No announcement yet.

My pressing question and doubt: concentration

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • My pressing question and doubt: concentration

    Hello there,

    In another topic I raised my question about the amount of concentration one should use to look at the breath, so with which strenght the breath should be grapped with attention; or do you need to not grab it with your attention, but still shift your awareness intently to the breath? Or is it even better to not shift your awareness intently to anything at all, and let things unfold completely on there own (unfabricated awareness/choiceless awareness) ?

    This is what I'm questioning at the moment. Grabbing the breath with your attention means that you intently surpress phenomena to one-point your awareness to the breath. Intently shift your awareness to the breath means that you are not content with the present moment. On another forum I was told by a lot of people that this last choiceless awareness is the way to go, and that you will end up watching the breath eventually. But I need more advice from different people. What do you think ?

    To give you something to read about this discussion:

    This is about the grasping:

    As you practice see if you can become aware of any tendency to 'try' and achieve success with this technique. Perhaps there is a subtle (or gross) grasping at a result , or sublte grapsing at the anapana spot that is causing the 'tension' you mention. If this is recognised in your experience then simpl apply this pointer to what you are already doing. See if there is a difference in 'tension' arising or not when paying attention as you already are versus an unfabricated way of paying attention. If you recognize that there is a difference, then you will know what to drop. In a sense it is simply like saying "relax!" and recognize that 'trying' need not be a part of doing the technique. Tension seems only to result when the mind tenses due to tendencies to 'try' too hard in my own experience.
    I tried to not grasp the anapana spot at all. This required constant correction at the start, but got much easier. The result was that the one-pointedness (in terms of continuous attention to an unmoving tiny spot below the nostrils) moved a little bit now and then (nbut not much) and wasn't quite so tiny, though still very small. It seemed quite natural and easy to observe this process from a perspective of above and slightly behind my head rather than being right "in" the process, "in" the spot. Hard to explain.
    And this is a peace about the unfabricated awareness:


    I would like your personal opinions on this matter, I would really appreciate it.

    Also while doing Anapanasati, I find it really strange that a lot of people gave me the explanation to practice choiceless awareness, and that this will become anapanasati itself. My guess is you need to bring your attention intently to the breath, but not grasping it with your attention?

  • #2
    Hi Zorrit,
    We could say we touch the breath (concentration) with as little attention as necessary to connect to the breath and follow it, let it do it's job, your job is to keep quiet, and witness what is occurring without attachment.
    What we are doing is training the child inside, but not with force, but with gentle encouragement. The mind will misbehave, so gently we return to the breath, without getting into the tantrum, I sometimes internally just say "it's all ok, we are safe let me feel this" and in accepting anything, the feelings, sensations, thoughts, we don't give them justification to manifest, yet even if they do that's ok too, as we are just witnessing.

    Choice-less awareness is fine too, try it out.

    When we focus on the breath, we may find at some stage, that which is between thoughts, here there is no suppressing, just allowing life to play in presence.
    I'd say give all these options a go though, and see which works for you.

    It's really a personal investigation, enjoy it, even the difficult bits
    Best of luck,
    with Metta


    • #3
      Am i on the right track now?

      With a very subtle intent I try to stay with my breathing, but I'm not sticking my attention on the breath (like glu) but I'm letting go more and more, it's a very subtle feeling, like it happens all by itself. I experience now the feeling (and ease, peace) of letting go more than before, but my meditation is not as deep because before my attention would be glued to the breath, therefore surpressing more from the other senses. Also it seems that it's less stable because my mind gets distracted sooner by other things than the breath, whereas before there was a lot more effort (ans thus concentration) to stay with the breath...Also, before I experienced more joy, because of the higher effort/concentration...But what I'm doing now is more about letting go than before, but is far more subtle. Also the feeling of the breath is far more subtle to notice, my attention is not as zoomed in on it as before...

      Am i doing it right?


      • #4
        Remember Zorrit, this is only from my experience, and what I tend to understand from the instructions,
        Do you feel more at ease Zorrit ?
        distraction is fine, we all get it, when it's noticed, gently return to awareness,
        When we cease striving piti, naturally arises on it's own,
        that may be a key,
        The arising joy, is what I find holds attention
        Allow the subtlety, allow the thoughts,
        I find sometimes in this subtleness there is a sort of fluidity, some call vibration, or resonance,
        be the witness of it all as it passes by, without any need to change what is.
        In awareness of it all,
        what's left is the breathing, and it is natural to stay here,
        sometimes even that becomes so subtle,
        It's like doing nothing, which in itself is unfamiliar, yet so familiar too.
        Yes, if you feel your over focusing,
        try relaxing the eyes,
        we can try this with eyes open too,
        a sort of unfocused looking, and it tends to bring us back into the body.
        If your enjoying it, carry on, it really is experiential, but certainly sounds good.
        or maybe a balance between the two meditation practices may suit you better.
        or even returning to your original, with this insight.
        You sound less frustrated though, so that must be a good thing
        Lots of metta,
        Happy meditating.
        Last edited by Mark Hyland; 13th-July-2014, 02:13 AM.


        • #5

          I have the feeling that I'm surpressing less, because of before, I just surpressed stuff from other senses and thougths because of sticking with the breath with too much effort. Now it's like it's happening all by itself, not doing nothing, because that would be choiceless awareness (and that doesn't work for me at this moment), but with a subtle intent I try to stay with the breath. Not forcing my attention on the breath, but letting go more and more of everything else. As I said before, this makes that my meditation is more superficial and not as deep as before. Therefore it was more stable before, in the sense that before I probably blocked more of other things out so my mindfulness seemed bigger and the joy was greater?! But now, I have the feeling I'm more content where I am NOW, not always trying to go deeper and deeper.

