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Maybe a bit of a basic question. How to be aware of my breathing?

It seems like I can do at least three things that could generally be called being aware of breathing.

1-Being aware of the breath as a distinct object. As flow of air through something. Not necessarily "my breath"

2-Being in the experience of "I am breathing". Just be in that experience with as much of my being as possible.

3-Observing the experience of "I am breathing". Observe the nature of having an experience.

I mostly do the first one, but do also play around with the others. My intuition is that they are all things to be explored. What I'm looking for is 1-To hear what other people do, 2-To learn more about what benefits could be there in doing each of these. And maybe 3-Which one is the most pragmatic? (as in would lead to progress the most direct, efficient, fast way).

Thanks.

Just pay attention to the qualities of the breath and quiet the mind.

The key is to bring the mind back when it wanders (without aversion or analysis).

Do not manipulate the breath to move it slower or faster.

The knowing part of your mind (consciousness) already registers details in your senses so you are just putting the focus on that. Watch any aversion/stress when you push the attention to pay attention towards the breath. When you are aware that your mind wandered you are already back. No need to add any special pulling or tension to notice the breath (or anything else).

I personally like to count "just" for the in-breath and "one" for the out breath and go to ten. When at ten I just count backwards to ward off sleepiness and boredom. If you lose count or count beyond 10 then just restart with no mental talk.

Try and relax the body and face (which makes it easier to relax the mind).

RE: Maybe a bit of a basic question. How to be aware of my breathing?
Answer
4/6/14 8:22 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Out of curiosity, do you never let go of the counting? Is there any point where you let go of both counting and the breath and pay attention to other phenomena, like thoughts, feelings, body sensations etc?

Opinions vary, and various approaches have their pros and cons. Very simply:

If you really give the breath all your focus to the exclusion of other things, this will build strong concentration.

Strong concentration has its points, but it will also be missing lots of other important things that are part of experience and worthy of investigation.

What is it that you are trying to accomplish?

What calls to you?

Strong concentration is a useful skill set. Seeing the true nature of various things as they arise naturally in a more open field is also a useful skill set.

Thoughts?

Daniel

RE: Maybe a bit of a basic question. How to be aware of my breathing?
Answer
4/7/14 5:21 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:

What is it that you are trying to accomplish?

What calls to you?



Personal growth and healing calls to me the most right now. I've seen that being aware of all the various thoughts, feelings and emotions help for that. But I don't know if it is good practice to focus on feelings and emotions a lot, since there is a lot of identification there. A lot of "self", a lot of wanting to make it "better".

My long term goal is stream entry. One thing I realized while writing this: If personal growth (or healing) and enlightenment are two goals I want to achieve, I can't seem to reconcile these two based on my intellectual understanding of enlightenment. One has a lot of self, one doesn't.

And peace calls to me.

I like playing around with concentration. I like going into Jhanas and exploring.

Other than that, I want to know as much as possible about the nature of experience.

It is true that I have a lot of doubt at this point in life. Been meditating for more than 2 years, and I might have passed A&P. Although not so sure. (I did say I'm doubtful). I'm currently reading MCTB, and other things.

I guess right now my focus is personal healing and growth. And having more control over emotions. That kind of answers some of my questions actually. But feel free to add anything.

Thanks.

Trial And Error:
But I don't know if it is good practice to focus on feelings and emotions a lot, since there is a lot of identification there. A lot of "self", a lot of wanting to make it "better".


Personally I think this is fine. Just note what you see clearly and non-judgementally. Self-concept, concepts of others, predictions / expectations, images, words, memories, desires, aversions, feelings, impulses, sensations. Regarding wanting to make things better, put that down when you're meditating. But in daily life, do find ways to make things better, for yourself and others.

In Zen the direction of the practice is sometimes said to be simply: See your true nature, help all beings.

Eventually you'll get very familiar with thoughts & feelings and get bored of focusing on them. At that point you can move on to more basic insight into the nature of reality.

My long term goal is stream entry. One thing I realized while writing this: If personal growth (or healing) and enlightenment are two goals I want to achieve, I can't seem to reconcile these two based on my intellectual understanding of enlightenment. One has a lot of self, one doesn't.


I think they're very compatible. They're both rooted in seeing clearly and acting skillfully.

It is true that I have a lot of doubt at this point in life.


The antidote to doubt is sometimes said to be understanding what things are skillful and what things are unskillful. Skillful: Helping yourself, helping others, seeing clearly. Unskillful: Getting attached to anger, sadness, material possessions, your opinions. Taking actions that harm yourself or harm others. Looking at the world through the lens of your desires and aversions, thinking you're the center of the universe. Being deluded as to the nature of what you are.

I guess right now my focus is personal healing and growth. And having more control over emotions. That kind of answers some of my questions actually. But feel free to add anything.


I would like to add, there is this gradual training that the Buddha taught: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/

The first step is generosity. If you're not already established in this, get established in it. Do something active to help others -- work in soup kitchens, volunteer, do nice things for your parents / siblings / coworkers / friends / any other beings. There is a lot of personal growth, healing and maturity to be found here. Truly!

Trial And Error:
Out of curiosity, do you never let go of the counting? Is there any point where you let go of both counting and the breath and pay attention to other phenomena, like thoughts, feelings, body sensations etc?


I let go of the counting when I experience rapture which comes from the relief of discursive thinking in the 1st jhana. Then you focus on the pleasant sensations in the body as your concentration object until you hit the 2nd jhana. These jhanas happen on their own as you get better and the mind gets used to it. It's "wow!" when it first happens then it's normalized in that you know what to expect (though you still enjoy it).