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Sitting meditation length to achieve jhana

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Hi. I'm Matt.  I'm really interested in jhana meditations. I used to meditate  1 hour a day for about 4 months straight  but gave up the practice because I travel. Having read leigh braisingtons  book on the jhana.  I believe the experiences  of what I felt where probably acess  concentration.  I want to start again to see if I can experience  first or second jhana and make it part of my life easy to access.  My concentration object is breath. Is one hour enough or are we talking at least 2 or 3 hours daily for some time. I. A working man a d cant do retreats.  a y experience with times.  Thanks.

RE: Sitting meditation length to achieve jhana
Answer
10/10/19 11:28 AM as a reply to Matthew Jon Rousseau.
I did a retreat with Leigh. His view was that no one can guarantee the arrival of jhana, and therefore no one can say, "Just sit for x hours a day, and you'll get there."

IIRC Tina Rasmussen and Stephen Snyder recommend sitting for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening BEFORE you even go on a jhana retreat.

RE: Sitting meditation length to achieve jhana
Answer
10/10/19 2:01 PM as a reply to Matthew Jon Rousseau.
Matthew Jon Rousseau:
Hi. I'm Matt.  I'm really interested in jhana meditations. I used to meditate  1 hour a day for about 4 months straight  but gave up the practice because I travel. Having read leigh braisingtons  book on the jhana.  I believe the experiences  of what I felt where probably acess  concentration.  I want to start again to see if I can experience  first or second jhana and make it part of my life easy to access.  My concentration object is breath. Is one hour enough or are we talking at least 2 or 3 hours daily for some time. I. A working man a d cant do retreats.  a y experience with times.  Thanks.

If you haven't see these posts I made in other threads have a look they might be helpful.

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/16039323#_19_message_16064357


https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/16039323#_19_message_16041838


I haven't read Brasington's book but I came across his website when I was doing research trying to understand what I had worked out on my own. I meditate in a very similar way to his method.

What I didn't see on his web site (my opinions):

You don't need "access concentration" you need "access relaxation". (explained at the links). You need some concentration (probably less that what most people think of as access concentration)  but I think relaxation is overlooked and very helpful so I am trying emphasizing it.

Any pleasant feeling, like the pleasant feeling of relaxation as you slowly exhale, is like a seed or a glimmer of the jhanas. If you can feel that, just watch that feeling over time in meditation until it grows. In a sense if you can feel the seed you are already experiencing the end result it is just a difference of intensity. There is nothing really mysterious about the jhanas.

The best way to understand the technique is to try it when you are already naturally happy. Focus on the feeling of happiness and see if you can get a feedback loop going - if the intensity increases. If  you can experience that, you will understand what to look for when you are not naturally happy.

Another good time to try is after a meal if you feel one of: elevated mood, a feeling of fullness, or sleepiness. - either of those means your brain chemistry should be in a good condition to experience the jhanas.

In my opinion it isn't really a question of how long you have to meditate to experience it. It is a question of whether your brain chemistry is right at that moment. If your brain chemistry isn't right no amount of mediation can cause it to happen. If your brain chemistry is right and you have enough concentration, and you are relaxed, 30 minutes should be sufficient.

Diet is very important for me. Everyone is different so I can't tell you what to eat. For me too much sugars and carbohydrates are problem. So a diet that is lower in carbs than is typical helps me: I eat 50% calories from fat, 30% from carbs, and 20% from protein. Most people in the US get 60% of calories from carbs (if I remember right). But the type of carbs matter and I had to work it out by trial and error, the lists of low glycemic index foods didn't work out the way I expected. I avoid sugery foods including "low glycemic index" fruits. Some people get depressed on a low carb diet so I don't want to make that a blanket recommendation. It is important for me I don't know how it will affect others.

When you meditate, just try to relax without expecting anything else. If you try to "force" happiness or become attached to producing the jhanas, it will just create stress which is counterproductive.

Notice how you feel after 30 minute of relaxaing meditation. That could be what you are looking for when you write "make it part of my life easy to access" because the 1st and 2nd jhanas are so intense, they are not very pleasant (in my opinion) when experienced continuously. But you have to experience continuous intense happiness to understand that is it not all it's cracked up to be. What I like best is just a pleasant relaxed feeling - it's better than happiness.

