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Should the breath be improved directly? - Dhamma Wheel

Should the breath be improved directly?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
starter
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Joined: Mon Jul 12, 2010 9:56 pm

Should the breath be improved directly?

Postby starter » Fri Dec 24, 2010 8:13 pm

Hello friends,

First of all, thanks a lot for your great help and wish you a very merry X-mas and a wonderful new year!

I've been wondering if we should try to change the breath directly (e.g. longer, shorter, deeper, shallower ...) to improve our breathing during the sitting meditation, as taught by some teachers. I know many other teachers are against it and emphasize natural breathing. It seems to me that the best care/help we can give to our breathing is probably to let it happen naturally – unless we are not doing it right which has caused discomfort or harm (e.g. sit in wrong posture). The Buddha didn’t seem to have taught to change the breathing itself directly in order to improve it (?), but rather indirectly to calm it down, to induce piti/sukha ...

What's your experience with this?

Metta,

Starter

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mikenz66
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Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Should the breath be improved directly?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Dec 24, 2010 9:08 pm

Hi Starter,

I've only ever had instruction from "don't deliberately mess with stuff like breath" teachers. However, you seem to be finding Ajahn Thanissaro's approach useful, and he certainly talks about optimising the breath.

In my view, the sensible thing is to follow the instructions a teacher (or a selection of reasonably compatible teachers) and not worry too much about what the others say. Different teachers give different instructions, particularly when getting students started, that can seem quite contradictory. It doesn't mean any of it is wrong. They all teach what they found by experience to be useful to them and their particular students.
With more experience it becomes easier to see the commonalities, and/or why there are differences (e.g. whether they are putting more emphasis on concentration or on insight).

And keep in mind that your needs may change. One of the useful bits of advice I got from a moderately famous monk a few years ago was "If what you are doing seems to be working, keep doing it. If not, you might consider changing it."

Sorry for going a bit off topic, but I think that it is important to not get stuck in worrying about which method is "correct" and which is "wrong".

:anjali:
Mike

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Guy
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Joined: Fri May 22, 2009 4:05 am
Location: Perth, Western Australia

Re: Should the breath be improved directly?

Postby Guy » Fri Dec 24, 2010 11:26 pm

Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm

starter
Posts: 875
Joined: Mon Jul 12, 2010 9:56 pm

Re: Should the breath be improved directly?

Postby starter » Fri Dec 24, 2010 11:54 pm

Hi Mike,

Your kind help has been most appreciated. "If what you are doing seems to be working, keep doing it. If not, you might consider changing it." It's a good advice, but how about the possibility of finding some new thing which might work even better or far better? Metta,

Starter

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mikenz66
Posts: 14947
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Should the breath be improved directly?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Dec 25, 2010 12:33 am



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