MJB's Practice Thread

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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

MJB's Practice Thread

Posts: 36 Join Date: 4/12/11 Recent Posts
Just finished a 50 min sit and this is how it went:

1) 5-10 min mark completely absorbed in following my breath (nostrils). Pleasant sensations on surface of body. Breath aslo extremely pleasant to follow (becoming very fine);
2) Eyes beginning to flutter and feelings of bliss getting stronger all over but especially in eyeballs and inside head; body twitching/spasming;
3) Eye fluttering and pressure behind eyes increasing, but feelings of bliss also increase.
4) Bliss has peaked (eyes fluttering uncontrollably) and notice that my face has kind of 'puckered up' as if getting ready to kiss; spine is involuntary moving backwards and forwards (like Muslims do when reading the Koran);
5) By relaxingeasing the pressure on my face and eyes, I can kind of 'ration' the bliss and make it last as long as I want - if I want the bliss to increase I can control the fluttering of my eyes. By maintaining the pressure/fluttering of my eyes the bliss stays constant;
6) Completely relax my facial muscles and eyes and the lessening of tension/action creates a more peaceful feeling (I'm thinking that this is a good time to begin insight practice);
7) Within a minute or so of body-scanning a wave of bliss begins again although is much, much stronger than at the beginning of the sit;
8) Abandon (actually, no choice) the body-scanning and just go with it - almost unbearably blissful;
9) Lasts about 5 minutes and then just before it feels like I'm going over the threshold of too much bliss I level off into equanimity;
10) Stay with it for about 5 minutes (my posture feels perfect and spine is solid). Aware of pain in hips/bum etc but feel like I could sit thru it no problem, i.e. no suffering;
11) Timer beeps and head down to write this report!

I know this doesn't seem to follow the usual steps (1-4) of the jhanas, but this is what occured for me. I'm also thinking that it is beyond access concentration, but I've no idea which jhana I've reached. Thoughts? M
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: MJB's Practice Thread

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Well, it's 4.20am in Japan and I just woke up to 2 huge realisations I wasn't even working on! First, the real meaning of the 'Shroeder's(sp?) cat' paradox hit me (Wow, that cat is really fucking DEAD). And then following straight on from that I had a huge breakthrough with the Zen koan 'Nansen's Cat' - and I mean a huge satori!! Sorry if this comes across as all a bit manic, but.. WOW! Ok, a cup of tea and back to bed zzzzzz
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: MJB's Practice Thread

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Mike James Brown:
First, the real meaning of the 'Shroeder's(sp?) cat' paradox hit me (Wow, that cat is really fucking DEAD).
can you explain further? i thought there was a switch that kills the cat wired to go off when a radioactive atom decays, but since decay is not predictable and it can happen at any time, you don't know whether the cat is dead or not until you open the box, though you can estimate the chance that it will be alive (i.e. if you set off 100 identical boxes at once you could predict with some degree of certainty how many of the cats are dead at any given moment)
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: MJB's Practice Thread

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I copied this from wiki:

"The quantum-mechanical "Schrödinger's cat" paradox according to the many-worlds interpretation. In this interpretation, every event is a branch point; the cat is both alive and dead, irrespective of whether the box is opened, but the "alive" and "dead" cats are in different branches of the universe, both of which are equally real, but which cannot interact with each other."

My eureka! moment was the full awareness and understanding that the cat was simultaneously alive and dead at the same time. Something I never got before - I'd always assumed that the cat could only be in one state or the other. No big deal really, but it was so strange to 'get' 2 puzzles (the other being the Zen koan 'Nansen's Cat') at the same time. M
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: MJB's Practice Thread

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Mike James Brown:
My eureka! moment was the full awareness and understanding that the cat was simultaneously alive and dead at the same time. Something I never got before - I'd always assumed that the cat could only be in one state or the other. No big deal really, but it was so strange to 'get' 2 puzzles (the other being the Zen koan 'Nansen's Cat') at the same time. M

ah hehe got it.

