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Entire body vs. Sinlge spot vs No spot in particular.

I read a short passage in Mindfullness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm, about the third step of anapanasati and he seems to have a completely different view about the meaning of sabba kaya compared to Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Any body tried the methods of both? Is there any difference in the experience of jhana with the two methods? I have a lot of trouble with the later. It feels like awareness of the entire physical body is almost impossible and like the efforts of developing it almost distracts me from breath awareness sometimes.
It really bugs me, the division between the entire body vs. single spot vs no spot in particular schools of anapana. The one that makes the most sense to me is the last of those. I mean, why would the choise of which breath sensations to focus on matter really? The practice should make the mind still anyway, no matter which breath sensations we focus on, right?

RE: Entire body vs. Sinlge spot vs No spot in particular.
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1/9/15 10:20 AM as a reply to Pål.
Rob Burbea in his new book presents a technique that I am trying out. To quote him: "In contrast to concentration on a small area, another way of working is to focus primarily on the wider field of feeling of the whole body-the felt sense, the "texture", "tone", vibration and energy of the whole space of the body-and to fill that space with an aliveness of awareness, of presence, that permates the whole body."

He also says that one possible problem with just concentrating on the breath is a tightness or contraction. To quote: "Even if you are working with a method of breath meditation, for example, that involves a spatially narrow focus of attention as 'foreground', it is often beneficial to lightly maintain, as the 'background' to this 'foreground' a global awareness permeating fully and 'filling out' the whole body in an alive way. Among other advantages, this will automatically introduce more of a sense of space into the meditation, which can help to ease the contraction of tightness when it arises."

RE: Entire body vs. Sinlge spot vs No spot in particular.
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1/9/15 11:51 AM as a reply to Jack Hatfield.
That makes sense. Should make it easier to relax, which makes it easier to let go, which is the reason of samadhi. Thanks!

RE: Entire body vs. Sinlge spot vs No spot in particular.
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1/9/15 12:07 PM as a reply to Jack Hatfield.
http://buddhism.stackexchange.com/questions/2521/how-is-the-pali-phase-sabbakayapatisamvedi-assasissami-passasissamiti-sikkha

but all of the interpretations make sense, which is pretty disturbing. I like Analayos argument against interpreting sabbakaya as the entire length of the breath though.maybe it could mean breath body as in all breath sensations. Thus when we are aware of everything happening in the body when we breathe we are doing the third step. 

RE: Entire body vs. Sinlge spot vs No spot in particular.
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1/9/15 2:14 PM as a reply to Pål.
Pål:
It feels like awareness of the entire physical body is almost impossible and like the efforts of developing it almost distracts me from breath awareness sometimes.
It is possible to have the awareness of the entire physical body as well as the complete breath at the same time. Not just that, awareness of what is going on in the mind is also possible and that is what I would say sabba kaya is.

RE: Entire body vs. Sinlge spot vs No spot in particular.
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1/9/15 2:55 PM as a reply to Pål.
Pål:
I read a short passage in Mindfullness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm, about the third step of anapanasati and he seems to have a completely different view about the meaning of sabba kaya compared to Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Any body tried the methods of both? Is there any difference in the experience of jhana with the two methods? I have a lot of trouble with the later. It feels like awareness of the entire physical body is almost impossible and like the efforts of developing it almost distracts me from breath awareness sometimes.
It really bugs me, the division between the entire body vs. single spot vs no spot in particular schools of anapana. The one that makes the most sense to me is the last of those. I mean, why would the choise of which breath sensations to focus on matter really? The practice should make the mind still anyway, no matter which breath sensations we focus on, right?
Correct

RE: Entire body vs. Sinlge spot vs No spot in particular.
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1/9/15 3:52 PM as a reply to Sleeping Buddha Syndrome.
But what do you think is the meaning of sabba kaya? Why is that part of the instructions needed?

RE: Entire body vs. Sinlge spot vs No spot in particular.
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1/9/15 3:55 PM as a reply to Change A..
So you think sabba kaya= entire physical+entire mental+entire breath body? Could there be any other bodies included?

RE: Entire body vs. Sinlge spot vs No spot in particular.
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1/9/15 4:39 PM as a reply to Pål.
Pål:
But what do you think is the meaning of sabba kaya? Why is that part of the instructions needed?


