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Anapanasati FAQ

Anapanasati FAQ

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Published by greenboy
Buddhadasa Bhikkhu
Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

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Published by: greenboy on Aug 30, 2007
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05/08/2014

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Anapanasati FAQ - 1
We have received various email inquiries about
 Anapanasati.
How important is posture?
Good posture helps a lot, but a practice of non-attachmentshould not get too wrapped up in it. With time, and help from
yoga asana
(for example), gradually adjust to and develop agood posture, whether one sits on the floor, uses a kneeler, orsits on a chair.The main thing is to find a healthy balance between beingrelaxed and comfortable, on one hand, and sitting up straight,on the other. Slouching interferes with the breathing andnatural flow of energy within the body. Forcing an uprightposture creates tension. Neither are beneficial or pleasant.
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It may be necessary to accept that we haven't taken very goodcare of our bodies over the years and that some pain anddiscomfort is the price for that negligence. Don't tortureyourself and don't pamper yourself. learn and let go.
How often and for how long should we meditate?
Like most things, it depends. Fixed, one-size fits all answersdon't usually help much.A general rule of thumbs is that most people will have a fairamount of progress, keep learning, and deepen their practicewith a regular hour of meditation each day. The hour may bedivided between one or two sessions, depending on personalcircumstances.Of course, some may not be able to manage that much.Appreciate what opportunities one has & make the most of them.
What is the best time of day for meditation? 
Again, it depends on the details of your life. Many of us enjoymeditating first thing in the morning, or after some looseningup with yoga. The mind is generally rested & fresh, has plentyof energy. As Tan Ajarn put it, "our tea cup hasn't overflowedyet."Towards the end of the day is another favorite, as it helps usprocess & let go of whatever may be troubling us from the day'sexperiences. Better to recognize & let go of the stuff, than letit mess up our sleep.Nonetheless, the "best time" is any time that we are able to doa little meditation. This includes the many minutes scatteredthroughout the day that we spend waiting for somebody to pickup the phone, waiting in line, etc. Better to wit on thebreathing rather than impatiently
Do you encourage a deep in-breath on every breath, or just at thebeginning of a meditation session? How do you encourage a deep in-breath without forcing or controlling?
Personally, I (skb) like to start with intentionally deeperbreathing -- but not forced -- to loosen up the body and focusthe mind. Later, it's deeper by itself.
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While deeper or longer breathes may involve some intention,at times, the intention need not be heavy or forced. Work withthe body & breathing as they are, not as you want them to be.Play around. Make deeper breathing a game rather than a goal.
I follow the breath at the tip of my nose, and return each time I'mdistracted. I've always wondered what kind of time frame there isfor completion of step 0 (or attaining an unfaltering and continuousawareness of breathing). On a good day I can stay with the breathfor 3 to 5 breaths without being pulled away. Most books I've readsuggest months to weeks for gaining continuous awareness of breath. Recently I've been experiencing the long breathings effectof the body more clearly.
I am wary of fixing numbers or lengths of time on meditationpractice. They can be OK as rough guidelines, but should not betaken more seriously than that. Also, not so useful to comparethe experiences of one meditator w/ another until the wholesystem & its dynamics are thoroughly understood."Attaining an unfaltering and continuous awareness of breathing" may be asking too much. Did we teach you that atSuan Mokkh? Or is it in one of our books? If so, it can be takenas an ideal, but practice needs to be reasonable & realistic. Iadvise meditators to start exploring the long breaths as soon asthey can "pretty well" stay with the breathing and fairly wellaware of it. The mind may be wandering off a bit, but still onecomes back to the breath readily and quickly.Btw, "Lesson 0" is my (skb) own terminology, not the Buddha'sor Tan Ajarn's. I know think I overdid the emphasis on it 5 or 7years ago. Sorry about that ;)
Some teachers seem to teach Anapanasati differently than the way Ithink that it was taught at Suan Mokkh. Am I correct inremembering that each step is indeed a conscious step? That is, "Ibreathe long breath, I know that I am breathing long breath, Ibreathe short breath, I know that I am breathing short breath"? Thisseems to be a linear approach.
Yes, Tan Ajarn suggests practicing in a step-by-step, systematicway. Other teachers -- for example, Thich Nhat Hahn & LarryRosenburg -- take a more freestyle approach. I would use theword "intentional" here to express that Tan Ajarn felt oneshould know what one is practicing and choose it withawareness and intelligence. However, don't let the Sutta's
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