A&P can be filled with insights that way.. or at least things that feel like insights. i understood the point of the cosmic mudra - keeping your thumbs slightly far apart throughout the entire sit served as an intense point of focus that immediately and awesomely focused one's meditation. i understood the point of zen - living one's entire way of life with a particular attitude conducive to awakening, making it part of your very being. i understood the phrase 'taking refuge in the buddha', though i forgot that one. and all three within the space of a few minutes!
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: MJB's Practice Thread

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Hi Beoman,

Thanks for the above feedback. Based on what both you and Tommy have said, I believe I'm entering the 2nd jhana. Is it possible to enter the 3rd jhana momentarily and then fall back into the 2nd again? I say this because after the bliss has almost disappeared, I experience about 5 mins of tranquility/equanimity, but then the wave of bliss comes again (too strong for body-scanning). Is that 5 mins the 3rd jhana or just a feature of the 2nd jhana? M
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: MJB's Practice Thread

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Two things I'd like to mention today. First, in the shower this morning I felt a moment of absolute terror. It wasn't directed towards anything imparticular (a sound, vision, memory etc), but just came out of the blue and was just very acute (goosebumps and fight or flight physio stuff). It only lasted a minute and then I was able to snap out of it. I should add that I'm a 6 ft 2" ex-infantryman and don't scare easily. Straight after I had a really strong feeling that I need to keep working on, and be serious about, morality training.

Second point. I've been walking around for days with a really nice, mellow feeling. I couldn't put my finger on it until today when I realised that it's the same feeling I've got after finishing a 10-day retreat. I've also noticed that I've completely stopped looking at porn (Hey, I'm a guy - we're more visually oriented!) and perving on women. My desire to go out and drink with the boys has radically decreased (although catching up with friends hasn't decreased - just the intoxicants). I also notice a more 'spaciousness' in my visual perception and objects (don't worry, I'm familiar with 'emptiness) really display their 3Dness. In so many words, life's just a real buzz at the moment. M
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: MJB's Practice Thread

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Ok, I was in 2 minds whether to write this, or not, but I feel this is definitely the place to talk about this so here goes.

I've just finished my afternoon sit (1hr 10mins) and had some pretty 'out there' experiences. First, I think I've finally got a grip of the stages of the jhanas. At the beginning (3 weeks ago) they were pretty difficult to assess, but in the last couple of sits I think I can see where I am and at which jhana.

!st jhana

Just a nice pleasant following of the breath. Feels like an infusion of honey in the breath going to all parts of the body and mind accompanied with a slight fluttering of the eyelids.

2nd jhana

Fluttering of eyelids intensifies and with it a rapturess feeling of bliss (EXTREME pleasure) seems to be breathed in and shoots into my mind/head. Eyes and face are literally screwed-up into a 'pucker' and eyes are clenched tight. Bliss is almost overwhelming. Maybe lasts 5-10 mins like this and becomes too physically and mentally uncomfortable. By consciously easing the tension in my eyes/face I can 'regulate' the flow of bliss/pleasant sensations. For example, if I want to decrease the bliss I can slow the pressure and fluttering of my eyes - if I want to increase the bliss I consciously flutter my eyes faster while also increasing the pressure on the eyes themselves.

3rd jhana

Feels like another wave of bliss is coming, eyes flutter involuntarily (as opposed to the control in the 2nd jhana) and then dissapates into a less blissful state (but still pleasant). Feels like my focus is not so central but is pushing out to the peripheries of my 'sight'. Bodily sensations are felt more than in the 2nd jhana (actually, in the 2nd jhana there is almost no bodily sensations except for the blissy ones). Also feels like my inner-vision is slightly outside my head and to my front. Still lots of flashes of lights and colourful dots on the back of my eyes. Much, much less fluttering of the eyes, but it's still happening. A very imperceptible rocking back and forth of the spine.

4th jhana (experienced for the first time.. if I'm right about it being the 4th jhana)

At the end of the 3rd jhana my eyes and face tighten again, everything goes black like I'm shooting down a black tunnel and WHOOSH my eyes/face completely relax; the colours in front of me are a kind of uniform blue/whiteness (as opposed to the random sense of chaos in the first 3 jhanas). Strong equilibrium i.e, I can sense bodily sensations quite clearly, but almost as if I'm looking at something neutral - almost not like the sensations are happening to me (anatta?). Very aware of my posture which feels very Buddha-esque (!) and immovable. Lasts like this for sometime until...


