RE: Trouble entering jhana after previous effortless access

Andy, modified 4 Months ago.

Trouble entering jhana after previous effortless access

Posts: 8 Join Date: 12/1/19 Recent Posts
In early September I began practicing jhana and very quickly reached a point where everytime I sat down I was having strong, stable 4th jhana experiences, as well as a few 5th jhana. Sometimes I would focus on my breath or do sitting mediation before hand but normally I could just sit down with the intention to enter jhana and it would start up, though preperation would of course generally enhance the strength of the jhana. I'm not exactly sure but I'd say they would tend to last 5 to 20 minutes, probably around 10 minutes was more common though. I stopped practicing for about a week, maybe a littler longer. When I came back it was, unsurprisingly, harder to enter. I expected that. I was progressing in a similar fashion as I had done before, increasing frequency of successful entry and prolonging the duration. Then maybe 5 days ago I just couldn't enter. I'm spending hours a day trying to get into jhana with extremely minimal success. I have entered a couple times but it tends not to be that strong. Usually however if I do enter, it feels strong at first, but then shortly after I get knocked out before I can really settle in. I don't think its my concentration as I can normally do sitting mediation with fairly minimal thoughts, and focusing on my breath during this period in an attempt to overcome this block I think I've acheived stronger one-pointedness of mind than I've ever experienced, which is interesting in and of itself but doesn't appear to be helping much. I know I'll break through this eventually, but has anyone ever experienced this? Is this normal?
SigmaTropic, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Trouble entering jhana after previous effortless access

Posts: 72 Join Date: 6/27/17 Recent Posts
 Sounds to me like you're trying too hard. 
Andy, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Trouble entering jhana after previous effortless access

Posts: 8 Join Date: 12/1/19 Recent Posts
SigmaTropic:
 Sounds to me like you're trying too hard. 

Haha...yeah probably
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Jim Smith, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Trouble entering jhana after previous effortless access

Posts: 941 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Andy:
In early September I began practicing jhana and very quickly reached a point where everytime I sat down I was having strong, stable 4th jhana experiences, as well as a few 5th jhana. Sometimes I would focus on my breath or do sitting mediation before hand but normally I could just sit down with the intention to enter jhana and it would start up, though preperation would of course generally enhance the strength of the jhana. I'm not exactly sure but I'd say they would tend to last 5 to 20 minutes, probably around 10 minutes was more common though. I stopped practicing for about a week, maybe a littler longer. When I came back it was, unsurprisingly, harder to enter. I expected that. I was progressing in a similar fashion as I had done before, increasing frequency of successful entry and prolonging the duration. Then maybe 5 days ago I just couldn't enter. I'm spending hours a day trying to get into jhana with extremely minimal success. I have entered a couple times but it tends not to be that strong. Usually however if I do enter, it feels strong at first, but then shortly after I get knocked out before I can really settle in. I don't think its my concentration as I can normally do sitting mediation with fairly minimal thoughts, and focusing on my breath during this period in an attempt to overcome this block I think I've acheived stronger one-pointedness of mind than I've ever experienced, which is interesting in and of itself but doesn't appear to be helping much. I know I'll break through this eventually, but has anyone ever experienced this? Is this normal?

What technique do you use to enter the jhanas?

Sometimes it can be a slight change in your meditation technique that is causing the problem - something you might have been doing that you think was irrelevant or too minor to really pay attention to - like forgetting to smile to start up bliss.  Often I think I can just jump into them and it doesn't work and I have to remember that trying that doesn't always work and I have to start from the very beginning of the technique, ie relax and let them come over me by themselves rather than trying to go into them through my will.

Or it could be something in your environment that is changing your brain chemistry - diet, exercise, stress, medication, caffeine, etc.

Do you always start with the blissful jhanas and work up to 4 and 5? If so, you could try metta meditation and then see if you can transition into the jhanas from that.

I find at different times different triggers work best for starting up the bliss. Usually I just use the pleasant feeling of relaxation as I breathe in a relaxing way. Other things that sometimes work include turning my palms upward and feeling energy coming down into them, noticing the sensations around my lips as I smile, or just opening my eyes and noticing what I am seeing - this works well during walking meditation or any type of practice during daily life.

Sometimes if I am having trouble getting bliss going, I ask myself what is bothering me, and the answer is I want to get into bliss and it isn't working. After I realize that I can let go of the attachment and I get right in. Kind of weird, but it works. (Asking yourself about your emotions seems to work better then just trying to asses them through observation. When the mind is trying to hide something from itself, it has to be coaxed into opening up. It is a useful technique for routing out suppressed attachments and aversions if you repeat the question to get through multiple layers of answers.)

Also I find preparing for meditation with relaxation exercises results in a more consistent experience meditating. I find the jhanas are usually accessed easily when I do them. I find relaxation helps a lot, for me "access relaxation" is more important than access concentration for entering the jhanas.