I tend to think people each have a corner so to speak on reality , and yet the mind is lacking so communication on the subject will be naturally varied. 

If it were me I would play around with the subtle breath and how it interacts with the body and course breath until you can identify nirvana

RE: Entire body vs. Sinlge spot vs No spot in particular.
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1/9/15 6:05 PM as a reply to Pål.
There's a point in meditation where attention sort of "tunes in" and becomes steady in a more general way.  If you are starting your meditation before this tuning in effect, it will be more comfortable to use a tight focus because that's what the mind naturally is like.  Focusing on a single sensation is fine for this.  After this tuning in happens, it's much easier to encompass more into the area of focus, and the attention "wants" to rest in a wider way - like the entire body.  If you try to maintain a tight focus at this point it can actually feel like you've become distracted.  A good test for this is to see if you can still maintain awareness of the object while distractions come and go.  If so, you can start to loosen the "holding" of the object of meditation, and the meditation begins to take over itself - distractions seem to spontaneously evaporate and the mind "tunes in" again and again without effort.  Here is where the aches and pains and itches start to feel less urgent and piti will happen.  Piti can only really happen if you are no longer struggling to remain focused, though.

After some practice, the tuning in happens right away when you direct your intentions that way and you can reach jhana quickly by simply letting go into it.  Once this happens, you don't really need an object.  You just "do jhana" without really trying.

It's very similar to learning a manual skill, like playing a song on the piano.  At first you have to hit each key one at a time and focus in not to miss a note.  After a while you get the "feel" for it and can start to just play the song without thinking in notes.  At that point, thinking about notes is actually distracting.  Eventually, you just play the song without really trying.

As a final note, once you have mastered the "tuning in" stage, it's possible to start maintaining present-moment awareness while doing other things, and this is how you can bring jhana into the rest of your life. emoticon

RE: Entire body vs. Sinlge spot vs No spot in particular.
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1/9/15 7:16 PM as a reply to Pål.
Reggie Ray writes, to paraphrase, in his touching enlightenment that the breath or nostril focus could be wrong for people that is very thinking and not feeling people. He writes it could be much better for modern thinking orienting people to focus on sensations in the body, he starts by giving example of putting awareness in ones big toe and then move and/or expand focus from there.

RE: Entire body vs. Sinlge spot vs No spot in particular.
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1/9/15 9:55 PM as a reply to Pål.
Yes that is right. No, I don't think there are any other bodies to be included.

RE: Entire body vs. Sinlge spot vs No spot in particular.
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1/10/15 1:29 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Ok I did a 20 minute sit, this time experimenting with general breath awareness from the beginning, trying to find out which spot in the body my attention naturally falls upon. I found it was an area covering my chest, throat, mouth, below and behind the nose. So I took some time to establish attention there before taking my usual scanningish trip around the body, focusing on several "single spots" in the body, one at a time, in a certain order. Concentration was good, spontaneous movements in arms came as usual and it felt surprisingly easy to smile. I felt kind of light-hearted but there was no like ecstatic joy or mental orgasm feeling or anything. Do you guys think it is possible to skip a step in the instructions and still get the results in the order that the Buddha outlines in the sutta? Because otherwise it must be the case that if you get piti during anapana (did I?), you have been practicing the third step, no matter if you understand the sabba kaya stuff or not. That'd be nice. If that's not the case, then it could mean you could be way up in the jhanas but still be doing it wrong since step three, right? :/

RE: Entire body vs. Sinlge spot vs No spot in particular.
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1/10/15 3:34 PM as a reply to Pål.
Maybe try staying on one specific sensation.  Anything that is not that sensation is distraction.  Because you're really wondering about things and feel like you're struggling, moving the object around is only going to impede you.  If you really want results, the kind that will be convincing on their own with no need for verification, go for single-pointed concentration.  It's the quickest gateway into the other 10,000 types of jhana people talk about, anyway.  From there you can take your pick of what kind of concentration you want to develop.

Maybe use what you described above as a warmup - scanning around and such - and then when you feel pliant and easygoing, focus in like a lazer beam on one thing and just stay there.  Scanning, I've noticed, is a good transition because it's allowing the mind to move, but staying still for progressively longer moments at a time.

