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Wall of Shamatha: My Concentration

Wall of Shamatha: My Concentration
4/8/19 7:41 AM
Wall of Shamatha: My Concentration

Hello all! It is always great to get to engage with such a wonderful community. 

So a large majority of my early practice was Zazen & Shamatha. I seemed to have sort of a knack for it, but in recently I have seemed to hit a wall. I believe that it is that I have passed the first Jhana and am resting in that state. 

The problem is, that while I recognize the pleasure and bliss that is arising from this state, something is nagging me that I should go back and restart this whole process but instead do almost strictly vipassana and insight based practice. 

Does anyone have any advice for hitting a wall in practice and going back to level out there insight & concentration faculties? I feel as though that of the paths described by the Buddha to get to awakening, I am more naturally drawn to the Vipassana and Jhana at the same time path than any other. Any advice would be greatly appreciated

RE: Wall of Shamatha: My Concentration
4/8/19 9:36 AM as a reply to Silas Day.
howdy silas,its been quite a while since i've been here and even longer since i've commented but for part of your question my answer would be as follows:

if you are stuck at the first jhana it was helpful for me to remember that to move on to the second jhana we need to drop something.  usually this happes somewhat on its own.  that something is rapture or piti.

while we are generally focusing on the good vibes in schamatha thove vibes themselves become annoying and so dropping them becomes the natural choice.  the focus of concentration then slips from the grosser vibrations of pity to happiness, you concentrate on the happiness itself rather than the precedent piti in whatever form it rises in your case.

as far as the more general question about shamatha / vipassana mix i think there are good arguments either way and so its up to you to know what you should be working on.  for me it is pretty easy to start a sit with the intention of marching throught the stages of insight using noting without haveing to worry about blissing out and getting off track.  On the other hand my Jhana practice, was often limited by the intrusion of my almost automatic vippasanizing :-)

See what works for you.  Do alternate sits and see if you can really stick to the theme you have chosen for that sit.  That might help you see where any deficits might be.

have fun

RE: Wall of Shamatha: My Concentration
4/8/19 10:00 AM as a reply to tom moylan.
Can I ask you another question about Shamatha while you are here? 

I have noticed a real sense of "Thickness" in time & space when i get into a good flow of concentration practice. like the air is made of corn syrup and time condenses down into just the space around me. When the bliss and happiness do arrive it is like I can make it last longer and make it go deeper with intention and effort by simply focusing in on specific aspects of it that present themselves to me. 

Is focusing on the specific aspect of happiness as a thing that arises from nowhere and goes to nowhere a good object of practice to get to the second jhana? Thanks so much for the response. I feel like i have the opposite problem where I tend to shamatha-ize my vipassana 

RE: Wall of Shamatha: My Concentration
4/8/19 1:09 PM as a reply to Silas Day.
everyone is wired differently so its no surprise that your talents lie otherwhere than mine.
your descriptions of time, space etc. as becoming viscous when your concentration deepens is not the way i experience those phases but that doesn't matter so much.

my approach seems to me simpler, not necessarily better, than what you propose. 

my simple instruction would be that once you know that you are in the first jhana, recognize the components of that which need to fade into the background (effort and fascination with piti) and try to focus in an open and accepting way on the FEELING of happiness.  What is the essence of that feeling?  You may try to foster that FEELING by conciously thinking before your sit about people or objects in your day to day life which evoke that feeling.  But it is the soft subtle openness to that feeling which will allow the effort to fall away as well as the piti.