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My question is that where do I focus ? The outer nose or outer nose with upper lip

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  • Where ever touch is sensed, good householder. – user11235 May 7 '20 at 22:44
  • the context for your question is way too vague to give any kind of reasonable answer without clarification. What meditation are you practicing, and what style/tradition/lineage of that meditation are you trying to accomplish? – frankk May 8 '20 at 9:23
  • I practice goenkas retreat – Sanjay Mehta May 11 '20 at 16:04
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The instruction is: sati-parimukkham, or parimukkham-sati.
This means: mind-around-mouth
It also means: mind-around-face
It also means: mind around the front
It also means: mind around the interface [between the personal and the external]
It also has been interpreted as meaning: mind the business at which you are about (that is minding).

This instruction is found in cases where a formula for meditation is being set forth, not exclusive to minding the in and out breaths.

There is no instruction that reads: 'focus where the breath is felt' or 'at the nose' or at any specific place. Try to focus on the point where the breath passes the nostrils you will quickly see that you cannot find that place. It moves around at light-speed!

That is why the instruction reads "around" (pari). The point is the focus, not the locus. This is also important as a preventive measure: our job here is not to maintain a state of concentration on any object. We are trying to develop concentration (or better, focus) as a skill with a tool to be used in understanding other things. You are not going to Nibbana with your mind focused on your nose!

Follow the instructions without trying to pick it apart and you will see the advantages of minding around the mouth as a starting point, minding the face as a matter of minding the sense-reactions, minding the front as minding the whole body, minding the interface as minding the inter-relations of the body and the external world, and minding your business as keeping you focused on the task. Round and round, up and down, back and forth. A spectrum.

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A correct translation of agama passage EA 17.1 is "pervade the entire body" -- here is the excerpt from my translation at http://lucid24.org/agama/ea/ea17/ea17-01/index.html

enter image description here

From the agama school, the dhayna samadhi sutra is an excellent representation of how most of the Agama schools understand breath meditation -- i.e. that awareness pervades the entire anatomical physical body) -- in radical contrast to Visuddhimagga's outlier (wrong) view that one should focus only at the nostrils and ignore the entire physical body.

Excerpt from http://lucid24.org/sted/16aps/index.html

409 CE Dhyāna Samādhi Sutra

This is not from the EBT period, but is fully EBT compliant in describing step 3 of 16aps and capturing what is so peaceful, sublime, ambrosia, a brahma dwelling, and the Buddha’s preferred meditation of choice on his retreats.
Dhyāna Samādhi Sutra (corresponds with Ānāpānā step 3, sabba kāya patisamvedi) Dhyāna Samādhi Sutra (chinese to english trans. By Dr. William Chu)

T15n0614_p0275b25(08)║念諸息遍身。亦念息出入。
“One is mindfully aware of various breaths suffusing the whole body, as one attends to the exhalation and inhalation of the breath.

T15n0614_p0275b26(05)║悉觀身中諸出息入息。
As one pervasively observes the various kinds of inhalation and exhalation inside the body,

T15n0614_p0275b27(14)║覺知遍至身中乃至足指遍諸毛孔如水入沙。
one becomes aware and comprehends what is happening throughout the body, up to and including one’s toes and pores—[awareness] pervades as if water seeps into sands.

T15n0614_p0275b28(13)║息出覺知從足至髮遍諸毛孔亦如水入沙。譬如[夢-夕+棐]囊入出皆滿。
In the same way, with [each] out-breath, awareness and understanding pervade—from the toes to the hairs, permeating all the pores—as if water seeps into sands. Just like a sack that is completely filled from its bottom to its opening,

T15n0614_p0275b29(05)║口鼻風入出亦爾。觀身周遍見風行處。
so too should one experience the body being saturated this way with [each] in-breath coming in from mouth [and/or] nose.

T15n0614_p0275c01(07)║如藕根孔亦如魚網。復心非獨口鼻觀息入出。
One should perceive that throughout the body, where ‘wind’ traverses, it is as if it traverses through the holes of a lotus root; it is as if it traverses through the eyes of a fish net.

T15n0614_p0275c02(06)║一切毛孔及九孔中。亦見息入息出。
Furthermore, one should not just perceive the breath as going in and out of one’s mouth [and/or] nose; one should also see that the breath comes in and out from all the pores and from the nine orifices of the body.

