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Where's the bliss (and does it matter)?

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Howdy, new poster here, really enjoying this website so far...

Something I thought would be interesting to bring up is the 'bliss' or lack thereof that I have noticed in my practice. Based on the fact that bliss is very often mentioned by many sources in relation to the jhanic states or meditation in general, I assume it's a fairly common thing to experience during meditation.

I am pretty sure that I have experienced this type of bliss before, but not necessarily while meditating in the traditional sense.  I've felt this bliss (maybe you could compare it to an ASMR-type sensation?) at seemingly random times in my life, just day to day stuff, doing trivial things, etcetera.  (I've experienced it much less in recent years but I still do feel blissful from time to time).  

However, I have not really experienced this type of bliss while meditating.  I will caveat that by saying, I do fairly often experience a sense of calm and maybe some 'hints' of bliss in my meditation but nothing really overwhelming.  I do also experience some interesting and stimulating concentration and insight states but it's more of a peaceful analytical/concentration state than an emotional one.

So based on some of the threads here, as well as MCTB and other books, I'm not sure this is necessarily a bad thing, since bliss is just an emotion like anything else and therefore can actually be a distraction or obstacle towards gaining insight and ultimately enlightenment.
But that said, I want to feel blissful when I meditate!  I feel like that would be as much a motivation to practice than it would be an obstacle.

But, on the other hand, part of me thinks that it has to do with the way my brain is wired.  I'm a bit of a high-octane adrenaline junkie type, not really from a extreme sports perspective but I put a lot of effort into creating art (music) and things like that, and I often feel blissful or joyful when I'm in the act of creation.  So I'm wondering if I'm just funneling all of my bliss-making particles into my art and so my brain is just sort of understimulated when I'm meditating.

I'm curious about others experience of feeling blissful when meditating, is this more of an early path state or do more blissful states come into fruition later on (after Stream Entry for example)?  

Do more experienced meditators find that they are less interested in feeling blissful later on or is it a state that you can always return to even later on?  Does it simply stop mattering?

FWIW I consider myself a meditation beginner, having practiced for about a year/year and a half, maybe an average of an hour a day.


Should I be aware of anything else or just continue to observe?  Again it doesn't really bother me that I don't feel blissful often, but I also would not at all mind being more blissful... lol.

Thanks and regards..
John

RE: Where's the bliss (and does it matter)?
Answer
2/14/20 3:51 PM as a reply to John W.
John W:
...

I'm curious about others experience of feeling blissful when meditating, is this more of an early path state or do more blissful states come into fruition later on (after Stream Entry for example)?  
I often feel blissful during meditation. I think bliss is something that can come before stream entry because one path to stream entry is to go through all the jhanas first. And one of the seven factors of awakening is piti (joy)


Do more experienced meditators find that they are less interested in feeling blissful later on or is it a state that you can always return to even later on?  Does it simply stop mattering?
When I first learned to produce bliss it was fun to crank up the intensity. But too much for too long and it stopped being pleasant. It matters a lot less when it becomes ordinary. I use the skill in daily life to make it pleasant when I can. Being happy helps you to be non-attached because it makes it easier to let go of attachments and aversions. And learning to produce bliss can help you learn to let go of the ten fetters that are used to measure the four stages of enlightenment.

I also found I made more progress faster after I began to produce bliss during meditation.


FWIW I consider myself a meditation beginner, having practiced for about a year/year and a half, maybe an average of an hour a day.


Should I be aware of anything else or just continue to observe?  Again it doesn't really bother me that I don't feel blissful often, but I also would not at all mind being more blissful... lol.


The next time you feel naturally happy, try meditating on the feeling of happienss and see if the intensity increases. If you can do that, you will know how to produce it during meditation: just look for a pleasant feeling like the feeling of relaxation as you breathe in a relaxing way, patiently focus your attention on that pleasant feeling, and see if the intensity of pleasure gradually increases.

I find relaxation is very helpful inproducing bliss. If you are a "high octane" person and want to experience bliss during meditatoin, it might help to try relaxation exercises before meditating.

If you don't experience bliss under these conditions my experience is that changes in diet can help. You can increase serotonin levels in the brain by eating carbohydrates and protein in certain amounts and at certain times (get more info from google). Also, after reading that eating beef is correlated with a reduced incidence of depression I experimented and found that eating beef resulted in more intense bliss during meditation.

If you still find you are not getting bliss when you meditate, don't worry about it. In my opinion you get much of the same benefit from just meditating in a relaxing way. (In my view it's all about learning to be relaxed. That might be an unconventional view or an unconventional way of explainig it but if you could be relaxed in any situation you would necessarily be non-attached.)

Thanks and regards..
John


Have you seen this thread:

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

I have several posts there on this subject.

RE: Where's the bliss (and does it matter)?
Answer
2/14/20 3:56 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Hey Jim, thanks, this is quite helpful.  It's nice to hear about your experiences in producing bliss, I have a feeling I'll be reading this through a few times. 

RE: relaxation exercises... I picked up a couple of books on Kum Nye but haven't gotten around to really absorbing them yet.  Sound like maybe I should make that a higher priority.

I read a few other posts here on the subject but haven't seen the one you linked yet.  Thanks for sharing!

John

RE: Where's the bliss (and does it matter)?
Answer
2/15/20 1:20 AM as a reply to John W.
Hi! I enjoyed reading your post. It might be the case that if you have the personality type you described, it is easier for you to start with rather dry vipassana, and then jhanas and stuff like that will show up later in your practice. I don't know if that's the case, but I just wanted to add that  piece of info in case you try out Jim's advice and find that it doesn't work for you. If so, don't worry about it. There will be more opportunities for bliss later down the road.

RE: Where's the bliss (and does it matter)?
Answer
2/15/20 6:05 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Hey Linda, thanks for the insight. I tried out a few things and had a pretty nice experience including some blissful states, definitely one of the more physical experiences I've had.
I definitely noticed like Jim mentioned, eventually the blissful states cease to become pleasurable, or they morph into something that is not pleasurable and even uncomfortable.
I started out with some breathing exercises and was able to get a blissful body high going, but then that eventually turned into an uncomfortable state with some pressure around the nasal bridge (something I've noticed for a few weeks so it wasn't unexpected).
But finally I was able to purify "unblock"? some of that pressure and it blossomed back into a very nice and pleasurable energy throughout the whole body which lasted several minutes.

I'm trying to figure out how to tie this all together. I know it all has to do with cycling through each stage like mentioned in MCTB. But definitely a confidence booster to have had such a pleasurable experience after sort of feeling like I've been missing out on it.
I'll try to write some more about it in my journal once I'm able to spend some time reflecting on these things.

RE: Where's the bliss (and does it matter)?
Answer
2/15/20 6:14 PM as a reply to John W.
That was fast. I'm happy for you. emoticon Yes, for me it varies over the cycling. For some, access seems to be more even. If it goes away, don't worry. It will come back. 

RE: Where's the bliss (and does it matter)?
Answer
2/16/20 11:58 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Fast.. or just a long time coming... emoticon