Stop breath counting after reaching first Jhãna?

Michal, modified 5 Months ago at 12/12/21 12:58 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/12/21 12:58 AM

Stop breath counting after reaching first Jhãna?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 6/9/20 Recent Posts
Hi,
so I've managed to get the first Jhãna a few times (I'm 90% sure). But a thought that always bugs me out arises during the session - should I stop breath counting and only focus on the piti or do both? According to this I should stop breath counting (which I do most of the time). But I've heard some teachers say the opposite (or maybe I just misunderstood them).
​​​​​​​I want to make sure I'm doing it correctly.

George S, modified 5 Months ago at 12/12/21 8:19 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/12/21 8:19 AM

RE: Stop breath counting after reaching first Jhãna?

Posts: 2402 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
It depends, the piti can be too unstable or powerful or exciting that focusing on it actually weakens your concentration. In that case returning to the breath usually increases concentration again. Play around with it and see! Ajahn Brahm writes and speaks well about deeper jhanic states.
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Jim Smith, modified 5 Months ago at 12/12/21 10:05 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/12/21 9:49 AM

RE: Stop breath counting after reaching first Jhãna?

Posts: 1116 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I count the breath or something similar when my mind is turbulent. As it calms down I count to four instead of ten, later I'll the just say in and out as I inhale and exhale. Eventually when the breath, body, emotions, and mind are quiet, I'll stop counting and start watching whatever arises in my mind. That's usually when all hell breaks loose and suppressed memories start coming up from my subconsconscious - so it's nice to start out from a place of peace and calm and have a strategy to get back there when I have had my fill of emotional release.

I don't find counting interferes with piti or sukha. I can let the counting go on in my verbal mind in the background while I focus on something pleasant to produce sukha (or piti)  Usually I focus on the pleasant feeling of realxation as I breathe in a relaxing way, so the counting, the pleasant sensation, and the breath are part of the same process. The nice thing about using the breath this way is that you are always breathing and you can get into the habit of producing a pleasant mental state whenever your brain chemistry will support it whether you are sitting in meditation or walking around town. Every breath is like a dose of an intoxicant, life becomes one long A&P trip - if you want it to be.
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Dream Walker, modified 5 Months ago at 12/12/21 11:33 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/12/21 11:33 AM

RE: Stop breath counting after reaching first Jhãna?

Posts: 1414 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/zh/discussion/-/message_boards/message/23446487

use the search to find old posts that are relevent like this ------>

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Pepe ·, modified 5 Months ago at 12/12/21 12:35 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/12/21 12:35 PM

RE: Stop breath counting after reaching first Jhãna?

Posts: 560 Join Date: 9/26/18 Recent Posts
For general reference, not an answer to the OP, here there are two of the best threads about the topic.

A General, All Purpose Jhana Thread 
Soft Jhana Thread (check Dream Walker's pointers)
Martin, modified 5 Months ago at 12/12/21 8:11 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/12/21 8:11 PM

RE: Stop breath counting after reaching first Jhãna?

Posts: 423 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
I agree with George. Playing around with it is key. There does not appear to be one agreed-upon correct way to do this or even one agreed-upon first jhana. There are certainly versions of first jhana in which counting would be impossible, either because (in some versions) one is too busy going "wow, wow, wow!" or because (in other versions) the capacity for directed verbal thought such as counting has been switched off. That serves as a pretty good basis to argue that there is nothing wrong with not counting. But if counting is helping to stabilize things, or to intensify things, then it would clearly be a good thing in that context. Make the practice your own. If you end up finding four different ways to get into first jhana, so much the better. If you find a personal favorite, all the better still. 
Michal, modified 5 Months ago at 12/15/21 10:43 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/15/21 10:43 AM

RE: Stop breath counting after reaching first Jhãna?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 6/9/20 Recent Posts
Thanks for all your tips.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago at 12/17/21 8:23 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/17/21 8:22 PM

RE: Stop breath counting after reaching first Jhãna?

Posts: 6296 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
First of all, I'm glad that you find that your mind is getting more unified and stable. That's good news regardless of whether or not it's jhana. Congratulations!

Personally, in my own practice, I wouldn't consider anything to be jhana that still involved counting. I don't know if that's just me, but why would one be counting when in jhana? Everything is the present. Who cares about the previous breath or how many of them there are? I guess counting could still go on in the background, doing its own thing if that pattern is habituated, but I doubt that it needs your active help if that's the case. If so, feel free to kiss it goodbye and wave it off, as it doesn't need your supervision anymore. 

So I'll go with yes. My advice would be to explore the qualitative aspects of breathing in the present moment (which is all you've got, after all), and when you enjoy that experience, then just enjoy the enjoying and immerse in that positive loop and the clarity that comes as hindrances fall away. When you don't enjoy it, then appreciate that you are aware of not enjoying it (the awareness itself is not unpleasant, so that's something to enjoy). If your presence with the breath falls apart as you stop counting, it probably wasn't jhana, but nevermind about that. Just pick up your tool again and appreciate that you have one that works for you where you are at. 

Please remind me of this the next time I forget it! emoticon 
Michal, modified 5 Months ago at 12/18/21 2:23 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/18/21 2:23 AM

RE: Stop breath counting after reaching first Jhãna?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 6/9/20 Recent Posts
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö
First of all, I'm glad that you find that your mind is getting more unified and stable. That's good news regardless of whether or not it's jhana. Congratulations!

Personally, in my own practice, I wouldn't consider anything to be jhana that still involved counting. I don't know if that's just me, but why would one be counting when in jhana? Everything is the present. Who cares about the previous breath or how many of them there are? I guess counting could still go on in the background, doing its own thing if that pattern is habituated, but I doubt that it needs your active help if that's the case. If so, feel free to kiss it goodbye and wave it off, as it doesn't need your supervision anymore. 

So I'll go with yes. My advice would be to explore the qualitative aspects of breathing in the present moment (which is all you've got, after all), and when you enjoy that experience, then just enjoy the enjoying and immerse in that positive loop and the clarity that comes as hindrances fall away. When you don't enjoy it, then appreciate that you are aware of not enjoying it (the awareness itself is not unpleasant, so that's something to enjoy). If your presence with the breath falls apart as you stop counting, it probably wasn't jhana, but nevermind about that. Just pick up your tool again and appreciate that you have one that works for you where you are at. 

Please remind me of this the next time I forget it! emoticon 


Makes sense. During the last session I've noticed that the counting actually hinders it but inspecting the breath without counting doesn't.
​​​​​​​Good tips, thanks.
Michal, modified 5 Months ago at 12/18/21 3:45 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 12/18/21 3:45 AM

RE: Stop breath counting after reaching first Jhãna?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 6/9/20 Recent Posts
Update: today I stopped the counting (but still examined the breath a bit) and I've had the strongest experience ever. I'm convinced that a lot of what I previously thought were jhanas were just soft jhanas. Today I managed to stay in it for basically the whole time (~40 minutes) after it began (~20 minutes into the session) of a 1 hour session.

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