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Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 7/20/19 12:27 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 7/18/19 7:24 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Walter_Sobchakheit 7/18/19 12:01 PM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 7/18/19 12:10 PM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Walter_Sobchakheit 7/18/19 12:49 PM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Metta4 9/10/19 9:33 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 7/18/19 1:39 PM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Milo 7/19/19 12:12 PM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 7/19/19 11:50 PM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Dream Walker 7/20/19 12:48 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 7/20/19 1:36 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Dream Walker 7/20/19 8:59 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Dream Walker 7/20/19 10:45 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 7/21/19 2:02 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Dream Walker 7/21/19 4:28 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Dream Walker 7/21/19 4:42 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 7/21/19 7:07 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 7/21/19 7:04 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 7/22/19 1:06 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 7/22/19 1:53 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/22/19 3:09 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 7/22/19 3:51 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/22/19 7:12 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 7/22/19 5:49 PM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/22/19 6:09 PM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 7/20/19 12:38 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Milo 7/20/19 12:48 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 7/20/19 1:31 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Milo 7/22/19 12:48 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 8/3/19 11:44 PM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 7/27/19 7:39 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/27/19 8:25 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 8/12/19 5:12 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 8/14/19 3:52 PM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Chris Marti 8/14/19 4:00 PM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/14/19 4:05 PM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Milo 8/14/19 11:33 PM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 8/14/19 11:54 PM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 8/15/19 3:01 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Milo 8/15/19 1:58 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 8/15/19 7:22 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 8/16/19 1:55 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 8/16/19 2:04 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 8/24/19 12:14 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Joe 9/10/19 10:55 PM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 9/11/19 12:05 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 9/11/19 12:58 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 8/15/19 8:37 AM
RE: Soft Jhana Thread Jim Smith 8/16/19 7:15 PM
Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/20/19 12:27 AM
This thread is for discussions about the soft jhanas.

By soft jhana I mean techniques similar to what Leigh Brasington teaches:
http://www.leighb.com/jhana3.htm
http://www.leighb.com/jhana2a.htm

Whenever the word "jhana" is used in this thread it should be understood to mean "soft jhana". If you want to refer to the hard jhanas you should use the word "hard".

Everyone is welcome to participate whether you practice jhaas or not, and whether you have experienced one or more of them or not.

And of course if you want to start another thread to discuss soft jhanas, I am not implying you should not.

(I will start things off with a question in a following post ....)

Here are some links that might be of interest:

The Path of Concentration & Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/concmind.html

Reinterpreting the Jhanas RODERICK S. BUCKNELL Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies Volume 16, Number 2, Winter 1993 (pdf)
https://journals.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/index.php/jiabs/article/download/8818/2725

Jhana Wars! Pt. 1 What is Jhana Really?
https://simplesuttas.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/jhana-wars-pt-1-what-the-heck-is-jhana-a-first-pass/

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/18/19 7:24 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
(I have described how I meditate on my practice log.)

I want to ask, if there are others here who practice the soft jhanas, if you have any tricks for getting into the first jhana.

I consider there is more to the first jhana than just feeling bliss. (I don't mean to impose this on anyone else's practice. I am just saying for myself. I dont claim to be an authority.)

Leigh Brasington believes the intense states of bliss are produced by setting up a feedback loop in the brain.
I agree and I think it is possible to produce the bliss that way without being in a jhana. 
(I mentioned elsewhere that I think producing bliss is dependent on giving the brain proper nutrition to produce the required neurotransmiters)

I recognize entering each jhana by means of an experience where I feel a kind of an alterted state coming over me. Like my brain switches into a different state. It is a little bit like when you are meditating and you may feel a wave of drowsiness flow over your whole body. But it is not drowsiness, it is the state particular to each jhana. You feel something change. Like a scene changes in a movie. Sometimes I hear a sound during the transition. Sometimes the transition is more subtle sometimes it is less subtle. Sometimes this happens a few minutes after I start meditating, sometimes, if I am stressed out, it does not happen and try some relaxation exercises before meditating again. 


So one question is, do others have this experience? 

And do you know any tricks for entering the first jhana when you are stressed?

One thing I like about going into jhanas is that I cannot be in it if I am not very relaxed (I find being relaxed is more important than access concentration) so I use it as a kind of indicator that I am relaxed. If I stop meditating after entering the jhanas I am in a state that is very relaxed and peaceful and I like to maintain that state as much as possible during daily life. Over time I am developing the skill of abstaining from attachments and aversions that sepearate me from that state. It is like a kind of bio-feedback system for learning to let go.  I notice the physical sensations in my body that accompany emotions. And if I label each type of attachment and aversion I observe, it is a kind of noting practice. In its way it is a kind of insight meditation - not just wallowing in bliss. And this is during everyday activities not just sitting meditation. The Jhanas prepare you, put you in a suitable state,  for doing insight.

But sometimes if I experience something stressful it is hard to relax and get back into the jhanas, so I am wondering, if anyone knows any tricks on how to get into the first jhana, it might be a good method for relaxing or letting go. My method, I mentioned above is to try relaxaton exercises before meditating.


Thanks...
(If anyone has questions about something I wrote or would like more info please ask.)

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/18/19 12:01 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Metta-jhana can help lighten the mind when it's too tight or stressed and can definitely produce at least the first 3 jhanas. 

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/18/19 12:10 PM as a reply to Walter_Sobchakheit.
Walter_Sobchakheit:
Metta-jhana can help lighten the mind when it's too tight or stressed and can definitely produce at least the first 3 jhanas. 


What is metta-jhana? 

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/18/19 12:49 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Essentially, it's practicing metta in a way that develops concentration and the jhanic factors. My teacher, George Haas (www.mettagroup.org), teaches it as a 'dry' metta practice. So, focusing the attention on the mind-state of kindness (usually somewhere inside the head) as opposed to a 'wet' metta that may be more focused on an emotional response in the body.

