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Thread: Meditation - The breath

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    Meditation - The breath

    namaste,

    Recently restarted my practice. I have a question about the breath that I am struggling with.
    When in meditation (or trying to get into the state) is the breath supposed to be deep and long for instance coming from the belly to the nostrils or shallow (sukshma?) from nostril to center of brows?

    The reason why I am asking is that I have heard and read opposing suggestions on this. Possibly that's due to practioners using different techniques for meditations. But wondering what's the right ways.

    In my case, the normal breath is shallow but if I start paying attention to it, it becomes deep. Maybe subconciously I start breathing deeper because I am paying attention to it?

    Any suggestions/ thoughts would be much appreciated.
    satay

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    Re: Meditation - The breath

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté



    Quote Originally Posted by satay View Post
    namaste,

    Recently restarted my practice. I have a question about the breath that I am struggling with.
    When in meditation (or trying to get into the state) is the breath supposed to be deep and long for instance coming from the belly to the nostrils or shallow (sukshma?) from nostril to center of brows?

    The reason why I am asking is that I have heard and read opposing suggestions on this. Possibly that's due to practioners using different techniques for meditations. But wondering what's the right ways.

    In my case, the normal breath is shallow but if I start paying attention to it, it becomes deep. Maybe subconciously I start breathing deeper because I am paying attention to it?

    Any suggestions/ thoughts would be much appreciated.
    A few notions on breath for your kind consideration...

    I cannot stress how important breath is in one's practice... it is no less than your connection to this whole environment - it is HIS breath (in my opinion) .
    We are offered 21,600 breaths (+/-) per day.

    In the beginning we just let the breath be. We do not control it - we are just simple about this. If one is meditating then breath all by itself will find its natural rhythm and depth ...
    you will find that during one's meditation the breath will become shallow and slow ~light~ . This is the natural condition of settling down. Just like a pot of boiling water when one turns
    down the flame the water stops its bubbling . When the flame is off the pot cools and the water stands still. Water = the chatter of the mind; breath = the fire.

    Now, I mention the above when one is meditating with a mantra and it is doing the guiding; if one is working with a breathing technique then things are slightly different.
    We can review this if there is interest.

    A few other simple house keeping items for one’s practice (abhyāsa) if there is interest:

    • nirāśa – expect nothing – be simple; one is patient.
    • ekākī – practice alone; This means even if one practices in a group (which is rewarding) our practice is singular e.g. no holding hands; no cats sitting on our laps, like that.
    • śama & śuci – a quiet and clean place; a place where no agitation will take place, no family traffic , no exit and entrance points for public passing.
    • aparigrahaḥ - this word means ‘ not collecting things’ , without possessions. As we apply it to one’s meditation it simple means we do not create to-do lists, mental lists of activities for after one’s meditation. The term also means ‘ renouncing’ and in this case we are renouncing thoughts, but not by pushing them out, this only agitates the mind. This elimination of thoughts comes in time; yet in one’s practice we find that the mind begins to ‘leak’ – thoughts. We simply and easily goback to one’s practice. It is that easy. We pay them no mind. Let me say that again - we do not give thoughts any mindful attention. No attention on them - not even the slightest analysis or inspection of the thoughts that bubble up; When done properly they just come and go and you do not even notice their content. You don’t even bother to ‘open the hood’and look into any of them… it is that simple.


    Then one makes the ripe conditions to ārurukṣu – to rise, ascend.

    iti śivaṁ
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: Meditation - The breath

    namaste,

    Thank you Yajvan. Another question I have is regarding being simple. Some say you have to concentrate which is opposite of staying simple and expecting nothing. So should there be "concentration" on (the breath?) or not?
    satay

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    Re: Meditation - The breath

    Vannakkam: I'm no expert, Satay, but can share what I have been taught in my sampradaya. It's (after getting settled comfortably, spine erect) 9 counts in, 9 counts out, until that basic rhythm has been established. Once that is established, it's onto more progressively inner concentrations, like a road map. Body warmth, spine, etc. like that.

    As the mind calms further and further, there may or may not be an object or idea to meditate on. So when in conversation, I (we, in his sampradaya) say 'I'll meditate on that, that's what we mean.

    The diaphragm's role in all this is interesting, as it's the muscle doing all the work. I found this scientific video interesting to pinpoint my meditation on the diaphragm.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hp-gCvW8PRY

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: Meditation - The breath

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté

    Let me offer a few insights... and as usual probably inform you with more information than asked, but in hopes I can ( at the same time) answer the need & the question simultaneously.
    There are many dhāraṇā-s¹ that involve the breath. They fit into a set or an approach¹ within the āṇavopāya group:
    āṇava +upāya
    • āṇu = fine , minute , atomic is known as 'atom' - which is another name for the individual jiva. This upāya¹ is the means whereby the āṇu or the individual jiva uses
      his own kāraṇa-s
      or instruments i.e. senses, prana and manas for self-realization. It includes disciplines concerning the regulation of prana, japa, concentration, meditation, etc.

