These are my notes from studying the end of Chapter 7 in Joseph Goldstein's book "Mindfulness". They are the second half of Mindfulness of Breathing.
In the Satipatthana sutta, there is a series of progressive instructions regarding the breath,
which is the first of the contemplations on the body.
Why mindfulness of breathing is so good and universal:
It is always present
It is suitable for any personality type
It leads to both deep concentration and
It is the antidote to distraction and discursive
It is a stabilizing factor at the time of death.
Breathing in, I know
I am Breathing in
We don’t force or control the
breath in any way
Noticing when are mind wanders off,
we simply gently let go and begin again
Noticing breathing as long or short
Just noticing how the breath
Deconditioning our pattern of
controlling the breath
Balancing our practice between
trying and relaxing, noticing the skillful means
If the mind is wandering a lot or sleepy then
having the mind rush toward the object (the breath), capturing the object
forcefully, and penetrating it deeply
If the mind is over-efforting and tight then, a
more receptive mode with an attitude of listening or receiving the breath
We can adjust our attitude according to our
circumstance in the moment and the goal of staying on the path, attentive and
If the breath becomes very refined,
sometimes even imperceptible allow the breath to draw the mind down to its own
level of subtlety.
If the breath does disappear,
simply be aware of the body sitting until the breath appears again by itself.
Breathing in, I
experience the Whole Body
At this point in the sutta, there’s
a change of language from “to know” to “to train”. Suggesting an increasing level of intentionality in our
practice as we broaden our practice from the breath to the whole body.
One trains thus: “I shall breathe in experiencing the whole body,” one
trains thus, “I shall breathe out experiencing the whole body.” One trains thus: “I shall breathe in
calming the bodily formations,”
one trains thus: “I shall breathe out calming the bodily formations.”
Two interpretations of the “whole
Feeling the breath throughout the body or
feeling the whole body as we breath
Feeling the whole “breath body.”
Experiencing the beginning, middle, and end of
Experiencing the entire flow of changing
sensations within each in or out breath.
These two interpretations can again
be used skillfully
If you are too controlling of the breath,
zeroing in on it may not be helpful, maybe better to emphasize the larger context
of the body.
If you are spaced out, or lost in a wandering
mind, narrowing the focus to just the stream of sensations of the breath could
be more helpful.
formations with each breath
Calming the body and stopping our inclinations
Calming the breath and allowing it to become
if wanderers of other sects ask you: “In what dwelling, friends, did the
Blessed One generally dwell during the rains residence?” – being asked thus,
you should answer those wanderers thus: “During the rains residence, friends,
the Blessed One generally dwelt in the concentration by mindfulness of
anyone, Bhikkhus, speaking rightly could say of anything: “It is a noble
dwelling, a divine dwelling, the Tathagata’s dwelling, it is of concentration
by mindfulness of breathing that one could rightly say this.
Labels: instructions regarding breath meditation, Joseph Goldstein"s Mindfulness, mindfulness of breathing, Satipatthana Sutra