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Breath Meditation

The breathing meditation is a special form of meditation where not a mantra or a term dominates but the rythm of the breath. This kind of meditation is nowadays also  clinicaly applicated and also in the wellness area, in Ayurveda and in various esoteric groups.

Different types of breathing meditation have to be distinguished.

  • Observation of the breath without manipulation
  • Complete breath: i.e. not only shallow breath in the chest but deep into the belly. Inhalation fills first the lower and then the upper part of the abdomen, and finally the chest. When exhaling sinks first the chest and then the upper and then the lower abdomen.
  • Concentration on the breath (buddh. 'Anapanasati'), optionally together with a concomitant mantra.
  • Control of the breath with the help of a mantra.

== Buddhist breathing meditation ==

  • 1. Vipassana - Observation of exhalation and inhalation (depending on the linage)
    The Vipassana-Meditation(vipassana-bhavana) bases mainly on two of the in the Pali canon depicted practice teachings: 'the 'speech of the visualizations of attentiveness' ( satipatthana sutta) - often 'Foundations of Mindfulness' called - and the 'Talk of conscious breathing in and out' ( anapanasati sutta [13] )
  • Kadampa Meditation: Conzentration on the breath (Anapanasati) is perhaps the most practiced buddhist breathing meditation method
  • Anapasati - (PDF).
    The basic exercise is the 'observation of breath' during the sitting meditation. This takes the meditator in touch with the breath, without manipulating or controling it. For this is the focus on a specific focal point between breath and body sensation helpful, for example the lifting and falling of the abdomen or the inflow and outflow of the breath through the nostrils.
  • breathing meditation online instructions
  • 2. The body sweeping : The techniqe of body sweeping is a form of Vipassana, which was developed by U Ba Khin and his disciple S.N. Goenka :
    Before the actual practice, the sensations around the nostrils are watched more precise with each inhalation and exhalation. After that, the body is wandered through with systematic attention, to capture the different areas of sensation and painful stress fields more directly until the transience or their non-self are understood on a higher level.

    In India, this technology is taught on the recommendation of the Interior Ministry now in most prisons, and in various other international prisons too (Chandiramani, K., Verma, S.K., Dhar, P.L., Aggarwal, N. (1994); Psychological effects of vipassana on Tihar jail inmates: a preliminary report. In Vipassana Research Institute (Ed.), Vipassana: its relevance to the present world world: an international seminar, april 1994, New Delhi. Mumbai, India: Apollo Printers).

== Zazen - breathing meditation ==

In the Soto-Scool of Zen is Susokukan(PDF), a breath counting meditation, more an exercise for beginners; later is Zuisokukan practiced (PDF), 'follow the breath', so just to be mindful, and finally one shall come to Shikantaza , the 'exclusive maintaining of the activity of sitting'.
EEG-measurements show (PDF) that it is not a 'mere-off' but an 'extremely intense attention', which is directed at anything specific.

== Indian breathing meditation ==

Breathing meditation is in the indian yoga a part of the Pranayama but goes depending on the school also far beyond.
  • 1. Breathing observation: The floating of the breath in the nose or the point between the eyebrows is only observed and not influenced. Feel how the sensation at the point between the eyebrows during inhalation and exhalation developes.
  • 2. Steering of inhalation and exhalation with the help of the mantra 'so-ham'. This traditonal method was also used by Baba Muktananda (Muktananda: Play of Consciousness) and taught by Sai Baba. So-ham is the Ajapa mantra, also referred to as 'white swan' (paramatma-mantra, Ajapa Gayatri). Sometimes also So-Haun (So-hum) is used instead.
    Exercise: Focus your attention on the bridge of the nose and feel how the air flows into the nostrils in and out. Coordinate breathing with the sound 'Sooooo ...' of the So-Ham mantra. Coordinate the exhalation with the sound 'Hammmm ...' of the Soham mantra.
  • 3. The Mantram 'Ham-sa' is used in Hatha yoga to accompany the breathing exercises (Hamsa Gayatri, Hamsa mantra, prana mantra). It is also known as 'goose of transience' in contrary to the 'white Swan' of the So-ham-Mantra(Atma).
  • 4.The Mantram 'Ra-Ma' is used as the normal breathing exercise(Ra-Ma breathing meditation).
  • 5.Yogananda's scool uses the 'Hong-So'-Atem-Meditation (Hong-so)
  • 6. The Indian tantric uses 'matrika'-words as time scale for the process of inhalation(puraka), the exhalation(recaka) and the reatining(kumbhaka) of the breath. He repeats mentally 'am am im im um um rm rm lrm lrm em aim om aum am ah' to control the length of inhalation.
    For the reataining he uses : 'kam kham gam gham nam cam cham jam jham nam tam tham dam dham nam tam dam dhamnam pam pham bam bham mam '.
    For the exhalation he uses : 'yam ram....ksam'.[Agehananda Bharati : The Tantric Tradition , Samuel Weiser Inc , New York 1975 ISBN 0-87728-253-6, pg 274 ]

