Obsolete: Mindfulness in Breathing

See: Exercises: Discerning the Body

Reference: The 12 Aspects of Mindfulness

Mindfulness with regard to the body starts with breathing. One observes breathing in its natural state as it appears and disappears. There is no attempt to regulate the breathing, or add anything else. One is totally immersed in this observation, meaning one let’s any sensations, feelings, consciousness, ideas, thoughts, etc., flow through the self without resistance.

Buddha says in Satipatthana Sutta: The Foundations of Mindfulness

“And how does a monk live contemplating the body in the body?
“Herein, monks, a monk, having gone to the forest, to the foot of a tree or to an empty place, sits down with his legs crossed, keeps his body erect and his mindfulness alert.
“Ever mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out. Breathing in a long breath, he knows, ‘I am breathing in a long breath’; breathing out a long breath, he knows, I am breathing out a long breath’; 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.’
“’Experiencing the whole (breath-) body, I shall breathe in,” thus he trains himself.
“Experiencing the whole (breath-) body, I shall breathe out,” thus he trains himself.
“Calming the activity of the (breath-) body, I shall breathe in,” thus he trains himself.
“Calming the activity of the (breath-) body, I shall breathe out,” thus he trains himself.
“Just as a skillful turner or turner’s apprentice, making a long turn, knows, ‘I am making a long turn,’ or making a short turn, knows, ‘I am making a short turn,’ just so the monk, breathing in a long breath, knows, ‘I am breathing in a long breath’; breathing out a long breath, he knows, ‘I am breathing out a long breath’; 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.’ ‘Experiencing the whole (breath-) body, I shall breathe in,’ thus he trains himself. ‘Experiencing the whole (breath-) body, I shall breathe out,’ thus he trains himself. ‘Calming the activity of the (breath-) body, I shall breathe in,’ thus he trains himself. ‘Calming the activity of the (breath-) body, I shall breathe out,’ thus he trains himself.
“Thus he lives contemplating the body in the body internally, or he lives contemplating the body in the body externally, or he lives contemplating the body in the body internally and externally. He lives contemplating origination factors in the body, or he lives contemplating dissolution factors in the body, or he lives contemplating origination-and-dissolution factors in the body. Or his mindfulness is established with the thought: ‘The body exists,’ to the extent necessary just for knowledge and mindfulness, and he lives detached, and clings to nothing in the world. Thus also, monks, a monk lives contemplating the body in the body.”

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EXERCISE

PURPOSE:   To practice mindfulness in breathing.

NOTE 1: It is very important, when trying to resolve problems and confusions, that you be grounded in reality. In this exercise breathing  keeps one grounded in reality.
NOTE 2: DO NOT INTERFERE WITH THE MIND. This exercise is objective and not subjective. 
  1. Find a place where you can sit comfortably for a while without being disturbed or distracted.

  2. Make sure you have had enough to eat and rest. You do not want your body to be a distraction.

  3. Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight and upright.  If you are sitting in a chair, keep feet flat on the floor, and hands in the lap.

  4. Be attentive of your breathing. Make no attempt to regulate the breathing. Simply observe the natural pattern of breath going in and out. 

    In the words of Buddha:
    • Ever mindful you breathe in, mindful you breathe out.
    • Breathing in a long breath, know, “I am breathing in a long breath”;
    • Breathing out a long breath, know, “I am breathing out a long breath”;
    • Breathing in a short breath, know, “I am breathing in a short breath”;
    • Breathing out a short breath, know, “I am breathing out a short breath.”
  5. Do not move or do anything. Just be there as an observer. You may close your eyes if you wish.

    NOTE: There may be some scratching, yawning, adjusting the body, etc., as you settle down into the exercise. But after a while, when you really get into the exercise, all such extra motion should go away without much effort.
  6. Do not add anything to this exercise. For example

    • Do not expect any particular outcome
    • Do not try to make your mind blank
    • Do not suppress thoughts, feelings or emotions
  7. While you are being mindful of breathing, experience the whole body.

