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Anapanasati - meditation leading to - awakening? Part 1


Perhaps the very first of the existing meditations. In this practice, natural breathing is used as a support for meditation. No rituals and religious dogmas, simple observation of the breath, leading to a deep soothing of the mind and body, followed by going beyond them.

And it would be simple, watch your breathing, and everyone would be enlightened, and there would be no wars and the problems that the modern world lives in, but it seems that there is an obvious catch somewhere ...

The primary source for describing this wonderful meditation in Buddhism is the sutta of the same name No. 118 of the Pali Canon of the collection of Majjim Nikaya, written almost 2 millennia ago. Nowadays, many interpretations of this sutta have appeared. In some schools, this is the practice of concentration or single-point concentration, in others it is monitoring the movements of the diaphragm in time with the breath, thirdly, sensations in the body from breathing, and some use this practice, calling it scientific meditation, etc.

Let's try to figure out what is true of this, that is, closest to the original source, or at least what gives the best result, and how this meditation can be practiced.

Meditations in the context of the path to enlightenment are often divided into two parts - Vipassana and Samadhi, "insight" and "collected mind." Countless texts and debates are devoted to this topic, which is more important and which leads to enlightenment. Someone is convinced that Vipassana is more important, someone is that Samadhi.

But the truth is that the spiritual path, the path of practice is thorny and unstable, like life itself. The mind of a practice changes along with the practice itself, and more and more new facets and possibilities become available to it. The approaches, tools and techniques at the beginning of the Path may be completely different from those that will be used after several years of practice.

There are many systems that describe the Path globally and as detailed as possible, in this article we will consider the development of practice using the key Buddhist meditation Anapanasati as an example.

The whole path can be divided into 4 sections:

  1. The first leg of the journey is to create the habit of meditation.
  2. The second segment of the path is touching the meditative states - jhan.
  3. The third segment of the path is access to intangible spheres (5–8 jhans).
  4. The fourth leg of the journey is Nirodha and enlightenment.

The first leg of the journey is creating the habit of meditation.

The most difficult part of the path is to start walking along it, to take the first step!

Meditations are moving around the planet in a big step, and in industrialized countries, meditations have long gone out of the sphere of personal development and are used everywhere, from business and sports, to medicine, psychology, education and law enforcement agencies.

Thousands of studies of meditation and its benefits, dozens of popular science books, countless observations accumulated by different religions over millennia that can be read or heard for years, but, as it is not easy to read about meditation, become a practitioner of meditation, and then practicing regular meditation. It is on this site that the most “obstacles” and “traps” are encountered - from the first meditation to regular practice.

If you find yourself among these lines, do not be discouraged, it is really very difficult to start training your mind and do it regularly.

Enlightenment and another 1000 and one so important and useful result of the practice of meditation will remain somewhere "there" until the first practical step is taken. And in order to get involved in meditation after that and make practice a habit, it is enough to observe only 4 rules:

  1. Practice should be simple and natural.
  2. Meditation should be enjoyable.
  3. Meditation is important every day.
  4. Practice should bring tangible results in life.

A significant number of types of meditations available now come from Vedic systems, from popular yoga, these are practices of concentration and single-point concentration. If you right now enter “meditation” in the Yandex search line, you will see people sitting cross-legged, holding their hands on their knees with their wise folded fingers. These are postures of concentration practices, not meditation. These types of meditations are very difficult for untrained beginners. In addition, in order to practice them, one needs already well-developed concentration and awareness.

On the other hand, we are emotional beings, and if we do not enjoy the action, then only by using willpower can we “force” ourselves to do something. Each such inclusion of the willpower for meditation leads to an increase in internal resistance to practice. Often, just one meditation on willpower is enough to repel the very desire to meditate for a long time. Therefore, the point "2"- meditation should be enjoyable.

No less important is the quick result of the practice. If we do something, and it brings tangible results in life, it contributes to the growth of motivation.

In the ancient canonical texts there is a mention of the words of the Buddha about practice and teaching:

  1. Do not blindly trust teachers and teachings, and even to me - Buddha. You should check both the teacher and his method.
  2. Meditation should be immediately effective in life.
  3. And the doctrine itself - Buddha compared with the raft, necessary to overcome the river of ignorance and crossing to the other side (awakening). When you have already crossed over to the other side, you don’t need to drag a heavy raft (doctrine) by land.

