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Metta jhana question

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Metta jhana question
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5/21/19 7:32 PM
My morning meditation sessions always starts with about 10 minutes metta session, first metta toward myself, then toward all beings. 

Almost immediately as I start doing it, nice sensations are felt in my hands and under the nose, and sometimes vibrations in the middle of the body or head.

I've read in Leigh Brasington's book on the jhanas that one accesses the first jhana by focusing on a pleasant sensation, which he identifies as piti. I would tend to choose the ones in the hands, which he says is a common place for many people.

I'm interested in experimenting with accessing jhana with metta, perhaps in my next retreat, which is the first week of upcoming June.

My question is this:

When doing metta as a method for jhana, is it more effective to stay exclusively focused on metta phrases for oneself, or on others? Or doing the usual progression from oneself to others?

Seems to me the progressive method from self to others has too many shifting focuses to induce jhana, and my hunch is that for generating jhana, it is better to stay focus on metta toward self. But I'm not certain about this. 

Anyone with experience using metta for jhana have anything to say on this question?

Thanks,

Benoit

RE: Metta jhana question
Answer
5/22/19 12:01 AM as a reply to Ben V..
Ben V.:


Seems to me the progressive method from self to others has too many shifting focuses to induce jhana, and my hunch is that for generating jhana, it is better to stay focus on metta toward self. But I'm not certain about this. 



Greetings Benoit,

Metta to oneself is a good preparation, however it doesn't lead to jhana. Let me recommend developing jhana toward a good friend or benefactor.

Best wishes!

RE: Metta jhana question
Answer
5/22/19 2:30 AM as a reply to Ben V..
Hi Ben if we are talking about metta to acess Jhana it doesnt matter if you focus on oneself, or on others. What matters is the  pleasent sensation that gets trigged/evoked doing metta and the skill to sustain this sensation in a organic way. At some point you can slowly drop the metta and I switch to beatiful sensation of the breath.

For exemple when Im doing metta Im not saying inner words. In silence I try to feel/to conect with feeling of gratitude, love, compasion etc

RE: Metta jhana question
Answer
5/22/19 6:05 AM as a reply to Jordi.
+1 I agree: use any approach to metta to develop the sensations, then switch to the sensations themselves. I think Brasington also suggests enhancing the pleasuable sensations by lightly smiling. 

Ben, you might want also want to have a stock phrase ready to kinda counter any "super ego" voice that seems to suppress pleasure or happiness. Something like "these pleasuable feelings are noble and healing, for myself and all those I encounter. this practice results in greater sanity and happiness for all beings. May all beings support my practice. May my practice support all beings. May I experience guilt-free delight and joy in support of awakening."  ...or something like that. Many people have a kind of "punitive parent" in their head which seems to come out when delight and enjoyment happens.  

RE: Metta jhana question
Answer
5/22/19 8:30 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Thanks all for all your input! Metta seems to be the way for me to experience samatha jhanas. Breath meditation automatically triggers pure vipassana when I do it.

Shargrol, you read my mind! I can get piti (the physical manifestations Brasington talks about) but as for the background sukkha he talks about (feeling of emotional joy), there is very often a subtle and annoying part of the mind that feels like some guilt that prevents fully soaking in it, and even preventing the sukkha from becoming strong.

I will learn your sentences by heart and I think I'll even write it on a paper to put it close to my meditation cushion!

RE: Metta jhana question
Answer
5/23/19 6:42 AM as a reply to Ben V..
heh, yeah I had the same guilty experience...

oh, I'm remembering another thing that worked for me: sharing the metta. So when I'm sitting and the metta feeling comes on, I switch to "may I be well" on the inhale and bringing metta feeling to the body, and "may all others be well" on the exhale and feeling like I'm radiating metta to the world. The trick here is to radiate well, you need to keep the glowing going in yourself -- so don't entirely lose the metta feeling as you radiate. (And this helps get past the guilt tendency because you're sharing it.). After a while, you feeling like a big glowing lighthouse of metta, beaming it around to everyone, even the beings in the farthest reaches of the universe.   emoticon