Here's a simple instruction:

1. Sit in a comfortable position
2. Bring to mind a person who naturally brings with them the mind-state of kindness (traditionally, this would be teacher/mentor/benefactor)
3. Hold a mental image of that person in your mind's eye while keeping the attention on the mind-state of kindness
4. To support the practice and keep the mind occupied more fully, repeat a simple phrase to remind yourself of your intention (ex: May you be peaceful, May you be peaceful, ......)
5. If the mind wanders away into thinking, refresh the image and mind-state and continue the practice
6. As concentration increases and jhanic factors arise, it may be necessary to drop the phrases and/or image

I've found that the jhanas generated through metta come on faster and are somewhat stronger than those from standard breath meditation. It also acts as an antidote to a contractive mind because the mind-state of metta is open, clear, and cool. It is a good way to concentrate as well as prime the mind with kindness. My teacher begins all of his retreats with a few days of this metta practice, and claims that there are much fewer roadblocks that yogis run into afterward.

Below is a link to one my teacher's talks about metta jhana...

https://www.mettagroup.org/podcast/2018/1/29/metta-jhana

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/18/19 1:39 PM as a reply to Walter_Sobchakheit.
Walter_Sobchakheit:
Metta-jhana can help lighten the mind when it's too tight or stressed and can definitely produce at least the first 3 jhanas. 

This sounds like a great suggestion. I will try it.

Thanks

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/19/19 12:12 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Hi Jim,

Lots of stuff I could discuss here but I'll just jump in on how to more easily enter 1st jhana. Basically that just boils down to 'be more relaxed.' A lot of times we're not consciously aware of what's impeding. Specific techniques I've used to deal with this include: move to a secluded area where you feel comfortable, do a body scan before meditation, start out on a guided meditation, practice some minor austerities such as abstaining from alcohol for a while, make a small ritual about how you arrange your pillow or say thanks to Buddha or whatever (Ritual relaxes the mind), practice metta, and one of the most powerful techniques for me personally: after you have been observing the breath for a while, gently investigate each of the five hindrances for whatever may be subtly impeding you. Other than that it's practice and consistency as well as finding a balance between inclining yourself towards jhana but not grasping too hard at it.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/19/19 11:50 PM as a reply to Milo.
Milo:
Other than that it's practice and consistency as well as finding a balance between inclining yourself towards jhana but not grasping too hard at it.

Yes. Trying too hard or wanting too much just creates stress which interferes rather than helps.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/20/19 12:38 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
I am wondering about a path to awakening using the soft jhanas. In the sutras I have read that you meditate through all the jhanas and then the next step is awakening.

Are there other recognized paths? Because to me, the natural progression seems like:
  • Practicing the soft jhanas shows you how to produce a pleasant emotional state.
  • If you try, you can learn to do this during daily activities not just meditation.
  • During sitting meditation and during daily activities, when the mind is in a pleasant emotional state and is calmed by meditation, you can see in contrast unpleasant reactions arising (clinging to attachments and aversions) and you have the opportunity to relax (let go) and stay with the pleasant calm state instead of automatically going with the unpleasant reactions.
  • Developing this skill more and more would seem to be a gradual approach to ending suffering - ending mental anguish - by learning how to not get drawn into it.
The more I practice this way the more "emotional baggage" and habitual reactions I seem to be clearing away. There's stuff that is fading in a natural gradual way that I thought I would need some type of transformational experience to become free of.

Is there a recognized gradual path through mindfulness in daily life that does not involve deep states and transformative experiences in sitting meditation?

What do you think?

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/20/19 12:48 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Yeah using jhana practice to amplify vipassana is how I approached a lot of my own practice and it seems to work well. One potential pitfall I would be aware of is to be sure you don't ignore vipassana, which can be tempting as you gain skill with jhana. Jhana can improve the effectiveness of vipassana, but can't replace it. As for hard jhana vs soft jhana, I personally find the distinction less and less meaningful the more I practice, though YMMV of course.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/20/19 12:48 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith- "I want to ask, if there are others here who practice the soft jhanas, if you have any tricks for getting into the first jhana."

Try this hack and see what happens. Breath less, surf the edge where you almost want to gasp but then take a longer breath, then go back to short breaths then long ones again as needed. Know the short and long breaths as they happen-all the way thru the breath, investigate every moment of this intensity of surfing that fine edge of breathing as short and shallow. Don't overdo it to where you actually gasp or start doing all long breaths, but if you do, just fine tune it to fix it. Try 10-20 minutes.

Carbon dioxide buildup is a natural vasodilator...veins and arteries will open up increasing blood flow as well as relaxing other related body parts. 

Next move the attention of the breath to the stomach.  Stop with the short and long breath and let it be natural. Imagine yourself on a swingset with each breath. Cultivate the pleasure of that tickle in the belly as you swing, each breath/swing increase the pleasure as well as the focus on the pleasure.

Play with these instructions and see what works,  be curios and enjoy the process of play, see how big the 'ball' of pleasure in the stomach gets, move it around if you want, how stable? How intense? Does it ebb and flow over time or is it linearly stonger? Hahahaha, so much fun stuff to to explore.

Good luck,
~D

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/20/19 1:31 AM as a reply to Milo.
Milo:
 ... One potential pitfall I would be aware of is to be sure you don't ignore vipassana, which can be tempting as you gain skill with jhana. Jhana can improve the effectiveness of vipassana, but can't replace it. ...

Would you explain what you mean by vipassana in this context? There are various types of vipassana meditation. Did you have anything in particular in mind? I just want to make sure I am not missing something...

Thanks.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/20/19 1:36 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
...
Carbon dioxide buildup is a natural vasodilator...veins and arteries will open up increasing blood flow as well as relaxing other related body parts. 
...


I had read that exhaling slowly throgh pursed lips is a good way to counteract hyperventilation (too little CO2 in the blood) - which can happen during meditation. It increases CO2 levels. I also found it was a very powerful breathing technique for relaxing. 

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/20/19 8:59 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:
Dream Walker:
...
Carbon dioxide buildup is a natural vasodilator...veins and arteries will open up increasing blood flow as well as relaxing other related body parts. 
...


I had read that exhaling slowly throgh pursed lips is a good way to counteract hyperventilation (too little CO2 in the blood) - which can happen during meditation. It increases CO2 levels. I also found it was a very powerful breathing technique for relaxing. 
Yep, it gets your body relaxed, but also the intensity of surfing that edge of slight oxygen starvation really gets the mind to concentrate on the sensations of breath as well as increasing the 'knowing/monitoring' of the moment to moment sensations - that is vipassana and training of metacognition. If you wish also look for any sensations that seem to be permanent, you, or satisfy. If you find anything like that notice it and maybe lock on it to explore for a bit.
Good luck,
~D

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/20/19 10:45 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
BTW, a hack is like a race car, it took me a long time to build this but it looks so simple when its finished. Stop kicking the tires and get in and tell me how it handles. Remember you can drive a race car like a regular car but the inverse is not true. The only way to tell the difference is to drive it and see how it differs.