T15n0614_p0275c03(09)║是故知息遍諸身
For this reason, one should understand that the breath pervades throughout the body."

enter image description here

In SN 54, the Anapana Samyutta, prior to this sutta in the first 9 suttas, the 16 steps of 16 APS have not been associated with the 4 tetrads of 4sp (satipatthana, right mindfulness). So the first thing to understand about this context is that the Buddha is trying to explain how the breath is related to each of the 4 tetrads. One might question, how is the breath related to the anatomical body (kāya)? So the Buddha explains that the breath is also a type of body. One might question, how is vedana (feeling) a breath? And the Buddha explains the breath is a certain type of feeling. One might question how is the breath related to the tetrad of citta-anupassana, and so on. So in saying that the breath is one type of body, the context here is trying to justify how the breath ties in to 4sp (satipatthana) practice in general, how it ties in to kāya anupassana (body contemplation). He’s not trying to redefine the default definition of body understood as physical. The second thing to notice is that the Buddha is saying the breath is a type of kāya (body), is ONE type of body, among the already established understanding of body as being composed of 4 elements. He is not overriding the definition of kāya here, he is not saying breath is the only type of body, and he certainly didn’t say in this context breath is the whole body and the anatomical body should be discarded from meditative awareness. The third thing to notice, even if we want to practice 16 APS taking the breath to be the only part of the physical body that we’re contemplating, ignoring the remaining 3 of the 4 elements, this body of breath has shape, dimension, occupying the same physical space as our anatomical body.

enter image description here

detailed comprehensive analysis on term 'pari mukha' http://lucid24.org/tped/p/parimukha/book/index.html

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  • Quite interesting method and controversy. The main piece of evidence is Buddha saying that breath is a body among bodies in satipatthana sutta, so many would split on this. – Letsbuddhism May 10 '20 at 15:50
  • @116PУC Perhaps there's also empirical evidence, and whether it accords with preconceived doctrine i.e. what people might already/previously know to be true. – ChrisW May 10 '20 at 16:36
  • My guess is that it works similarly, one more or less contemplates the air element and stops thinking in the second jhana. Probably a very old controversy – Letsbuddhism May 10 '20 at 17:38
  • see reedited post for response to comment. Vism. interpretation of step 3 of 16 steps meditation is completely unfounded. There really shouldn't be a controversy. But like anything, buddhism is political. the ruling political party dictates the 'correct' interpretation, when careful examination of evidence is incontrovertibly clear their interpretation is wrong. – frankk May 11 '20 at 16:12
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Focus on where you feel the in and out breath. The location varies with each individual so there is no 1 place to focus on.

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I don't want to answer the down voting answers. But If you can read the below quote's from the cannon, you may re-think about what you are doing as a meditation with external world instead of the dependent core-arising.

Below is about the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person from Assutava Sutta

Monks, an uninstructed run-of-the-mill person might grow disenchanted with this body composed of the four great elements, might grow dispassionate toward it, might gain release from it. Why is that? Because the growth & decline, the taking up & putting down of this body composed of the four great elements are apparent. Thus the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person might grow disenchanted, might grow dispassionate, might gain release there.

And below is about instructed disciple of the noble ones from same Assutava Sutta

"The instructed disciple of the noble ones, [however,] attends carefully & appropriately right there at the dependent co-arising

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In this guide, Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote that you can focus on any place where the breath can be sensed, whether it is the nose, chest, abdomen or any other place:

Only when you have cleared the mind in this way, and set outside matters aside, are you ready to focus on the breath. Bring your attention to the sensation of breathing. Breathe in long and out long for a couple of times, focusing on any spot in the body where the breathing is easy to notice, and your mind feels comfortable focusing. This could be at the nose, at the chest, at the abdomen, or any spot at all. Stay with that spot, noticing how it feels as you breathe in and out. Don't force the breath, or bear down too heavily with your focus. Let the breath flow naturally, and simply keep track of how it feels. Savor it, as if it were an exquisite sensation you wanted to prolong. If your mind wanders off, simply bring it back. Don't get discouraged. If it wanders 100 times, bring it back 100 times. Show it that you mean business, and eventually it will listen to you.

According to Chapter 2 "Sitting Meditation" of the book "How To Meditate" by Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu, you can also try to observe movements of the abdomen, instead of nasal sensations:

The purpose of formal meditation is to limit our experience to the fewest number of objects in order to allow for easy observation without becoming overwhelmed or distracted. When sitting still, the whole body is tranquil and the only movement is when the breath enters and leaves the body. When the breath enters the body, there should be a rising motion in the abdomen. When the breath leaves the body, there should likewise be a falling motion. If the movement is not readily apparent, you can put your hand on your abdomen until it becomes clear.

