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SURVEY:
What do you want to know about breathing? Answered in our newsletter

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Conscious Breathing

I am not a Buddhist. But when you study breathing you discover that Sidhartha's Buddha sutras may have been history's best documented conscious breathing teachings.  Another source of conscious breathing stems from Qigong.  With ancient perspectives that have withstood the test of time we can draw tremendous insight as to the depth and power of breathing consciously.  Just realize that conscious breathing may not be optimal.

For specific conscious breathing programs you can access special techniques and practices in our self directed programs and teacher facilitations.

Below is the The Ananda Sutta - Samyutta Nikaya LIV

Mindfulness of Breathing (to Ananda)

with comments by Mike at the end.

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

For free distribution only, as a gift of Dhamm.

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi in Jeta's Grove,

Anathapindika's Park. Then Ven. Ananda went to where the Blessed One was staying and, on arriving, bowed down and sat to one side. As he was sitting there he addressed the Blessed One, saying, "Is there one quality that, when developed and pursued, brings four qualities to completion?

And four qualities that, when developed and pursued, bring seven qualities to completion? And seven qualities that, when developed and pursued, bring two qualities to completion?"

"Yes, Ananda, there is one quality that, when developed and pursued, brings four qualities to completion; and four qualities that, when developed and pursued, bring seven qualities to completion; and seven qualities that, when developed and pursued, bring two qualities to completion.

And what is the one quality that, when developed and pursued, brings four qualities to completion?

What are the four qualities that, when developed and pursued, bring seven qualities to completion?

What are the seven qualities that, when developed and pursued, bring two qualities to completion?

"Mindfulness of in-and-out breathing, when developed and pursued, brings the four frames of reference (foundations of mindfulness) to completion. The four frames of reference, when developed and pursued, bring the seven factors of awakening to completion. The seven factors of awakening, when developed and pursued, bring clear knowing and release to completion.

"Now in what way does a monk develop and pursue mindfulness of in-and-out breathing so that it brings the four frames of reference to completion?

"There is the case where a monk, having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building, sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect, and setting mindfulness to the fore. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out.

"(1) Breathing in long, he discerns that he is breathing in long; or breathing out long, he discerns that he is breathing out long. (2) Or breathing in short, he discerns that he is breathing in short; or breathing out short, he discerns that he is breathing out short. (3)

He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to the entire body, and to breathe out sensitive to the entire body. (4) He trains himself to breathe in calming the bodily processes, and to breathe out calming the bodily processes.

"(5) He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to rapture, and to breathe out sensitive to rapture. (6) He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to pleasure, and to breathe out sensitive to pleasure. (7) He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to mental processes, and to breathe out sensitive to mental processes. (8) He trains himself to breathe in calming mental processes, and to breathe out calming mental processes.

"(9) He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to the mind, and to breathe out sensitive to the mind. (10) He trains himself to breathe in satisfying the mind, and to breathe out satisfying the mind. (11) He trains himself to breathe in steadying the mind, and to breathe out steadying the mind. (12) He trains himself to breathe in releasing the mind, and to breathe out releasing the mind.

"(13) He trains himself to breathe in focusing on inconstancy, and to breathe out focusing on inconstancy. (14) He trains himself to breathe in focusing on dispassion (literally, fading), and to breathe out focusing on dispassion. (15) He trains himself to breathe in focusing on cessation, and to breathe out focusing on cessation. (16) He trains himself to breathe in focusing on relinquishment, and to breathe out focusing on relinquishment.

"Now, on whatever occasion a monk breathing in long discerns that he is breathing in long; or breathing out long, discerns that he is breathing out long; or breathing in short, discerns that he is breathing in short; or breathing out short, discerns that he is breathing out short; trains himself to breathe in...and... out sensitive to the entire body; trains himself to breathe in...and...out calming the bodily processes: On that occasion the monk remains focused on the body in and of itself -- ardent, alert, and mindful -- subduing greed and distress with reference to the world. I tell you, monks, that this -- the in-and-out breath -- is classed as a body among bodies, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on the body in and of itself -- ardent, alert, and mindful -- putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world.

