This “Anapanasati Meditation” is our first meditation practice article of Vipassana Meditation article series. Before you read this, if you can read previous article on Vipassana Meditation, you can lay the foundation to meditate.It has clear explanation regarding what is exactly Vipassana meditation.
This is the section of In and Out of Breathing technique of Vipassana meditation. Usually we called Anapana pabba as ““Anapana / Anapanasati meditation”. The Pali word Anapanasati means Mindfulness of Breathing. Therefore, “anapana” refers to “Inhalation and exhalation.” “Sati” refers to “Mindfulness.” This Meditation is in the Anapanasati Sutta in Majjhima NIkaya of the Pali Canon.
Anapanasati is the first step in the practice of Vipassana meditation.This is the most common meditation technique among us. Breathing is a living process, an aspect of life that is in constant change. The breath moves in cycle-inhalation, exhalation, breathing in and breathing out. That’s why it is easy to learn. It’s object and scientific technique helps to develop concentration of the mind.
1. Set an ideal time
For the proper practice of meditation, it is important to set aside a specific time. An ideal time is before you have to do anything in the morning, when you first you wake up. Meditate at least 20 minutes as a good starting point to practice. After you practice well you can spend more time. And, according to consultors, it is best not eat to or drink half-an hour before meditating.
In the Satara Satipatthana Sutta, Buddha has said location as under a tree in the forest or a very quiet, isolated locations are the ideal. As ordinary people, it is quite difficult to us. Therefore, you can find a somewhere you can be completely comfortable any place, away from distractions as possible. Don’t use an unkempt room, because it can harm your meditation. If you meditate in a room, your room should have light and fresh air. In here beware of sound from adjacent rooms or from outside.
3. Sitting posture
Your meditative posture is important to continue your task. Therefore choose a comfortable position. You have to sit about 20-30 minutes. So, put your body at peace. If you have back issues, then crossed-leg position maybe uncomfortable. Then you can use a chair or a stool may help you to get into the correct posture. Sit in Crossed leg posture, and half or full lotus posture are also acceptable.
4. Close your eyes
After you sit as you’re comfortable, close your eyes and start relaxing. Closing your eyes will help to reduce distractions and allow yourself to completely focus on meditation.
5. Start of Anapanasati Meditation
- After close your eyes end relaxing for few minutes, bring attention to your exhalation. Becoming aware of your exhalation in the beginning is often necessary to get you going. Think it as properly warming up. Feel your breath’s sensations. Accept whatever sensation turn up and let them be.
- Sharpen your mind by paying close attention to all sensation of the abdomen such as “rising” and “falling”. Your task should be continuous without break. Make a silent mental sensation such as “rising…rising” and “dropping…dropping”.
- Focus your attention on the abdomen and its moments. in this area, try to locate the center of gravity of your body. Track the beginning, middle and end of your breaths by the changes in air flow at that point, not by attempting to follow the movement of air through your body.
- When you gradually maintain the mindfulness of breathing, your breath will become fine and delicate, and you may feel more and more at ease.
- You should be aware of sounds and other phenomena around you. If you hear a sound, direct your attention to it label the sound “hearing…hearing”, till it fades. When you feel a smell, label it, till it fades. Then return to mentally monitoring the rising and dropping sensations of your abdomen.
- And, categorize your thoughts into “visualizing”, “planning”, “remembering”, “imagining” etc as when they occur. This labeling it is to get insight into experience and develop mental focus.
- Through practice, learn to maintain contact with your breath in a subtler way.
- Finally, you can familiar with the gap between breaths. You can being with exhalations and as you feel them, become more aware of how your exhalations change into inhalation. As you observe how you tamper with this natural process, you interfere with the transitions between breaths less and less. Reestablishing the full strength of the pause, even if it is only brief, brings with it calm and satisfaction. The breath recovers on its own if you let it. That means you have developed trust in the “recuperative” power of your own breathing process.
When you finish meditation, open your eyes slowly. Exercise your muscles gently for several minutes before you stand up, otherwise you may feel giddy because of lower blood pressure.
There can be seen two moments in this meditation technique.
1. First situation
When our mind has already achieved a solid state of stillness, it is called the “mental state Samadhi”. Getting into Samadhi is the goal of the awareness of the Breathing meditation. If you can reach there, then you can let go this technique as it has already fulfilled meditation’s purpose.
In here you have to beware of two things.
- Firstly, it doesn’t have to be a conscious decision. If you are in Samadhi, when you meditate, your minds and organism will intuitively know what is the best to do to and it will naturally do it by itself.
- The second one is, whenever your mind gets distracted again, it will be perhaps a good idea to start using again the Anapanasati in order to get back to the state of stillness.
2. Second situation
This is the situation, where we should let go this technique during the meditation practice. The point is, where there is no breath naturally comes up to the foreground and our attention is mainly placed there. When it happens, our awareness has slowly slipped away from the emptiness that holds the process of Breathing until it becomes completely still. This is a sign of moving of the mind from physical to the refined, and that allows to go deeper and deeper into the nature of the mind and states of awareness.
Therefore, if you note any occurrences of mental wandering, be careful. It is completely natural to experience mental drifting if you have meditated well. When your mind starts dwelling on work or another issue, note it and observe it and then return to your focus.
Anapanasati meditation benefits you many things. It gives you many health benefits. From the regular Breathing mediation, you can improve your immune system. It is a cause to lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Further it helps to balance your blood pressure and improve communication between hemispheres of the brain. And it can reduce migraines and headaches. It improves airflow to lungs. It can gain you a comfortable seep too.
Not only physical benefits, but also psychological benefits are there. The regular Breathing meditation can reduce your depression, anxiety and stress. Further it helps to control of serotonin and improve energy flow. So it can solve your immediate problems as follow.
If your eye sees someone who makes you angry, you can set up mindfulness at the eye. If your eye is rich, if it is controlled, then will you feel angry? Just forget your anger. Breathe deeply and slowly. Then you can control your evil anger.
This is how we solve the immediate problems with Breathing meditation. When you breathe deeply, noting “anger, anger”, wisdom will arise in you and you will be able to solve problem. Why do you fill your mind with anger? It is not what you’re meant to do. That is the task of Buddhist practice.
Like this you can control your anger and other harmful emotions, which arise in your mind. You will be a calm person among others.
Further, with the gradual practicing of Anapanasati meditation, you become happier and more positive person among others. It leads you to self-actualization and peace of mind, then the happiness comes to you.
When you practice anapanasati meditation, it will help you to strengthen your relationships. Because it leads your mind to calm and then you train your mind to sympathy and compassion, stimulates capacity for love and intimacy.
And it improves your memory and cognitive functions. As well as it can increase your productivity and focus. That’ how Breathing meditation perform better.
This article is all about Anapanasati meditation. Hope you in next article on iriyapatha pabba- sections of postures in Vipassana meditation article series.
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“Everything are non-self. When one sees this true with wisdom. One returns away from suffering. This is the way to purification”