... Now this is the really weird bit. The rocking back/forth in my spine (which stopped somewhere back there) begins again. No problem, I'm completely mindful of it. Then it begins to speed up BUT is now also starting to twist from side to side (like ringing out a wet towel). My whole upper body from the waist up is starting to twist completely involuntarily and had started to make my head do the same (like when you see Indians do the head-wobble thing). I'm not actually worried at all and even have a wry smile that anyone watching this would think I'm possessed : ) My face is screwing up again and my head drops down as if watching my navel. There's a feeling of anticipation because I can feel a build up of pressure at the base of my spine (I'm also aware of kudalini arising due to events 10 years ago). Also a feeling of electrical charges at different parts of my body. Not painful but a bit more uncomfortable than neutral. Again, I'm not too worried and just feel like I want to go along for the ride, BUT there's also a subtle feeling that I might not be ready to handle what's about to occur. With this thought the whole thing begins to die down and very soon I'm out of meditation (1hr 10 mins exactly).

Post meditation

I would've imagined I'd be ecstatic (excuse the pun) about this - I'm always looking for 'proof' about these things. but instead I have a rather sombre feeling of 'this shit is real and I'd better get serious about it'. What Daniel said in MCTB about 'better not to take up the path, but once on it better not to quit' (to badly paraphrase it). Sooooooo? Don't know what anyone can say about all this, but just thought it'd be a good idea to record it. M
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: MJB's Practice Thread

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your descriptions seem accurate - i think you did indeed get to the 4th samatha jhana. once you got there, you didn't solidify the state but began investigating it, so you started experiencing insight-related phenomena - A&P, in this case - energy things, feeling like something big is about to happen, etc.

you seem to be in late-A&P, maybe past it (the raw fear indicates you are getting into the next territory). i personally also experienced less desire to be intoxicated/less horniness during an A&P. this might flare up again as you move past it since the awesomeness from the meditation will die down.

the thing is, the insight stages can also be grouped into 4 categories that we call the vipassana jhanas. the 2nd vipassana jhana is the A&P, and it is similar to the 2nd samatha jhana - very energetic, blissful, high-energy, high-concentration, etc. the 3rd vipassana jhana starts off like the 3rd samatha jhana - more mellow, definitely more focused on the periphery than on the center (your descriptions were good there - pay attention to the periphery and don't fret if you can't sense the center too accurately). so when you're dropping back and forth between blissful and mellow, it's probably some flux of the samatha jhana and vipassana jhana aspects - that seems to be your 'cutting edge' insight-wise, anyway (A&P-Dissolution) so that might explain what's going on.

EDIT: replying to this:
Thanks for the above feedback. Based on what both you and Tommy have said, I believe I'm entering the 2nd jhana. Is it possible to enter the 3rd jhana momentarily and then fall back into the 2nd again? I say this because after the bliss has almost disappeared, I experience about 5 mins of tranquility/equanimity, but then the wave of bliss comes again (too strong for body-scanning). Is that 5 mins the 3rd jhana or just a feature of the 2nd jhana? M

it might just be the way the A&P is manifesting (the quote i put about "As to the cycles..." above). so it would be part of the 2nd vipassana jhana. or maybe you're going back and forth between 2nd+3rd samatha jhana.. i'm not sure, maybe someone else can chime in.
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: MJB's Practice Thread

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Hi Beoman,

I really needed some feedback on yesterday's stuff, so thanks for taking the time to read my post and make a comment. I definitely feel like the jhanas are now becoming easier to discriminate and I can recognise which one is occuring. It seems like the eyelids fluttering phenomena and when I screw up my face are some kind of 'portal' or gate into each jhana. Does that sound right? Thanks again. M
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: MJB's Practice Thread

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Mike James Brown:
Hi Beoman,