If it is difficult to perceive the motion of the abdomen even with your hand, you can try lying down on your back until you are able to perceive it. Difficulty in finding the rising and falling motion of the abdomen when sitting is generally due to mental tension and stress; if one is patient and persistent in the practice, one’s mind and body will begin to relax until one is able to breathe as naturally sitting up as when lying down.

The most important thing to remember is that we are trying to observe the breath in its natural state, rather than forcing or controlling it in any way. In the beginning, the breath may be shallow or uncomfortable, but once the mind begins to let go and stops trying to control the breath, the rise and fall of the abdomen will become more clear and allow for comfortable observation.

It is this rising and falling motion that we will use as our first object of meditation. Once we are able to observe the motion of the abdomen without difficulty, it will serve as a default object of meditation for us to return to at any time.

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    Thk u all respected sir and masters for giving me guidance .I could feel the rise and fall of abdomen with and without placing hands in sitting position.Once again I thk u all If it is possible for you to send a video of watching breath at abdomen. – Sanjay Mehta May 11 '20 at 16:09
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Just breathe. You are overthinking it too much.

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Here is another method from a popular but controversial commentary Vsm 7th century;

  1. Here are the stages in giving attention to it: (1) counting, (2) connection, (3) touching, (4) fixing, (5) observing, (6) turning away, (7) purification, and (8) looking back on these. Herein, counting is just counting, connection is carrying on, touching is the place touched [by the breaths], fixing is absorption, observing is insight, turning away is the path, purification is fruition, looking back on these is reviewing.
    1. Herein, this clansman who is a beginner should first give attention to this meditation subject by counting. And when counting, he should not stop short of five or go beyond ten or make any break in the series. By stopping short of five his thoughts get excited in the cramped space, like a herd of cattle shut in a cramped pen. By going beyond ten his thoughts take the number [rather than the breaths] for their support. By making a break in the series he wonders if the meditation subject has reached completion or not. So he should do his counting without those faults.
  2. When counting, he should at first do it slowly [that is, late] as a grain measurer does. For a grain measurer, having filled his measure, says “One,” and empties it, and then refilling it, he goes on saying ‘”One, one” while removing any rubbish he may have noticed. And the same with “Two, two” and so on. So, taking the in-breath or the out-breath, whichever appears [most plainly], he should begin with “One, one” [279] and count up to “Ten, ten,” noting each as it occurs.
  3. As he does his counting in this way, the in-breaths and out-breaths become evident to him as they enter in and issue out. Then he can leave off counting slowly (late), like a grain measurer, and he can count quickly [that is, early] as a cowherd does. For a skilled cowherd takes pebbles in his pocket and goes to the cow pen in the morning, whip in hand; sitting on the bar of the gate, prodding the cows in the back, he counts each one as it reaches the gate, saying “One, two,” dropping a pebble for each. And the cows of the herd, which have been spending the three watches of the night uncomfortably in the cramped space, come out quickly in parties, jostling each other as they escape. So he counts quickly (early) “Three, four, five” and so up to ten. In this way the in-breaths and out-breaths, which had already become evident to him while he counted them in the former way, now keep moving along quickly.
  4. Then, knowing that they keep moving along quickly, not apprehending them either inside or outside [the body], but apprehending them just as they reach the [nostril] door, he can do his counting quickly (early): “One, two, three, four, five; one, two, three, four, five, six … seven … eight … nine … ten.” For as long as the meditation subject is connected with counting it is with the help of that very counting that the mind becomes unified, just as a boat in a swift current is steadied with the help of a rudder.
  5. When he counts quickly, the meditation subject becomes apparent to him as an uninterrupted process. Then, knowing that it is proceeding uninterruptedly, he can count quickly (early) in the way just described, not discerning the wind either inside or outside [the body]. For by bringing his consciousness inside along with the incoming breath, it seems as if it were buffeted by the wind inside or filled with fat.53 By taking his consciousness outside along with the outgoing breath, it gets distracted by the multiplicity of objects outside. However, his development is successful when he fixes his mindfulness on the place touched [by the breaths]. That is why it was said above: “He can count quickly (early) in the way just described, not discerning the wind either inside or outside.”
