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hard time on 1st jhana

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hard time on 1st jhana
jhana joyful experience breaths
Answer
3/21/11 2:27 PM
1st of all i would like to thank Daniel for having written Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very much. And I meant every very and didn't use copy/paste at all. I have always been a "speaking clear" fan, and this book is more than I was looking for related to my spiritual quest. I really never thought something like this could have even been written and when I first begin to read it I was amazed it simply exists.

2nd I would like you to excuse my english as I am Spanish. Feel totally free to correct me in any sentence or mistake and to ask me for better explanations of what I am trying to comunicate. emoticon I will be happy to do improve my english emoticon

I really arrived late to this (spiritual) world. I'm 29 and got interested less than a year before. After four extremely deep ayahuasca sessions I got caught by the Majjhima nikaya from the start till the end, and I am really "working hard" to walk the way Buda did.

I picked Daniel advice (achieving 1st jhana) as my first goal. I've been observing my breath for at least 2 hours every day last month, and really found hard to keep the focus on it. To be sincere, (and I must say I feel sad about it) I hardly can stay for 3-4 breaths without thoughts, images, music, sensations coming to my mind. I even not sure if I succesfully do it for 1 simple breath.

I really dont want to seem like a goal-oriented practioner, but do you guys think I am in the right track? I can feel my body rock-like, but this is far from any blissful or joyful experience, and not matching "you will know when you get to 1st jhana" description from Daniel.

PS. I found the book that describes which posture and which object might be best suited to the individual proclivities of various types of people, as Daniel says, it might help me, Do any of you guys knows which part to read?

Thank you all DhO.

Diego.

RE: hard time on 1st jhana
Answer
3/23/11 10:03 AM as a reply to Diego Garrido Prats.
Hola Diego y bienvenudo!
Don't feel bad at all, you're on the road and your english is great. This is my first post and though I wouldn't pretend to offer any real advice i will just give you a snapshot of myself as inspiration.

You say you've gotten to the spiritual path late at 29. Ha! I have always had a spiritually inquisitive mind but didn't start anything close to a serious practice until i was 49 and I'm now 52. In the last few years I've been hopscotching around, meditating consistently but all over the board as far as styles and traditions go. A little tantra here, a little AYPsite .org there alittle Sattipatthana (sp) there..you get my drift.

You are young and bold and wise and on your way. My only advice is to take your own and praise Daniel's fabulous book and go through the steps as I am doing...in my old age. keep at it!

tom

RE: hard time on 1st jhana
Answer
3/23/11 5:29 PM as a reply to tom moylan.
Ty Tom! When i wrote the previous message i was kind of desperate, but now I'm fine. Your message wasnt an answer but it has made me feel so companied (I invented the word, hope you understand!). I am progressing @ concentration now, so great! emoticon Tyvm!

diego

RE: hard time on 1st jhana
Answer
3/24/11 6:38 AM as a reply to Diego Garrido Prats.
Hola Amigo,

I also can't say too much because I have only meditated for 4 years on and off. I'm a similar age to you, but I do not beleive this to be arriveing late to the spiritual path. Actually, I don't think you can arrive late. If you really put your mind to it you can probably go the full path in less than a year. Lester Levenson appeared to do it in three months.

But from my experience, any sense of urgency or seeking acomplishment is likely to be a bad thing. So just do it for your practce right now, not for some goal in the future.

Don't worry too much about distractions. Soon you get to a point where the distractions are still there but you don't lose focus on the object - if I'm right, that's what they call access concentration and then the real trip begins.

I live in Spain and I speak Spanish. I'm currently considering going on a retreat - if you find any good teachers or retreats here then let me know.. I'm somewhere south of Barcelona and north of Valencia.

RE: hard time on 1st jhana
Answer
3/24/11 11:51 AM as a reply to Rich -.
Hola
tengo experiencia con Goenke 10 day Retreats y puedo recomendarles quando tienes disiplina.

RE: hard time on 1st jhana
Answer
3/24/11 6:44 PM as a reply to Diego Garrido Prats.
Hi Diego,

Welcome to the DhO! You're English seems fine to me, I know people who's first language is English and can't write as well as you can so don't beat yourself up. : )

Here's what I'd suggest, for what it's worth:

In samatha, you don't need to "stop" anything. Surprising, I know but it's true.

