Different types of focus - questions

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bill of the wandering mind, modified 10 Years ago.

Different types of focus - questions

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
1. I have read in some places that one should not switch the focus to the pleasant sensations, and in others this seems to be the direction. Does anyone really know what difference this would make over time? My interest here is clarity and power of the mind to pursue insight practice which is what I mainly do. (Pre-SE, I dont have think I have jhana access yet and probably get weak access at best although I'm not entirely sure)

2. I have experimented with a focus *inside* the body somewhere in a few different places and that seems to be powerful but for some odd reason my awareness seems to have a hard time going back out into the senses afterwards, so Im not sure this is a good idea. Anyone have experience with this? When I do kasina work I dont seem to get this problem (I also seem to get spacey sometimes when using the breath as a concentration object if pleasure arises)
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Ian And, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Different types of focus - questions

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hello bill of the wandering mind,
(Neat handle, by the way. Very descriptive.)

bill of the wandering mind:
1. I have read in some places that one should not switch the focus to the pleasant sensations, and in others this seems to be the direction. Does anyone really know what difference this would make over time? My interest here is clarity and power of the mind to pursue insight practice which is what I mainly do. (Pre-SE, I dont have think I have jhana access yet and probably get weak access at best although I'm not entirely sure)

In answer to your question (emphasized above), it may mean the difference between being able to quickly learn about and practice jhana and not being able to learn about and practice it as quickly. I say "may" because the difference is different for different people. It all depends on how quickly one catches on to (has insight into) the process of what is happening.

If you'll bear with me for a moment, I will endeavor to explain. Have you ever caught yourself so engrossed in reading a book and looked up suddenly and wondered where the time went? It's that kind of pleasant...focused...space that one enters when mentally absorbed by an object wherein things on the periphery can seem to disappear. This anomaly (of phenomena disappearing) usually only occurs when one's mindfulness (sati) is at low ebb. Otherwise, you will be aware of the periphery.

But this aside, the pleasantness of a sensation can tend to focus the mind more fully on the object being observed, thus increasing levels of mental concentration. There arises a sensation that has been experienced by countless meditation practitioners (myself included) that is akin to pressure in the center of the forehead just slightly above the brows. This sensation is generally viewed as being increased mental concentration ability.

Once you are able to access this increased mental concentration ability, you are more easily able to remain focused intently on an object and thus to be able to "see it as it actually is." In seeing it as it actually is, you develop insight and wisdom.

bill of the wandering mind:

2. I have experimented with a focus *inside* the body somewhere in a few different places and that seems to be powerful but for some odd reason my awareness seems to have a hard time going back out into the senses afterwards, so I'm not sure this is a good idea. Anyone have experience with this? When I do kasina work I don't seem to get this problem (I also seem to get spacey sometimes when using the breath as a concentration object if pleasure arises)

Yes. That spacey feeling is the result of a lack of mindfulness. There is a point at which "letting go" becomes detrimental in one's practice of concentration states like jhana. And yet, in order to experience jhana, one has to have a modicum of "letting go" in order even to experience the state of absorption. So there is a bit of give and take here with regard to how much letting go is needed. You just have to experiment with it. As your mindfulness increases, the amount of time it takes to retrieve your awareness after experiencing such a state will decrease in proportion to the increase in the amount of mindfulness cultivated.

You would do well to carefully read through the Practical Aspects of Mindfulness thread. That may provide you with some ideas about how to go about increasing your sati (mindfulness).
Sze-Hung Daniel Tsui, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Different types of focus - questions

Posts: 69 Join Date: 5/3/11 Recent Posts
To sorta answer both questions:

concentration practice to me just means paying attention to your chosen object to the exclusion of pretty much everything else.
I don't feel qualified to say much more. From my experience: do that well, and soon enough stuff happens in the background. Keep going and it becomes gross enough to analyze and match to descriptions of jhanas, but it will impede pure concentration...

feels like making the distinction between pleasant and unpleasant sensations would be more work than you need to do.
-oh here's a sensation
-it's is pleasant or not?
-okay let's pay attention to it/okay let's shift our attention elsewhere (and to where?)

If you're attentive enough you might begin to find having the thought/judgement "this sensation in my leg or whatever is unpleasant" is a mental sensation itself, and can manifest in myriad ways.


At first I played around with experimenting a bit. Mostly with objects/postures. I think MCTB hit the nail on the head when it said something along the lines of 'the object doesn't really matter, just pick one, do it (what I'm describing in the first paragraph), and stuff happens".
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bill of the wandering mind, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Different types of focus - questions

Posts: 131 Join Date: 4/14/11 Recent Posts
Thanks for the replies.

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