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Pragmatic Newbie
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11/28/11 8:50 AM
Hey everyone, I am new here and I have a few questions if you don't mind. I have always been interested in Buddhism as a philosophy for a long time but it wasn't until the last 6 months that I really started to dive into it. I started with reading some simple "overview" type books from Tibetan teachers like Lama Surya Das, Sogyal Rinpoche, and Yongey Mingur Rinpoche, and while these book gave me an understanding of some fundamental concepts, they really never go into how to really approach and progress in meditiation. I am an analytical guy and I like to really look into how things work so I dug deeper and found Daniel Horn and buddhistgeeks and via some of the podcasts I found Daniel and you guys.

Anyways I love the practical approach and I am starting to apply this to my practice. Really for six months I was sitting 30 min a day at best and watching my breath. From what I have read now, I feel I have access concentration as I can really get into my breath now. I can still see thoughts arise but they do not distract me when I am really into it. They seem more in the background.

Now just recently, especially last night, I feel I have caught a glimpse of the 1st jhana. Let me explain: First, I began to feel like I was smiling slightly, even though I am not sure if I actually was. I shifted my focus slightly to any feeling of 'pleasure' such as the tingly feeling in my hands and the smile. Suddenly, space seemed to open up a bit. It is hard to explain, almost like I could see further in the darkness when my eyes were closed and then things got bright for a moment. I then felt a growing tingling starting in my legs and rising and my breath begain to almost studder. I assume this is piti, because it was very pleasurable. However, I kind of freaked out and tried to hold on to it and cultivate it and it just flat out went away.

So, am I correct in my assumptions that I got my first glimpse of jhana? Do you have any suggestions on how I can stay with it next time something like this arises?

Thanks for all of your insights.

RE: Pragmatic Newbie
Answer
10/19/11 10:35 AM as a reply to Russell ..
try to stick with watching the breath sensations everywhere, that creates pleasure, if you stick with creating it will build, don't fall into the temptation to "consume" the pleasure, just keep producing

RE: Pragmatic Newbie
Answer
10/20/11 12:37 PM as a reply to josh r s.
Thanks for the help. I will keep working on continued concentration on my breath.

RE: Pragmatic Newbie
Answer
10/20/11 2:53 PM as a reply to Russell ..
Hiya Russell,

Welcome to the DhO.

It definitely sounds like you're getting into 1st jhana and possibly getting a glimpse of 2nd. Josh's advice to maintain the attention on the pleasant sensations is spot on, a focus on the physical pleasantness is the key to 1st jhana and shifting to the mental pleasantness gets you to 2nd.

I think your analytical approach and willingness to test and verify these techniques for yourself will stand you in good stead.

RE: Pragmatic Newbie
Answer
10/20/11 4:05 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
Fantastic. Thank you both. I'll keep reporting my progress as I go along. I am so happy to have found this place!

RE: Pragmatic Newbie
Answer
11/4/11 3:37 PM as a reply to Russell ..
I think I got into the 1st jhana "hard" last night. Regular sit, about 30 minutes. Once in access concentration, what I usually do is smile a little. It seems forced at first, then starts to feel genuine, like there is really something to be smiling about. I kind of shift focus to the pleasure feeling in my hands and of the smiling and BAM, and I mean BAM. I started to go into a state like I have never felt before. Things got tingly all over then it was hard to describe, like I was going to a different place, litterally. I tried not to wig out but I couldn't sustain it, instead of continuing to just be with the pleasure feelings I kind of tried to start noticing my breath really precisely again. Then a dog barked outside and I shifted right out of it. All I can say is wow though. Am I right though? 1st jhana? I am trying to get a pretty good grasp on concentration before moving into insight territory as from what I hear of how things get after A&P, it doesn't sound like something I am ready for yet.

RE: Pragmatic Newbie
Answer
11/9/11 2:27 PM as a reply to Russell ..
Hrmm, the more I think about how this all felt, it sounds more like the descriptions of A&P (very pleasurable jolt through the body) vs 1st Jhana, but I am not sure. I am not purposfully doing insight practices but I know that it is common for people to experience A&P without strict insight practice. Anyone have any thoughts?

RE: Pragmatic Newbie
Answer
11/28/11 8:49 AM as a reply to Russell ..
I know no one has replied to this but my sits since I had my "jolt-like" moment have been more frustrating than anything because I cannot get back to that feeling. Even practicing just concentration it feel like I can't get anywhere. Sould I move to noting and insight practice as maybe I did hit A&P without vipassana practice? Very confused here as I thought I was in the jhana terrirory but now I feel a bit lost. Can anyone chime in? I would appreciate it.

RE: Pragmatic Newbie
Answer
11/28/11 12:17 PM as a reply to Russell ..
Russell what happens if when you feel you can't get anywhere you widen your focus out to the very edge (like all over your body) and try to still be semi-aware of the breath at the centre?

(disclaimer: im no where near as experienced as the others in this thread). Pinch of salt required..

RE: Pragmatic Newbie
Answer
11/28/11 12:37 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
What I have started to do is focus on breath at nostrils till I am clearly concentrated (access concentration), then I try to focus on a smile or any pleasurable feeling in my body like my hands or the 'third eye' are which seems to vibrate a little if i focus on it and I cannot seems to get that 'piti' feeling to shoot up the body like I did that one time.

So I have experimented with trying to shift back to the breath and kind of connect the breath with the pleasure feelings, like my whole body is breathing and pleasureable (almost like I am becoming the breath) Is that what you mean?

RE: Pragmatic Newbie
Answer
11/28/11 12:56 PM as a reply to Russell ..
No not really. I got the impression you had lost all those feelings (even at the nostrils). If that's the case, it would be good to hear how you feel if you widen your focus out to the very edges -- if you still have good feeling for the breath, then the best advice I can offer would be to jsut put these other things to one side and refocus on the breath --

Tommy or some of the others would be better to advise though.