/14 1:03 AM

RE: Anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) Am I doing it right?

Posts: 81 Join Date: 7/20/13 Recent Posts
katy steger:

---> and this is where YOU : ) can coach your mind in a friendly way when it's wandering-- no right/wrong thinking. No, "I can't..." Just receptivity, friendliness, like, "Hey, there, attention. It's okay. Come back now to the sense/beath/body...", "Hello, attention, it's okay you're wandering. Come back to the practice place though," "aw, you funny sniffer-dog like attention, come on back to the practice...".

Honestly, this kind of gentle self-talk can work until it's habitual to just kindly return the attention back to its practice for that practice period.

If this practice is done very gently, the attention will start to like going to the practice activity and lots of natural things will happen, like 1st and 2nd jhanas... etc

For me, insight happens with the settling of 4th jhana. And I would not worry about or say "I am not 'sharp' enough..." I'm sure I did say that, but really meditation is so simple. It really is just leading that stray doggy back to its object, very gently, kindly.

I hope that helps.


Yes it does, I easily forget to "bring back the puppy"

With Love
Eelco
Gregory R H, modified 8 Years ago at 1/11/14 12:50 AM
Created 8 Years ago at 1/11/14 12:50 AM

RE: Anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) Am I doing it right?

Posts: 8 Join Date: 1/8/14 Recent Posts
Thanks a lot for your replies. I am gonna keep at it and see how it goes.

Best regards

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