  6. But how long is he to go on counting? Until, without counting, [280] mindfulness remains settled on the in-breaths and out-breaths as its object. For counting is simply a device for setting mindfulness on the in-breaths and out- breaths as object by cutting off the external dissipation of applied thoughts.
    1. Having given attention to it in this way by counting, he should now do so by connection. Connection is the uninterrupted following of the in-breaths and out-breaths with mindfulness after counting has been given up. And that is not by following after the beginning, the middle and the end.54
  7. The navel is the beginning of the wind issuing out, the heart is its middle and the nose-tip is its end. The nose-tip is the beginning of the wind entering in, the heart is its middle and the navel is its end. And if he follows after that, his mind is distracted by disquiet and perturbation according as it is said: “When he goes in with mindfulness after the beginning, middle, and end of the in- breath, his mind being distracted internally, both his body and his mind are disquieted and perturbed and shaky. When he goes out with mindfulness after the beginning, middle and end of the out-breath, his mind being distracted externally, both his body and his mind are disquieted and perturbed and shaky” (Paþis I 165). 3–4. So when he gives his attention to it by connection, he should do so not by the beginning, middle and end, but rather by touching and by fixing.
  8. There is no attention to be given to it by touching separate from fixing as there is by counting separate from connection. But when he is counting the breaths in the place touched by each, he is giving attention to them by counting and touching. When he has given up counting and is connecting them by means of mindfulness in that same place and fixing consciousness by means of absorption, then he is said to be giving his attention to them by connection, touching and fixing. And the meaning of this may be understood through the similes of the man who cannot walk and the gatekeeper given in the commentaries, and through the simile of the saw given in the Paþisambhidá.
  9. Here is the simile of the man who cannot walk: Just as a man unable to walk, who is rocking a swing for the amusement of his children and their mother, sits at the foot of the swing post and sees both ends and the middle of the swing plank successively coming and going, [281] yet does not move from his place in order to see both ends and the middle, so too, when a bhikkhu places himself with mindfulness, as it were, at the foot of the post for anchoring [mindfulness] and rocks the swing of the in-breaths and out-breaths; he sits down with mindfulness on the sign at that same place, and follows with mindfulness the beginning, middle and end of the in-breaths and out-breaths at the place touched by them as they come and go; keeping his mind fixed there, he then sees them without moving from his place in order to see them. This is the simile of the man who cannot walk.
  10. This is the simile of the gatekeeper: Just as a gatekeeper does not examine people inside and outside the town, asking, “Who are you? Where have you come from? Where are you going? What have you got in your hand?”—for those people are not his concern—but he does examine each man as he arrives at the gate, so too, the incoming breaths that have gone inside and the outgoing breaths that have gone outside are not this bhikkhu’s concern, but they are his concern each time they arrive at the [nostril] gate itself.
  11. Then the simile of the saw should be understood from its beginning. For this is said: “Sign, in-breath, out-breath, are not object Of a single consciousness; By one who knows not these three things Development is not obtained. “Sign, in-breath, out-breath, are not object Of a single consciousness; By one who does know these three things Development can be obtained.”
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  • if you're going to cite Agama, then it's better to pick passages that represent the mainstream agama view rather than cherry picking one of the outlier passages that contradict most of the other Agamas. See this comparative article lucid24.org/sted/16aps/dhammajoti/index.html. As for theravada, Vism. is also an outlier, compared to to Vimuttimagga, and KN Ps patisambhidhimagga, as well as EBT pali common sense interpretation which treats steps 3 and 4 as experiencing breath in entire anatomical body. I'm not accusing you of ill intent. – frankk May 9 '20 at 16:42
  • You are saying i cherry pick, assuming i've read agamas and am familiar with the general themes, this is one of the few agama i've come across in my study as i dont read agama in general – Letsbuddhism May 9 '20 at 17:03
  • You may not be intentionally cherry picking, but you not only picked a very outlier agama passage (agama has many schools that just the ekogattara one), that agama passage is horribly wrong Chinese to english translation. If you hadn't said "that other than pali, this agama passage is authoratitive" then it wouldn't have caught my attention and led me to such a forceful response. – frankk May 10 '20 at 15:03
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    Thanks it's a good correction in that case – Letsbuddhism May 10 '20 at 15:12
  • I removed the problem stuff – Letsbuddhism May 10 '20 at 15:21

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