Most definitely, this is not about the years spent in the caves, it is about the quick changes from mediation in life. In practice, this is the horizon of a week or two.

The simplicity of practice, the pleasantness of states in meditation, the quick result in life - all this is more like psychology and work with motivation.

Anapasati meditation is often called meditation with concentration on breathing, and therein lies a big mistake in understanding the essence of this practice. Breathing is not an object of concentration, but a pillar of awareness, a metronome, an anchor of practice.

In yoga systems of concentration meditation on breathing, an object associated with breathing is used, for example, the point of passage of air from inspirations-exhalations on the upper lip or the movement of the diaphragm from breathing, in Buddhist systems of awareness meditation, as objects are used not points, but wider fields of perception. Therefore, the objects of concentration are called supports, they are needed as anchors that allow you to keep your attention from the storms and storms of the mind, but at the same time do not go into absorbed states of consciousness, and do not lose the main tool - awareness.

In yogic systems, the goal is concentration and a state of complete absorption, in Buddhist systems - the collection of the mind with awareness, which is present almost until the very end, prior to the experience of nirodhi (up to 8 meditative jhana to be exact).

Concentration in Buddhism is not a goal, but a means - it is an additional element of the training of the mind, leading to this very collected mind. It so happened that in many modern Buddhist schools, Anapanasati meditation is interpreted and practiced as a one-point yoga concentration. Because of this, confusion arises.

Practicing concentration meditations without preparing for beginners is extremely difficult, or trying to just beat off the desire to meditate for a long time with a firm conviction: "it is difficult!".

To practice Anapanasati meditation, you also need good preparation, but thanks to additions to it, such as metta meditation and attention management tools, it becomes quite accessible for beginners as well.

In the first 15 minutes of practice, most of the thoughts and other hindrances are the most “difficult” period in meditation. Awareness is not fast enough, and the mind is not calm enough, as a result - interference and thoughts grab attention faster than it can be detected. Here, willpower and concentration attempts are most often used to suppress thoughts and interference, which leads to an increase in internal tension and the appearance of even more thoughts and interference.

On the other hand, if it happened that the mind was initially more or less calm, for example, you are on vacation, then the monotony of what is happening very quickly leads to the fact that the mind begins to get bored, and the sleepiness mode turns on.

How to deal with this?

Have fun in meditation and enjoy it!

Use metta meditation in the first 15+ minutes. This meditation is pleasant and interesting, something constantly happens in it. The most hectic and unstable period flies quickly and imperceptibly, and most importantly, there is a technical opportunity to go on to anapanasati meditation, the mind calms down enough to make this possible. And as a bonus from metta meditation, you gain the key to your emotional system and the ability to program your daily states.

How is technically anapanasati meditation performed?

In formal meditation, we sit or lie and our eyes are closed, but the visual canal works.

We look straight ahead in the darkness.

And also breathe and,

We feel our current state.

Anapanasati practice here is a cross between looking forward, observing breathing and feeling.

Ideally, this is an equidistant point of observation from looking into the dark, observing sensations from breathing and feeling. And although this may seem like a very simple action: to sit with your eyes closed, feel your breath and be aware of the current state, in practice it turns out to be the most difficult - to do nothing, but just to observe, without interfering in any of these three processes.

In visuals and kinesthetics, this internal observation point may shift closer to looking or feeling, respectively, in people with a technical mentality, to observing breathing. If the balance is disturbed, then the control immediately turns on, breathing goes astray, problems with focusing your eyes appear, and bodily interference occurs.

There are separate tools for dealing with such interference.

Like Anapanasati meditation itself, the tools and techniques also change with the practitioner's practice and mind.

With metta meditation at the beginning of the session, and switching to anapanasati further, you will quickly get into meditation and make it a regular habit. And if in the first sessions you are faced with the need to overcome your own internal resistance, then, after a few weeks of practice, the resistance will be replaced by internal motivation.

After some time, you will naturally bring the duration of meditation to 40+ minutes, and this is an opportunity to touch meditative states - jhan.

About this in the next part of the article ...