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  • In Buddha’s path this is called
    Ana Pana meditation.
    Buddha achieved his enlightenment
    using this very method.

    In fact, Buddha tried various methods
    prevalent at that time, but he could not succeed,
    finally, sitting beneath the Bodhi tree,
    he forsake all past practices and
    he gave a try to this simple method,
    and he did it.

    Why it is effective? This is not breath control.
    Rather it is mind control.
    Buddha’s method is to follow the truth.
    Many meditation methods apply some
    or other kind of imagination.
    When you watch the breath, you are watching
    the truth that – I am breathing.
    This is a simple truth but it is a truth
    not an imagination.
    After some time , mind wanders away
    and then you realize another truth that –
    mind wanders.
    Now you will try to ask –
    why mind wanders away.
    After some practice in meditation
    you will realize that mind wanders because
    it is unstable due to some worry, desire
    or some wrong doing.
    Then you try to ask —
    what should I do to stop this and
    be happy and steady.
    Then you will stumble upon and find the
    right ways of living and behaving with
    others that will keep you happy and steady
    in mind. That means reduction of samskaras (karma)
    One example : mind and breath
    becomes unstable for 24 hours after sex.
    It also makes you uneasy next day. But this truth
    is to be experienced to be understood.
    So , like one thing leads to another,
    many truths start appearing by following this
    method. And finally the ultimate truth ,
    the enlightenment.

    But what is enlightenment ?
    At enlightenment 3 things happened to Buddha.
    1) Remembering his countless previous births.
    Reincarnations. And he understood what
    mistakes he did which caused another reincarnation.
    2) Knowing the life and death cycle of other
    creatures and their causes.
    3) Knowing that all his samskaras(karma)
    have depleted and obtaining divine understanding and
    insight into the whole state of affairs.

    Buddha has praised this method greatly
    saying that watching breath
    makes mind stable as well as it leads
    a person to uncover the supernatural
    and finally to nirvana.
    No doubt it is a very simple innocent method
    but it gave birth to Buddha.
    And that is its testimony.

  • Breath control is a good idea. It is just not the primary means of linking with the higher eternal self. This is pranayama. This is one step on the Astanga Yoga system.

    Breathing is normally automatic. But, we have some control of our breathing. We can practice breath control and from their advance to control of higher bodily functions. Eventually we get to control of the mind, then the intelligence, then the soul and finally we are able to perceive Paramatma.

    [“The soul is atomic in size and can be perceived by perfect intelligence. This atomic soul is floating in the five kinds of air (prana, apana, vyana, samana and udana), is situated within the heart, and spreads its influence all over the body of the embodied living entities. When the soul is purified from the contamination of the five kinds of material air, its spiritual influence is exhibited.”
    The hatha-yoga system is meant for controlling the five kinds of air encircling the pure soul by different kinds of sitting postures-not for any material profit, but for liberation of the minute soul from the entanglement of the material atmosphere.]
    Bhagavad Gita As It is 2.17 Purport by Srila Prabhupada

    “The two wheels of the chariot may be compared to the two moving facilities-namely sinful life and religious life. The chariot is decorated with three flags, which represent the three modes of material nature. The five kinds of obstacles, or uneven roads, represent the five kinds of air passing within the body. These are prana, apana, udana, samana and vyana. The body itself is covered by seven coverings, namely skin, muscle, fat, blood, marrow, bone and semen. The living entity is covered by three subtle material elements and five gross material elements. These are actually obstacles placed before the living entity on the path of liberation from material bondage.”
    Srimad Bhagavatam 4.26.1-3, Purport by Srila Prabhupada

  • It’s just learning to rest in the present. Without being pulled around by the stuff that pops up in your awareness. If you can do that, you can be open to fully experiencing everything.

    • hmm…actually folks…this response is short, sweet and dead on accurate. You can always tell when people respond from intellectual knowledge (basically they parrot what they’ve heard) and from direct knowledge (direct knowing). This person (Calcinatio) either has a very good understanding or knows directly from personal experience or both.