"On whatever occasion a monk trains himself to breathe in...and...out sensitive to rapture; trains himself to breathe in...and...out sensitive to pleasure; trains himself to breathe in...and...out sensitive to mental processes; trains himself to breathe in...and...out calming mental processes: On that occasion the monk remains focused on feelings in and of themselves -- ardent, alert, and mindful -- subduing greed and distress with reference to the world. I tell you, monks, that this -- close attention to in-and-out breaths -- is classed as a feeling among feelings, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on feelings in and of themselves -- ardent, alert, and mindful -- putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world.

"On whatever occasion a monk trains himself to breathe in...and...out sensitive to the mind; trains himself to breathe in...and...out satisfying the mind; trains himself to breathe in...and...out steadying the mind; trains himself to breathe in...and...out releasing the mind: On that occasion the monk remains focused on the mind in and of itself -- ardent, alert, and mindful -- subduing greed and distress with reference to the world. I don't say that there is mindfulness of in-and-out breathing in one of confused mindfulness and no alertness, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on the mind in and of itself -- ardent, alert, and mindful -- putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world.

"On whatever occasion a monk trains himself to breathe in...and...out focusing on inconstancy; trains himself to breathe in...and...out focusing on dispassion; trains himself to breathe in...and...out focusing on cessation; trains himself to breathe in...and...out focusing on relinquishment: On that occasion the monk remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves -- ardent, alert, and mindful -- subduing greed and distress with reference to the world. He who sees clearly with discernment the abandoning of greed and distress is one who oversees with equanimity, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves -- ardent, alert, and mindful -- putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world.

"This is how developing and pursuing mindfulness of in-and-out breathing in brings the four frames of reference to completion.

"And how are the four frames of reference developed and pursued so that the seven factors of awakening come to completion?

"(1) On whatever occasion the monk remains focused on the body in and of itself -- ardent, alert, and mindful -- putting aside greed and distress with reference to the

world, on that occasion his mindfulness is steady and without lapse. When his mindfulness is steady and without lapse, then mindfulness as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and through him it goes to the culmination of its development.

"(2) Remaining mindful in this way, he examines, analyzes, and comes to a comprehension of that quality with discernment. When he remains mindful in this way, examining, analyzing, and coming to a comprehension of that  quality with discernment, then analysis of qualities as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and through him it goes to the culmination of its development.

"(3) In one who examines, analyzes, and comes to a comprehension of that quality with discernment, unflagging persistence is aroused. When unflagging persistence is aroused in one who examines, analyzes, and comes to a comprehension of that quality with discernment, then persistence as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and through him it goes to the culmination of its development.

"(4) In one whose persistence is aroused, a rapture not-of-the-flesh arises. When a rapture not-of-the-flesh arises in one whose persistence is aroused, then rapture as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and through him it goes to the culmination of its development.

"(5) For one who is enraptured, the body grows calm and the mind grows calm. When the body and mind of an enraptured monk grow calm, then serenity as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and through him it goes to the culmination of its development.

"(6) For one who is at ease -- his body calmed -- the mind becomes concentrated.

When the mind of one who is at ease -- his body calmed -- becomes concentrated, then concentration as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and through him it goes to the culmination of its development.

"(7) He oversees the mind thus concentrated with equanimity. When he oversees the mind thus concentrated with equanimity, equanimity as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and through him it goes to the culmination of its development.

(Similarly with the other three frames of reference: feelings, mind, and mental qualities.)

"This is how the four frames of reference, when developed and pursued, lead to the culmination of the seven factors of awakening.

"And how are the seven factors of awakening developed and pursued so as to lead to the culmination of clear knowing and release? There is the case where a monk develops the mindfulness as a factor of awakening dependent on seclusion...dispassion...cessation, resulting in relinquishment. He develops the analysis of qualities as a factor of awakening...the persistence as a factor of awakening...the rapture as a factor of awakening...the serenity as a factor of awakening...the concentration as a factor of awakening...the equanimity as a factor of awakening dependent on seclusion...dispassion...cessation, resulting in relinquishment.

