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Does it Matter Where One Places One's Attention - Page 2 - Dhamma Wheel

Does it Matter Where One Places One's Attention

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
befriend
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Re: Does it Matter Where One Places One's Attention

Postby befriend » Thu Jan 05, 2012 9:19 pm

i was taught that vipassana from watching the rising and falling motions of the abdomen, can lead to samatha after 45 minutes of practice. in my experience nostril awareness is samatha. but i never practiced that more than getting to access concentration a handful of times and my teacher is not a samatha teacher. you may be right if you say nostril breathing can eventually become vipassana, i am not learned in this so ill leave that discussion up to those who have experience more with nostril awareness. i just know in the BEGINNING stages nostril is samatha, abdomen is vipassana, after a little while the lines may begin to blur and possibly another factor may play a role in nostril samatha turning into vipassana?
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Pondera
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Re: Does it Matter Where One Places One's Attention

Postby Pondera » Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:41 pm


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Re: Does it Matter Where One Places One's Attention

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:38 am


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Pondera
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Re: Does it Matter Where One Places One's Attention

Postby Pondera » Fri Jan 13, 2012 1:47 am


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Re: Does it Matter Where One Places One's Attention

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Jan 13, 2012 2:40 am


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ground
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Re: Does it Matter Where One Places One's Attention

Postby ground » Fri Jan 13, 2012 4:35 am

No it does not matter at all. However avoid objects toward which there is still the arising of greed/lust or aversion/anger.

Kind regards

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Re: Does it Matter Where One Places One's Attention

Postby Pondera » Fri Jan 13, 2012 6:52 pm


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Re: Does it Matter Where One Places One's Attention

Postby reflection » Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:13 pm

I don't think it matters where one places attention. I often place the attention where I feel the breath the best at that moment. This may be the nostrils or the abdomen, but also lower in the nose. Or I choose to not focus on the breath at all, but on bodily feelings or compassion. There is not too much difference in the effect, as long as you can concentrate on it. The breath is nice to focus on because it has a close connection with the mind, but apart from that it is nothing special about the breath. Also particular spots where we feel it also aren't that special or important I would say.

But what I found works best for me is to not focus on any particular spot, but just on the general feeling of the breath. This way the bodily feelings seem to fade away more easily, leaving only the mental representation of the breath, which is a higher state of concentration. This is the method taught by Ajahn Brahmavamso, by the way.

But, to each his own.

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Pondera
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Re: Does it Matter Where One Places One's Attention

Postby Pondera » Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:17 pm

I took a quick peek at what Ajahn Brahmavamso has to say about breath meditation.

I am certain that my progress along sustained awareness of breath is far behind a person such as Ajahn Brahmavamso, but the one thing I can relate to in a writing of his on the net is the not "interfering" part that comes with breath-awareness.

Also becoming completely engrossed in each and every phase of the breathing process is something essential I have come to appreciate. The one pitfall I have recognized is an expectation I have that bodily calmness will come hand in hand with breath awareness. This becomes a stumbling block for me. But the minute I give up on trying to achieve bodily calmness and come back to the basic awareness of breath, the bodily calmness simply follows.

I realize the whole time that I've been trying to screw the lid off of a jar of pickles in a counter clockwise direction. Whether we choose to break it into 15 parts or 100; an essential step towards understanding the effects of the breath on the body and mind is a full commitment to the breath first.

I personally step out, in many other people's opinions, from Buddhism in my connection to my body. I realize that the body is meant to operate in a certain way. For me, the loftiness of insight comes through a fairly straight forward, albeit magical reaction within the context of letting go or initiating non-attachment to the body.

My practical efforts can be summarized like this. With the help of understanding one's breath...

...focus on:

The base of the spine, in the morning, releases testosterone and keeps the lower regions of the body healthy

The second lowest part of the spine, as the morning continues, encourages healthy bladder function through a release of different but similar biochemicals like testosterone

The region of the spine, right at noon, where the stomach is located encourages healthy bowel movement with a similar release of bio-chemical endorphines or steroids (I can't say what genera these "chemicals" belong to for certain).

The region of the spine, in the afternoon, right behind the heart, or the heart itself releases an especially important thing. This thing, and whatever it is, helps to reduce any adrenaline produced in the bodies metabolism of food. This thing is also quite related to metabolism.

The neck region, in the evening, releases insulin.

The base of the neck near the back of the head, promotes open and healthy nervous tissues - via yet another kind of molecule. At this stage the molecules are becoming less and less material in nature; therefore harder to explain and define.