          But I'll try this for some period of time and than I'll decide if this suits me better or not...I hope, because with the more effort and concentration I used before, it also don't feels right, because it feels to unnatural.


          • #6
            That sounds so much more positive, full of potential
            I'm so glad for you
            If I may add just one more point,
            Be aware of the mind thoughts,
            they will tend to invent another problem, and another, it's what mind does,
            If seen in the light, it will pass also, it's all impermanent.
            The subtle joy, builds up gradually,
            it's seems nothing, then the pot overflows and......................
            Happy meditating
            With lots of metta,
            never forget the metta !!


            • #7
              Thanks Mark for all your time and advice!

              It's normal that the joy I feel is far more subtle than before (when I used more effort and concentration to stay with the breath)?

              I have the feeling that now I'm letting go definitely, but it's still for short moments, but I'm confident this will be longer and longer, and letting go more and more till I eventually reach Jhana.

              There's the problem where my mind wants to let go everything (even the subtle intent to stay with the breath), and that stops the letting go (because of letting the very subtle breath go) and puts me back to choiceless awareness (where I can't let go). So I have to make sure my mind stays as subtle as possible with the breath. Does this sound familiar?


              • #8
                Yes when we let go, only breathing remains,
                the sensation of breath, sometimes this dissolves too, and there can be a sort of floating pleasant sensation, yet even here the breathing returns to stabilise us if we float off into dreams. There is still a knower of this floating,
                don't worry about jhana, read up about it, that's enough,
                and nimitta,
                Enjoy the beautiful breath,
                witness thoughts passing,
                I take this into the day too,
                It's very acceptable
                Ajahn Brahm's meditation advice is very good, worth using as a reference guide.

                If Jhana comes it will be when we let go of wanting it, and here we must open that door on our own,
                Like you, I do look forward to this, but it's ok if it's not present as it's good enough to accept this now with an open heart.
                have fun
                With metta
                Not sure our understanding of choiceless awareness is the same, as I would tend to regard this as really letting go.


                • #9
                  Hey Mark,

                  I just got out of a 1 hour meditation, where I just completely let go (even of the intent/will to stay with the breath) and it was so nice! You could call this choiceless awareness I guess. The joy was a lot greater now and I know this is what Ajahn Brahm (and you!) are talking about. It's also true for me that I end up watching the breath, and the breath alone, by just letting go of everything (even the desire to watch the breath). But now immediately this question comes to mind:

                  Why is it called Mindfulness of Breathing (Anapanasati), instead of calling it Choiceless awareness or something like that? Because you don't watch the breath particularly, but you just do completely nothing!

                  Also, when I let go more and more, I can't help it but my eyes tend to go open, and this distracts me so I go back to some more superficial level of meditation, do you recognize this ?


                  • #10
                    So happy for you,
                    Ajahn Brahm's teaching is very helpful,
                    especially when we have some experience to refer back to the teachings.
                    I find a lot of excitement can follow a good meditation,
                    but here again, just observe accept and let go.

                    Excellent "you do completely nothing"

                    I guess it had to be called something, if we said to someone, sit and do completely nothing, it could cause confusion.
                    It makes perfect sense to me though

                    With the eyes opening, not sure maybe that could be mind seeking stimulation, as mind can't understand quietness, it likes to do stuff.
                    I like to balance a good sit, with a good walk etc. eyes open.
                    Happy meditating
                    With Metta
                    Last edited by Mark Hyland; 14th-July-2014, 07:57 AM.


                    • #11
                      Hi Zorrit,

                      Glad to hear you have found the more positive path of letting go .

                      With metta


                      • #12
                        Why is it that Ajahn Brahm describes that you have to focus on the breath, and that you can do this by focussing on different aspects of the breath? This is not doing completely nothing and letting go completely?


                        • #13
                          An interesting question Zorrit, I would be very interested in how others experience this too.
                          I can only comment on what seems to happen as I am mindful in this.
                          It seems to encourage sustained present moment awareness, and allows for a free flowing experience, rather than a strict mechanical one.
                          In doing completely nothing, we may still observe the breath, as we are not breathing the body breathes.
                          As to the letting go completely, I think there would be a interesting response if we actually did that.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Mark Hyland View Post
                            It seems to encourage sustained present moment awareness, and allows for a free flowing experience, rather than a strict mechanical one.
                            This is how I figure it as well. If your mind is dull and you find that your mind won't observe without pressure, you can make the breath more interesting by watching different aspects of the breath. This is not pressuring yourself excessively, but more directing your awareness to different aspects of the breath. I think Ajahn Brahm says something like 'see if you can watch the beginning, middle and end of the breath'. Here, the operative word is WATCH. You aren't talking to yourself or forcing yourself onto the breath, you are watching how it feels.

                            Admittedly, this is not completely 'doing nothing', but sometimes the mind needs a little bit of a push. The point we were making when you first posted was that the best thing to do is nothing but maintain mindfulness (awareness), the second best thing to do is to maintain mindfulness but do as little as possible depending on the situation. Unfortunately, knowing this balance comes only from experience.

                            I hope this makes sense to you .

                            With metta
                            Last edited by Scott Bazely; 15th-July-2014, 11:18 AM. Reason: Example wasn't as related as I thought


                            • #15
                              Thank you for your answers! So doing completely nothing is ok ? By this I mean don't direct my attention to anything in particular but let things go completely out of my control? I think this is the second stage of Ajahn Brahms technique, Present Moment Silence Awareness?

                              How do you follow on this onto breath awareness, direct your attention to the breath (watch the breath intently?), or just keep on doing nothing and everything will unfold automatically? (I have the suspicion that this will actually happen all by itself) or continue restricting my awareness to the breath? Or does it depend on the situation, when the mind needs a little push, I watch the breath intently, or when it doesn't I let go completely ?



                              Debug Information