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Some meditation techniques use the nostrils as a point of concentration, others only mention that we should breathe via the nose.

Many people have problems with that and can only breath through their mouths. Is this a problem for meditation? How serious is it?

  • In my experience, the right place to focus on during breath meditation is the diaphragm, not nostrils or lips. – Andrei Volkov Oct 1 '14 at 0:19
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    I think there is no right or wrong place, but we can say nostrils are the most "popular" :) – konrad01 Oct 1 '14 at 0:30
  • I disagree. There is a reason why diaphragm works better -- it is a gateway to the emotional mind, so-called seventh consciousness. – Andrei Volkov Oct 1 '14 at 0:45
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    @AndreiVolkov 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. – Bakmoon Oct 1 '14 at 19:15
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Here are some of the reasons that focusing on the breath is beneficial in meditation. http://www.buddhamind.info/leftside/lifestyl/medi/breath.htm

Using the breath: Why? Assuming you see the value in taking up a specific object for developing concentration, the breath has many things to recommend itself as the object of choice. 1 - it is portable. Every where you go you have it with you. No need to worry about forgetting your worry beads. 2 - it comes free with every body. No need to buy any special equipment. 3 - it is complete in and of itself. No need for any upgrades or add-ons. 4 - it is 100% natural - they don't come more organic than this. 5 - it is effortless. The body knows how to breathe without you needing to do anything, You just sit back and let it do all the work - while you just watch. 6 - it is a connection with a vital life force. 7- it is calming. There is a simple, natural rhythm the breath follows and following that leads one to peace.

All of these reasons but especially 4, 5, 6, and 7 indicate that breathing should be natural and unforced, effortless and done in a relaxed way. So the emphasis is not on trying to make breathing to happen in a certain way, but allowing it to happen natural. If the nose is blocked from mucous then the mouth is the only option.

But on the same page are many variations of how breath can be integrated in meditation: http://www.buddhamind.info/leftside/lifestyl/medi/breath.htm examples are counting, following, listening to noise. Observing and turning away. Walking meditation can also use breathing in it.

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If one gets stuffy nose, it should be ok to breathe thru the mouth for a while because the "location" is not as important as the awareness/mindfulness of the in-out breaths "brushing" the point of contact. The Visuddhimagga ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nanamoli/PathofPurification2011.pdf ) page 274 gives some very good similes to demonstrate the importance of this kind of mindfulness..

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I had a similar issue. When meditating without support, I would often experience intense back pain. I practiced meditating lying down but had doubts whether I would reap any benefits. I was comforted when I found out that there are statues of the Buddha meditating while in a prone position.

While breating through your nose may not be the same as back pain, I feel the important thing to remember is to get into a regular routine. If you must breathe through your mouth while meditating, then practice that way. Regularly. My first yoga book mentioned that if you can breathe, then you can do yoga. I'd like to offer a similar argument with regard to meditation.

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If you are doing breath meditation this can be an issue as the best place to have your attention is at the base of the nose and upper lip. If you can't breathe through your nose all is not lost as you can put your attention to your stomach or chest in addition to the around the mouth.

If you do breath meditation your nose will clear up. I have been having stuffed nose before I started on meditation but it went away later on. So even on a stuffed nose it is best to breathe through your nose.

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