The first link above includes a link to the second.

At the bottom of the second link are links to my blog and web site where I give many more details on the technique I use.

I will include them here for convenience:

How I meditate:
https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/meditation-1#meditation_serenity

My latest views on the subject:
http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2019/09/aspects-of-meditation.html

RE: Sitting meditation length to achieve jhana
Answer
10/10/19 3:26 PM as a reply to Matthew Jon Rousseau.
Hi Matt, I'm not an expert but I'll tell you my experience. I didn’t attain sustained nimitta yet or full jhana absorption, but I developed some lighter jhanic states over the last few months. I'm a householder, can't do retreats, but I do have quite a lot of time available (several hours on weekdays if necessary). Developing jhana for me is all about overcoming the hindrances (desire, anger, sloth, agitation, doubt). So length of time necessary is simply a function of the strength of the hindrances in you, and that is totally dependent on your personal history/karma. Ajahn Brahm in his book Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond (hardcore jhana) says that the people with the fastest progress are purehearted and virtuous. So maybe you have good karma and it happens in a couple of weeks, or maybe you are like me and have a truckload of issues and it takes the rest of your life and you never get there.

I started practicing jhana using Leigh Brasington’s book and it’s a great way to get started because it’s really accessible. I followed his advice to find some piti (pleasantish buzzy/tingly sensation somewhere in the body) and focus on that, seeing if you can get it to spread out around the body. Within a few weeks I was in some ecstatic states, walking around seeing god’s children everywhere and spending all my time reading the worlds religions and mystics. But at that point I stalled out, the piti sensations in my head got really strong and stuck there, couldn’t move beyond it. I had already gone out to fourth jhana and some of the formless jhanas in a light state, but now I was stuck in first jhana hell with strong painful piti or what in other traditions might be called kundalini awakening.

Once I got stuck, I found that using force or spending more time on the cushion didn't really work, if anything it made the painful energy blockages worse. What worked was identifying the hindrances and making significant life changes to address them. In my case there was a lot of anger and regrets which needed to be addressed. When I say serious changes, I found myself giving up my work temporarily and taking over care of the children (luckily my wife can support us). This enabled me to free up several hours a day and I have basically been on home retreat since then working this shit out. But basically the fastest progress was made by trying to be a better person and addressing my checkered past, rather than more time on the cushion.

Since I don’t know your personal history I have no idea how easy or hard it will be for you. Hopefully you have less issues/karma and need to make less life changes (maybe even none) to subdue the hindrances and get into jhana. But I would warn you at this point: if you think you might have any major unaddressed issues then be careful what you wish for, because once you start meditating more heavily that stuff is probably going to come out and find you whether you like it or not and you might get more than you bargained for. There do seem to be a lot of people who use (light?) jhana as a pleasant relaxation tool, maybe because they have good karma and/or maybe because they are not going deep enough. But if you want to go deeper and it’s not happening then you might find yourself launched onto the path with dark nights and all that fun stuff, so probably best to look at Daniel’s MCTB book because that should give you as good an idea as you can probably get outside a monastery what might be involved. I remember reading Daniel's warnings and not being sure whether it was responsible to go ahead given my issues, but I also remember thinking that if I didn't push on then this shit would follow me around for the rest of my life anway and since I had already been suicidally depressed there wasn't so much to lose. Good luck mate!

RE: Sitting meditation length to achieve jhana
Answer
10/11/19 5:27 AM as a reply to agnostic.
agnostic:
 There do seem to be a lot of people who use (light?) jhana as a pleasant relaxation tool, maybe because they have good karma and/or maybe because they are not going deep enough. 


Maybe it is because they are replying only to the question that was asked, how to experience 1st or 2nd jhanas?

There might be other threads on the forums here where they have posted on experiencing emotional pain.

Or maybe because they have ample justification for emphasizing relaxation in the practice of the Buddhist path. Thanissaro Bhikkhu translates dukkha as "stress".   When you look at it that way, the role of relaxation is self evident. Ending "stress" (relaxation) is ending suffering (enlightenment). And when you experience the effects of relaxation on suffering, it is also self evident.


https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn38/sn38.014.than.html

Dukkha Sutta: Stress
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

On one occasion Ven. Sariputta was staying in Magadha in Nalaka Village. Then Jambukhadika the wanderer went to Ven. Sariputta and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After this exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to Ven. Sariputta: "'Stress, stress,' it is said, my friend Sariputta. Which type of stress [are they referring to]?"