I know you'll fine some sutta that says not to focus in like a lazer, haha, but that's what has given me the best results.  And, like I said, you can always lessen concentration at any time if you feel it will be more helpful.  You can't really just concentrate more on a whim, though.  So developing one-pointedness and adjusting from there seems like the most logical way to test the waters.  You can see the whole gamut of what people are talking about.  IME, the difference it makes is HUGE.

EDIT: BTW, that sutta was very valuable for me right now, thanks for the link. emoticon

RE: Entire body vs. Sinlge spot vs No spot in particular.
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1/10/15 4:51 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
I'll try it. But then there is the Arittha sutta where Arittha says that the way he practices anapana he just gets his attention to the present moment and stays with the breath. Like all modern teachers say you should. But then the Buddha goes like "well that's ok but not really what I teach.." And then he goes on with the usual anapana instructions that seem far more complex than just staying with an object. That sutta made me wonder whether the Buddha meant something else woth ekagatta than modern meditators do. But I'll try, a 40 min sit like right now!

RE: Entire body vs. Sinlge spot vs No spot in particular.
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1/10/15 6:05 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Ok here is what I did, how it went and what it felt like:
I tried to find which breath sensation my antention naturally falls on. It was mostly sensations of temperature changes and air moving in my throat and mouth and a little behind the nose. Then some five-ten minutes in when I had kind of settled there  I did my "affirmation chanting" one word per breath cycle, with attention in the "breath sensation area". Then I just tried to stay there. I think I was aware of morre or less every breath for the whole session but attention wandered around in the area, from the chest and then mostly towards the throat and mouth. I was thinking al the time as usual, but mostly the thoughts where in the background and breathing in the foreground. I mostly though about writing this lol. There was no spontaneous movements of the arms!! I don't know if that's a good or a bad sign. With my homebrew scanning I get it almost always, together with irregular "energetic" breathing. With this practice the breath pace was much slower and more regular. I started breathing in a way where my neck was drawn towards my chest on the in breaths and came back to good posture on the out breaths. There were only a few fast and "powerful/energetic" breaths. This was cool. I think I'll give it a few weeks, if the lack of "kriyas" isn't a bad sign. 

Edit: I think I stopped trying to remain in the chosen area/ big spot towards the end. It felt as if it took to much willpower and I always want to avoid forcing attention to a certain place since it just feels wrong. Just staying with general breath awareness, I tend to end up somewhere around the chest/throat anyway and it didn't feel like forcing attention made much difference.

RE: Entire body vs. Sinlge spot vs No spot in particular.
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1/11/15 1:01 AM as a reply to Pål.
I can completely relate to the idea of not wanting to force things, this is very much hiw I started out and it worked eventually, but it might be worth trying some force and seeing what happens. When you think a thought, just move away from it as soon as you notice it happening and go back to the object only.  When you notice any other sensation in your body, go back to the object only.  This is what I meant by one-pointedness. This may create some aversion, but this isn't perminant.

It's hard to get it perfect right away, which is what can cause aversion or tension. But just realize that this aversion is another distraction! You can just drop it like anything else and go back to the object.

I don't want to push you in any direction you don't feel comfortable with or don't like, I just think this the fastest way to develop concentration. If you go in with the idea that all distractions are created equal, and make the object you've chosen the complete center of your attention for the duration of the session, it won't take long at all to see very powerful results. It really is possible to stop all movement of the attention, and when this happens is when the jhanic effects happen IME.

I have to be honest, I can't say how much my methods match up with the ones the buddha says. Everything lines up in a general way, but I've really tried a LOT of different methods and ideas and shuffled through a lot of scriptures and things. I came at this from the other end than you are, haha. I took up meditation to help me with my anxiety problems, and I only became interested in Buddhism after strange things started happening and I needed some explanations. After a year and a half of experimenting, I've settled on concentration as the key to what I'm hoping to achieve. When I meditate, I concentrate on the sensation of breathing. I didn't start this way, but it's ended up working best so it's what I do now. You'll notice the effects even long after meditation. Sometimes it's subtle things, but in general, the mind just comes under control. You are what you want to be.

