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How to Develop Mindfulness-of-Breathing
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How to Develop Mindfulness-of-Breathing

Lagt inn den 03.okt 2017 | ved Ashin Htavara som Åpen diskusjon


The development of mindfulness-of-breathing (ànàpànassati) is taught by the Buddha in the Mahàsatipaññhàna Sutta. There he says:

‘Bhikkhus, here in this Teaching a bhikkhu having gone to the forest, or to the foot of a tree, or to an empty place, sits down cross-legged and keeps his body erect and estab­lishes mindfulness on the meditation object; only mindfully he breathes in and only mindfully he breathes out.

1. Breathing in a long breath he knows, “I am breathing in a long breath”, or breathing out a long breath he knows, “I am breathing out a long breath”.

2. Breathing in a short breath he knows, “I am breathing in a short breath”, or breathing out a short breath he knows, “I am breathing out a short breath”.

3. “Experiencing the whole breath body I will breathe in”, thus he trains himself, and, “Experiencing the whole breath body I will breathe out”, thus he trains himself.

4. “Calming the breath body I will breathe in”, thus he trains himself, and, “Calming the breath body I will breathe out”, thus he trains himself.’

To begin meditating, sit in a comfortable position and try to be aware of the breath as it enters and leaves the body through the nostrils. You should be able to feel it either just below the nose or somewhere around the nostrils. Do not follow the breath inside the body or outside the body. Just be aware of the breath at the place where it brushes against and touches either the top of the upper lip or around the nostrils. If you follow the

breath in and out, you will not be able to perfect your concentration, but if you keep aware of the breath at the most obvious place it touches, either the upper lip or around the nostrils, you will be able to develop and perfect your concentration.

Do not pay attention to the individual characteristics (sabhàva-lakkhaõa), general characteristics (samma¤¤a-lakkhaõa) or the colour of the nimitta1 (the sign of concentration). The individual characteristics are the natural characteristics of the four elements in the breath: hardness, roughness, flowing, heat, supporting, pushing, etc. The general characteristics are the impermanent (anicca), suffering (dukkha), or non-self (anatta) charac-teristics of the breath. This means do not note ‘in, out, impermanent’, or ‘in, out, suffering’, or ‘in, out, non-self’.

Simply be aware of the in-and-out-breath as a concept. The concept of the breath is the object of mindfulness-of-breathing. It is this object to which you must direct your attention in order to develop concentration. As you pay attention to the concept of the breath in this way, and if you have practised this meditation in a previous life and have developed some pàramãs, you will easily be able to concentrate on the in-and-out-breath.

If your mind does not easily concentrate on the in-and-outbreath, the Visuddhimagga suggests to count the breaths. This will aid you to develop concentration. You should count after the end of each breath: ‘In, out, one – In, out, two – In, out, three – In, out, four – In, out, five – In, out, six – In, out, seven – In, out, eight.’

You should count up to at least five, and not count up to more than ten. But we encourage you to count to eight, because it reminds you of the Noble Eightfold Path, which you are trying to develop. So you should count, as you like, up to any number

between five and ten, and should determine in your mind that during that time you will not let your mind drift or go somewhere else. You want to simply be calmly aware of the breath. When you count like this, you find that you are able to concentrate your mind, and make it calmly aware of only the breath.

After you can concentrate your mind like this for at least half an hour, you should proceed to the second stage which is:

1. ‘Breathing in a long breath he knows, “I am breathing in a long breath”, or breathing out a long breath he knows, “I am breathing out a long breath”.

2. ‘Breathing in a short breath he knows, “I am breathing in a short breath”, breathing out a short breath he knows, “I am breathing out a short breath”.’

At this stage you have to develop awareness of whether the in and out breaths are long or short. Long or short here do not refer to length in feet and inches, but length of time. It is the duration. You should decide for yourself what length of time you will call long, and what length of time you will call short. Be aware of the duration of each in-and-out-breath. You will notice that sometimes the breath is long in time, and sometimes short. Just knowing this is all you have to do at this stage. You should not note, ‘In, out, long – In, out, short’, but just note ‘In, out’, and be aware of whether the breaths are long or short. You should know this by just being aware of the length of time that the breath brushes and touches the upper lip, or around the nostrils, as it enters and leaves the body. Sometimes the breath may be long throughout the sitting, and sometimes it may be short throughout the sitting. But you should not purposely try to make it long or short.

For some meditators at this stage the nimitta may appear, but if you can do this calmly for about one hour and no nimitta

appears, you should move on to the third stage:

3. ‘“Experiencing the whole breath body I will breathe in”, thus he trains himself and, “Experiencing the whole breath body I will breathe out”, thus he trains himself.’

Here the Buddha is instructing you to be aware of the whole breath continuously from beginning to end. You are training your mind to be thus continuously aware of the breath from beginning to end. As you are doing this the nimitta may appear. If the nimitta appears you should not immediately shift your attention to it, but continue to be aware of the breath.

If you are continuously and calmly aware of the breath from beginning to end for about one hour, and no nimitta appears you should move on to the fourth stage:

4. ‘“Calming the breath body I will breathe in”, thus he trains himself and, “Calming the breath body I will breathe out”, thus he trains himself.’

To do this you should decide to make the breath calm, and go on being continuously aware of the breath from beginning to end. You should do nothing else to make the breath calm, because if you do you will find that your concentration will break and fall away. There are four factors given in the Visuddhimagga that make the breath calm. They are: reflecting (àbhoga), bringing to mind (samannàhàra), attending (mana-sikàra), and deciding (vãmaüsa). So all you need to do at this stage is to decide to calm the breath, and to be continuously aware of the breath. Practising in this way, you will find that the breath becomes calmer and the nimitta may appear.

Just before the nimitta appears a lot of meditators encounter difficulties. Mostly they find that the breath becomes very subtle, and is not clear to their mind. If this happens, you should keep your awareness at the place where you last noticed the breath,

 

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