"There are these three forms of stressfulness, my friend: the stressfulness of pain, the stressfulness of fabrication, the stressfulness of change. These are the three forms of stressfulness."

"But is there a path, is there a practice for the full comprehension of these forms of stressfulness?"

"Yes, there is a path, there is a practice for the full comprehension of these forms of stressfulness."

"Then what is the path, what is the practice for the full comprehension of these forms of stressfulness?"

"Precisely this Noble Eightfold Path, my friend — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. This is the path, this is the practice for the full comprehension of these forms of stressfulness."

"It's an auspicious path, my friend, an auspicious practice for the full comprehension of these forms of stressfulness — enough for the sake of heedfulness."


https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/16039323?_19_delta=20&_19_keywords=&_19_advancedSearch=false&_19_andOperator=true&_19_resetCur=false&_19_cur=2#_19_message_16130487
Mangala:
Sayadaw U Tejaniya is apparently extremely joyous and he was a man who dealt with crippling depression in his days as a lay person.  He’s a student of Shwe Oo Min Sayadaw who was a student of Mahasi Sayadaw.  Even though they’re in that lineage he often criticizes the way that other Mahasi lineage teachers teach calling their meditation centres “tension factories” if I remember correctly. He talks about joy quite a bit too I believe.  



The Buddha taught many different forms or practice. He did this for a reason. Different people are ... different. There is no "best" practice. There is only what is best for a given individual.

RE: Sitting meditation length to achieve jhana
Answer
10/11/19 2:26 AM as a reply to Matthew Jon Rousseau.
Matthew Jon Rousseau:
Hi. I'm Matt.  I'm really interested in jhana meditations. I used to meditate  1 hour a day for about 4 months straight  but gave up the practice because I travel. Having read leigh braisingtons  book on the jhana.  I believe the experiences  of what I felt where probably acess  concentration.  I want to start again to see if I can experience  first or second jhana and make it part of my life easy to access.  My concentration object is breath. Is one hour enough or are we talking at least 2 or 3 hours daily for some time. I. A working man a d cant do retreats.  a y experience with times.  Thanks.


I'll second what's already been said that you'll likely get more mileage out of systematically reviewing, aknowledging, and unknotting the hindrances than with grinding out longer and longer sits. Getting a positive feedback loop going with meditation being pleasant and gentle is a very powerful thing.

RE: Sitting meditation length to achieve jhana
Answer
10/11/19 4:21 AM as a reply to Matthew Jon Rousseau.
If you really want to speed up things try lying position instead of sitting. That works really well for me, there is no body discomfort and you just work on atention to the breath and awerness to the body feeling the pleasure of being relaxed and calm. Is more easy to note the agitation of mind and slowly relax tension while focusing gently on the breath.

Jhanas come more easy if you have and equanimous view of you are experiencing, more like let it be, and organically letting go and keep atention to the breath in a soft and gently way.

RE: Sitting meditation length to achieve jhana
Answer
10/11/19 12:33 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith
Maybe it is because they are replying only to the question that was asked, how to experience 1st or 2nd jhanas?

Hi Jim, sorry I was not alluding to you (consciously at least) in that quote, although I see now that it reads a bit condescending. I really like the stuff you have written recently about jhana (here and in your blog) and trying to carry around a pleasant 3rd jhana mindset in daily life. It's kind of where I am right now in my practice. I agree it's all about relaxing as much as possible into whatever comes up. I just wanted to share my experience that deep relaxation can bring up troubling stuff if that is in ones past/karma (which it was in my case). Probably that was a bit of a strong response to the original question and hopefully Matt's ride will be smoother.