    In the words of Buddha:
    • Train yourself, “Experiencing the whole body, I shall breathe in.”
    • Train yourself, “Experiencing the whole body, I shall breathe out.”
  8. While you are doing the above, do not interfere with the activities of the body and the mind by way of resisting it, adding thoughts, suppressing thoughts, or anything else. This will gradually calm the activities of the body and mind.

    For example, if the mind is racing, let it race. Let the sensations, feelings, consciousness, ideas, thoughts, etc., come and go as they wish. If the body feels sleepy let it go to sleep; it will be awake again. Simply be mindful of breathing. 
    In the words of Buddha:
    • Train yourself, “Calming the activity of the body, I shall breathe in.”
    • Train yourself, “Calming the activity of the body, I shall breathe out.”
  9. Continue contemplating  on the body and its activities, internally and/or as observed externally.

  10. Be mindful of the origination factors in the body, and/or the dissolution factors in the body.

  11. Be mindful that body exists to the extent necessary just for knowledge and mindfulness.

  12. Live detached, and cling to nothing in the world. 

  13. Let  the exercise be effortless. End the exercise at a point when you are feeling comfortable. The length of a sitting can be anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours or more.

  14. Repeat this exercise until it becomes a natural part of you.

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After some practice with the above, you may add the following step if you wish.

Look around in your mind and spot something that is trying to grab your attention. Accept it non-judgmentally, and experience it without resisting.

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Further references: KHTK Mindfulness

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Comments

  • vinaire  On July 8, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    I am sure different people will experience different results on this exercise. I have been doing this exercise in different forms for a long time.

    When I sat down the other day to do this exercise as written above, I was totally gone for 45 minutes. To me it seemed like only a mere second had passed. It was like a deep sleep, and it was very relaxing and satisfying.

    .

  • vinaire  On September 8, 2012 at 7:08 AM

    I have revised MINDFULNESS IN BREATHING Exercise to adhere more closely to what Buddha recommended.

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  • Rafael  On January 30, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    I´m doing an experiment in creativity, started outflowing admiration in every direction. For starters it feels good, turns into a state of harmony and seems to grow nicely. I´m not doing it with any precise intention of receiving something in return.

    I´ve been kind of stuck applying mindfulness, maybe because of an MU I was looking in a passive way, just receiving the inflow of my environment and felt like it had turned into a stuck flow, so I decided to reverse it. Could it be possible to look in an state of outflow?, not creating considerations to look at, but simply outflowing admiration towards my environment…….or some other type of flow……

    Am I squirreling mindfulness?
    What do you think? I´ll let you know if something happens!!

    • vinaire  On January 30, 2013 at 6:16 PM

      Rafael, I can only tell you how I see mindfulness. It is per the 12 points described here:

      12 STEPS OF MINDFULNESS

      Step 12 says:

      12. Let it all be effortless.

      Any effort would come into play only when any of the above points are violated.

      When I am being mindful, I am not thinking about being mindful. It is natural. All that happens then is that I simply become aware of inconsistencies as and when they appear. I then pursue the inconsistency actively using rest of the steps of mindfulness.

      If there is no inconsistency to pursue then I accept that. But then I get back to one of my projects, such as, the Philosophy Project, or the project to study other philosophers and their ideas.

      To me, all knowledge should be consistent no matter where it comes from. Disagreements among various philosophers then provides me with a rich source of inconsistencies, and my havingness on inconsistencies comes back up again. 🙂

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      • Rafael  On January 30, 2013 at 7:24 PM

        Good advice Vin , I’ll work this out 🙂

  • vinaire  On January 31, 2013 at 6:25 AM

    Per KHTK Exercise 1.1:

    4. Be attentive of your breathing. Make no attempt to regulate the breathing. Simply observe the natural pattern of breath going in and out.

    This is the key to mindfulness. One does not interfere with what one is observing. Do not assume that there is automaticity. If it is there then fine… accept it… because that is what it is. There should be no effort to change the reality. It is all about seeing things as they are.

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  • vinaire  On January 31, 2013 at 6:26 AM

    I simply observe without knowingly interfering with what I am observing.

    I don’t even worry about whether I am interfering with what I am observing. If it happens, it happens and I note it. That is part of observation.

    .

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