I noticed in my practice that I was unable to sustain my attention on breath when it became relatively subtle . Is this because my mindfulness is not mature enough to hold on to subtle objects of meditation? What sort of action could help me to overcome this?

  • Is this an issue with mindfulness or concentration? When you focus on the breath, what aspects are you focusing on? For instance, if you focus on the belly rising, have you tried focusing on a more subtle part (like the breath as it enters the nostrils)? A tighter focus could be helpful for more concentration...
    – R. Barzell
    May 12, 2015 at 20:57
  • 1
    it's an interesting question - when i follow breaths i have at least the sensations of my nose and of the count to focus on. so even if my breath is very calm - even unnoticed, there are other aspects of following the breath which are still present
    – user2512
    May 16, 2015 at 16:50

2 Answers 2


There is nothing wrong with losing your focus of the breath, as long as wherever the mind goes, you are aware of that moment. That is, in my view, perfect practice. You are not restricting yourself to the breath or anything. Which is correct! Wherever the mind goes, it goes... you can't control it. So by simply watching where the attention of the mind falls upon, you are fully focused in the moment. Just like watching a butterfly gently landing onto different flowers, being carried by the wind. We have no idea how strong the wind will blow nor do will know in which direction... but, you can still watch the butterfly attentively, as it lands.

But that's just my view. My understanding of correct practice. Metta.

  • That was a great answer. I like the butterfly-landing-on-flower simile. +1.
    – user2424
    May 13, 2015 at 10:11
  • When should I use " right effort " ? Is there whey I can bring back attention to "breath" or is it not necessary ?
    – nish1013
    May 13, 2015 at 18:40
  • You should use right-effort all the time, otherwise ignorance will appear in some form, resulting in pain and suffering. Using the breath is a very good starting point to increase focus, because it's always there. I would say it is necessary for a beginner to train the mind on the breath, but... if your mind does wander and you notice it moving to something else, then don't use the breath, just stay with the new sensation, whether that is seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching or thinking. However, once the sensation has gone, which it will do, then return to the breath.
    – user476
    May 13, 2015 at 20:23

What you have to do is:

  • realise your mind has wandered away and bring it back. In doing this not the sensations caused by the your attention has gone to. Sensations arising from thought polifration. Apply efforts not to react with craving and clinging maintaining perfect equanimity. Investigate the Dhamma to see arising and passing, i.e., start of sensations, peaking and passing also dividing and dissecting it until you see what it is made of at the level of Kalapas (subatomic particles)
  • until there is breathing there is some more opportunity to calm down the fabrications. Keep looking at it applying sustained and continuous effort. After each in breath reviews if you were with the breath for part breath had stopped (initially a small time like a blink of an eye) and the part that you breathed in. Likewise for the out breath.
  • you have to prepare your self to look at sensations. So focus on touch and bodily sensations on the chosen spot. (Step 5 to 8, 2nd triad.)
  • Also you have to make your self sensitive to all bodies, in order to see subtlest realities pertaining to phenomena at the level of Kalapa. So exercise of looking at the subtlest breath can help increase your sensitivity. Sustained and continuous effort to maintain the focus can help increase concentration.

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