RE: Sitting meditation length to achieve jhana
Answer
10/14/19 9:22 AM as a reply to Matthew Jon Rousseau.
Hello Matt - If you haven't already take a look at Ian's very excellent Jhana DhO thread:

     https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/1191517

Also Jim Smith's thread on Soft jhanna is great (maybe link was already shared): 

     https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/view_message/14564976#_19_message_14564976 

I used Brasington's book and info from Ian's thread to get into the jhanas with great success a few months ago. With more reading on jhanas since then it seems these are "lighter" jhanas but I think they are a great way to start. These jhanas were a quantum leap for me as far as my positve experience and enjoyment of sitiing practice, and while they felt very good, it wasn't so aweosme that I would become the "junkie" that is warned about.  

My impression is deeper/"harder" jhanas are substantially more difficult to attain - eg. the ones Pa Auk Sayadaw/Tina Rasmussen/Stephen Snyder teach, or "Luminous Jhanas" from TMI Appendix D, or Ajahn Brahm's approach to jhanas. I read Rassmussen/Snyder Jhana book and really enjoyed it, but I think it will take some time for me to develop my concentration to the level seemingly needed to attain these deeper jhanas. 

Interestingly, doing 
Brasington's jhana practice has really jump started my vipassna practice! I started medictating this year in February, but had gotten a stuck with dullness/lethargy limiting the length of my sits to 30-40 minutes. Getting into light jhanas was quite energizing for me and now I can sit for 60-75 minutes with minimal difficulty with dullness. I sued the focus on pleasurable experiences in the face/chest at first, the had great success at doing metta for 10-15 minutes to get into 1st jhana, which really surprised me (see this link too: https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/14949565). After learning Brasington's jhanas, for 4-6 weeks I would spend ~30 min on jhana practice, usually up to 4th, then transition gently to noting practice for 30 minutes. 

Daniel and others have talked about learning jhanas after stream entry, but there may be great value in learning lighter jhanas earlier, then maybe learning deeper jhanas later, eg after stream entry. Now I am doing 60 min sits, twice a day when possible, doing almost exclusivey noting practice. I will say that after a while, without setting up to get into jhana, I start feeling very calm, "equinanimous" and "absorbed" - very similar to what 3rd & 4th light jhana felt like - while just doing noting. 

RE: Sitting meditation length to achieve jhana
Answer
10/14/19 12:10 PM as a reply to Matthew Jon Rousseau.
Almosy everything is a transactional relationship in our capitalist world "do x in order to get y".

Dhamma is not like that.

It is causal.and there are causal processes at play. Those processes are the 8 fold noble path.

It's best to let meditations do themselves, this is right aim/right intention: the mind/attention that is subtly trying to get something out of something isn't able to reach jhana... consider examples of looking at the sky when you were a kid vs looking at the sky now and recalling what it was like to look at when you were a kid and subtly longing for that.

Instead an attention that is based in renunciation, not trying to make things a certain way, fulfills right aim. And one way to cultivate that sort of attention that is capable of renunciation is acts of renunciation, generosity, etc. (sila) this may be assisted by generosity of though and form of metta (right thought, right aim)

all the aspects are connected and this is a causal, natural system, the 8 fold path

As such, the old man B didn't specify any particular length of time or any particular position or any particular diet, but did outline the process called the 8 fold noble path that brings about necessary and sufficient causes and conditions of jhanas and awakening 

Often, someone would find a place of seclusion, where they wouldn't be disturbed, with some shelter or shade and good temperature, traditionally the foot of a tree, settling in for the afternoon after eating their meal...

RE: Sitting meditation length to achieve jhana
Answer
10/14/19 4:49 PM as a reply to Dan Jones.
Dan Jones:
...
It's best to let meditations do themselves, this is right aim/right intention: the mind/attention that is subtly trying to get something out of something isn't able to reach jhana... consider examples of looking at the sky when you were a kid vs looking at the sky now and recalling what it was like to look at when you were a kid and subtly longing for that.

Instead an attention that is based in renunciation, not trying to make things a certain way, fulfills right aim. And one way to cultivate that sort of attention that is capable of renunciation is acts of renunciation, generosity, etc. (sila) this may be assisted by generosity of though and form of metta (right thought, right aim)
...


In order to decide to meditate you need a reason. Buddha had a purpose when he sat down under a tree: to find the end of suffering. It is the same for his followers.

Once you are meditating, then you have to let go of that purpose and "let the meditations do themselves".