"This is how the seven factors of awakening, when developed and pursued, lead to the culmination of clear knowing and release."

That is what the Blessed One said. Satisfied, Ven. Ananda delighted in the Blessed One's words.

Try this guided exercise. click here

Note: This sutta is very similar to the popular 'Anapanasati Sutta' (Discourse on Mindfulness of Breathing) -- Binh Anson.

Anapanasati Sutta

Majjhima Nikaya 118

Mindfulness of Breathing

(Anapasati Sutta)

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

For free distribution only, as a gift of Dhamma

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Savatthi in the Eastern Monastery, the palace of Migara's mother, together will many well-known

elder disciples -- with Ven. Sariputta, Ven. Maha Moggallana, Ven. Maha Kassapa, Ven. Maha Kaccayana, Ven. Maha Kotthita, Ven. Maha Kappina, Ven. Maha

Cunda, Ven. Revata, Ven. Ananda, and other well-known elder disciples. On that occasion the elder monks were teaching & instructing. Some elder monks were teaching & instructing ten monks, some were teaching & instructing twenty monks, some were teaching & instructing thirty monks, some were teaching & instructing forty monks. The new monks, being taught & instructed by the elder monks, were discerning grand, successive distinctions.

Now on that occasion -- the Uposatha day of the fifteenth, the full-moon night of the Pavarana ceremony -- the Blessed One was seated in the open air surrounded by the community of monks. Surveying the silent community of monks, he addressed them:

"Monks, I am content with this practice. I am content at heart with this practice. So arouse even more intense persistence for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. I will remain right here at Savatthi [for another month] through the 'White water-lily' month, the fourth month of the rains."

The monks in the countryside heard, "The Blessed One, they say, will remain right there at Savatthi through the White water-lily month, the fourth month of the rains." So they

left for Savatthi to see the Blessed One.

Then the elder monks taught & instructed even more intensely. Some elder monks were teaching & instructing ten monks, some were teaching & instructing twenty monks, some were teaching & instructing thirty monks, some were teaching & instructing forty monks. The new monks, being taught & instructed by the elder monks, were discerning grand, successive distinctions.

Now on that occasion -- the Uposatha day of the fifteenth, the full-moon night of the White water-lily month, the fourth month of the rains -- the Blessed One was seated in

the open air surrounded by the community of monks. Surveying the silent community of monks, he addressed them:

"Monks, this assembly is free from idle chatter, devoid of idle chatter, and is established on pure heartwood: such is this community of monks, such is this assembly.

The sort of assembly that is worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of respect, an incomparable field of merit for the world: such is this community of monks, such is this assembly. The sort of assembly to which a small gift, when given, becomes great, and a great gift greater: such is this community of monks, such is this assembly. The sort of assembly that it is rare to see in the world: such is this community of monks, such is this assembly -- the sort of assembly that it would be worth traveling for leagues, taking along provisions, in order to see.

"In this community of monks there are monks who are Arahants, whose mental effluents are ended, who have reached fulfillment, done the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, totally destroyed the fetter of becoming, and who are released through right gnosis: such are the monks in this community of monks.

"In this community of monks there are monks who, with the total ending of the first set of five fetters, are due to be reborn [in the Pure Abodes], there to be totally unbound, never again to return from that world: such are the monks in this community of monks.

"In this community of monks there are monks who, with the total ending of [the first three fetters, and with the attenuation of passion, aversion, & delusion, are once-returners, who -- on returning only one more time to this world -- will make an ending to stress: such are the monks in this community of monks.

"In this community of monks there are monks who, with the total ending of [the first] three fetters, are stream-winners, steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening: such are the monks in this community of monks.

"In this community of monks there are monks who remain devoted to the development of the four frames of reference ... the four right exertions ... the four bases of power ... the five faculties ... the five strengths ... the seven factors of awakening ... the noble eightfold path: such are the monks in this community of monks.