I really needed some feedback on yesterday's stuff, so thanks for taking the time to read my post and make a comment. I definitely feel like the jhanas are now becoming easier to discriminate and I can recognise which one is occuring. It seems like the eyelids fluttering phenomena and when I screw up my face are some kind of 'portal' or gate into each jhana. Does that sound right? Thanks again. M

there's a reason one progresses through the jhanas in the order that one does.. each one is a more refined state, more stable, more pleasant (as you found how pleasant the 4th is), more conducive to investigating one's perception of reality. you can play around within them if you want by voluntarily mucking with it:
Mike James Brown:
2nd jhana
...
By consciously easing the tension in my eyes/face I can 'regulate' the flow of bliss/pleasant sensations. For example, if I want to decrease the bliss I can slow the pressure and fluttering of my eyes - if I want to increase the bliss I consciously flutter my eyes faster while also increasing the pressure on the eyes themselves.

however notice that you only progress to the nicer ones in an undirected fashion:
Mike James Brown:
1st jhana

Just a nice pleasant following of the breath. Feels like an infusion of honey in the breath going to all parts of the body and mind accompanied with a slight fluttering of the eyelids.

2nd jhana

Fluttering of eyelids intensifies and with it a rapturess feeling of bliss (EXTREME pleasure) seems to be breathed in and shoots into my mind/head. Eyes and face are literally screwed-up into a 'pucker' and eyes are clenched tight. Bliss is almost overwhelming. Maybe lasts 5-10 mins like this and becomes too physically and mentally uncomfortable...

3rd jhana

Feels like another wave of bliss is coming, eyes flutter involuntarily (as opposed to the control in the 2nd jhana) and then dissapates into a less blissful state (but still pleasant). Feels like my focus is not so central but is pushing out to the peripheries of my 'sight'. Bodily sensations are felt more than in the 2nd jhana (actually, in the 2nd jhana there is almost no bodily sensations except for the blissy ones). Also feels like my inner-vision is slightly outside my head and to my front. Still lots of flashes of lights and colourful dots on the back of my eyes. Much, much less fluttering of the eyes, but it's still happening. A very imperceptible rocking back and forth of the spine.

4th jhana (experienced for the first time.. if I'm right about it being the 4th jhana)

At the end of the 3rd jhana my eyes and face tighten again, everything goes black like I'm shooting down a black tunnel and WHOOSH my eyes/face completely relax; the colours in front of me are a kind of uniform blue/whiteness (as opposed to the random sense of chaos in the first 3 jhanas). Strong equilibrium i.e, I can sense bodily sensations quite clearly, but almost as if I'm looking at something neutral - almost not like the sensations are happening to me (anatta?). Very aware of my posture which feels very Buddha-esque (!) and immovable. Lasts like this for sometime until...

etc.. i just bolded a few parts but notice how they are all written impersonally (not "I tightened my eyes and face again and then i sought out a black tunnel and shot down it", but "my eyes and face tightened again and then everything goes black").

so to answer the question, i'd say the eyelids fluttering and face screwing up are side-effects of going into the jhanas - they happen as a result of going into the jhana, and not the other way around. so i would seek to not control them that way but progress through it naturally (which happens when you become tired of the current one, e.g. 2nd jhana "becomes too physically and mentally uncomfortable". as you have more practice you might progress through the lower jhanas faster and not even feel the effects as much.
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: MJB's Practice Thread

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Beoman,

At the risk of sounding like a 'Yes Man', but yes, yes and yes. I think you're right - the phenomena that arises (point taken on the impersonal nature of the phenomena) is indicative of entering the jhana. When I just 'went with it' last night, I had a much smoother ride than when I've tried manipulating things in the past. Great advice and it's helped my practice heaps. Nice one. M
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: MJB's Practice Thread

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Sat twice yesterday. First sit was a bit bumpy. Got into and past the first 2 jhanas okay, but the old nemesis of posture pain reared it's ugly head during the 3rd jhana and my mind fixed on that. Started off as an, "Oh no, not again" feeling and went downhill rapidly from there. Completely fell out of 3rd jhana and tried 'forcing' equanimity (I know, I know), but the screaming, white-hot, sweat inducing, time goes backwards, mother f*cking pain beat me at the 52 min mark. Of course, felt completely dejected for having lost to my old nemesis once more.

All day experienced a kind of flat, 'don't give a shit about anything, kinda mood.