The front of the head, as the evening continues, promotes healthy bone structure. And when this important area is concentrated on properly the effect it has on the entire bodies bone structure is, to the observer, like going completely numb. This is why, having experienced it for my self, I suspect it shares something in common with the third jhana. I have no way of proving that. It is a suspicion of mine.

The top of the head, as the night is coming to a close, promotes healthy muscles with the release of the last biochemical which can rightly be called "material".

The places which then follow now correspond not to bodily functions and the promotion of their well being, but rather speculative views and a healthy distance created from those views, or, in other terms, a spontaneous revelation of how these views exist within a person. They are, so to speak, immaterial.

While most people are asleep, around 12:30 or so...

...focus on:

Another region near the back of the head; another region near the front of the head; another region near the top of the head; another the region right in the center of the head; and the region right in the center of the heart open up; in the same order - to promote:

A perception of:
"Just" Space
Consciousness extended around the objects which surround the person
Nothingness, as if it were the shadow of the hollows which form inside the emptiness of a person's rib cage
Neither perception nor non-perception; and
The heart's release from the bondage of attachments.

So as non-Buddhist as all of this sounds, it's how I understand the body and it's more Yogic than anything else except that, in my experience, the nature of these "precious-points" put the context of jhanas and immaterial jhanas into an understandable framework (for me anyhow).

Buddhist heresy?

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Goofaholix
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Re: Does it Matter Where One Places One's Attention

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:50 pm


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Pondera
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Re: Does it Matter Where One Places One's Attention

Postby Pondera » Sat Jan 14, 2012 3:41 am


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pilgrim
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Re: Does it Matter Where One Places One's Attention

Postby pilgrim » Sat Jan 14, 2012 4:45 am

I find both useful depending on my mind state. When I'm distracted or tired, I focus on the abdomen as it is grosser and more easily observed. Then when I am calmed down somewhat, I change to the nostrils to refine the concentration.

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Re: Does it Matter Where One Places One's Attention

Postby Goofaholix » Sat Jan 14, 2012 8:52 pm


benoit_santerre
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Re: Does it Matter Where One Places One's Attention

Postby benoit_santerre » Tue Mar 13, 2012 8:10 pm

"befriend wrote:
tip of nose or around the nose = samatha,
rising motions of abdomen = vipassana
motion of feet in walking meditation = vipassana"

Actually, Mahasi Sayadaw has himself said that breath at nostrils could be used for vipassana. Believe it or not (I've read this from one of his discourse), he didn't teach at the nostril because he wanted to avoid criticism from others that this could not be called vipassana but samatha! If a reference to what discourse of Mahasi S. said this, I could find it but don't have it right now. Just ask me and I'll find it.
The pressure is strong in Burma for teachers to justify their techniques in the suttas or commentaries. The commentaries classify mindfulness of breath (at nostril) as samatha. Since Mahasi Sayadaw said he taught direct vipassana, teaching at the nostrils would put him in contradiction to the commentaries, and therefore open to criticism. There is a "political" aspect to this debate I think many are not aware of in the Western vipassana circle simply because we don't have the same demands from tradition as in Theravada Buddhist countries. Unfortunately Mahasi S. was criticised anyway for teaching the movement of the abdomen as Anapanasati. He clarified that he did not consider focusing at the abdomen as 'Anapanasati' but as contemplating the motion element.
In any case, whether one is in vipassana or samatha mode does not depend on where one is focused in the body, but on the quality of attention. If you are focused on the nostrils and get to the point where you contemplate the elements in the breath sensations, such as pressure, softness, temperature, motion, then you are in vipassana mode. This instruction I actually got from the Mahasi lineage.
And then you have people actually getting "jhanic" type experiences from focusing on the movement of the abdomen. It's all about "how" one uses one's attention, not "where".
There are also other techniques in Burma that uses breath at nostrils as vipassana. Mogok Sayadaw taught a method where one focuses on breath at the nostrils (initially as samatha), but then switches to vipassana using that same breath at the nostrils by contemplating "in-breathing consciousness" and "out-breathing consciousness".
Webu Sayadaw taught vipassana by exclusively using the breath sensations at the nostrils.
Ledi Sayadaw, in his 'AnapanaDipani', showed how breath at nostrils can be used for vipassana by contemplating the breath with wisdom.
Although the commentaries mention breath at nostrils as Samatha, many masters obviously disagree with that classification.

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mikenz66
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Re: Does it Matter Where One Places One's Attention

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:32 pm


benoit_santerre
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Re: Does it Matter Where One Places One's Attention

Postby benoit_santerre » Wed Mar 14, 2012 4:23 pm

Thanks Mikenz66!
Excellent passage you found!
metta.

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Re: Does it Matter Where One Places One's Attention

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Mar 14, 2012 7:13 pm



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