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Peace, Divine Love, and Blessings to All. I recently began to research meditative/breathing for the Solar Plexus. I was instructed that the "normal breathing" done in the west is not the right/true way that we are supposed to be breathing but instead we should do it from the diaphragm (liken unto babies). During my research, I came across Belly Breathing/Diaphragmatic Breathing which I came to find out is "Buddha Belly Breathing" (please forgive me if I come across as ignorant not knowing the true terminology and cultural linguistics).

The very little I have done so far has been amazing but extremely difficult. Inhaling while expanding the stomach (and vice versa) took a lot of concentration while simultaneously trying to keep an erect posture with square shoulders (all while trying to be loose) was/is full of challenges. It made me consider and realize, one how bad my posture is (sad face) and two is it possible to continuously and consistently do this form of breathing throughout the entire day and in all activities? I understand that meditation is about going inwardly, so I know I must take that journey and do the inner work but I pose this question asking if there are people who have done it, are doing it, and would they kindly share any pointers or guidance about their accomplishment(s). This question is open to anyone. Feel free to share howsoever you are led to...Thank you.

(As suggested this question was posed on the Hinduism StackExchange as well)

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    I don't think this is related to Buddhism. Afaik these breathing exercises are closer to other kinds of yoga. May 7 at 9:01
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    Watching the breath and the four establishings of mindfulness is what the Buddha taught. As well as finding pleasure and joy in the breath.
    – arturovm
    May 7 at 12:28
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    He taught something called mindfulness of breathing (anapanasati), it is included in what is called 'mindfulness of the body' (kayagatasati) which is included in what is called 'four establishments of mindfulness' (cattari satipatthana) where four things to be kept in mind is what is meant. May 7 at 14:03
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    I've closed this question as it does not seem to be related to Buddhist philosophy, teachings or practice. If you disagree, please write to me here in the comments.
    – ruben2020
    May 7 at 14:33
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    @ruben2020 Peace be upon you beloved. I thought that breathing technique was a part but was a part of Buddhism but as explained by others see that is not the case. Would you know how I could reformat this question so that it's more in alignment with what the Buddha taught?
    – יהודה
    May 7 at 16:06
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+50

The Buddha discusses mindfulness of breathing here:

MN118:15.1: Mendicants, when mindfulness of breathing is developed and cultivated it is very fruitful and beneficial.

Find a comfortable, quiet place:

MN118:16.1: And how is mindfulness of breathing developed and cultivated to be very fruitful and beneficial?
MN118:17.1: It’s when a mendicant has gone to a wilderness, or to the root of a tree, or to an empty hut. They sit down cross-legged, with their body straight, and establish mindfulness right there.

Westerners normally have pain sitting cross-legged, so you may need a cushion or even a chair to support your body comfortably. A well-supported body is comfortable.

The body should be straight simply because that is comfortable for a long time. A hunched over posture leads to pains in the neck and back. Meditation is also not a military drill where a drill instructor whips out a micrometer to check you against some ideal. The posture should be tranquil:

MN118:35.1: When the body is tranquil and they feel bliss, the mind becomes immersed in samādhi.

Finding a tranquil posture, gently observe your breaths. Note how the breath flows as you breath. And this is important. We observe the breath. We do not struggle with the breath.

MN118:17.2: Just mindful, they breathe in. Mindful, they breathe out.
MN118:18.1: When breathing in heavily they know: ‘I’m breathing in heavily.’ When breathing out heavily they know: ‘I’m breathing out heavily.’
MN118:18.2: When breathing in lightly they know: ‘I’m breathing in lightly.’ When breathing out lightly they know: ‘I’m breathing out lightly.’

As you meditate mindful of the breath, you may notice that breathing slows and deepens to fill more of the lung. This is natural and does not require struggling. Just peacefully meditating, the chest opens up, the shoulders relax, the chin tucks in, the back straightens, the diaphragm moves the breath.

