Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Diguju breath: a gentle, sustainable way to keep the spine straight in meditation

4๐Ÿ‘‘☸ Cattฤri Ariya-saccaแนƒ ๅ››่–่ซฆ

16๐ŸŒฌ️๐Ÿ˜ค Diguju

16 APS Diguju Breath

 [0.1] ๐Ÿž️ (to the) wilderness-(he)-went, or
๐ŸŒฒ (to the) tree-root-(he)-went, or
๐Ÿ•️ (to the) empty-dwelling-(he)-went, **
[0.2] sits down
[0.3] ๐Ÿง˜ (into)-cross-leg-posture (he)-bends,
[0.4] ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ“ straightened body (he)-aspires (to),
[0.5] ๐ŸŒฌ️๐Ÿ˜ค Near-(the)-mouth, remembrance he-establishes.
[0.6] ๐Ÿ˜ He, Always-a-rememberer, breathes in;
Always-a-rememberer, breathes out.

(1) long ** breathing-in, 'long (I) am-breathing-in' (he) discerns;
long ** breathing-out, 'long (I) am-breathing-out' (he) discerns;
(2) short ** breathing-in, 'short (I) am-breathing-in' (he) discerns;
short ** breathing-out, 'short (I) am-breathing-out' (he) discerns;
(3) ๐Ÿƒ '(the) entire-body: sensitive-to (it), (I) will-breathe-in.' (Thus he) trains.
๐Ÿƒ (the) entire-body: sensitive-to (it), (I) will-breathe-out.' (Thus he) trains.
(4) ๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿƒ 'pacifying bodily-co-doing, (I) will-breathe-in.' (Thus he) trains.
๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿƒ pacifying bodily-co-doing, (I) will-breathe-out.' (Thus he) trains.

What is Diguju breath?

Dig'uju is a contraction for
- "Digha" (long) breath, representing step 1 and step 2 of 16 APS, and
- "Ujum" (straightend) body referenced in step [0.4].
It's just a term I made up for convenience, to describe an STED 16 APS breathing technique based on SN 54.1 and SN 54.2 . Now this specific technique is not explicitly described in the suttas, but it's just one of many ways you can combine the kaya-passaddhi of passaddhi-sambojjhangam, along with the first 4 steps in 16 APS.

Why should I use Diguju Breath?

Combining 7sb's passaddhi-sambojjhanga with first 4 steps of 16APS to make the breath comfortable and gently straighten the spine naturally and sustainably. This is also a great practice for your overall health, to frequently incorporate this breathing technique and fight the body's lazy natural tendency to breathe using less of our lung capacity as we age, resulting in declining oxygen and waste removal of carbon dioxide as we get older.

Ajahn Lee's Method 2, step 4.

(quoting from his book)
4. Learn four ways of adjusting the breath:
a. in long and out long,
b. in long and out short,
c. in short and out long,
d. in short and out short.

Breathe whichever way is most comfortable for you. Or, better yet, learn to breathe comfortably all four ways, because your physical condition and your breath are always changing.

So the main portion of Diguju breath, is an ingenius method devised by Ajahn Lee.

Theravada disagrees

The traditional Theravada commentary says that steps one and two, one is simply to observe the breath as it is, whether it's long or short, not to intentionally make the breath into a long or short breath. Their justification is that in steps one and two, the instructions say "pajanati" rather than the "he trains himself" in the other 14 steps. We'll never know for sure without asking the Buddha or one of his disciples, but the instructions are terse enough that it doesn't say anything to suggest there's anything wrong with intentionally breathing in long or short when there is a need for it.

But the fact of the matter is whether you choose to interpret steps 1 and 2 according to Theravada, or not, SN 54.2 clearly gives you license to mix and match 7sb and 16APS in any combination to serve a useful purpose. So we could simply take step 4, pacifying the breath, and combine that with factor #5 passadhi-sambojjhangam of 7sb to justify Ajahn Lee's "breathe in any combination of long and short to make the breath pacified and comfortable."

But you're better off taking the liberal approach

Because since you have 16 APS memorized and you chant it every day, then every time you chant steps 1 and 2 you'll be reminded you can apply the Diguju breath as part of your toolkit. If you take the Theravada interpretation, you're just chanting some beginner training wheels that become useless heavy baggage you have to carry around with you all the time. So what would rather do, make step 1 and 2 useful for all levels of practice, or chant useless lines every time you recite the sutta?

2nd part of Diguju Breath

So the first part, the main part of Diguju is essentially Ajahn Lee's ingenius method described above. The 2nd part, is what happens when you push the limits of experimenting with that.

Each breath has 4 parts

1. inhale
2. space between inhale and exhale
3. exhale
4. space between exhale and next inhale

what % of lung capacity do we use?

According to science, "In healthy people without chronic lung disease, even at maximum exercise intensity, we only use 70 percent of the possible lung capacity." It didn't say what % of the lungs we use when we're being sedentary, but I would guess our normal resting calm breath is probably between 30% - 60%.

Taking 1. inhale to the limit

When we start yawning and feeling lethargic, according to science this is response to lack of oxygen and a build up of carbon dioxide. If we're too relaxed and breathing too shallow (maybe 30% of our lung capacity), this is obviously something that playing with Diguju breath can help out. So I've made a conscious effort to consciously expand the range of my lung capacity by pushing the limit of my inhales. Not every breath, and not always taking it to a point where it feels strained or uncomfortable, but in a relaxed gentle way that I'm steadily expanding my limits. If you experiment with slow deep breathing, you'll be amazed how far and how long you can make the ribcage expand on a single breath.

Taking 3. exhale to the limit

Our normal exhales are shallow. The deeper you exhale, the more your belly button compresses toward your spine. Again, as with the inhale, I don't always use strong effort and muscular strength to push out all the carbon dioxide out of my lungs and body. But I do try to extend my current limit, using gentle relaxed effort, to exhale deeper and longer than usual.

[0.4] ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿ“ Ujum/straightened body

I first learned this trick with ujjayi (victorious) breath in hatha yoga many decades ago. If you breathe in a long and deep inhale, filling your lung capacity, your spine, ribcage, and whole body expands like a balloon. On an exhale, the spine gently compresses into a relaxed state, but retains some of the lengthening and expansion from the inhale. So in sitting meditation, whenever your sitting posture starts to get a little crooked or fatigued, this is a great way to put the finishing touches on massaging your spine and body into a straight posture that's sustainable. You just use as many Diguju breaths to inflate your body until it's gently aligned into a comfortable relaxed straight posture that feels like it will hold itself up, like a balloon without leaks. Or like pumping up a flat tire.

as opposed to using force and tension

As opposed to the unskilled response of using force and muscle to beat the body into a ram rod straight posture. The results of straightening by tension is not sustainble, and will make your body sore and achy.

☸ Lucid 24.org ๐Ÿ˜

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