~D

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/21/19 2:02 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:

(I mentioned elsewhere that I think producing bliss is dependent on giving the brain proper nutrition to produce the required neurotransmiters)




Jim Smith:
When you eat carbohydrates it raises blood sugar levels which causes the body to produce insulin. When you eat protein and it is digested, tryptophan is released from the protein. One effect of insulin is to increase tryptophan uptake by the brain. Tryptophan is used by the brain in serotonin production. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, one effect of serotonin is to produce a good mood.

However if you eat too much protein it can interfere with tryptophan uptake by the brain.
If you eat too much carbohydrates it can cause insulin resistence, low blood sugar as an after effect of a large insulin spike, anxiety as a consequence of low blood sugar (stress hormones are used to tell the body to release sugar into the bloodstream), depression as a consequence of anxiety (stress hormones can reduce serotonin levels) weight gain, and diabetes.

So you see it is very complicated and that is why I am reluctant to give unsolicited advice - it can cause problems.


I was reading a book, "Foods That Cause You to Lose Weight" buy Neal Barnard M.D. which says:

3. Carbohydrate Craving. There is a group of people who have a particular craving for carbohydrates. It is not because of their taste; the foods can be either sweet or starchy. It is apparently due to an effect carbohydrates have on brain chemistry. Carbohydrates boost a brain chemical called serotonin, which is important in brain functions, including sleep and mood regulation. Most antidepressants increase serotonin levels in the brain, among other actions. One theory is that carbohydrate cravers have naturally low levels of serotonin and, so, tend to be depressed. They eat large quantities of carbohydrates because they have noticed that it helps them to feel better.

That is the theory. Here is the chemistry behind it. Carbohydrates break down in the body to sugars, which, in turn, stimulate insulin secretion. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas. It helps get sugar out of the bloodstream and into the cells of the body. Now that is not all insulin does. It also helps amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, to get out of the bloodstream and into the cells. So, after a carbohydrate-rich meal, insulin drives the sugar and the amino acids out of the blood and into the cells.

Now here is the interesting part: As the insulin drives the amino acids out of the blood, it leaves behind one particular amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan stays behind because it is stuck to a large carrier molecule. Without all the other amino acids around, tryptophan has less competition for getting into the brain. So the tryptophan passes into the brain, where it is converted to serotonin, which can alter moods, and cause sleepiness. The bottom line is that carbohydrate-rich meals increase serotonin in the brain. Carbohydrate cravers tend to become depressed in the winter months when the days are short. Food may help normalize their brain chemistry.
(Off topic: I am not advocating the diet in that book, I am not a vegetarian. The books recommends getting 15% of your daily calorie intake from fat - which I am trying. Supposedly carbohydrates are not usually converted into fat by the body, and the body is always using some fat for energy, so if you eat less fat than you burn you can still loose weight while eating enough carbs to feel full (and give your brain a serotonin boost). I don't know if this way of losing weight will really work but I am trying it.)


Jim Smith:
I am wondering about a path to awakening using the soft jhanas. In the sutras I have read that you meditate through all the jhanas and then the next step is awakening. 

Are there other recognized paths? Because to me, the natural progression seems like: 
  • Practicing the soft jhanas shows you how to produce a pleasant emotional state. 
  • If you try, you can learn to do this during daily activities not just meditation. 
  • During sitting meditation and during daily activities, when the mind is in a pleasant emotional state and is calmed by meditation, you can see in contrast unpleasant reactions arising (clinging to attachments and aversions) and you have the opportunity to relax (let go) and stay with the pleasant calm state instead of automatically going with the unpleasant reactions. 
  • Developing this skill more and more would seem to be a gradual approach to ending suffering - ending mental anguish - by learning how to not get drawn into it. 
The more I practice this way the more "emotional baggage" and habitual reactions I seem to be clearing away. There's stuff that is fading in a natural gradual way that I thought I would need some type of transformational experience to become free of.

Is there a recognized gradual path through mindfulness in daily life that does not involve deep states and transformative experiences in sitting meditation?

What do you think?


For those who are reading this but do not practice the jhanas, I should add that you don't necessarily need to produce the jhanas or intense bliss to practice this way. If you can meditate in a way that produces a pleasant, relaxed, quiet mind that would be enough. Even many types of relaxation exercises will do this, they require concentration and have much in common with meditation. The bit above on nutrition might help. Also this article on my blog might help too.

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2018/04/the-parasympathetic-nervous-system-and.html
"Turning Off Stress: The Parasympathetic Nervous System And Spiritual Development"

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/21/19 4:28 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
What were the results of practice if I may ask? I can not fine tune advice without deadicated practitioners such as yourself.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/21/19 4:42 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Oh my goodness, I followed your links, you are asking for very simple hacks though you are obviously not a begginer. Thank you for writing so much. It will no doubt help those who are willing to explore your opinions.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/21/19 7:04 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
What were the results of practice if I may ask? I can not fine tune advice without deadicated practitioners such as yourself.


I am not sure what you are asking? I am finding I am able to let go of attachments and aversion more and more and I am developing equinimity more and more. Certain stressful situations that I thought would always bother me, that I thought I would always have to let fade naturally when the situation was over, I am beginning to be able to let go of by returning to the pleasant relaxed state I have cultivated through the soft jhanas.

I wrote:
The more I practice this way the more "emotional baggage" and habitual reactions I seem to be clearing away. There's stuff that is fading in a natural gradual way that I thought I would need some type of transformational experience to become free of.



I also wrote this in my practice log.


I also noticed a new kind of feeling. When my mind is calm from meditation and my body relaxed, there are very few thoughts and emotions arising and very little tension in response to unpleasant thoughts and emotions. If I observe, waiting for the next thought or emotion to arise, I see there is very little activity. I have done this many times in the past but what is new is that I have begun to notice a feeling like something is missing, like there is a gap, a hole, like an emptiness, like no one is home. Like if another person would say something unpleasant, there wouldn't be anyone to be offended. It is not like dissociation. In dissociation the observer is watching the actor. Here it feels like there is no actor.