This sounds simple but isn't. The mind races about frantically asking, "is this right? is this working? is this bad? how long do I have to keep doing this?" And that babble of worrisome thoughts feels like a flood. Let the flood go and attend to your breath. A very effective way to attend to your breath is to count your breaths. Counting our breaths is challenging but manageable. If you lose count, start again or keep going. Just count your breaths. Counting is important because counting requires that we note each breath we take.

As mindfulness of breathing increases and deepens, we become aware of breathing throughout the day. We start to notice subtle things. Chopping vegetables we may discover that breathing mindfully can help us from cutting ourselves. Driving our car, we may notice that breathing mindfully stills road rage. Feeling depressed and inadequate, we may find that our gentle breath keeps going on, sustaining and nurturing us through our darkest moments.

May you find peace in your meditation, in your breathing, in all that you do.

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    Peace be upon you. I appreciate the very insightful response and I can bear witness to the change in my day-to-day movements. I definitely am more long-suffering holistically but still needs to be applied.
    – יהודה
    May 11 at 16:57
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Welcome to the community! Before answering your question, I believe some clarification would be helpful.

As the user Buddhism pointed out, specific breathing exercises are more related to other ascetic practices of ancient India. One important component of the Buddha’s discovery of the path to awakening, is the leaving aside of exercises such as these. What the Buddha taught instead was the mindful watching of the breath, as well as the development of the four establishings of mindfulness.

But leaving that aside, to answer: yes, it is possible to maintain a meditative state throughout the day, and it was something that was actually taught by the Buddha. Though I do not practice to that extent myself (I find that it requires a great deal of mindfulness, which I do not have yet), it was the way the Buddha encouraged his disciples to practice, and it is my understanding that modern monastics are encouraged to practice in this same way as well.

I hope this is helpful, and Metta.

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  • Peace be upon you beloved. Thank you for your clarifications and assistance.
    – יהודה
    May 7 at 15:57
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Breathing is taught to extent in some zen schools though what I've been exposed to is a little different than what you're describing. First off, the technique you've mentioned seems a little forced to me. Belly breathing is more about relaxation than it is about simply forcing out your belly. Instead of trying to force air into your abdomen, instead focus on releasing the tension that's prohibiting the air from getting all the way down into your belly. For most people, this means releasing that knot of tension that one often finds in the chest. If it helps, you can visualize a knot at your sternum that releases. What personally helped me was to focus on relaxation and then to put on hand on my chest and another on my abdomen. When we are breathing properly, both hands should rise and fall, not just the hand on your stomach. There really should be no staining. We Belly breath to release tension, not create it.

Once you are able to do that seated, you are certainly welcome to do that off the cushion, just don't be willful about it. Use it to settle your body/mind when you are getting agitated. You don't get a medal for being a perfect belly breather and any effort you might expend in becoming one is likely largely wasted.

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  • Peace and thank you. As I mentioned in the question body above, I realized how unaligned my posture is (round shoulders, slouching). So, I was focused on trying to keep my back straight and shoulders squared. All while doing the breathing exercise, trying to stay loose/calm. I did notice however that when I lay on my back, I do it automatically... At times I do have tightness in my chest/sternum (when I come across things I don't like, that upset me, annoyed, feel arrogant, etc). I know there are answers within but sometimes I make it more difficult than it needs to be.
    – יהודה
    May 10 at 22:18
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    Posture is important, but avoid being rigid. Think of your body as a jacket on a hanger. There is a well defined structure, but ultimately the jacket just hangs. It isn't forced into position. There is no pulling or tension. Don't worry about what your posture looks like. Just don't fold forward at the waist. As you practice and your body naturally relaxes, it will adopt the proper posture all of its own.
    – user21064
    May 10 at 22:37
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    I would also recommend that you avoid looking for answers anywhere - within or without. Just sit and relax. You will be amazed at how far that simple practice can take you.
    – user21064
    May 10 at 22:38

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