SpiritME

Control breath in meditation

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Hi everyone

 

I have problem with my breathing practice, i just cant stop controlling my breath and the thought that if i am controlling the breath that  i am waisting my time. I can't feel my breath at times too, i know i am breathing but the breath is so subtle that i can't feel it. The whole process of controlling my breath and the thoughts are so distracting that i feel lost in this practice.

 

I have 2 questions if some of you could answer or give advice please.

 

1. What is the worst that could happen if i control my breath during my meditation practice? I know nothing bad will happen but will i be successful in my meditation practice??

 

2. Should i maybe do a lower Dantien meditation that you can control the breath??

 

Thanks

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Seems like most Buddhist practices have you follow your breath with awareness. So, awareness and control are not that bad.  On the other hand some arts are into letting go of the breath, letting it get subtle and putting attention into awareness.  I find practicing increasingly long breaths makes my natural breathing longer and more peaceful.  In Ki-Aikido they separated out breathing exercises from meditation.  

 

For many the first practice (& longer) is counting the breaths to 1 up to 10, repeat.  Which can be surprisingly hard.  So, beginners will often count 1 for in, 2 for out.. so they only go to 5.  Meditation teacher Glenn Morris made such counting much harder by having you go back to 1, if a stray thought came in. 

 

I play with count quite a bit.  Sometimes counting my breaths to 100, then letting it go.  Good training in patience.  I have tones from a Silent grounds CD, which time my breath going from 8in-8out, 10-10 up to 36 seconds in, 36 seconds out.  They do the same with a 1x4x2, so its a repeated tone of say 10 seconds in, 40 second hold 20 seconds out.  Takes quite a while to get that long. (unless you do a body hack like Wim Hof breathing that makes long breath cycles much easier)

 

Not sure exactly what you mean by Dantien meditation.  Long deep belly breathing is always good.   Breath in til you feel the lower ribs expand, breath out.. naturally or in some methods tightening up a bit.

 

To me, most of these methods are good to start on and develop but they're a launching point, after which you just sit (imo).   Timing manually or there are good apps like Insight Timer that can set up tones.  With so many traditions and methods see what connects to you and your aim.  

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Have the Precepts, Concentration, and Wisdom as your guide. If you are lacking Concentration, starts with the Precepts. Precepts is concentration at the beginning. It is not taught to be observed by many teachers of the past, if you will see in their writings, when teaching Concentration/Meditation but that is because their writings were for their students, or Buddhists. Nowadays, many teachers fail to have this in mind when teaching Concentration/Meditation especially to non - Buddhists. Many dabblers to Concentration/Meditation fail to notice this too. Precepts is the key to success in Concentration/Meditation and throughout the spiritual practice. When it is present, there is nothing to fear in Concentration/Meditation. The foundation is stable, the progress will be natural. If it is absent, on the other hand, there are many bad things that may happen. 

Also, take precautions when trying practices that you found in books, and the ones found in the internet. Especially if it deals with breath. There are many things that could go wrong. One of them being having wind in different parts of your body. If the wind manages to get into your head, you will have mental disorder. Though they appear interesting, you are harming your self. One example of such practice is how to raise the kundalini. Many of the ways on how to do it as found in books and in the internet is wrong. 

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Posted (edited)

Great question and I am sure you will get many answers from some very experienced people.

 

My two cents is this.

 

If you are focusing on controlling your breath you are lost in the thoughts in the worry of trying to control your breathing. It will impact your practice and how deep you will go. Can't get much silence if you are lost in thoughts.

 

What you are experiencing is normal and nothing to worry about.

 

A suggestion would be to instead of focusing on the breath through the nose is to notice the rise and fall of your belly as you breath. This is much easier to do than to notice the sensation through the nose.

 

It is also okay to switch between the belly and the nose for focusing. An example you start at the nose then it gets hard and then you move to the belly.

 

 You just don't want to be switching from one to the other a whole bunch of times during your practice. Every time you do you are again back in thoughts, resettling the mind etc.

 

One important thing is to not stress about it. Don't make it tougher than it is by thinking it has to be perfect. Just do your best, let it be and enjoy the impact on your daily life.

 

Good luck,

 

Tom 

 

P.S. Here is a meditation I often recommend to people. I really like the progression that he uses and people have reported really good results from it. Maybe you can use some of the steps in your practice. I hope you like it.

 

 

 

Edited by Jonesboy
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When I practice breath meditation, I loose energy.

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17 minutes ago, Cheshire Cat said:

When I practice breath meditation, I loose energy.

That's because you are trying to be unnatural.

 

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23 minutes ago, Marblehead said:

That's because you are trying to be unnatural.

 

 

Define natural :-))

 

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14 minutes ago, Cheshire Cat said:

 

Define natural :-))

 

Without force.  Without intention.