I am not implying this is significant. I am just describing my experiences in case anyone is interested, or wants to try to reproduce the experience, or wants to discuss it.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/21/19 7:07 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
Oh my goodness, I followed your links, you are asking for very simple hacks though you are obviously not a begginer. Thank you for writing so much. It will no doubt help those who are willing to explore your opinions.


My practice is very simple. 

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/22/19 1:06 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
What were the results of practice if I may ask? I can not fine tune advice without deadicated practitioners such as yourself.


I practiced the soft jhanas sitting, lying down, walking, washing the dishes, etc until producing the pleasant relaxed feelling is almost second nature, it is almost a habit intertwined with breathing. It didn't take a lot of self discipline because it felt good to do it. Now when the mind decides to throw fear, at me, or when it decides to throw anger at me, or when it decides to throw hatred at me, with the very next exhalation or inhalation, I contradict it, "No, fear is not reality, here (breathing) is a pleasant relaxed reality". "Anger is not reality, here (breathing) is a pleasant relaxed reality". "Hatred is not reality, here (breathing) is a pleasant relaxed reality". Wanting is not reality. Disliking is not reality. Dissatisfaction is not reality. Stress is not reality. Whatever the mind throws at me, in the next breath there is always another possible reality, a pleasant relaxed reality.  

It is like there is an epic battle going on, a war. My mind wants to control relaity but gradually I am gaining more and more power to resist  the habitual unpleasant reality the mind has, over a lifetime, been trained to create.

Many things I always thought of as unpleasant I no longer think of as unplesant because instead of anticipating and experiencing them as unpleasant, I anticipate and experience them in a pleasant relaxed way.

If I had the opportunity to define awakening in a new philosophical system, I would say awakening is a long process that begins the first time you experience that first glimmer of successful resistence against the habitual unpleasntness of the mind. That is when you realize it was always an illusion. It doesn't mean you have conquered the illusion and are immediately and totally free from suffering. It means you see how the habitual reactions can be challenged, that they are not your fate, that there is a path to freedom.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/22/19 1:53 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:

I practiced the soft jhanas sitting, lying down, walking, washing the dishes, etc until producing the pleasant relaxed feelling is almost second nature, it is almost a habit intertwined with breathing. It didn't take a lot of self discipline because it felt good to do it. ...


When I asked Daniel Ingram how noting lead to awakening, if I remember correctly he said (paraphrasing): It uses the natural inclination of the mind to analyze which is often an obstacle and channels it in a useful way.

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/8850868?_19_delta=20&_19_keywords=&_19_advancedSearch=false&_19_andOperator=true&_19_resetCur=false&_19_cur=5#_19_message_8975159
Daniel M. Ingram:
If you get good at mobilizing brain attention centers to converge and synchronize on experience, such that they finally all converge perfectly on a complete moment and follow it together to its end, Cessation results.

Noting practice (and the rapid noticing practices that come after it, see Practical Insight Meditation, found on the wiki here and various other places) help one notice experience, using what is ordinarly a distraction (thinking) to instead begin to ground the mind in what is occurring.

As it is by comprehending clearly what is occurring in experience that Cessation finally results, Noting (and the rapid noticing that follows in that style of practice) helps create the conditions for Cessation.

If you want a more complete explanation, might check out MCTB2, where I talk about Equanimity and the fourth vipassana jhana.


In my practice I have channeled the natural inclination of the mind to seek pleasure which is often an obstacle  and channeled it in a useful way.


https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.036.than.html

MN 36 PTS: M i 237
Maha-Saccaka Sutta: The Longer Discourse to Saccaka
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 2008

I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. Could that be the path to Awakening?' Then following on that memory came the realization: 'That is the path to Awakening.' I thought: 'So why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities?' I thought: 'I am no longer afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities, but that pleasure is not easy to achieve with a body so extremely emaciated. Suppose I were to take some solid food: some rice & porridge.' So I took some solid food: some rice & porridge.

The bit about the rice & porridge is interesting in relation to what I wrote above about carbohydrates.


Shodo Harada Roshi quoted at Man on Cloud Mountain:
https://enlightenmentward.wordpress.com/2010/03/22/man-on-cloud-mountain-shodo-harada-roshi-segment-4-of-7-transcript/
I had been crushing myself and making myself miserable worrying about this problem of my enlightenment and realizing it for myself making my self come to a conclusion that was, in fact, found in the living of every single day. If I did nothing, if I didn’t even worry about my problems things always came to me. And those things that came to me in every single day, to accept those was my training and my way of expressing my enlightened mind. No matter what it was that came to me every day, the next thing that came, the next situation I found myself in, to live that totally as my training was what I had to do. Not to go isolate myself up on a mountain closed off from everyone, turning them all away and worrying about my own small state of mind. That wasn’t the point at all. But to go and be what every day brought to me that was my practice and my expression of my enlightenment.


My purpose for including the above quote is to show someone saying that practice is in everyday life not just sitting meditation.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/22/19 12:48 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
I mean some method of examining the 3 characteristics/three marks of phenomena (Impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, non-self). Specifically for me when using jhanas like you mentioned, that takes the form of a number of exercises such as carefully following the chain of dependent origination of thoughts from contact up to the formation of the "I", and suffering, and in the other direction back to ignorance; careful observation and deconstruction of mental objects/formations, observing where they come from and how much weight they have in suffering relative to actual contact; observing the relationship between the mind and body (Are they the same thing, different?); Observing the formation of thoughts, their origin, lifecycle, and passing away in the mind; linking that more generally to the arising and passing away of all phenomena, and especially formations in the mind; observing the solidity or not of sensations and how mutable or not they are; observing the relationship between that focused point of attention you maintain in the jhanas and what sensations become real to the mind at what time... These are some ideas to try out (One at a time). Hope that helps!

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/22/19 3:09 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:

I practiced the soft jhanas sitting, lying down, walking, washing the dishes, etc until producing the pleasant relaxed feelling is almost second nature, it is almost a habit intertwined with breathing. It didn't take a lot of self discipline because it felt good to do it. Now when the mind decides to throw fear, at me, or when it decides to throw anger at me, or when it decides to throw hatred at me, with the very next exhalation or inhalation, I contradict it, "No, fear is not reality, here (breathing) is a pleasant relaxed reality". "Anger is not reality, here (breathing) is a pleasant relaxed reality". "Hatred is not reality, here (breathing) is a pleasant relaxed reality". Wanting is not reality. Disliking is not reality. Dissatisfaction is not reality. Stress is not reality. Whatever the mind throws at me, in the next breath there is always another possible reality, a pleasant relaxed reality.  

