Concentration practice bodily feelings.

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Simon Ekstrand, modified 9 Years ago.

Concentration practice bodily feelings.

Posts: 248 Join Date: 9/23/11 Recent Posts
Hi!

Love the site, first post and all that.

I've been meditating for about a year now, but until recently it was mostly what I now think of as unfocused and wishy washy. Finding this site and reading (most of) MCTB has been a real revelation in that I now actually really focus and concentrate while meditating, resulting in a completely new type of meditation experience for me. I was previously really struggling with a 20 minute sitting, and just now had a 45 minute sitting that only had minor elements of boredom, which has been a major problem for me in the past.

I'm currently working on concentration meditation to help me get more focused and relaxed in my sittings. I've gotten to the point where I can follow my breath without interruption for quite a while (minutes? not sure how many). The occasional thought does creep up but is not enough to really distract me from my breath.
As I'm focusing mostly on concentration at the moment I've been reading a lot about the Jhanas, both what's in MCTB and in the sticky'd Jhana thread here on the forum and it's associated links.

On to the question. During my sitting today, perhaps 20 minutes in, I noticed a pleasant tingling sensation in my stomach region (I think). I semi-focused on it, still trying to keep hold of my breathing also, and after a while it spread in my body, growing in intensity. The feeling was very intense, in a good way, at certain points almost slightly sexual in nature. After maybe 20 seconds I lost my concentration, thoughts flooded in and the whole thing dissipated, leaving me actually sort of shaky. The same thing happened maybe twice more during the rest of the sitting, though not as intensely, as I had a hard time keeping my focus up, not least because i found the whole thing both exciting and somewhat intimidating, it was very much outside anything I've experienced before.

So, does anyone have any idea what I experienced? Should I keep trying to focus on it if it comes up again? Was it simply a nice feeling from becoming very focused (relatively speaking) or perhaps a peek at the first jhana? I really have no clue, despite lots of reading.

Any input very much appreciated.

Thanks!
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Ian And, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Concentration practice bodily feelings. (Answer)

Posts: 782 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Simon Ekstrand:

On to the question. During my sitting today, perhaps 20 minutes in, I noticed a pleasant tingling sensation in my stomach region (I think). I semi-focused on it, still trying to keep hold of my breathing also, and after a while it spread in my body, growing in intensity. The feeling was very intense, in a good way, at certain points almost slightly sexual in nature. After maybe 20 seconds I lost my concentration, thoughts flooded in and the whole thing dissipated, leaving me actually sort of shaky. The same thing happened maybe twice more during the rest of the sitting, though not as intensely, as I had a hard time keeping my focus up, not least because i found the whole thing both exciting and somewhat intimidating, it was very much outside anything I've experienced before.

So, does anyone have any idea what I experienced? Should I keep trying to focus on it if it comes up again? Was it simply a nice feeling from becoming very focused (relatively speaking) or perhaps a peek at the first jhana?

Hello Simon,

It's not such a foreign experience to have. Nothing to be intimidated about either. Such experiences are common among most meditators making progress in their practice.

Ironically, you have stumbled onto the answer to your own question: "Was it simply a nice feeling from becoming very focused (relatively speaking)..." Yes, it was.

The purpose of meditation is to assist the mind in being able to become calm and to sharpen its concentration on an object. Prolonged practice of this eventually has a two fold effect of reconditioning the mind, not only increasing concentration but also mindfulness off the meditation cushion. A concentrated mind becomes malleable, workable, established, and having gained imperturbability, it is able to be inclined toward knowing (clear knowing or understanding) and seeing (insight).

One way that this can happen is when the mind experiences a pleasant sensation (which could be literally anywhere in the body) and the mind, undisturbed by distraction, can become fixed on that sensation in the pursuit of greater concentration, which concentration can eventually be transferred to any other object in the pursuit of insight about that object. One passage in the discourses describes an example of this in the practice of samatha meditation on the way to jhana. It can be found beginning at the section "Habits & practices" through to "Doctrines of self."

If you of a mind to, you can use this sensation to help you pursue absorption in the same way as described in that passage.

I use the breath as my meditation object and experience any one of several bodily sensations that tell me or indicate the strengthening of mental concentration. It can be a tingling sensation in my head, or more often than not these days, a kind of pleasant pressure in the center of the forehead between the brows. Using the breath, whenever I want to settle the mind so that I can observe another object, the breath can remain in the background (or on the periphery, so to speak) while I focus on the object I am seeking insight about. If my concentration ever wanes, all I have to do is refocus on the breath and the concentration returns. As you might imagine, it takes some dedicated practice (along with increased moments of insight) to be able to get to this ability. But it is by no means not unobtainable.

In peace,
Ian
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Simon E, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Concentration practice bodily feelings.

Posts: 248 Join Date: 9/23/11 Recent Posts
Hi Ian,

Thanks very much for the detailed answer which was I suppose pretty much what I was expecting. I had read the link you included while reading through your Jhana sticky (which is excellent by the way, thank you for that), but it can be quite difficult relating what has been read to bodily experiences in real life.

I will simply keep working and see where it takes me, it will hopefully become easier to orient one self with more experience.

Thank you again for your time!
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Alan Smithee, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Concentration practice bodily feelings.

Posts: 310 Join Date: 4/2/10 Recent Posts
I use the breath as my meditation object and experience any one of several bodily sensations that tell me or indicate the strengthening of mental concentration. It can be a tingling sensation in my head, or more often than not these days, a kind of pleasant pressure in the center of the forehead between the brows. Using the breath, whenever I want to settle the mind so that I can observe another object, the breath can remain in the background (or on the periphery, so to speak) while I focus on the object I am seeking insight about. If my concentration ever wanes, all I have to do is refocus on the breath and the concentration returns. As you might imagine, it takes some dedicated practice (along with increased moments of insight) to be able to get to this ability. But it is by no means not unobtainable.

In my samadhi meditative practice, I have recently been experiencing a sensation of squeezing in the temple area and/or forehead, a feeling of a tightness in the face, once or twice I experienced a trembling in the lips, once I had a wave of pleasure which caused heart palpitations (which I feel chased the pleasure away), and a feeling of openess in my head/mind.

Ian, would you say that is this "access concentration?" I know isn't jhana, I know that, but it certainly seems to be a more intense form a concentration, as it is much easier for my to focus on the breath when I have the head squeezies, and even after I open my eyes and stop meditating I can maintain this concentration for a little bit (ten minutes or so).

It is getting easier for me to induce this, but it occurs at different levels, and I don't always get the pleasure waves, or heart palpitations, but I do get the better focus, and head squeezies.

The breath seems more pleasurable when this happens as well, but not rapturous or anything. I also get a thin cloud of purple, which I wonder if it is a really weak nimitta. Usually I can induce this in about 30 minutes.

Question #1) Is this level of concentration sufficent to begin vipassana meditation, and #2) about how far off would you say 1st jhana is from this?

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