"In this community of monks there are monks who remain devoted to the development of good will ... compassion ... appreciation ... equanimity ... [the perception of the] foulness [of the body] ... the perception of inconstancy: such are the monks in this community of monks.

"In this community of monks there are monks who remain devoted to mindfulness of in-&-out breathing.

"Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit. Mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, brings

the four frames of reference to their culmination. The four frames of reference, when developed & pursued, bring the seven factors of awakening to their culmination. The seven factors of awakening, when developed & pursued, bring clear knowing & release to their culmination.

Mindfulness of In-&-Out Breathing

"Now how is mindfulness of in-&-out breathing developed & pursued so as to bring the four frames of reference to their culmination?

"There is the case where a monk, having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building, sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect, and setting mindfulness to the fore. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out.

"[1] Breathing in long, he discerns that he is breathing in long; or breathing out long, he discerns that he is breathing out long. [2] Or breathing in short, he discerns that he is breathing in short; or breathing out short, he discerns that he is breathing out short. [3] He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to the entire body, and to breathe out sensitive to the entire body. [4] He trains himself to breathe in calming the bodily processes, and to breathe out calming the bodily processes.

"[5] He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to rapture, and to breathe out sensitive to rapture. [6] He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to pleasure, and to breathe out sensitive to pleasure. [7] He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to mental processes, and to breathe out sensitive to mental processes. [8] He trains himself to breathe in calming mental processes, and to breathe out calming mental processes.

"[9] He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to the mind, and to breathe out sensitive to the mind. [10] He trains himself to breathe in satisfying the mind, and to breathe out satisfying the mind. [11] He trains himself to breathe in steadying the mind, and to breathe out steadying the mind. [12] He trains himself to breathe in releasing the mind, and to breathe out releasing the mind. 

"[13] He trains himself to breathe in focusing on inconstancy, and to breathe out focusing on inconstancy. [14] He trains himself to breathe in focusing on dispassion [literally, fading], and to breathe out focusing on dispassion. [15] He trains himself to breathe in focusing on cessation, and to breathe out focusing on cessation. [16] He trains himself to breathe in focusing on relinquishment, and to breathe out focusing on relinquishment.

The Four Frames of Reference

"[1] Now, on whatever occasion a monk breathing in long discerns that he is breathing in long; or breathing out long, discerns that he is breathing out long; or breathing in short, discerns that he is breathing in short; or breathing out short, discerns that he is breathing out short; trains himself to breathe in...&...out sensitive to the entire body; trains himself to breathe in...&...out calming the bodily processes: On that occasion the monk remains focused on the body in & of itself -- ardent, alert, & mindful -- subduing greed & distress with reference to the world. I tell you, monks, that this -- the in-&-out breath -- is classed as a body among bodies, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on the body in & of itself -- ardent, alert, & mindful -- putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.

"[2] On whatever occasion a monk trains himself to breathe in...&...out sensitive to rapture; trains himself to breathe in...&...out sensitive to pleasure; trains himself to breathe in...&...out sensitive to mental processes; trains himself to breathe in...&...out calming mental processes: On that occasion the monk remains focused on feelings in & of themselves -- ardent, alert, & mindful -- subduing greed & distress with reference to the world. I tell you, monks, that this -- close attention to in-&-out breaths -- is classed as a feeling among feelings, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on feelings in & of themselves -- ardent, alert, & mindful -- putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.

"[3] On whatever occasion a monk trains himself to breathe in...&...out sensitive to the mind; trains himself to breathe in...&...out satisfying the mind; trains himself to breathe in...&...out steadying the mind; trains himself to breathe in...&...out releasing the mind:

On that occasion the monk remains focused on the mind in & of itself -- ardent, alert, & mindful -- subduing greed & distress with reference to the world. I don't say that there is mindfulness of in-&-out breathing in one of confused mindfulness and no alertness, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on the mind in & of itself -- ardent, alert, & mindful -- putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.

