Message Boards Message Boards

Concentration

Distractions from Jhana?

Toggle
Distractions from Jhana?
jhana
Answer
10/10/11 8:22 PM
[long-time lurker finally getting around to posting -- thanks for the community, it's has been a pleasure and great help to read many of your dialogues]

A few months back I decided to (again!) work on attaining jhanas. My practice is around 1-2 hours each weekday and more on weekends.

Quite a while back when attempting jhana I got these distracting lights (even with the eyes open, Soto wall-boring style). These presented as a cone or vortex of greenish or blue light in the center of my field of vision, right out of the wall, or the lids of my closed eyes. At first I took them as jhana-nimitta, but I don't know what to think any more, and I began to take them as a distraction. That was the end of 2009 or so (2010 was very spotty on meditation as I became discouraged, nearly stopped all practice for about 6 months.... but finally read MCTB, and joined the DhO). I also got a lot of strange third-eye and nose activity (about which more later). I found all of this very distracting while I was attempting to attain jhana.

After restarting recently, I have had more success, and think I have probably attained 1st jhana. After taking some advice to move my attention to pleasant sensations elsewhere in my body (lips, hands, ebbing and flowing sensations in the forehead and scalp), I would be overcome with pleasant sensations pulsing through my body. This has an almost sexual or orgasmic feel, but without arousal (except once when I decided to play with the jhana and see what would happen if I intentionally made it more sexual). At 1st these were almost too exciting and rapturous. While they didn't last long, I'd try to sustain them, which took some effort. Now I have them, but they're not as mind-blowing.

I'm a little lost with all of the sinus, nose, and third-eye activity. At times, I feel like I am being gently poked and prodded by an outside force. This can sometimes entail very strong pressure in the pallet and sinus, while sometimes going up to the crown of the head (occasional headaches). Other times, I feel pushed and pulled. The onset of this "process" is usually a fluttering sensation about the brow. It almost feels exterior, and I've felt my face before out of curiosity. Kneading sensations, as if by many small fingers, push and press into my brow and sinus, sometimes into the eyes. Later, pressure sensations build up and usually give way to vibrations, as if the fluttering moth that started on the exterior of my brow has somehow got in my sinus. By the end, I feel like a high-speed vibrating toothbrush is in my sinus cavity (this can continue after meditation, and can make sleeping difficult). Most of this isn't conducive to concentration, and so I give that up and resort to investigation (granted, this is a target rich environment for investigation, and there are no hindrances as Kenneth Folk has said)

Thanks for any tips or suggestions!

RE: Distractions from Jhana?
Answer
10/13/11 6:09 PM as a reply to )( piscivorous.
Could you describe what exactly you do when you sit for these 1-2hours?

It seems like you're attempting to do concentration, but you took some advice to move your attention around and non-jhana-like stuff is occurring. The high speed vibrating toothbrush, pressure that builds up to vibrations, etc, all sound like vipassana territory to me.

If you do insight practice, how are your concentration sits different from insight sits in technique/goals?

RE: Distractions from Jhana?
Answer
10/15/11 5:31 PM as a reply to T. Dan S-.
Sze-Hung Daniel Tsui:
Could you describe what exactly you do when you sit for these 1-2hours?

It seems like you're attempting to do concentration, but you took some advice to move your attention around and non-jhana-like stuff is occurring. The high speed vibrating toothbrush, pressure that builds up to vibrations, etc, all sound like vipassana territory to me.

If you do insight practice, how are your concentration sits different from insight sits in technique/goals?


Sze-Hung, thanks for the great questions! Yes, I'm trying to do concentration! The non-jhana like stuff are the distractions that I allude to in the title of the post... these distractions come whether I attempt to do jhana or vipassana. I had become so frustrated with these phenomena that I gave up trying to do jhana for a long time (vipassana isn't as difficult, since I can just move from distraction to distraction... of course). Now I figure I just need to suck it up and sit emoticon)

The advice to move attention from breath (my usual object of focus) comes from several sources, e.g., Leigh Brasington's Jhana Howto, where he writes, "shift your attention away from the breath to a pleasant sensation. This is the key thing. You watch the breath until you arrive at access concentration, and then you let go of the breath and shift your attention to a pleasant sensation." However, other sources like "Practicing the Jhanas" disagree; those authors might describe my recent success with jhana as a very pleasant access concentration.

When I do concentration sits, I try to stay with the object of concentration, e.g., breath - or flame, as with a fire kasina. One of the advantages of doing external object kasinas is that I don't have the hive of bodily activity distracting me. When I do vipassana, I range all over. I investigate objects and try to analyze them for the 3Cs. E.g., one of the more difficult things about handling pain for me during jhana is that I need to stay with my primary (only!) object. When I do vipassana and have a pain, I can "go" watch it and penetrate the pain, the object. I see that it is vibrations, and moves about in a disparate way, I doesn't have the solidity I first felt. When I am doing jhana sits, I don't really have that option (or I can switch or used mixed methods, and not be so rigid?).

RE: Distractions from Jhana?
concentration yoga insight practice exercise mahasi
Answer
10/18/11 3:03 PM as a reply to )( piscivorous.
An experienced meditation instructor observed from my complaint that since I have a lot of energy going on, perhaps doing exercise and/or yoga before sitting for concentration would help. I've yet to try this, but will report the results....

On the vipassana front (described elsewhere, I have a hive of sinus/maxillary sensation whether I do insight or concentration), I have been working to inculcate Mahasi noting throughout my day. Tentatively, it seems to be helping with sits (and the rest of the day as I try to remain mindful) - as the emphasis is on the movement of the diaphragm and not the space between the nose and upper lip -- away from the maxillary zone.

I have a tingling, light buzzy sensation on the forehead and 3rd eye region most of the day now.