If you haven't seen the Soft Jhana Thread, you might find something in there that helps:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/14564976
Andy, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Trouble entering jhana after previous effortless access

Posts: 8 Join Date: 12/1/19 Recent Posts
Jim Smith:
Andy:
In early September I began practicing jhana and very quickly reached a point where everytime I sat down I was having strong, stable 4th jhana experiences, as well as a few 5th jhana. Sometimes I would focus on my breath or do sitting mediation before hand but normally I could just sit down with the intention to enter jhana and it would start up, though preperation would of course generally enhance the strength of the jhana. I'm not exactly sure but I'd say they would tend to last 5 to 20 minutes, probably around 10 minutes was more common though. I stopped practicing for about a week, maybe a littler longer. When I came back it was, unsurprisingly, harder to enter. I expected that. I was progressing in a similar fashion as I had done before, increasing frequency of successful entry and prolonging the duration. Then maybe 5 days ago I just couldn't enter. I'm spending hours a day trying to get into jhana with extremely minimal success. I have entered a couple times but it tends not to be that strong. Usually however if I do enter, it feels strong at first, but then shortly after I get knocked out before I can really settle in. I don't think its my concentration as I can normally do sitting mediation with fairly minimal thoughts, and focusing on my breath during this period in an attempt to overcome this block I think I've acheived stronger one-pointedness of mind than I've ever experienced, which is interesting in and of itself but doesn't appear to be helping much. I know I'll break through this eventually, but has anyone ever experienced this? Is this normal?

What technique do you use to enter the jhanas?

Sometimes it can be a slight change in your meditation technique that is causing the problem - something you might have been doing that you think was irrelevant or too minor to really pay attention to - like forgetting to smile to start up bliss.  Often I think I can just jump into them and it doesn't work and I have to remember that trying that doesn't always work and I have to start from the very beginning of the technique, ie relax and let them come over me by themselves rather than trying to go into them through my will.

Or it could be something in your environment that is changing your brain chemistry - diet, exercise, stress, medication, caffeine, etc.

Do you always start with the blissful jhanas and work up to 4 and 5? If so, you could try metta meditation and then see if you can transition into the jhanas from that.

I find at different times different triggers work best for starting up the bliss. Usually I just use the pleasant feeling of relaxation as I breathe in a relaxing way. Other things that sometimes work include turning my palms upward and feeling energy coming down into them, noticing the sensations around my lips as I smile, or just opening my eyes and noticing what I am seeing - this works well during walking meditation or any type of practice during daily life.

Sometimes if I am having trouble getting bliss going, I ask myself what is bothering me, and the answer is I want to get into bliss and it isn't working. After I realize that I can let go of the attachment and I get right in. Kind of weird, but it works. (Asking yourself about your emotions seems to work better then just trying to asses them through observation. When the mind is trying to hide something from itself, it has to be coaxed into opening up. It is a useful technique for routing out suppressed attachments and aversions if you repeat the question to get through multiple layers of answers.)

Also I find preparing for meditation with relaxation exercises results in a more consistent experience meditating. I find the jhanas are usually accessed easily when I do them. I find relaxation helps a lot, for me "access relaxation" is more important than access concentration for entering the jhanas.


If you haven't seen the Soft Jhana Thread, you might find something in there that helps:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/14564976

Yeah I had considered diet and stress, etc.. There are a range of possible variables to account for, and while each one in isolation seems relatively benign it's possible the cumulative effects of all of them together resulted in the deconditioning of my nervous system's abiltiy to enter jhana.

I'll try the techniques you suggested. I think relaxation exercises sound particularly promising. I don't why I hadn't considered that before. Lately I tend to get into a mode of trying to brute force jhana entry, and of course, that doesn't really work. Thank you for your quite thorough response.
Andy, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Trouble entering jhana after previous effortless access

Posts: 8 Join Date: 12/1/19 Recent Posts
Okay so I just gave cursory relaxation exercise a go and wow did that work quite nicely. I got into the 2nd jhana, and in fact it was the strongest 2nd jhana experience I can recall ever having. And actually, I think I've just been skipping over the 2nd jhana this entire time, as in my mind I never understood on an experiential level the difference between the 2nd and 3rd jhanas. I just felt so much joy I just started cracking up. Wow, new expreince for me.

Thank you for your assitance. emoticon
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Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Trouble entering jhana after previous effortless access

Posts: 564 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
From my experience using non-jhanic mind state makes jhanic mind states harder.
That is why at some point in practice when you are able to you should always have jhanic qualities in your everyday experience.

The jhanas are however a wide spectrum and even before 1st jhanas you have different strengths of concentration qualities. When you work up yourself to being able to enter jhanas easily I would advice you to try to keep something that feels like at least "access concentration" in your everyday experience for as long as possible and use any break in activities to take effort to focus your mind back to access concentration. The more you allow yourself to slide down to completely non-concentrated mind off cushion the harder it will make to hit jhanas on-cushion.
Mathew Poskus, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: Trouble entering jhana after previous effortless access

Posts: 208 Join Date: 10/24/15 Recent Posts
What instantly helped me just to drop any expectations when u meditate, just meditate without any expectations to get something from it etc.

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