Friday, August 16, 2013

How to Be With the Breath

U Pandita says to watch the abdomen rise and fall:

Now place your attention at the belly, at the abdomen. Breathe normally, not forcing your breathing, neither slowing it down nor hastening it, just a natural breath. You will become aware of certain sensations as you breathe in and the abdomen rises, as you breathe out and the abdomen falls. ~ In This Very Life ~

Ayya Khema instructs us to pay attention to the nostrils:

This [breath] is ideally experienced at the nostrils. Breath is wind, and as it hits the nostrils, there is feeling. That feeling helps us to focus at this small point. ~ Being Nobody, Going Nowhere ~

Ajahn Chah is more inclusive:

Simply take note of this path of the breath at the nosetip, the chest and the abdomen, then at the abdomen, the chest and the tip of the nose. We take note of these three points in order to make the mind firm, to limit mental activity so that mindfulness and self-awareness can easily arise. When our attention settles on these three points, we can let them go and note the in and out breathing, concentrating solely at the nose-tip or the upper lip, where the air passes on its in and out passage. ~ On Meditation ~
It seems that every teacher have his or her own way with the breath.

I find the Buddha's way to be the one most in accord with my own experience:

He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' 

No need to restrict the field of our investigation with the breath. The natural flow of inhale and exhale touches every part of our body, and we need to embrace it all.

How do you sit with the breath?


  1. I like to vary the practice. If restlessness arises, then a narrow focus can be helpful. It leads to better concentration and can "cut off" the discursive thinking if the attention is very precise.

    Other times, a wide focus, like that of the whole body is nice. If the attention is already fairly well established, especially. This can lead more easily to a state of openness and joy arises in the mind.

    I think it's a decision that goes under the "skillful means" category.

    I really like your blog posts and tweets.. and the work you do with seniors. **deep bows**

  2. Sound of the bottom of breath.