    Now why would I burden you with this knowledge ? It is because pending the approach one uses the methods are different. That is, we’re in an environment where one size
    does not fit all
    .
    So, let me address just a few things – but to be more specific, may I suggest you email me and we will hone the answer to your specific practice.
    Another question I have is regarding being simple. Some say you have to concentrate which is opposite of staying simple and expecting nothing.
    So should there be "concentration" on (the breath?) or not?
    Simple
    First, simple means expecting nothing; nothing of any specific outcome during this upāya. There is no ‘gheeze I hope this happens or that happens ‘ or ‘when is something going to happen ? ’ . There is no expecting. Why would that be ? To let the mind be balanced. To not insert any additional components into the process which is an intent. I will tell you intent is a very important thing, so much so as there are dhāraṇā-s that use this intent as an approach. So, enough said here.

    Concentration
    The method of concentration is with one’s awareness. Many take this idea of sthairyavattva ( concentration) with a crooked view. Many view it as exerted effort to remain
    on an object ( of one’s meditation) ; if this requires strenuous effort then one thinks that is concentrating.
    This is not so… the mind becomes concentrated when the
    technique is applied properly.

    You see the mind wanders , that is its nature. If you whip it, it is like a child and wishes to run away. So, there is no whipping. With your breath if that is what
    you are watching, then you put your awareness on it. Where you put it ( top, bottom, gap, etc.) is just as important ( and can be another technique) ; so pending your
    upāya you wish to engage in,
    I cannot inform you where that should be. But that said, once you find that your mind has wondered, that some leak has occurred and you are off wondering,
    then we gently
    bring the mind back to the technique.

    If you recall the mind can be in one of these conditions ( please take a moment to review):
    • kṣiptam – thrown, cast, or dismissed. One begins their meditation and within seconds other thoughts enter one’s mind, enter one’s practice. Oh, I forgot to pick up milk, don’t forget to do the laundry , let me see, where shall I go Friday with my friend… ooops I am not meditating, back to meditation. The native was ‘thrown out’ of his march of the mind. The march begins and within a minute or so, he/she is cast out to the world of thinking and pondering other things. Note that this is not a ~bad~ thing and that is why it is being called out here. It is the beginning of ‘chipping away at the rock’.
    • vikṣiptam – sent, dispatched, distorted. One begins their ‘march’ and it continues, then thoughts come, but the person catches the mind as it is sent some where’s else and brings it back. It leaves on occasion and with frequency, yet it is brought back sooner.
    • ekāgram – one-pointed or fixed. A person starts their practice and can stay with it with continuity; yet on occasion a scratch or an itch arises and the person tends to this distraction.
    • niruḍham ( sometimes spelled niruddham) – one’s meditation goes on in a chain-like manner, in continuity.


    Note this insight: All 4 of these conditions may occur in one sitting. Sometimes 2 will occur or 1, or 3. It all depends on your activity level, the last time you did your practice,
    your level of awareness ( focus) and intent at the time of setting down, all this influences your present condition
    ( including your food-stuffs that influences the mind).

    iti śivaṁ

    words


    • dhāraṇā – meditations; even tough this word means the act of holding , bearing , wearing , supporting , maintaining
    • approach = upāya-s = approach, technique; that by which one reaches one's aim , a means or expedient



    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: Meditation - The breath

    Quote Originally Posted by satay View Post
    namaste,

    Recently restarted my practice. I have a question about the breath that I am struggling with.
    When in meditation (or trying to get into the state) is the breath supposed to be deep and long for instance coming from the belly to the nostrils or shallow (sukshma?) from nostril to center of brows?

    The reason why I am asking is that I have heard and read opposing suggestions on this. Possibly that's due to practioners using different techniques for meditations. But wondering what's the right ways.

    In my case, the normal breath is shallow but if I start paying attention to it, it becomes deep. Maybe subconciously I start breathing deeper because I am paying attention to it?

    Any suggestions/ thoughts would be much appreciated.
    Namaste Satay ji

    When I began meditating had the same doubt (on breath as well as on concentration.

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=L4thsq2m0ic
    I got my answers from the above video (Hindi version). Hope it will answer your questions.

    English version:
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpCjZEikUGs

    (Though I don't meditate regularly) I can tell you from my experience that one can easily (also quickly) get into deeper state (don't have any other way to verbalize it) if we keep it simple.

    ie Just be a spectator. Breath, concentration etc etc will be automatically taken by our system. I might sound like romanticizing but on many occasions (after satisfied meditation) had the vision of my future either as a dream or a sort of instructions coming from within. My experience also says staying away non vegetarian diet and diversions like media, materialistic thoughts and social networking helps a lot.
    Last edited by Anirudh; 11 November 2015 at 11:35 AM.
    Anirudh...