"[4] On whatever occasion a monk trains himself to breathe in...&...out focusing on inconstancy; trains himself to breathe in...&...out focusing on dispassion; trains himself to breathe in...&...out focusing on cessation; trains himself to breathe in...&...out focusing on relinquishment: On that occasion the monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves -- ardent, alert, & mindful -- subduing greed & distress with reference to the world. He who sees clearly with discernment the abandoning of greed & distress is one who oversees with equanimity, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves -- ardent, alert, & mindful -- putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.

"This is how mindfulness of in-&-out breathing is developed & pursued so as to bring the four frames of reference to their culmination.

The Seven Factors Of Awakening

"And how are the four frames of reference developed & pursued so as to bring the seven factors of awakening to their culmination?

"[1] On whatever occasion the monk remains focused on the body in & of itself --ardent, alert, & mindful -- putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world, on that occasion his mindfulness is steady & without lapse. When his mindfulness is steady & without lapse, then mindfulness as a factor of awakening becomes aroused.

He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

"[2] Remaining mindful in this way, he examines, analyzes, & comes to a comprehension of that quality with discernment. When he remains mindful in this way, examining, analyzing, & coming to a comprehension of that quality with discernment, then analysis of qualities as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

"[3] In one who examines, analyzes, & comes to a comprehension of that quality with discernment, unflagging persistence is aroused. When unflagging persistence is aroused in one who examines, analyzes, & comes to a comprehension of that quality with discernment, then persistence as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

"[4] In one whose persistence is aroused, a rapture not-of-the-flesh arises. When a rapture not-of-the-flesh arises in one whose persistence is aroused, then rapture as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

"[5] For one who is enraptured, the body grows calm and the mind grows calm. When the body & mind of an enraptured monk grow calm, then serenity as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

"[6] For one who is at ease -- his body calmed -- the mind becomes concentrated.

When the mind of one who is at ease -- his body calmed -- becomes concentrated, then concentration as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for  him it goes to the culmination of its development.

"[7] He oversees the mind thus concentrated with equanimity. When he oversees the mind thus concentrated with equanimity, equanimity as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

[Similarly with the other three frames of reference: feelings, mind, & mental qualities.]

"This is how the four frames of reference are developed & pursued so as to bring the seven factors of awakening to their culmination.

Clear Knowing & Release

"And how are the seven factors of awakening developed & pursued so as to bring clear knowing & release to their culmination? There is the case where a monk develops mindfulness as a factor of awakening dependent on seclusion ... dispassion ... cessation, resulting in relinquishment. He develops analysis of qualities as a factor of awakening ... persistence as a factor of awakening ... rapture as a factor of awakening ... serenity as a factor of awakening... concentration as a factor of awakening ... equanimity as a factor of awakening dependent on seclusion ... dispassion ... cessation, resulting in relinquishment.

"This is how the seven factors of awakening, when developed & pursued, bring clear knowing & release to their culmination."

That is what the Blessed One said. Glad at heart, the monks delighted in the Blessed One's words. 

 Revised: Sat 15 November 1997

http://world.std.com/~metta/canon/majjhima/mn118.html

From Mike:

What this all means to me is that what you focus on and breathe with, repeatedly,  becomes your reality. You can shape it the way you wish by breathing with the concepts that are important to you. This works for both negative and positive concepts and states of being. The words, ideas, concepts are important. They need to be chosen wisely. Sly Stone used to say. "What you see is what you get". The book "The Power of Positive Thinking" comes to mind but there is much more to know and be.

Integrate the above with what  Tartang Tulku said in his Gesture of Balance "Deeper meditation cannot be expressed by language for as soon as we verbalize or conceptualize experiences, they become solidified and awareness stops."

Also. Some try to do the above "conscious breathing" with the breath and due to trauflexive breathing, uncoordinated breathing and or severe breathing blocks cannot sustain the needed internal focus and repetition necessary to benefit from the experience.

This "being with" requires a mentor. One familiar with the blocks to peaceful contemplation. The "Watching Breath" breathing exercise product #150 can be such a mentor. So can I.

As beneficial as it can be, self directed conscious breathing does not usually rapidly increase the volume of breath as does our specific techniques for breathing development.  This requires special techniques and practices in our self directed programs and teacher facilitations.

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