First jhana?

oldmonk, modified 2 Years ago at 3/4/20 11:06 AM
Created 2 Years ago at 3/4/20 11:06 AM

First jhana?

Posts: 3 Join Date: 3/4/20 Recent Posts
This is my first post here, apologies if I'm posting this in the wrong place.

I've been meditating regularly for around 3 months now. I currently do two 40 minute sits a day, which I've worked up to since I started. I started out with Anapanasati, but switched over to Mahasi style noting since the last month or so, and I've found it to be quite effective. Over the last week or so, sometimes during my sits I feel a "head rush" going up from my spine into my head, followed by a few seconds (upto 10) of some kind of energy from head to toe. The feeling slowly dissipates, and I just continue to note until the end of the session.

I have several questions on this, would greatly appreciate if someone could clarify. Is this the "first jhana"? If not, then what exactly is this? I feel like the right approach is to treat this like any other sensation (i.e. not to give it any undue importance), note it, and move on.

Thank you
Ben Sulsky, modified 2 Years ago at 3/4/20 2:03 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 3/4/20 2:03 PM

RE: First jhana?

Posts: 147 Join Date: 11/5/19 Recent Posts
My understanding of the Mahasi/Daniel framework is that it's advised to get into access concentration and then the first jhana, and then turn towards noting practice.  

You're probably a big favorite to have gotten into the first jhana on that dose of practice, but it might not be clear analytically yet.  

Imo try the MCTB2 conceptual framework and see if it's helpful at putting words or concepts to some stuff you've done, see


https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-i-the-fundamentals/3-concentration-the-second-training/

https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-i-the-fundamentals/4-wisdom-the-third-training/

https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-i-the-fundamentals/5-the-three-characteristics/

 Noting instructions are hidden here: https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-i-the-fundamentals/7-the-seven-factors-of-awakening/

https://www.mctb.org/mctb2/table-of-contents/part-iii-the-samatha-jhanas/27-the-concentration-states-shamatha-jhanas/

 You can also read Practical Insight Meditation by Mahasi online via googlebooks.  It's fantastic but there's a larger language barrier and the Theravada beliefs might turn you off.


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Chris M, modified 2 Years ago at 3/4/20 3:05 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 3/4/20 2:51 PM

RE: First jhana?

Posts: 4490 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Over the last week or so, sometimes during my sits I feel a "head rush" going up from my spine into my head, followed by a few seconds (upto 10) of some kind of energy from head to toe. The feeling slowly dissipates, and I just continue to note until the end of the session.

A very commonly occurring experience but probably not jhana. When we first start to practice we tend to notice all manner of experiences that happen often but previously weren't; noticed as they were beneath the level of conscious observation. I can recall getting very energetic, prickly and somewhat ticklish feelings like you describe. I also had head rush experiences, and during those it felt like my head was a balloon, expanding and contracting with the breath. But these weren't jhanas and I know that because I can now experience jhanas.
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Not two, not one, modified 2 Years ago at 3/4/20 2:59 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 3/4/20 2:58 PM

RE: First jhana?

Posts: 986 Join Date: 7/13/17 Recent Posts
Hey oldmonk.  Welcome.

First concentration jhana involves an energetic rapture, physical thrill or mild ecstasy (piti) that is stabilised througout the whole body, with accompanying pleasure/happiness (sukkha). Verbal thoughts can continue during this experience. The energy surges you are feeling are related to the jhana factor of piti , but they are not themselves first jhana as they are localised and not stable, and don't have the accompanying sukkha. So yes, just note them arising and passing away, and continue as you were.

Piti has different grades, from a mild buzz all the way to this (from the Christian tradition):

"I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron's point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am lying"



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecstasy_of_Saint_Teresa

When full on piti first arises, it can really knock your socks off.  If that happens, try not to recoil and drop it, but just let it pulse away and blow your mind for a bit.  Then be ready for emotional arising afterwards, and continue meditating.


Malcolm
oldmonk, modified 2 Years ago at 3/4/20 3:38 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 3/4/20 3:38 PM

RE: First jhana?

Posts: 3 Join Date: 3/4/20 Recent Posts
Thank you all for your comments and suggestions. It's reassuring to know that this is a common occurrence among practitioners. If nothing else, it probably indicates that I'm on the right path, so I think I'll continue with the Mahasi noting and see where it goes. Thanks again!
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Chris M, modified 2 Years ago at 3/5/20 11:14 AM
Created 2 Years ago at 3/5/20 11:14 AM

RE: First jhana?

Posts: 4490 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
oldmonk, modified 2 Years ago at 3/9/20 6:49 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 3/9/20 6:49 PM

RE: First jhana?

Posts: 3 Join Date: 3/4/20 Recent Posts
It's been a week since I had the experience described in the OP (was probably piti, based on the description by curious and some talks by Rob Burbea I listened to on dharmaseed.org). The first time it occurred, it arose randomly, without any warning, and was a clearly a distinct event. Then it occurred a couple more times in subsequent sits, and I felt like each time was less intense than the last. Over the past few days, it has disappeared completely. I feel like sometimes I'm on the brink of getting there again, and somehow I prevent it from arising by anticipating it. Any suggestions on how to deal with this? 
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J W, modified 2 Years ago at 3/9/20 7:00 PM
Created 2 Years ago at 3/9/20 7:00 PM

RE: First jhana?

Posts: 594 Join Date: 2/11/20 Recent Posts
"Over the past few days, it has disappeared completely. I feel like sometimes I'm on the brink of getting there again, and somehow I prevent it from arising by anticipating it. Any suggestions on how to deal with this? "

I've noticed this in my practice too, I don't think it's much to worry about. You will have more of those experiences with patience and practice.

I think part of it is that initial first time it's the newness and unexpectedness of it that made it so much more intense (which is kind of the nature of A&P events in my limited experience). Once you've gotten used to it and you can anticipate it, that's actually good because then you can actually work towards stabilizing that state and be able to access the Jhanic states, and insight states, more reliably (which also mean you can investigate said states and potentially access higher states.) At least that's what I've noticed from recent similar experiences.