Sensation doesn't stop until a fruition, even then it's sometimes just a split-split-split-second and you don't know it's happened till after the fact. Drop the idea that you need to suppress thoughts or sensations, these things just arise and pass whether you're paying attention to them or not. When doing samatha practice you're only paying attention to one object.

So, with that in mind, try counting the breath in cycles of ten. Just count "1" on the exhale, that way you'll find you can maintain the count easier and stay with the whole breath from start to finish, returning to one each time you complete a cycle of ten breaths. If you lose count, it's cool 'cause you just go back to one and start again! It's foolproof, if you find you've become caught up in a thought, or singing a song to yourself then you're already back to being mindful of the breath 'cause you've noticed that you've wandered away!

This is sooooooo easy and fun to do, it eliminates boredom as you can do it whenever you've got some time on your hands, and it's like carrying formal practice into everyday life.

What Daniel says about 1st jhana is exactly right, but knowing what sort of sensations to look out for can be quite difficult at first as it's easy to expect it to be this solid, tangible state when you first encounter it. "Hard" 1st jhana is like that, it can get quite overwhelming and a bit annoying after a while actually but you're likely to encounter a "softer" version at first. For me, I always notice a sort of tingling across my face, particularly around my cheeks and nose area which is followed by a slight sense of "shifting" into jhana. Once I notice that shift I become aware of the pleasurable sensations and the mental aspects of what's happening, if I want to solidify the jhana then I focus on these sensations and allow them to build until the state is stabilized.

As for particular objects, these are called kasinas and can be anything from a candle flame to a decaying corpse. They're not referred to specifically in MCTB, but they're discussed at length in the Vishuddimagga which is a pretty heavy read. Try using something like an empty bowl placed against a wall, or a candle flame, or just the breath, whichever works for you. It's a very powerful technique for getting into hard jhanas.

Hopefully some of that's of use to you, good luck with everything and hopefully you'll post more and let us know how you're getting on.

-Tommy

RE: hard time on 1st jhana
Answer
3/25/11 2:14 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
I'm a big fan of counting too although some traditions don't encourage it. I usually do several cycles just as a solid base of concentration, then i let the counting go and am usually quite fixed on the continuous feeling of the breath on my nostrils and upper lip. Kasinas sound interesting. My tendancy in the past years though has been to "try everything" which led to digging holes everywhere, none of which were very deep. So I am sticking with simple anapana.

Tom

RE: hard time on 1st jhana
Answer
3/25/11 3:40 PM as a reply to tom moylan.
To be honest, I don't really care about what this or that tradition supports or discourages, if it works then do it! You know that yourself already anyway but I think it's an important point to make, particularly when people often waste time trying apply ineffective technique or unhelpful, disempowering beliefs because it's considered taboo to go against what tradition dictates.

Your own practice sounds good as far as I can tell, very similar to my own although I focus on the breath within the head, but each to their own. I spent a long time digging my own holes with various practices but found that vipassana is like using an excavator compared to a hand-trowel.

Welcome to the DhO, by the way!

RE: hard time on 1st jhana
Answer
3/26/11 3:07 PM as a reply to Diego Garrido Prats.
There's a book that I have found helpful: *Practicing the Jhanas* by Stephen Snyder & Tina Rasmussen (Shambhala). The authors have a website, www.jhanasadvice.com. The practice they describe follows the teachings of the Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw; his book *Knowing and Seeing* is available for download at www.paauk.org . Good luck!

RE: hard time on 1st jhana
Answer
3/27/11 11:27 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
Thank you all for the advices, I think I got too much anxious for ANYTHING to happen. Happily, since the day I wrote this first thread, I can reach some kind of ethereal state (or body sensation) that can fit some of the descriptions for the jhanas. Now I'm just "having fun" with the state, not minding a lot for names or stages for the moment.

I would like to thank Tommy specially for that piece of advice: "In samatha, you don't need to "stop" anything. Surprising, I know but it's true." I will never repeat it enought to myself!!!

Really big thanks to the rest, I'll keep you informed of my path.

diego.

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