It is like there is an epic battle going on, a war. My mind wants to control relaity but gradually I am gaining more and more power to resist  the habitual unpleasant reality the mind has, over a lifetime, been trained to create.

Many things I always thought of as unpleasant I no longer think of as unplesant because instead of anticipating and experiencing them as unpleasant, I anticipate and experience them in a pleasant relaxed way.


This could be exactly what curious adviced me to do in my practice log. I think I do this sometimes but very inconsistently. Maybe I could cultivate this more. I don’t think I’m quite as prone to feeling pleasure, though, but also not quite as prone to constant analysis as Daniel. I seem to be prone to inconsistency. Is there a way to use that liability as a strength too? Maybe that’s what I’m doing when I trust the process to know the way. It would be really cool to have constant access to pleasure in daily life, though, and use that for gaining perspective.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/22/19 3:51 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:


This could be exactly what curious adviced me to do in my practice log. I think I do this sometimes but very inconsistently. Maybe I could cultivate this more. I don’t think I’m quite as prone to feeling pleasure, though, but also not quite as prone to constant analysis as Daniel. I seem to be prone to inconsistency. Is there a way to use that liability as a strength too? Maybe that’s what I’m doing when I trust the process to know the way. It would be really cool to have constant access to pleasure in daily life, though, and use that for gaining perspective.

If you want to experience producing a pleasant mental state, the next time you are naturally happy sit and meditate focusing your attention on the feeling of happiness and the sensations in your lips and in your body produced by smiling, and or try orienting the palms of your hands facing upward and notice any sensations in your palms. That is likely to set off a feedback loop leading to intense bliss etc.  If someone did that it might not be too hard to learn to reproduce it by meditating patiently on the pleasant feeling of relaxation produced as you exhale and inhale and give the feedback loop time to build. Meditating about an hour after a meal might help catch the brain chemistry at a good point. (All this assume the brain has the capability, the right biochemical factors, needed to produce happiness/pleasure - it's not magic.) When you practice that enough,  you can produce the state just by noticing your breath and remembering what it feels like.  But as I wrote, that doesn't mean it banishes all suffering completely and immediately. And it's not like being in a heavenly state all the time, too much of anything gets dull. It's nice and it counters dukka but it isn't nirvana in itself.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/22/19 7:12 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Thanks, I already do that, and I do have access to jhanas, just not consistently. Maybe the problem (if that is a problem) is that there are still parts of me that think harmony is boring and that actually prefer rather violent purification processes to blissful relaxation.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/22/19 5:49 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

This could be exactly what curious adviced me to do in my practice log. I think I do this sometimes but very inconsistently. Maybe I could cultivate this more. I don’t think I’m quite as prone to feeling pleasure, though, but also not quite as prone to constant analysis as Daniel. I seem to be prone to inconsistency. Is there a way to use that liability as a strength too? Maybe that’s what I’m doing when I trust the process to know the way. It would be really cool to have constant access to pleasure in daily life, though, and use that for gaining perspective.

Dissatisfaction with practice or progress or state of attainment is just another kind of dukkha. Whenever I feel it, I just note it and try to realx and let go of it just like with any other form of clinging I feel. For me, the point of practice is to learn to let go. Letting go of my dissatisfaction with my progress is more important than the progress. Letting go of it is the progress I seek. I think the point is not to never feel that kind of dissatisfaction but to recognize it, accept it, and let go of it when it arises. I know I can't start at perfection. In the mean time the best I can do is try not to add layers of clinging on top of clinging by reacting to emotions with more emotions (dissatisfaction). I accept that I am not perfect and that one imperfection I have is wanting to be perfect. 

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/22/19 6:09 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Thanks for the advice. I’m apparently not expressing myself clearly here, though. I’m not dissatisfied. I enjoy my practice. I just wanted to express appreciation for your success and how it inspires.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/27/19 7:39 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
I have found that one way to induce (I don't know the right term, piti, sukha, or Upekkhāsatipārisuddhi ) a calm pleasant relaxed state is by putting my attention on what I am seeing. It is not like staring intently at a fixed point. it is not being aware of the entire visual field including the peripherial vision, it is not soft focus. It is just noticing what I am seeing. Its like if you are walking and notice what you feel on the bottoms of your feet as you step. Just a shift in awareness, but in this case the shift is to what is seeing with the eyes. Sometimes I will meditate with my eyes closed and then open them and it kicks in when I shift my awareness to what I am seeing. This method is very good for maintaining the "state" after the meditation session is over.


I am wondering if anyone else experiences this, and if there is a name for it, is it a known thing?

Thanks in advance.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
7/27/19 8:25 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
I do that regularly, but I don’t think of it as shamatha. I think of it as resting in awareness and letting the emptiness of phenomena reveal itself. I don’t know if that framing is correct, though.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
8/3/19 11:44 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/14564976#_19_message_14599104
Jim Smith:
I am wondering about a path to awakening using the soft jhanas. In the sutras I have read that you meditate through all the jhanas and then the next step is awakening.

Are there other recognized paths? Because to me, the natural progression seems like:
  • Practicing the soft jhanas shows you how to produce a pleasant emotional state.
  • If you try, you can learn to do this during daily activities not just meditation.
  • During sitting meditation and during daily activities, when the mind is in a pleasant emotional state and is calmed by meditation, you can see in contrast unpleasant reactions arising (clinging to attachments and aversions) and you have the opportunity to relax (let go) and stay with the pleasant calm state instead of automatically going with the unpleasant reactions.
  • Developing this skill more and more would seem to be a gradual approach to ending suffering - ending mental anguish - by learning how to not get drawn into it.
The more I practice this way the more "emotional baggage" and habitual reactions I seem to be clearing away. There's stuff that is fading in a natural gradual way that I thought I would need some type of transformational experience to become free of.

Is there a recognized gradual path through mindfulness in daily life that does not involve deep states and transformative experiences in sitting meditation?