Read up (on the net) 'meditation pain' to steel myself for my second sit. Decided on reaching 1st jhana and then going into insight practice (body-scanning). Accepted that pain is inevitable and to use it as a 'teacher'. Got into 1st jhana and began scanning. Seemed to take ages for any signs of discomfort, never mind (excuse the pun) pain. During the scanning, 2nd jhana type phenomena (eyes fluttering and bliss) began. Where's the pain? I need some pain! Nothing. Stayed in 2nd jhana for a looooooong time (just noting the pleasant sensations) and then decided to go back to body scanning. Took a while to get past the pleasant sensations (more like obstacles by now), but eventually got into the groove. At last! Discomfort in my right hip-joint could be felt so went into that. By investigating the different 'tones' of the pain (especially compared to the neutral, spacey tones of areas in the arms, ears, hands etc.), the pain lost its grip on power due to the detached nature of just observing the impermanence and transitory nature of the vibratory sensations. The deeper one explores this, the deeper one comes out of the suffering nature of the pain. A good lesson.

Post sit

I'm beginning to notice a big difference between zazen and vipassana practice. Vipassana gives you all the advice you'll ever need for dealing with pain. That advice, of course, is to investigate deeply the nature of that pain so that one can realise the 3 characters of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and no-self. Once realised there's an overwhelmimg feeling of gratitude that the Buddha and all the teachers are talking the truth and that even I can realise this. Zen, on the other hand, is much more about self-directed understanding of things like the impermanence of pain (and of course of all phenomena). There's no instructions on what to do with pain, other than 'just sit'. I think this is very indicative of the stoic character of the Japanese. However, with this rather 'kept in the dark' practice, comes a great satori on realisation of these fundemental truths. For me, I'm beginning to see Zen as the alpha and omega of 'spiritual' practice and ultimate reality - what we see with open eyes is *it*. Vipassana allows for a much deeper insight into ultimate reality. Almost like comparing art (just take a look at what the Japanese have done with Zen) to science (there doesn't seem to be much cultural art produced in Vipassana, but the treatises on body and mind could fill a library). Awesome discovery - a yin for my yang! M
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: MJB's Practice Thread

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Mike James Brown:
Sat twice yesterday. First sit was a bit bumpy. Got into and past the first 2 jhanas okay, but the old nemesis of posture pain reared it's ugly head during the 3rd jhana and my mind fixed on that. Started off as an, "Oh no, not again" feeling and went downhill rapidly from there. Completely fell out of 3rd jhana and tried 'forcing' equanimity (I know, I know), but the screaming, white-hot, sweat inducing, time goes backwards, mother f*cking pain beat me at the 52 min mark. Of course, felt completely dejected for having lost to my old nemesis once more.

did the pain start a little after getting into 3rd jhana, i.e. at first it was pleasant and nice and then it started then you were afraid of it then it really started sucking? when you fell out of 3rd jhana, was it like the pleasantness went away to leave you with only the pain and aversion to the pain (feeling it much more and being a lot worse at handling it)?
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

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Exactly. Very much like coming down from an mdma or lsd high. It felt like all my endorphins/serotonin were used up in the high so that the pain on leaving the 3rd jhana was more extreme than usual.
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: MJB's Practice Thread

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Had a great sit last night. Began body-scanning after entering into 1st jhana. Took a long time before any discomfort/pain appeared so could really work on the 3 Cs. When discomfort leading into pain finally made an appearance, I actually enjoyed diving down into it and noting the many different kinds of sensations and vibrations it takes. Many times it felt as tho the mind 'took over' and darted back and fore to different spots where the pain/discomfort was (as well as the neutral spots). There was no sense of an "I" doing this, but there was still a strong sense of witnessing.

After some time, this changed to where 'I' could again begin directing the mind to places I wanted to go. If I picked a spot where the pain was quite intense I could really get into it deeper and deeper, almost to sub-atomic proportions (or so it felt). Then a sense of deep equanimity pervaded. I was still aware of the pain (intense pain!) in my hip-joints etc., but in a very detached way (I think Mr Goenka describes it like a surgeon going about an operation on a stranger as opposed to a family member). For me it also felt like when you go into a really REALLY hot bath and can just about bear it, but the slightest move, or mental panic, will make you jump out. Due to the pain, even the breath is stuttering, "I-in, o-o-u-t-t, i-n-n, o--o-u-t-t.." But again, as long as the witness is detached from any sense of 'this is happening to me', then the meditation can progress. 50 min beeper ended the session. Good lessons learnt. Does anyone else get the above described sensations and any idea if that describes a 'vipassana jhana'. It's new territory for me because I've been focusing on concentration jhanas mostly. Thanks (if anyone bothers to reply!). M
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: MJB's Practice Thread

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Not sure if this is the right place to ask this question, but can someone explain to me, in really simple layman's terms, what 'formations' are and their dissolution. Cheers, M.
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago.

