Side-effects; the breath

Tobias Lundin, modified 14 Years ago at 2/5/08 1:14 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/5/08 1:14 PM

Side-effects; the breath

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Forum: Practical Dharma

I sometimes notice that I breath in quite a strained and hurried way off the cushion. I think this might be a side-effect of meditation. Are there any techniques or practices that deal with, well, learning to breath better basically..?
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Wet Paint, modified 14 Years ago at 2/5/08 7:06 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/5/08 7:06 PM

RE: Side-effects; the breath

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Simon-in-Syd

No answers, just a question: are you sure that it's not your awareness of the breath off the cushion that is an effect of meditation, rather than the quality of the breath?

For me, learning to breath is a matter of getting out of the way and letting it happen: even off cushion, as much as possible I gently watch it and the thoughts, feelings and sensations that accompany raggedness and smoothness.
Tobias Lundin, modified 14 Years ago at 2/6/08 1:41 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/6/08 1:41 AM

RE: Side-effects; the breath

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I guess that might be the case. I'll work a bit more on getting out of the way ;)
Hokai Sobol, modified 14 Years ago at 2/6/08 5:25 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/6/08 5:25 AM

RE: Side-effects; the breath

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"Learning" to breathe may involve physical skills like skilled relaxation or more complex disciplines like pranayama cycles and especially qi gong with abdominal breathing, but it may also involve learning to bring awareness to what triggers such breathing, and that may a whole range of conditions - physical, psychological, social, and environmental.
Tobias Lundin, modified 14 Years ago at 2/6/08 6:32 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/6/08 6:32 AM

RE: Side-effects; the breath

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Thanks hokai, good to know
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Daniel M Ingram, modified 14 Years ago at 2/13/08 7:12 PM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/13/08 7:12 PM

RE: Side-effects; the breath

Posts: 3231 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Is it possible that the breath is merely an aspect of some larger emotional picture, and it is simply that through meditation you are noticing more and more what has been happening or is happening, and so perhaps you attribute to the meditation something that is merely revealed by that meditation and the increased awareness of your breathing.

Then the next question is: is it more important to change how things are or to simply notice how things are. Perhaps noticing is enough? Insight practices are not necessarily about changing things just to change them, but more about revealing life in all its relative and ultimate aspects. As the Buddha said, "Knowing I breathe out short" or "Knowing I breathe out long", being simply mindful of these and investigating the sensations that make them up.

The question beyond that is: will becoming more aware of those breathing patterns slowly alter or calm those patterns just on its own?

Even further: should you broaden the awareness to also include the rest of the emotional state that incorporates the breathing patterns you mention, so that you can see the patterns of thoughts arising and vanish, the other physical sensations that are involved in that emotional pattern, so that you become fluent in the bare experiences of those patterns, and thus allow the simple light of awareness to do its work whatever that may be?

Helpful?
Tobias Lundin, modified 14 Years ago at 2/14/08 4:17 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/14/08 4:17 AM

RE: Side-effects; the breath

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Yeah that's helpful. Kind of funny then that despite all the talk one can do about technique it's really about increasing awareness, and yet the better technique one has the more awareness increases.
Hokai Sobol, modified 14 Years ago at 2/14/08 6:29 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/14/08 6:29 AM

RE: Side-effects; the breath

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Obviously, here at DhO we emphasize direct 1st person stabilization (eg. shamatha) and investigation (eg. vipashyana), and so it is that technique and awareness influence each other, untill both are dropped into fundamental non-discrimination.

"Awareness", however, should also be understood to encompass the other two reality-domains, those of 2nd person (intersubjectivity, exchange, dialogue, mutually disclosed, relation-based etc.), and 3rd person (object analysis, scientific-minded etc.). Not to contradict anything that has been said here. So, reading and learning and discussing stuff is also raising awareness, just like taking vitamins is also awareness. "Practicing awareness" in this broad sense, should not be placed in antagonism with bare witnessing, what we usually mean by "bringing awareness to". Also, there are modes of unconsciousness not specifically tackled or even aimed at by meditation, such as the repressed unconscious (i.e. shadow), that are often better accessed via purposefully designed uncovering techniques. But this has no direct bearing on this question, so I'll just stop here. Thanks to tlundin and Dan.
Nathan I S, modified 14 Years ago at 2/14/08 8:53 AM
Created 14 Years ago at 2/14/08 8:53 AM

RE: Side-effects; the breath

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/26/09 Recent Posts
to add some tangentially, i've been taught that, when doing samatha, evaluating the breath for lack of ease and gradually opening to whatever breathing is easiest, is helpful for reaching access.

i imagine that if you are having serious trouble breathing that learning how to breath could be helpful and may expedite things. at the same it's really a separate skill--pranayama is classically considered part of the lower limbs of yoga.

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