RE: Entire body vs. Sinlge spot vs No spot in particular.
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1/11/15 4:01 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
It's great that you are a reader of suttas, then maybe you could correct my interpretation :p
"When you think a thought, just move away from it as soon as you notice it happening and go back to the object only."
Yes this is what they all say, everyone except Siddhata Gotama, it's one of the reasons of why I think that maybe Daniels book should be called Mastering the Core Teachings of Buddhagosa. Seriously the only think I've found in the suttas about exactly what we should do to control our minds and erase unwanted thoughts is the Vitakkasanthana instructions and they are far more complex, unless, and that seems unlikely, you are meant to pick one of the five methods and go with that one whenever distracted. 
Maybe the Dvedhavitakka story of how the Buddha was meditating isn't a simplification of Vitakkasanthana, like I've thought, but anither method in itself. The Buddha starts out reflecting on the drawbacks of thinking, but maybe that doesn't describe him creating new thoughts, the way the Vitakkasanthana sutta tells us to do, but rather is a description of his natural reaction towards skillful and unskillful. Then maybe "So I steadied my mind right within...etc" means the same thing as the instructions you and all other serious meditators give/follow, in a pretty abstract way. The Vs sutta has one part that sounds very close to the last thing in your post.

"He is then called a monk with mastery over the ways of thought sequences. He thinks whatever thought he wants to, and doesn't think whatever thought he doesn't. He has severed craving, thrown off the fetters, and — through the right penetration of conceit — has made an end of suffering and stress."

I don't know if I have the same goal as you. My prio no.1 is not getting reborn i lower realms. Even though I'm not even buddhist yet, not until I enter jhana through the instructions of the Buddha.

RE: Entire body vs. Sinlge spot vs No spot in particular.
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1/11/15 4:06 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao : same with me. Attention on a single sensation works best for me. Not forcing but coming back to the sensation as soon as I find myself distracted.

Also what's interesting is to watch closely the mechanics of distration; hunting for the next thoughts to come and see how I'm clinging to it. It's like it helps the mind to understand how it is distracted and, progressively, not to fell in that trap again.

When the attention "tunes in" -- and you will definitively feel it as it's a genuine almost physical sensation -- then you can widen your attention spot. My trick, when I feel my mind kind of "sink" into the point of attention and the pressure becomes too intense, I take some time to settle things in and diffuse that sensation in space.

Also what helps is to drop any flagellation about "how stupid I am to be distracted and fall in the same trap again and again": just turn back to the godamn spot and everything takes care of itself.

RE: Entire body vs. Sinlge spot vs No spot in particular.
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1/11/15 4:27 AM as a reply to Pål.
Just as a quick note: The practice of one-pointed concentration doesn't have to be how you get into jhana, it's just the fastest way to build concentration.  After practicing it on a regular basis for a while, you won't need to focus to concentrate and have a still awareness.  This is when you can just "let go" to do jhana.  Even from here, though, you can still keep revving up concentration by focusing on one point.

So please don't take all of this as me saying, "this is the way!"  But rather me pointing out that this practice is the fastest way to stabilize the mind - which is what you need for jhana. I just see you struggling and making all these posts, and I want to give you the one thing that will help you overcome your doubts the fastest, haha, so that's what this advice is.

Maybe you saw my other thread, but I've gotten back into concentration practice the last week or so here after stopping for a long while and I had some piti arising for the first time again today. It just seems very clear that this is what the buddha was talking about to me. When the mind stops bouncing around between thoughts and sensations, the stability itself is the isolation from those thoughts. This isolation puts you in touch with how the mind is when it isn't preocupied by anything - and this is incredibly blissful and still. Like, imagine waking up early in the morning on the first day of summer break when you're a kid. It's that kind of perfect, nothing needed, nothing wanted experience except magnified to 100% of your attention. Rapture is the perfect word. It's like the breathing turns to chocolate and the mind is enthralled by what it's feeling. The body does come into play too with the feeling, but it's hard to describe how. It never struck me as odd when the Buddha said it was pleasure isolated from sensuality. It just kind of makes sense that way, haha... IDK, it's up to you. I hope you can figure it out using my advice or no. emoticon

EDIT: @Jean: Yeah! Haha, just go back to the goddamned spot. XD That's kind of how I think about it too.  It can get pretty funny as you start congratulating yourself of getting mad at yourself.  But yeah, it's just any moment you notice you aren't paying full atention to the object, you just move back to it without thinking about where the mind went.  It's pretty straightforward, though not easy.  The great thing is, it becomes a feedback loop after the initial stuggle when first starting.  Aversion to meditating goes away forever after a certain point.