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    Re: Meditation - The breath

    Namaste,
    thank you everyone! You have given me a lot to digest. Very much appreciated.
    satay

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    Re: Meditation - The breath

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté

    There are many dhāraṇā-s¹ that involve the breath. They fit into a set or an approach¹ within the āṇavopāya group:
    āṇava +upāya
    āṇu = fine , minute , atomic is known as 'atom' - which is another name for the individual jiva. This upāya¹ is the means whereby the āṇu or the individual jiva uses
    his own kāraṇa-s or instruments i.e. senses, praṇa and manas for self-realization. It includes disciplines concerning the regulation of prana, japa, concentration, meditation, etc.
    Within the āṇavopāya group we look for support for one’s practice… this support can be via sight, sound, breath, touch, etc. ; sometimes this
    group is called káraṇa-s , suggesting not only ‘skill’ but also the act of making , doing , producing , effecting.

    So, the ‘support’ for this string has been about breath. People say we have 1 breath, yet this breath ~ in general~ has 3 parts:

    1. inward - going downward (adhaḥ¹) and therefore called apāna
    2. outward - going upward (ūrdhve) and therefore called
    prāṇa
    3. the rest point in between, the space, and this is called viṣuvát¹ some ( like me) call it madhya also.

    When people say watch the breath there are 5 possible techniques ( at a minimum ) that can be considered.
    The obvious 3 from the above is inward, outward and the viṣuvát space… yet too one can watch what occurs
    before the breath begins and after the breath ends for a total of 5. Yet there are more that require a an
    in-depth explanation which will not be pursued at this time.

    Offering a hint
    A hint on this practice for those attuned to this type of upāya. Abhyāsa = practice, it also is defined as the act of adding anything.
    We are ~adding~ this practice of breath upāya to one’s day. Yet there is an additional meaning of abhyāsa ( some write abhyās)
    and that is ‘pervading’. With this practice one can extend the practice to pervade the whole day.

    iti śivaṁ


    words
    • adhaḥ = adhas ( by the rule of visarga of managing the ḥ sound ) and this is defined as downward
    • apāna – breath in the downward direction ; note the other spellings that does NOT = apāna.
      • āpana - reaching
      • āpaṇa – a market or shop

    • viṣuvát - having or sharing both sides equally , being in the middle , middlemost , central
    • dhāraṇā – meditations; even tough this word means the act of holding , bearing , wearing , supporting , maintaining
    • upāya - approach, technique; that by which one reaches one's aim , a means or expedient

    Last edited by yajvan; 20 November 2015 at 02:04 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  9. #9

    Re: Meditation - The breath

    Namaste Satay Ji,


    There are many techniques and styles. I would suggest finding one that suites you and then the feild of breathe awareness in all techniques all start to nit together. Prana and Chi are the same thing in Indian and Chinese styles the practice and application is different, the results however would be the same. Mostly the results are for better physical health,mental equilibrium and ultimately enlightenment, whatever that may be. Within the yoga systems and Chi cultivation of Qi Kung and Thai Chi the depth and breadth of those results become very deep and profound and also depend on being very precise, not much room for error to attain desired siddhis within the specific Sadhana. For these to have real power and the true effect I think one needs a qualified guru to show one, hands on face to face under observation, or on a well organised retreat. Its quite exclusive to develop these practices results and skills, it cant be done by following an type of manual in a book or reading information, not even learning by self help videos.


    I have learned some things over the years from different people that I have met and some reslts are there, but what I did find out is that its a very dedicated practice if one wants Siddhis, Siddhis can just mean perfections which is the context that I am reffering to here, not only mystic powers.

    I do daily meditation, not always formal, even if its for a few minutes between things to come back to the breath. The main technique that I find easy and practice is the Anapanasati techniques within Buddhism, especially the Theravadin and Vipassana traditions who have held these practices together for 2,500 years.

    In these techniques its very simple, its just about awareness of the breathe, no changing teh patterm, noticing if its short or long breathe, fast or slow, deep or shallow etc. In fact the technique is so simple many a times people want more and try to add things to to it, but that is not this system.

    What this method does is support Jhana, or deep concentrated meditation , Dhyana in Sanskrit. Jhana's are states which arise through the calming of the mind Samatha and one starts to gain insights naturally and then can experience Jhana which is the foundation of enlightenment. 9 Jhana stages in total, we would be lucky to enter the 1st one or 2, by 4th Jhana one gets to know what Enlightenment is about.

    At the end of the day each one to his own, I find many of the techniques in Hinduism very complex, same as with the Chinese, they need a teacher and years of practice under strict conditions. Anapanasati can give the same results eventually but in a more easy way of practice.

    This is quite a simple read.

    http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books/Aja...The_Jhanas.pdf
    Last edited by markandeya 108 dasa; 14 November 2015 at 07:13 AM.

  10. #10

    Re: Meditation - The breath

    Thanks for this thread. Brilliant information posted here.
    I have been doing mantra meditation on and off, and been struggling with it (truly a monkeys mind over here). So many thoughts would come and go. This was very encouraging to read.

    Pranaams.

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