I might like some advice about breathing.
A doctor implied that I'm not very good at breathing: i.e. that I have "central sleep apnea" which probably means that the part of the brain-stem that controls breathing doesn't breathe/trigger enough, so I go for 30 to (while I'm asleep) 90 seconds between breaths, and don't get enough oxygen.
The existing question that most closely matches this one, that I found, was Breath getting shorter and shorter. I don't understand the answer to that question (especially the answer's saying, "you have to switch to sensations" – what else is there but sensations?). I downloaded the manual about Anapanasati which that answer recommended, and I hope I get a chance to read it, but it might be useful to read some other shorter/different answer of yours here.
So, some specific questions:
An instruction about "how to breathe when meditating" might include "breathe naturally". I find that if I "breathe naturally" then:
- My breathing gets shallow and then stops for a few seconds.
- I wait a bit, thinking "I'm not breathing. But I shouldn't force my breathing, I'm supposed to wait for it to breathe naturally. So I'll wait until my next breath. Waiting. Waiting."
- (My oxygenation depletes, which seems to manifest as a slight loss of consciousness, e.g. I'm no longer aware of what I'm seeing and/or of what I'm thinking)
- My next moment of consciousness/lucidity is that I'm aware than I am in the process of taking my next breath.
When I'm awake this period of 'unconsciousness' is probably (I guess) no more than half a second (though the period between breaths may be several seconds), and only happens while I'm physically at rest (not physically exercising) and emotionally dull (I think I keep a relatively lively interest when I'm driving a car for example).
- Does that sound normal?
- Is it abnormal/pathological and e.g. a symptom of "central apnea"?
- Am I interpreting "breathe naturally" a bit too literally: should I instead, for example, begin to inhale again as soon as I'm aware that I'm not breathing (i.e. that I am between breaths, or that my previous breath has finished)? Should I be trying to breath continuously not just continually?
I guess the thing with driving is that I'm not concentrated on / conscious of my breathing: instead, what I'm conscious of is my level of alertness and how well I'm seeing (how good my sight is), and so I suppose I unconsciously breathe (regularly enough) in order to maintain that level.
In the comments under this question there are a couple of comments about the diaphragm:
I disagree. There is a reason why diaphragm works better -- it is a gateway to the emotional mind, so-called seventh consciousness.
I also think the diaphragm region is better, but more so because the movement of the abdomen is much easier for a beginner mediator to discern.
Can you tell me something (that I don't already know – you can assume I only/already have high-school-level biology) about the diaphragm, and/or about the "so-called seventh consciousness"?
The 'Anapanasati manual' which I reference above barely mentions "diaphragm" nor even "abdomen".
Watching a video of someone I notice that they appear to 'sniff' occasionally while they're speaking. If I try to do the same, experimentally, do I experience a mild feeling of bliss? Either from the sudden intake of oxygen, or the motion of air through the nose, or from having triggered/activated the diaphragm to implement the sniff?
Is there something I should know about that slightly implosive way of breathing, and/or activating of the diaphragm?
What I called 'bliss' might be increased alertness or awareness (or sensory input).
Is there some written text about 'how to breathe' that you recommend?
FYI some activities that I find relatively pleasurable are bicycling (e.g. fast or up-hill), the Tai Chi "first form", and singing (in a choir), all of which involve continuous and/or controlled breathing.
How should this contrast with some vague instruction to "breathe naturally" which I don't understand and don't seem to enjoy much?
Is it possible (and/or desirable) to learn to breathe more consciously (or regularly) while still using the brain for other purposes?