What do you think?
I have been doing some research to see if I can find an answer to this question. In recent weeks I have made some posts to my log and other threads here in these forums and what I think is happening is that I am beginning to start the process of abandoning some of the ten fetters. The stages of awakening are characterized by abandonment of more and more fetters, so If my practice is beginning in me the process of abandoning the fetters, I think it must be taking me toward awakening.

If anyone is interested here are some of the posts and the fetters I think are relevant. (I don't claim I have abanoned any of them completely, just that I am noticing changes that look to me like I am starting the process of abandoning them)

Identity view
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/8496517?_19_delta=20&_19_keywords=&_19_advancedSearch=false&_19_andOperator=true&_19_resetCur=false&_19_cur=2#_19_message_14208950
I also noticed a new kind of feeling. When my mind is calm from meditation and my body relaxed, there are very few thoughts and emotions arising and very little tension in response to unpleasant thoughts and emotions. If I observe, waiting for the next thought or emotion to arise, I see there is very little activity. I have done this many times in the past but what is new is that I have begun to notice a feeling like something is missing, like there is a gap, a hole, like an emptiness, like no one is home. Like if another person would say something unpleasant, there wouldn't be anyone to be offended.  It is not like dissociation. In dissociation the observer is watching the actor. Here it feels like there is no actor.

I thought it was odd that I experience this as a feeling because most of the discriptions I have seen describe it as if it were a realization of a fact. On other forums I have said: "It is feeling not an objective fact that is true or false. It is a feeling like happiness, happiness is not true or false." But I think my way is okay because I found this bit of  information in a wikipedia article.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sotapanna#Three_fetters

A sotāpanna doesn't actually have a view about self (sakkāya-ditthi), as that doctrine is proclaimed to be a subtle form of clinging.



Doubt in Buddha
(When I wrote this I didn't understand doubt was a fetter that use used to measure awakening.)
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/14564976?_19_delta=20&_19_keywords=&_19_advancedSearch=false&_19_andOperator=true&_19_resetCur=false&_19_cur=2#_19_message_14634700
It is like there is an epic battle going on, a war. My mind wants to control relaity but gradually I am gaining more and more power to resist  the habitual unpleasant reality the mind has, over a lifetime, been trained to create.

Many things I always thought of as unpleasant I no longer think of as unplesant because instead of anticipating and experiencing them as unpleasant, I anticipate and experience them in a pleasant relaxed way.

If I had the opportunity to define awakening in a new philosophical system, I would say awakening is a long process that begins the first time you experience that first glimmer of successful resistence against the habitual unpleasntness of the mind. That is when you realize it was always an illusion. It doesn't mean you have conquered the illusion and are immediately and totally free from suffering. It means you see how the habitual reactions can be challenged, that they are not your fate, that there is a 
path to freedom.
When I experienced this it was the first time I really saw from my own experience that freedom was a real possibility. It dispelled my doubt in the teachings of the Buddha.

Sensual desire - I haven't posted here about this but I have recently noticed a change with respect to attachment to senusal desire. I am not a strong believer in free will or relying on will power, but in this case I find am no longer controlled by sensual desire. And it is not by means of will power, not by an ability to resist temptation, but by means of being able to direct the mind where i want it to go and to not be controlled by where the mind wants to go. There is no temptation when the mind is directed to neutral objects.

Ill WIll
I only became aware of this from looking at the list of ten fetters but now that I have a name for it I am noticing it in particular and can give it proper attention.

Conceit
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/8496517?_19_delta=20&_19_keywords=&_19_advancedSearch=false&_19_andOperator=true&_19_resetCur=false&_19_cur=2#_19_message_14344679
I think what is going on is that the things I am finally able to let go of are things that involve pride. Like there might be a situation where I was too proud to admit I was wrong. Or too proud to accept something or other. 

Restlessness

I am categorizing this under restlessness because it relates to when you don't like what you are doing and want to be doing something else, - which is what restlessness is.

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/8496517?_19_delta=20&_19_keywords=&_19_advancedSearch=false&_19_andOperator=true&_19_resetCur=false&_19_cur=2#_19_message_14374804
In the morning I was walking home with a heavy pack, the sun was up already and it was hot. I tried to meditate as I walked. I noticed that when I thought, "It's hot. or "My pack is heavy", or "How much further?" or "This sucks" I was suffering. But when I concentrated in meditation I thought "left" and "right" as I put my feet down, or "in" and "out" as I breathed, I didn't think, "It's hot, or "My pack is heavy", or "How much further?", or "This sucks." and I didn't suffer. Even though it was hot and my pack was heavy, and I had a long way to go, it didn't suck. 


The feeling I have described in this next quote feels like it relates to both Identity View and Conceit. 
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/8496517?_19_delta=20&_19_keywords=&_19_advancedSearch=false&_19_andOperator=true&_19_resetCur=false&_19_cur=2#_19_message_14855489
Later I got up and began sitting meditation. I didn't try to controlling anything, my breathing, my thoughts, etc, which reproduced that feeling of relaxation and lightness. My mind wandered and I remembered the dream and wondered if it meant anything and then I thought it was about that feeling I had during meditation where I wasn't in control.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
8/12/19 5:12 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
There is a phenomenon I keep observing, maybe it could be called a trick to enter the jhanas, when I am meditating and I don't feel the bliss arising and I am wondering what is wrong, I stop wondering about it and just relax, not expecting anything or trying to do anything except relax in the meditation - and quite often the bliss arises immediately.


The bliss produced by meditation does not end suffering. Suffering ends when the mind stops producing suffering. The pleasant state produced by meditation provides a background against which suffering is readily noticeable. When the mind observes itself as the source of suffering, it learns how to stop producing it.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
8/14/19 3:52 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:
There is a phenomenon I keep observing, maybe it could be called a trick to enter the jhanas, when I am meditating and I don't feel the bliss arising and I am wondering what is wrong, I stop wondering about it and just relax, not expecting anything or trying to do anything except relax in the meditation - and quite often the bliss arises immediately.




And if I concentrate too hard I don't enter the soft jhanas either. That doesn't mean the mind does not become quiet. It's like putting the brakes on a car. You can put the brakes on forcefully and stop quickly, or  you can put on the brakes lightly and take longer to stop. For me, to go through the jhanas I have to use just the right amount of force, not too much not too little. It feels like relaxing the mind rather than stopping the mind.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
8/14/19 4:00 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
 I have to use just the right amount of force, not too much not too little. It feels like relaxing the mind rather than stopping the mind.


