Breathing technique

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Breathing technique

Postby meiji1 » Sun Jul 24, 2011 6:41 am

How should you breathe while doing shamatha? A bit of background: I'm somewhat tall and very lanky. My lung collapsed when I was 17, and my posture has always been pretty horrible. I can't sit comfortably for long in meditation, mostly due to back pain, which I suspect comes from the way I normally breathe. Today I tried breathing with my diaphragm rather than my chest, and I was MUCH more comfortable. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of conscious effort to keep to that style of breathing, which detracts from my meditation. I'm surprised this subject isn't more thoroughly addressed in the few instructional books I've read.
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Re: Breathing technique

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Jul 24, 2011 10:46 am

Dear Meiji1,

Shamataha is not about breathing techniques, it is a meditational technique concerned with awareness of the breath "as it is".

It is NOT about guiding or manipulating the breath. It is about being aware of your breath. Initially aware of the inhalation and exhalation OR the quality of the breath, ie if the inhalation is shallow or deep (but note that even with this meditation one is merely aware of the quality of the breath, one does not try to manipulate the breath, or get into analysis like: "this inhalation is shallow, should it be shallow? maybe it should be deep? I know, I will make the next one deep. yes that's it, now I am breathing correctly! ad nauseum...) OR the contact the breath makes at the tip of the nose as it enters or exits.

Shamatha is about awareness, it just happens to take the breath as an object with which to practice awareness.

The breath will do what it needs to do, don't worry about that!

As for the back pain, sit on a chair for longer meditation periods. For the shorter ones use the "correct" posture, with time you will find it comfortable. Until that itme comes though you still need to practice with your mind!

In closing, if you want to do breathing techniques find yourself a good teacher. Over-exertion during breathing techniques can actually damage the lungs, seeing how you already have a problem with your lungs you don't want to cause any more!
:namaste:
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Re: Breathing technique

Postby joy&peace » Sat Jun 06, 2015 2:47 am

lovely info.
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Re: Breathing technique

Postby avisitor » Tue Jun 09, 2015 5:41 am

meiji1 wrote:How should you breathe while doing shamatha? A bit of background: I'm somewhat tall and very lanky. My lung collapsed when I was 17, and my posture has always been pretty horrible. I can't sit comfortably for long in meditation, mostly due to back pain, which I suspect comes from the way I normally breathe. Today I tried breathing with my diaphragm rather than my chest, and I was MUCH more comfortable. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of conscious effort to keep to that style of breathing, which detracts from my meditation. I'm surprised this subject isn't more thoroughly addressed in the few instructional books I've read.

Thought that taking conscious effort was the point of meditation??
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Re: Breathing technique

Postby pael » Wed Jul 01, 2015 11:19 am

Can I observe rising and falling of my chest in meditation? Sometimes I don't feel air current at my nostrills.
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Re: Breathing technique

Postby Qing Tian » Wed Jul 01, 2015 12:22 pm

I want to suggest that just about anyone can benefit from practicing embryonic breathing as a parallel practice. Within shamatha I find that such a breathing pattern, when it is more natural (having practised for a bit), disturbs the seated posture far less than thoracic (chest) breathing.

If this is not an acceptable suggestion, or if it contravenes some special point of which I am unaware, please let me know.
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Re: Breathing technique

Postby BrianG » Wed Jul 01, 2015 12:32 pm

pael wrote:Can I observe rising and falling of my chest in meditation? Sometimes I don't feel air current at my nostrills.


Yes, navel works also if you wish. It's generally easier to focus on gross bodily sensations than the breath.

However, for developing clarity, breathe at nostrils is the best technique I've found. If you don't feel air current at the nostrils, that's a good opportunity to develop clarity. Focus single-pointedly on the slightest, tiniest sensation of breath than you can feel at the nostrils, and clarity will develop.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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Re: Breathing technique

Postby Loren Enders » Wed Jul 01, 2015 1:23 pm

I like to meditate with the breath at my nostrils also but a lot of people have told me navel or dantian is much stabler. Problem I run into is sometimes brings awareness to hunger in belly, etc. Uncomfortable.
I don't know much so don't listen to me. Trying to practice a path.
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Re: Breathing technique

Postby Simon E. » Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:57 pm

The main difference between most Buddhist meditation using the breath as object, and yoga techniques like pranayama is that the Buddhist meditator makes no attempt to CONTROL the breath. Instead she/he becomes aware of the breath....' follows it '. ..as is.

Techniques involving the rise and fall of the chest or abdomen are commonly used as part of Vipassana..they can on occasion bring about unintended chakra activation..for that reason are best done under instruction from an experienced Vipassana meditator.

The tip of the nose..breath in, breath out is often recommended. The breath should be natural and unforced.
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Re: Breathing technique

Postby Simon E. » Wed Jul 01, 2015 3:00 pm

pael wrote:Can I observe rising and falling of my chest in meditation? Sometimes I don't feel air current at my nostrills.



That is usually fixed by paying very close attention to subtle sensations ....without straining to do so. The sensations become finer and finer.
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Re: Breathing technique

Postby Qing Tian » Wed Jul 01, 2015 7:44 pm

Embryonic breathing is a natural breathing state. Once learned it requires no conscious control.
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Re: Breathing technique

Postby Caodemarte » Thu Jul 02, 2015 5:08 pm

How are you using the term embryonic breathing? It is a term sometimes used for a Taoist or Tai Chi reverse breathing (expansion of abdomen on exhalation, contraction on inhalation) used to bring in some enger when distracted or tired. Tai Chi people say this should be used only for a very short period under conscious control (usually when sitting). The term is sometimes used for breathing from and with attention, if any, centered on the lower abdomen This should be or become natural and unconstrained (so quickly does not have to be controlled and can, or should be, used all the time).

P.S. I am sure that there are other breathing methods that are also called embryonic breathing. These are the two that I know.
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Re: Breathing technique

Postby pael » Fri Jul 10, 2015 11:19 am

If I meditate so I can get rid of three poisons which one of three scopes it is?
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Re: Breathing technique

Postby theanarchist » Fri Jul 10, 2015 11:25 am

Qing Tian wrote:Embryonic breathing is a natural breathing state. Once learned it requires no conscious control.



Can't be because embryos don't breathe.

My suggestion is, if you have problems breathing, go see a physiotherapists.
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Re: Breathing technique

Postby BrianG » Fri Jul 10, 2015 1:17 pm

pael wrote:If I meditate so I can get rid of three poisons which one of three scopes it is?

If you develop clarity up to the point of gaining an acquired sign, then take that as an object of meditation, it would be ignorance.
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