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Mike James Brown:
9) Lasts about 5 minutes and then just before it feels like I'm going over the threshold of too much bliss I level off into equanimity;
10) Stay with it for about 5 minutes
(my posture feels perfect and spine is solid). Aware of pain in hips/bum etc but feel like I could sit thru it no problem, i.e. no suffering;

can you be more explicit here? break down what 'level off into equanimity' means- what happened to the bliss? where did it go? in what way did it dissipate? what were sensations before+after? how was perception before+after?
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

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Hi Beoman,

I think I answered your question in my last reply to Tommy, but I'll try to elaborate. Equanimity to me is where there are still sensations evident but we can look at them dispassionately and not get caught up in them. It also felt like the sensations of bliss experienced in the first two jhanas had died down to be replaced with a calmness, almost mellow-like feeling. You may have gathered by now that my eyes and eyelids are quite active during the first two stages, but when I experienced that equanimous stage my eyes were much 'softer' and still. M
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Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem, modified 10 Years ago.

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Mike James Brown:
Hi Beoman,

I think I answered your question in my last reply to Tommy, but I'll try to elaborate. Equanimity to me is where there are still sensations evident but we can look at them dispassionately and not get caught up in them. It also felt like the sensations of bliss experienced in the first two jhanas had died down to be replaced with a calmness, almost mellow-like feeling. You may have gathered by now that my eyes and eyelids are quite active during the first two stages, but when I experienced that equanimous stage my eyes were much 'softer' and still. M

ah got it. looking at sensations dispassionately is always good, you don't have to be in 11th nyana (Equanimity) to do it.

maybe try observing as many sensations as you possibly can per second. if the unbearable-bliss stage is A&P, which i suspect it is, then you can get to 5, 10, 20 maybe 30 or 40 sensations/second. not meant as a standard to hold yourself to, but as an encouragement to see what you can do.

when you feel the unbearable bliss, try applying the same technique to the sensations that make up the bliss. it might get quite overwhelming so you have to take a break and just feel it, but after that try it again.

i wouldn't worry about what's access concentration or what's 1st jhana. i think access concentration is defined as 'having a sufficiently concentrated mind to enter 1st jhana'. it's not so important what's what i don't think.. best just go into that jhana!

about bliss in 1st jhana: it's there, but the directed thought + evaluation means it doesn't have as much of a chance to be prominent as in the 2nd jhana when it happens by itself. 2nd jhana is the most intensely blissful of them all.

maybe relevant quotes from MCTB:
MCTB:
The Ten Corruptions of Insight are: illumination, knowledge, rapturous happiness, tranquility, bliss, resolute confidence, exertion, assurance, equanimity and attachment. To quote the great meditation master Sayadaw U Pandita, from his great but very hard-to-find book, On the Path to Freedom, “As for the practicing yogi, he will at once recognize the above as imperfections of insight not representing dhamma breakthrough and are only to be noted off, remembering the teacher’s advice as to what is path and not path. Being disabled by the ten imperfections, he would not be capable of observing the triple characteristics in their true nature; but once freed from imperfections, he is able to do so.” In short, they may feel that they are now a very mighty meditator and that they should try to hold on to this forever, i.e. they stop actually doing insight practices and instead solidify these qualities as concentration practice objects. Thus, the advice given about deconstructing and investigating the positive factors of the samatha jhanas, particularly the second one, is also very helpful when trying to stay on the narrow path of the progress of insight.
...
As to the cycles, they tend to proceed as follows, with this description assuming that you are using the breath as object. The mind kicks in, follows faster and faster vibrations, things really engage and speed up, perhaps accompanied by more pronounced shaking or strange breathing patterns increasing in speed, and then finally half-way down an out-breath there is a shift, things drop down slowly, it takes work to stay with things as they slow down, and then things bottom out. The breath may stop entirely for a while. Then things come back up with the breath, attention tends to flag, things relax, and then the cycle begins again with things speeding up, etc. These breathing cycles may happen quite on their own and may even be difficult to stop when we are deeply into this stage. Those using visualizations as object, may notice that the objects begin to spin with the phase of the breath, or move in ways that they seem to have a life of their own, albeit a two dimensional one, as compared to the three dimensional visions that may arise later.