 

Our body has a natural rhythm for breathing.  Anything that changes this is unnatural.

 

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I always breath naturally and when I watch the breath in meditation I loose energy.

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How can I know that my breath is natural?

Can't your breath be naturally changed by external or internal factors unnoticed by you?

Shouldn't I control my breath in this case, knowing that if I don't she will lost herself following all of these "natural" things?

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Natural means without intent.

Relaxed breathing is different than when one breathes with anger or fear filled breathing.

 All of above can be natural.

 

In my experience forcing focus on breathing is not normal.

Awareness without focus is the goal ?

With COPD I am sort of the canary in the mine. I am very aware of air quality, and act accordingly, naturally without thought (mostly).

 

 

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Posted (edited)

SpiritME, as I understand it not controlling the breath and only 'silently' waching is mainly for increasing mindfulness, aka being aware of it when you're otherwise without the meditation progress you would not be aware of it. If you control it all you're then not just focusing nad letting go but concentrating, pulling yourself in the moment. So that doesn't train mindfullness as much and becomes solely a samatha(concentration practice).

 

I would say that you can keep at it. Sit cross legged, thumbs touching right hand on top of the left (popular mudra you've seen before) and do sessions of at least 30min. Focusing solely on the breath, developing equinimity. Focusing if you can right outside the nose, on the upper higher lip. Not paying attention to how it goes inside deeper than the nose, such as throat and belly/chest. If for some weird reason after a week or two of daily at least 1 30min sessions try samatha.

 

Control the breath, every aspect of it, pace, depth, and focus on it. You have feelings, sounds, sensations. That's what Absolutus did (search Absolutu's AMAs on meditation reddit). OR try a visual practice like gazing at a candle flame (called trataka) or print a small dot and stick it on the wall. 30-45min minimum daily. After 1-2, maybe 3 months your mentation will be WAAAY better. Then you should be able to anapanasati for mindfullness quite comfortably. 

 

You also have Franz Bardons exercises if they help, in his book Initiation into hermetics (get the free pdf on google). 

 

You may also want to try pranayama before. 

 

Hope this helps :)

Edited by Arramu
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On 7/22/2017 at 8:35 AM, Marblehead said:

Without force.  Without intention.

 

Our body has a natural rhythm for breathing.  Anything that changes this is unnatural.

 

 

On 7/22/2017 at 10:39 AM, cold said:

Natural means without intent.

 

 

Why is it that intent/intention is considered unnatural?

Does intent/intention occur naturally in humans?

Humans and animals possess a respiratory/nervous system that operates in 2 modes - voluntary and involuntary.

This is not accidental, nor is it unnatural IMO.

The whole question of what is natural and what is not is worthy of serious consideration.

 

As far as the OP goes:

1. Consciously controlling the breath is not harmful. It is something you are currently experiencing and struggling with but your relationship to your breath will change with time and practice. If you shared with us what type of practice you are engaged in, there may be more specific solutions forthcoming.

2. Not sure focusing in any particular part of the body is the answer but focusing on dan tian certainly can be very ground and stabilizing.

 

One suggestion is to notice the presence of one who is disturbed by being in control of the breath. Just watch that concern, that tendency. Where does it come from? Where does it go? Let go a little bit with respect to being concerned with who or what is controlling the breath. Looking directly at and being with that concern may help to allow it to release. Don't get frustrated or give up. The breath is fine with you in control and equally fine when you let it be. 

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3 hours ago, steve said:

 

 

Why is it that intent/intention is considered unnatural?

Does intent/intention occur naturally in humans?

 

Excellent questions.  

 

To the first question:  I have to refer to the state of wu wei in order to answer.  Wu wei is without intent.  But then, how many of us are in the state of wu wei all the time?  Answering only for myself, even as laid back as I am I'm not in that state very often.  I doubt many of us are.  We have things to do, places to go, and people to meet.  All this requires intent.

 

To the second question:  Yes.  This is because we have a calculating brain.  Worms live without intent.  And actually, many animals function without intent.  But not we humans most of the time.

 

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I am not here contradicting anyone else's answer about ' intent ', but its my opinion that instead of looking at the word first ,

to decide what is being discussed as 'unnatural' ,

it makes equal sense to consider the unnatural choices one makes, including breathing habits ,

and have these be the intended unnatural things to be avoided . 

 

I'll explain a little to clarify what I am trying to suggest ,, if its helpful, .,,

1) I could describe a book , and you could append the word "book" ,

or if I described a newspaper , you could supply the name 'newspaper' , pamphlet  etc, any of a number of things really ,

but you would not likely consider the thing described to be an orange. 

So when you see the word intent , I figure that you must investigate,  to see if the things you are considering to be things are representative of the  'intent' being spoken of. 