== Chinese breathing meditation ==

Chapter 10 of the Tao-Te-Ching says mutatis mutandis : "Condense your life-breath and reach receptivity - return to the newborn."
The Tao breathing scool concentrates the breath into different areas inside the body. With the Tao breathing is a resolution of inner blocks connected, so to clean the path of Qi.
  • Tao - breating.
    Even the Taipingjing (Classic of the highest peace, universal harmony) contains information on meditation and herbal medicine and various breathing exercises.

    The methods of healing breath come in many cases from oral family traditions. In the respiratory therapy institutes they are controlled by with the breating exercises versed doctors, who can properly advise on difficulties.

    In the focus is the relaxation and silence(Sung-ching Wuei Chu). Relaxation means here a relaxation of the entire body, becoming quiet as a calming of the mind.

    The second principle is the linking of thr breath with the attention(I-ch'i Ho-i).
    The beginning is always an exercise from the circle of 'inner strength' and the muscles are sequentially relaxed from top to bottom. The patient deepens then the breathing gradually slightly and loose down to the abdominal breathing and breathes through the nose. As help he can think at a certain word like 'S'ung'(rest) or concentrate on points of the body.
    There are also combined forms of 'inner preserving exercises'(Nei Kung-yang) as exhalation through the mouth with attention on the head and inhalation through the nose or to think continously with each breath at a word, what is called 'harmony and peace'. [s.a.: 4.14:inner preserving exercises u.a.(doc)]

    The third principle is the coordinated interaction of practice and relaxation (Lien-yang Hsiang-chien), which is executed as fixation of attention on the navel.
    The breathing exercises are performed upright and lying in various postures. (Stephan Palos: Chinesische Heilkunst, pg. 169-178)

    According to traditional teachings is the attention directed by the breathing.
    But there are also different types of conscious diaphragmatic breathing.
    a. The matching breathing (Shun-hu-hsi-fa) : during inhalation bulges the abdominal wall .
    b.The contrasting breathing(Ni-hu-hsi-fa) : by inhalation retracts the abdominal wall.
    Here, the inner warmth and the 'tan-tien' point are watched and possibly is finally a white color visualized in the feet.
    In addition organ-related syllables such as Ka-o, Chen - Teng, Sh'ang, T'ung, K'o, H'sü, Hu, H'si, Ch'ui are used. More general syllables are S'ung(silence), F'ang(relaxation), Ch'ing(purity) und Ch'iang-Chien(health). Sometimes a circuit to the Tan Tien point is generated.
    By Prof. Palos accompanied measurements showed significant changes in the electrical potential between the specific acupuncture points which are relevant in the electro-acupuncture.
    ( Sr. Palos :Atem und Meditation, pg.140-154 )

== Modern variants ==

Smaller modern scools are 'Quantum Light Breath', the light breathing meditation of Tef Fonfara ( Light-breath - MP3), the OSHO Chakra Breathing and the holotrope breathing of Stanislav Grof.
 

== Literature ==

  • 1. Stephan (Istvan) Palos :Atem und Meditation, Moderne Verlagsges., 1994. 237 Seiten, ISBN: 3478084830 (EAN: 9783478084833 / 978-3478084833)
  • 2. www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/anapanasati.pdf Anapanasati
  • 3. Kabat-Zinn, J. (1982). An outpatient program in behavioral medicine for chronic pain patients based on the practice of mindfulness meditation: theoretical considerations and preliminary results. General Hospital Psychiatry, 4, 33- 47.
  • 4. Achtsamkeitmeditation - Aktivierungsmuster und morphologische Veränderungen im Gehirn
  • 5. Agehananda Bharati : The Tantric Tradition, Samuel Weiser Inc, New York 1975 ISBN 0-87728-253-6, (pg. 274)
  • 6. MCullenBodyScanMeditation
  • 7. Chandiramani, K., Verma, S.K., Dhar, P.L., Aggarwal, N. (1994); Psychological effects of vipassana on Tihar jail inmates: a preliminary report. In Vipassana Research Institute (Ed.), Vipassana – its relevance to the present world world: an international seminar, april 1994, New Delhi. Mumbai, India: Apollo Printers. MCullenBodyScanMeditation