hah! i didn't even know MCTB talked about cycles in this stage.
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: MJB's Practice Thread

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Are you noting at all during this sit?

Sounds like you're moving from 1st into 2nd jhana, but it also sounds like you're trying to control your experience rather than just paying attention to what's happening. You've got some strong concentration skills though so I certainly wouldn't be concerned about having access concentration, you may find you can "lock in" to already that by just paying attention to bare awareness.

The bodily movements are typical of 2nd jhana for me, they're usually referred to as kriyas. These occur for yogis who have crossed the A&P as this is when "kundalini" first rises up and it then continues to circulate the body, so the ticks and movements are natural and a useful signpost. The fluttering of the eyelids is more common during insight practice, in my experience, so by paying attention to the sensations in your body i.e. bliss, pleasantness, you're actually noting which is moving you into 2nd jhana.

You mention "bliss" quite a lot, how would you describe this? Is there more than one kind of bliss being experienced?

Completely relax my facial muscles and eyes and the lessening of tension/action creates a more peaceful feeling (I'm thinking that this is a good time to begin insight practice);

This is going into pure samatha as opposed to the vipassana/samatha mix you were inadvertently doing before this. Do the eyes move down and towards the nose by any chance? You can go either way from this point, but you can begin insight as soon as you get access concentration.

Within a minute or so of body-scanning a wave of bliss begins again although is much, much stronger than at the beginning of the sit;

Again, it's this use of the word "bliss" which may be somewhat confusing here. Being unfamiliar with body-scanning I don't know whether this is something typical of this practice but it still sounds like 1st jhana to me without more info.

Abandon (actually, no choice) the body-scanning and just go with it - almost unbearably blissful;

Be honest, you bottled out and had a mind-wank instead..... emoticon Just joking, in all seriousness just pay attention to this bliss and the other sensations which arise and pass here, don't get caught up in it. Well, not for too long anyway....

Lasts about 5 minutes and then just before it feels like I'm going over the threshold of too much bliss I level off into equanimity;

You might be leveling off but this isn't Equanimity, as in the 11th ñana, this is likely to be moving into 5th ñana, Dissolution. What does this "equanimity" feel like?

Stay with it for about 5 minutes (my posture feels perfect and spine is solid). Aware of pain in hips/bum etc but feel like I could sit thru it no problem, i.e. no suffering;

2nd jhana.

You say "i.e. no suffering". This is not suffering, this is just a cluster of sensations labeled "pain".

Advice? Depends on what you're trying to achieve through these practices.

With regards to your second posting, I'd say you've crossed the A&P on this cycle. Don't get too hung up on it, enjoy it and make the most of the energy.

Best of luck mukka,
- Tommy
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Mike James Brown, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: MJB's Practice Thread

Posts: 36 Join Date: 4/12/11 Recent Posts
Tommy,

Thanks for the feedback again. I hope the below makes sense.


Tommy:
"Are you noting at all during this sit?"

I began with the intention of going thru as many of the jhanas as I could with the intention of being the body-scan technique when it felt right.

Tommy:
"Sounds like you're moving from 1st into 2nd jhana, but it also sounds like you're trying to control your experience rather than just paying attention to what's happening."

That's exactly what I'm doing. Mostly I'm just being mindful to what's happening, but I do notice that at times I almost try to manipulate the pleasant sensations or enter another jhana. Good point -I know I have to let go more.

Tommy:
"You've got some strong concentration skills though so I certainly wouldn't be concerned about having access concentration, you may find you can "lock in" to already that by just paying attention to bare awareness."