That's right!

Someone way back in the day decided, probably without having any experience of this stuff, that the word "concentration" was a great way to describe how to get into jhanic states. The world of meditation has suffered needlessly ever since. Massive translation error, eh?

emoticon

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
8/14/19 4:05 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:

Someone way back in the day decided, probably without having any experience of this stuff, that the word "concentration" was a great way to describe how to get into jhanic states. The world of meditation has suffered needlessly ever since. Massive translation error, eh?

emoticon


Amen to that!

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
8/14/19 11:33 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
 I have to use jst the right amount of force, not too much not too little. It feels like relaxing the mind rather thn stopping the mind.


That's right!

Someone way back in the day decided, probably without having any experience of this stuff, that the word "concentration" was a great way to describe how to get into jhanic states. The world of meditation has suffered needlessly ever since. Massive translation error, eh?

emoticon

Like oh so many buddhist / dharma concepts, right? People really get hung up on the connotations of loose translations of these ideas. People have written whole books trying to correct a single rough translation.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
8/14/19 11:54 PM as a reply to Milo.
Milo:

Like oh so many buddhist / dharma concepts, right? People really get hung up on the connotations of loose translations of these ideas. People have written whole books trying to correct a single rough translation.

I realized a while ago that the sutras don't make enough sense to help me attain anything.

But when I have an experience, then I can see it in the sutras and I know how to interpret them. So the sutras are helpful in understanding what I have experienced, but they don't help me much beforehand.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
8/15/19 3:01 AM as a reply to Milo.
Milo:

Like oh so many buddhist / dharma concepts, right? People really get hung up on the connotations of loose translations of these ideas. People have written whole books trying to correct a single rough translation.


I'm not sure how well known it is among forum participants here but Pali was not Buddha's native language. He spoke a related language either Magadhi or Magadhi Prakrit.

This article is quite interesting.
https://www.hinduwebsite.com/buddhism/history/what-language-did-the-buddha-speak.asp

As a prince Buddha probably knew Sanskrit and maybe other languages. When he taught he would speak the local language if he knew it. So what language he really spoke in any particular sutra is unknown. You might make an educated guess based on the location or whom he was speaking to.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
8/15/19 1:58 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:
Milo:

Like oh so many buddhist / dharma concepts, right? People really get hung up on the connotations of loose translations of these ideas. People have written whole books trying to correct a single rough translation.


I'm not sure how well known it is among forum participants here but Pali was not Buddha's native language. He spoke a related language either Magadhi or Magadhi Prakrit.

This article is quiet interesting.
https://www.hinduwebsite.com/buddhism/history/what-language-did-the-buddha-speak.asp

As a prince Buddha probably knew Sanskrit and maybe other languages. When he taught he would speak the local language if he knew it. So what language he really spoke in any particular sutra is unknown. You might make an educated guess based on the location or whom he was speaking to.


Interesting. I had assumed he was literate in Sanskrit but I've never looked into it much more than that.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
8/15/19 7:22 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Vipassana is defined in the commentaries according to how it is used there. But vipassana as used in the pali canon does not mean the same thing as it does in the commentaries.


https://accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/onetool.html


But if you look directly at the Pali discourses — the earliest extant sources for our knowledge of the Buddha's teachings — you'll find that although they do use the word samatha to mean tranquillity, and vipassana to mean clear-seeing, they otherwise confirm none of the received wisdom about these terms. Only rarely do they make use of the word vipassana — a sharp contrast to their frequent use of the word jhana. When they depict the Buddha telling his disciples to go meditate, they never quote him as saying "go do vipassana," but always "go do jhana." And they never equate the word vipassana with any mindfulness techniques. In the few instances where they do mention vipassana, they almost always pair it with samatha — not as two alternative methods, but as two qualities of mind that a person may "gain" or "be endowed with," and that should be developed together.
If someone is discussing the relationship between concentration and insight, you have to know if he is speaking about the pali canon or the commentaries in order to understand what he is saying.

I don't assume developments that came after Buddha, (commentaries, mahayana etc) are necessarily either better or worse they could be improvements or something different and also of high value. But when the meanings of words change over time, that has to be understood to understand each school for what it really is.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
8/15/19 8:37 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
I think I figured out why I like the fifth jhana so much. As an introvert, I find infinite space WITH NO ONE IN IT to be much much much better than bliss.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
8/16/19 1:55 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:
Vipassana is defined in the commentaries according to how it is used there. But vipassana as used in the pali canon does not mean the same thing as it does in the commentaries.


https://accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/onetool.html


But if you look directly at the Pali discourses — the earliest extant sources for our knowledge of the Buddha's teachings — you'll find that although they do use the word samatha to mean tranquillity, and vipassana to mean clear-seeing, they otherwise confirm none of the received wisdom about these terms. Only rarely do they make use of the word vipassana — a sharp contrast to their frequent use of the word jhana. When they depict the Buddha telling his disciples to go meditate, they never quote him as saying "go do vipassana," but always "go do jhana." And they never equate the word vipassana with any mindfulness techniques. In the few instances where they do mention vipassana, they almost always pair it with samatha — not as two alternative methods, but as two qualities of mind that a person may "gain" or "be endowed with," and that should be developed together.
If someone is discussing the relationship between concentration and insight, you have to know if he is speaking about the pali canon or the commentaries in order to understand what he is saying.

I don't assume developments that came after Buddha, (commentaries, mahayana etc) are necessarily either better or worse they could be improvements or something different and also of high value. But when the meanings of words change over time, that has to be understood to understand each school for what it really is.

I think part of the purpose of samatha / jhana is to produce a serene state to counteract the more disturbing aspects of vipassana. That is, to help cope with or prevent dark nights.  I am trying some a different way of observing the mind and I am finding it useful to come back to jhana practice to "relax". When you begin to see that anything you can observe is not me or mine and you can't know about anything unless you observe it so there is nothing that can be me or mine, and therefore there can be no you and you see this in your own observation of your own mind - it can be a bit disturbing - so it's nice to have a samatha practice to come back to restore tranquility.