 

So what might intended breathing be ??  possibly  ,hyperventilation ,  speech , lies , fabricated emphasis , manipulation , pleading  etc and so forth. 

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For me, the relationship between intention and naturalness (we could speak of ziran, wu wei, and perhaps some other concepts) is a very important and interesting area of focus. In a similar way, the whole nature of thought and naturalness is related to this.

I personally do not look at intention or thought as necessarily unnatural.

I also don't see wu wei as necessarily being without intent.

The distinctions can be very subtle and I am only sharing my perspective, not suggesting that I'm right and others are wrong.

 

In the practices I work with, we begin by calming the mind so that we can break free of the control that the thoughts generally exert over our lives. We strongly identify with "the thinker" at a very deep level. Meditation is the process of seeing through the illusion of this thinker and opening ourselves to a more comprehensive and expansive view of who we are. With that more open view there also comes more potential in our lives. There comes a time when the meditation (whether formal or informal) is strong and skillful enough that we are no longer distracted or controlled by the thinking mind. The thoughts still come and go, emotional states come and go, and we are still able to remain with the more expansive view of who we are. We no longer identify with the thinker. It is seen for what it is, just another train of thought. At this point it can be seen that there is nothing more natural than thought, nothing more natural than intent. It is an important part of what makes us distinctly human. It is only a problem when we over identify with it. It is a very precious gift rather than something unnatural or abnormal. It simply needs to be seen accurately, put in proper context, and made to work for us rather than the other way around.

 

So back to the OP, I don't know your level of experience or your preferred method of meditation but I suspect you are fairly new to the practice. The thinking mind is always looking for something to grab onto. It generally keeps itself very busy acting as if it is the commander, rather than simply thought. When you begin to meditate and the thinking mind is now the object of observation, it is shocking to discover how powerful, stubborn, and resourceful it can be. Today it is the breath control; once you successfully deal with that it will latch on to other things - guaranteed! This is the work - to observe this aspect of yourself carefully, patiently, and with some degree of humor and playfulness, otherwise it can become a chore and quite discouraging. Meditation, in the beginning, is the study of our thinking mind. Eventually we transcend that and find that there is a far deeper, richer, and more supportive level of being that is not currently accessible because it is subtle and drowned out by the thinker. 

Be patient and compassionate with yourself. If it is difficult to work with the breath, there are other techniques which occupy the mind in different ways and ultimately lead to the same place. 

 

If you're interested, I'd be happy to share information about other approaches.

Good luck!

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The Secret Of The Golden Flower says let the breath flow naturally, without effort. One easy way to allow the natural breath to occur is to relax the body fully, especially the lower abdomen. Just completely letting go of all tension, the natural breath will occur like when you're sleeping. If you continue to allow it to flow, uninterruptedly, it will be rhythmic, and eventually become slower, and softer, progressively. Lao Tsu say's let your breath become soft and subtle, like a newborn babe. 

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Posted (edited)

On 8/2/2017 at 9:43 PM, turtlehermit said:

The Secret Of The Golden Flower says let the breath flow naturally, without effort. One easy way to allow the natural breath to occur is to relax the body fully, especially the lower abdomen. Just completely letting go of all tension, the natural breath will occur like when you're sleeping. If you continue to allow it to flow, uninterruptedly, it will be rhythmic, and eventually become slower, and softer, progressively. Lao Tsu say's let your breath become soft and subtle, like a newborn babe. 

 

It might e a good idea if you hold your breath, then let yourself feel the air in your mouth and witness it for a few moments before releasing it. This'll give you an idea of witnessing your breath that lots of meditation use, just observe it in your mouth. I had the same trouble where I. Couldn't stop controlling it and became upset because I thought I wasn't doing it right. 

 

Someone said to try that exercise. I thought it was ridiculous but I wanted to get it right so I tried. An holding my breath in my mouth really did give me a sense of what I was supposed to be looking at in meditation. Small weird r d tricks here and there are helpful, you'll discover them or someone will to you as you go.

 

If that doesn't help, then another one is to exert yourself physically to where it's hard to catch your breathe. Then watch as your body naturally does it when you're too tired to catch your breath.

 

Another way is to sit there still and notice your hands or any part of your body other than your breath, then notice your breath, and then switch to another part, then back to your breath.

 

The keys are to let go of your Idea what things are and practice them without preconceived expectations of how they feel or will make you feel, etc. This will give you a solid foundation of internal understanding based on your experiences. After a while you might find expectations and experiences don't align, an then you can choose to continue and explore whatever is there or you can let go an try something else. The benefits usually stay with us as long as we practice, though there's benefits that become permanent. But anyhow hope that helped somehow I know the advice sounds hoaky but it's different things I've found personally thAt work for me.

 

 

Edited by Zenmode
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