Yes, I think this is my strongest point. Hoever, I'm still slightly confused as to when I'm in access concentration and when I'm in 1st jhana. I find within minutes I'm locked into my breath, but quite quickly it becomes very pleasurable both at a physical and mental level.

Tommy:
"The bodily movements are typical of 2nd jhana for me, they're usually referred to as kriyas. These occur for yogis who have crossed the A&P as this is when "kundalini" first rises up and it then continues to circulate the body, so the ticks and movements are natural and a useful signpost."

Yes, I suspected this.

Tommy:
"The fluttering of the eyelids is more common during insight practice, in my experience, so by paying attention to the sensations in your body i.e. bliss, pleasantness, you're actually noting which is moving you into 2nd jhana."

I seem to get the fluttering eyelids in both concentration and insight practice. It becomes quite intense moving into the 2nd jhana.

Tommy:
"You mention "bliss" quite a lot, how would you describe this? Is there more than one kind of bliss being experienced?"

I say 'bliss' to mean extremely pleasant sensations that permeate thru the body/mind - almost orgasmic (at its most extreme - moving into 2nd jhana which is strange bcos I always assumed it should happen going into 1st jhana). A understand 'pleasure' as a more peaceful feeling and not as energetic as bliss.


Mike:
"Completely relax my facial muscles and eyes and the lessening of tension/action creates a more peaceful feeling (I'm thinking that this is a good time to begin insight practice)"
Tommy: "This is going into pure samatha as opposed to the vipassana/samatha mix you were inadvertently doing before this. Do the eyes move down and towards the nose by any chance? You can go either way from this point, but you can begin insight as soon as you get access concentration."

I notice that my eyes take many positions during the total time ofthe session. From looking at the crown when I'm in extreme bliss mode; to 'looking' at the body part I'm scanning; and looking at my nose when in access concentration. They get quite a workout!

Mike: Within a minute or so of body-scanning a wave of bliss begins again although is much, much stronger than at the beginning of the sit
Tommy: "Again, it's this use of the word "bliss" which may be somewhat confusing here. Being unfamiliar with body-scanning I don't know whether this is something typical of this practice but it still sounds like 1st jhana to me without more info."

This part is my biggest area of confusion. I thought I'd come out of 2nd jhana because the bliss had died down to more of a pleasant feeling and so it felt like a good time to begin insight practice. The upsurge of bliss again completely took me by surprise.

Mike: Abandon (actually, no choice) the body-scanning and just go with it - almost unbearably blissful
Tommy: "Be honest, you bottled out and had a mind-wank instead..... emoticon Just joking, in all seriousness just pay attention to this bliss and the other sensations which arise and pass here, don't get caught up in it. Well, not for too long anyway...."

Well, just a little wank... but who wouldn't??


Mike: Lasts about 5 minutes and then just before it feels like I'm going over the threshold of too much bliss I level off into equanimity
Tommy: "You might be leveling off but this isn't Equanimity, as in the 11th ñana, this is likely to be moving into 5th ñana, Dissolution. What does this "equanimity" feel like?"

Just feels like all the 'action' has died down and I'm sitting on top of it all. I'm aware of the 'pain' sensations in my body, but in a detached way.


Mike: Stay with it for about 5 minutes (my posture feels perfect and spine is solid). Aware of pain in hips/bum etc but feel like I could sit thru it no problem, i.e. no suffering
Tommy:"2nd jhana."

I thought this might have been 3rd jhana because of the absence of bliss and pain and also there was a feeling of calmness compared to all that had happened previously.

Tommy:
"You say "i.e. no suffering". This is not suffering, this is just a cluster of sensations labeled "pain"."

Exactly. I understand 'pain' as you describe and 'suffering' as the story we build around that pain eg, "Why is this hurting me so much. I wish it'd go away" etc.

Tommy:
"Advice? Depends on what you're trying to achieve through these practices."

Truth and Liberation! ...And some good pick up lines.

Tommy:
"With regards to your second posting, I'd say you've crossed the A&P on this cycle. Don't get too hung up on it, enjoy it and make the most of the energy."

Shit, this stuff is a real roller-coaster ride, eh!

Best of luck mukka,
- Tommy

Cheers mate!

Mike

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