Breath Focus: Advanced Perspectives on a Basic Practice

I’m known as one of the few Buddhist teachers that does not start people out with breath focus. It’s not that I have anything against breath focus, though. In fact, last Saturday I gave a one-day retreat devoted exclusively to that topic. The workshop was at Gil Fronsdal’s Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California.

You can read about the program below and listen to it for free here:

Breath Focus Retreat Part 1
Breath Focus Retreat Parts 2-5

Breath Focus: Advanced Perspectives on a Basic Practice

Breath focus is sometimes considered an elementary starter practice. But with a proper understanding, it can lead all the way to Enlightenment. On the other hand, it can sometimes become a dead end; it calms but fails to bring deep insight and purification even after many years of practice. The purpose of this workshop is to compare and contrast different approaches to breath practice within Buddhism, unpack the mechanisms by which breath practice confers its benefits and describe how attending to the breath can be optimized and directed towards liberation.
Topics covered will include:

  • A clear conceptual model for how breath works as a focus
  • A chance to sample several distinct forms of breath focus
  • A chance to discuss your experiences around breath with a senior teacher
  • Suggestions on how to avoid dead ends
  • How breath practice fits into the broader framework of mindfulness

Preparation instructions that registered students received:
Please read from my article “What is Mindfulness?” the following sections pp. 4-46 (and feel free to read more of the article if you’d like):

  • Section I. Some Useful Distinctions
  • Section II. Noting: A Representative Practice
  • Section III. Towards A Definition of Mindful Awareness