The new thing I was trying is this recommended by Sterling:
https://www.lionsroar.com/how-to-meditate-dzogchen-ponlop-rinpoche-on-mahamudra/

and that was pleasant enough, but the first few pages of "The Untethered Soul" also recommended by Sterling  ... uh ... surprised me. I don't know why it didn't have anything new to me just helped me see it is a bit of differnt way that made a lot of difference in how I practiced it.

There are samatha practices other than the jhana that can produce a relaxed tranquil state so, the difficulty of the jhanas should not be an obstacle.

I am interested what other people think about this idea that samatha can help with dark nights. I will start a thread on it:

Can samatha style meditations help prevent or cope with dark nights?
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/15108672#_19_message_15108672

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
8/16/19 2:04 AM as a reply to Jim Smith.
You might want to investigate the idea of observing too, if you aren’t already on it.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
8/16/19 7:15 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
When I practice vipassana from within the jhanas, I watch the activity of the mind from within the jhanas.

I can watch the process of how an emotion arises and changes my mood from the pleasant jhana state to something unpleasant.

It seems analogous to how a train of thought can distract me and "take over" my mind when I am distracted during meditation.

In the same way an emotion can take over my mind.

But if I am mindful, and if I know how to practice the jhanas, then when I notice an emotion and feel it takinng over my mind, I can pervent the emotion from taking over my mind by reinstating the pleasant mood produced by the jhanas.

The pleasant state I am referring to is not intense bliss, just a quiet pleasant contented mood, produced by a half smile and a breath, like getting into a warm jacuzzi and saying ahhh.

In the past I would relax any tensions in my body that I felt accompanying the emotion. I still do that, but this is something additional.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
8/24/19 12:14 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
 I have to use just the right amount of force, not too much not too little. It feels like relaxing the mind rather than stopping the mind.


That's right!

Someone way back in the day decided, probably without having any experience of this stuff, that the word "concentration" was a great way to describe how to get into jhanic states. The world of meditation has suffered needlessly ever since. Massive translation error, eh?

emoticon

I am beginning to think "meditation" is the wrong term entirely. It should be called "awareness practice". For samath and vipassana.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
9/10/19 9:33 AM as a reply to Walter_Sobchakheit.
Walter_Sobchakheit:
Essentially, it's practicing metta in a way that develops concentration and the jhanic factors. My teacher, George Haas (www.mettagroup.org), teaches it as a 'dry' metta practice. So, focusing the attention on the mind-state of kindness (usually somewhere inside the head) as opposed to a 'wet' metta that may be more focused on an emotional response in the body.

Here's a simple instruction:

1. Sit in a comfortable position
2. Bring to mind a person who naturally brings with them the mind-state of kindness (traditionally, this would be teacher/mentor/benefactor)
3. Hold a mental image of that person in your mind's eye while keeping the attention on the mind-state of kindness
4. To support the practice and keep the mind occupied more fully, repeat a simple phrase to remind yourself of your intention (ex: May you be peaceful, May you be peaceful, ......)
5. If the mind wanders away into thinking, refresh the image and mind-state and continue the practice
6. As concentration increases and jhanic factors arise, it may be necessary to drop the phrases and/or image

I've found that the jhanas generated through metta come on faster and are somewhat stronger than those from standard breath meditation. It also acts as an antidote to a contractive mind because the mind-state of metta is open, clear, and cool. It is a good way to concentrate as well as prime the mind with kindness. My teacher begins all of his retreats with a few days of this metta practice, and claims that there are much fewer roadblocks that yogis run into afterward.

Below is a link to one my teacher's talks about metta jhana...

https://www.mettagroup.org/podcast/2018/1/29/metta-jhana
Hello Walter - Kind of a continuation of my prior thread above, with in a few days after getting into jhana using DreamWalker's method, I used metta to do so, focussing on the pleasure in my face & chest to trigger piti-sukka. I was almost as surprised metta worked as I was that DreamWalkers method worked! 

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
9/10/19 10:55 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.

Someone way back in the day decided, probably without having any experience of this stuff, that the word "concentration" was a great way to describe how to get into jhanic states. The world of meditation has suffered needlessly ever since. Massive translation error, eh?

Just this point has caused me so much needless stress in the past. I’ve often wondered if in the TMI system of samatha if the stages before ‘effortlessness’ are even necessary. To me it seems they create their own obstacles by judging distractions/dullness e.t.c as things to be overcome. Now I try to find the ease right from the get go and those things seem to solve themselves as part of a natural process. Just my experience anyway, lots of people seem to get results in with that methodology.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
9/11/19 12:05 AM as a reply to Joe.
For me, entering the soft jhanas involves two factors: relaxation and attention. I relax and observe the pleasant feeling of relaxation produced by breathing in a relaxed way. The attention is more like mindfulness than strong concentration. Awareness of what is happening in the present moment - not letting the mind wander and not intense concentration that drives everything else out of the mind. Both relaxation and attention are needed at the same time.

The pleasant feeling of relaxation is like a seed or a spark or a glimmer. I think anyone can experience it by taking a deep breath and relaxing as they exhale with a half-smile. From there all it takes is patience.  Relaxation and attention to the pleasant feeling of breathing in a relaxed way will cause a pleasant mood to grow steadily and continuously becoming stable and more intense.

Sometimes I can jump right in.  But if my mind is turbulent I will do relaxation exercises as a preliminary to help relax and quiet the mind.

RE: Soft Jhana Thread
Answer
9/11/19 12:58 AM as a reply to Joe.
Joe:

Someone way back in the day decided, probably without having any experience of this stuff, that the word "concentration" was a great way to describe how to get into jhanic states. The world of meditation has suffered needlessly ever since. Massive translation error, eh?

Just this point has caused me so much needless stress in the past. I’ve often wondered if in the TMI system of samatha if the stages before ‘effortlessness’ are even necessary. To me it seems they create their own obstacles by judging distractions/dullness e.t.c as things to be overcome. Now I try to find the ease right from the get go and those things seem to solve themselves as part of a natural process. Just my experience anyway, lots of people seem to get results in with that methodology.


I agree with you. My best jhanic experiences - not just the lower jhanas - tend to come after I have allowed myself some sessions of full relaxation even if that means a few dull sessions first. It seems like I need to go through a dreamy phase before I can get into the higher end of equanimity.

Maybe allowing oneself not to be in perfect control all the time even gives one less trouble with cognitive dissonance, who knows?