  • Hi AB,

    I think it’s got something to do with integrating the conscious & subconscious mind; gradually, over time – gradually contributing to it’s purification & maintenance at optimum state / quality.

    Am not its best exponent, but do practice.

    Jon’s & Magnolia’s answers are very good, and true.

  • Because breath is food and it is practicing consciousness. Breath is one of the foods of the body which is mechanically done by reason of your nature i.e. you being a organism that needs oxygen to survive. You can maximize consciousness and the movement of energy throughout the body, via breath. Breath actually interacts with the mind within the etheric field, it also can help in releasing those thought patterns which become fossilzed within the body-mind that obstruct the flow of energy.

    One can breath through many things, like taking a breath if emotion overcomes you, by doing so you can in hale the emotion and exhale it out for clarity.

    Breath itself is an OCTAVE of the body, which means that it has a sequence, naturally,which is very much on auto-pilot Part of the process of enlightenment is overcoming those natural laws which make you mechanical and utilizing them in the proper manner that heightens your ideal. Breath is very vital and it must become intentional, not a mechanical thing.

  • Take careful note of what Magnolia Flora says. There is great wisdom there.

    As Bad Buddhist (????????) says, meditation on its own is not conducive, yet it needs to be done.

    Watching the breath is like climbing a ladder going all the way up a castle keep. Every so often you pop into a different room. Eventually you arrive at the top, the open air of the roof. But all you have ever done is to climb one rung at a time.

    _()_Magnolia Flora_()_

  • Be aware at the turn. But it is a very short turn; very minute observation will be needed. And we are just without any observing capacity; we cannot observe anything. If I say to you, “Observe this flower; observe this flower which I give to you,” you cannot observe it. For a single moment you will see it, and then you will begin to think of something else. It may be about the flower, but it will not be the flower. You may think about the flower, about how beautiful it is – then you have moved. Now the flower is no more in your observation, your field has changed. You may say that it is red, it is blue, it is white… then you have moved. Observation means remaining with no word, with no verbalization, with no bubbling inside – just remaining WITH. If you can remain with a flower for three minutes, completely, with no movement of the mind, the thing will happen – the beneficence. You will realize.

    EDIT: Geshho Teacher JCB

  • Watching your breath does not lead to enlightenment per se. There are many other things involved…

    ‘Watching’ your breath is often a first step in calming the mind since you cannot train nor clear a scattered mind. Without calming the mind you cannot understand the thoughts and emotions that are dominating your life.

    Without this technique, or some technique very much like it, you will always be a slave to your thoughts and emotions since you will think this is who you are….

    It’s not.

  • eh, try it and find out what happens. I would try, but i’m not a very patient person, so i don’t make a very good meditator.

    but, try it anyway. It’s good to calm the nerves. =)

    • It’s difficult for the logical mind to understand how a simple technique can lead to your “natural state” because your natural state is beyond mind. The natural state is not anything mystical or magical. If you drop the concepts (i.e. beliefs, opinions, labels, judgements) and just see life. That’s it. A baby is born in the “natural state”. Babies just live life (pure awareness). Their minds are unconditioned and unstructured. They accept whatever happens They don’t live in the past or hope for the future. They just live in the moment. And I understand that they don’t have much choice, but the point is that this is the “natural state”. You don’t have to be fully realized to know this truth. You can abide in this natural way of being until you become habituated to it and maybe one day it will become permanent . The technique is called “knowing directly”. It can’t be explained with words because words are of the mind and this way of being is beyond the mind. Watching the breath can lead you there because it helps to remove noise from your naturally silent being. When there is less noise to disturb you, you can know that state (which is really not anything separate from what you already are). Watching the breath without any mental fabrications is actually a direct method. It’s direct because it can be done without involvement of the mind. And it can lead to the natural state because living moment-to-moment is the natural state (here and now, moment-to-moment, unstructured, unfabricated pure, naked awareness). It only seems “too simple” to the mind, because mind thinks enlightenment is something separate from you. It’s not. It’s just pure, naked, uncontrived awareness. It’s very ordinary. The way we are (our minds) now is not ordinary. So when I say ordinary I mean the natural you without modification.

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