Anapanasati: knowing vs. sensing

Chris O, modified 6 Years ago at 10/18/16 5:37 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 10/18/16 3:45 PM

Anapanasati: knowing vs. sensing

Posts: 54 Join Date: 10/8/16 Recent Posts
Lately I've been experimenting with using my nostrils as the focus of my anapanasati meditation instead of using the abdomen.

My previous method was to breathe naturally and pay attention to the sensations in my abdomen as I did so. Anytime I realized I was no longer observing the sensations of my abdomen anymore, I would note/label the departure and return my attention to the abdomen.

Even though I could cultivate decent concentration and occasionally the soft/lite first jhana (piti, all-pervading bright illumination behind my eyelids), I considered my practice Mahasi-style Vipassana because of the focus on arising/passing sensations and noting. 

When I focus instead on my nose, although I've tried and tried, I don't actually feel any sensations there--I just know that I'm either breathing in or breathing out through my nose. (Maybe a decade as a heavy smoker did a number of my olfactory nerves?)

My question concerns the focus of attention being following the breath as a concept--knowing the in- and out-breath--vs. following the sensations of breath through my nostrils. Does the fact that I'm paying attention to the knowing vs. the sensations of the breath at the nose change what path this will lead my meditation down?

In other words, does this make my meditation more samadhi-focused than insight-focused? Is there as much opportunity for insight when knowing the in- and out-breath vs. feeling the sensations of? Am I, perhaps, more likely to attain deeper jhana states than the soft/lite jhana I've had by following my abdomen?

Am I overthinking this? Does it even matter where I focus my attention for anapanasati?
Noah D, modified 6 Years ago at 10/18/16 6:21 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 10/18/16 6:21 PM

RE: Anapanasati: knowing vs. sensing

Posts: 1210 Join Date: 9/1/16 Recent Posts
Any of the above named scenarios are possibilities.  I suspect the most prominent factor, however, will be your level of comfort and ease with whichever technique.  Key for both Samatha and Vipassana.  Just do what FEELS right, and stick with it till you strike oil.