Mailbag: Concentration Meditation – Absorption and “Becoming the Breath”
Hey! I use breath as my object… could you explain a bit more about the whole thing of “becoming the breath”? first of all do I follow (feel) the breath a little bit more narrowly such as at the nostrils?
if you can give a more detailed description of how I can get the sense of becoming the breath on an inhale and exhale
Hi Ichigo, welcome to PPM!
Beginners often find it easier to use a wide focus when first learning absorption, so in this example I will use the sensations of the breath as it fills the whole body (rather than a narrow focus such as just beneath the nostrils).
If you are not opposed to masturbation, then this is a good way to learn. During the moments just as you approach orgasm, you will feel the sense of the breath begin to deepen and be felt throughout the entire body as a tangible wave. Notice how the breathing at this point really captures your attention. There is a sense of rapture with each breath. At this point, you are “absorbed” in the breath. Don’t allow yourself to orgasm, and instead study the effects the pleasure, the fascination, the rapture and the breathing have on your mind and body.
If you can learn that feeling, you can begin to apply it to objects at will (and with a narrower focus, such as at the tip of the nose just beneath the nostrils). Simply make the same sorts of faces you make when you are about to orgasm. For example, your eyes roll back in your head and enter light REM. Literally copy the process your body does automatically as you approach orgasm. Breathe in that same regular, deepening rhythm. You can make your attention go into your object in waves the same way you feel waves as you approach orgasm.
But practice is more important at this point than more reading.
I think one of the most difficult things for beginners to grasp is that they can create pleasure, fascination and rapture at will, just by copying what the body does anyway when it is experiencing those things organically. Think of Golem staring at “his precious”. It captivates him and gives him pleasure. His eyes go wide and he goes into a trance. That is really all concentration meditation is — copying the process of fascination and pleasure. And then, through practice, drawing out that process and deepening it to the point where you can become deeply absorbed in ANY object — be it a visual object, a sound, the breath, or anything else you can rest your attention on. By spending time practising, the state deepens and moves through levels of increasing depth and absorption. These levels are called the samatha jhanas and are basically the same for anyone who practises.
Now, you just have to start practising.