Jhanas for the jhana resistant?

Low Quality Qualia, modified 1 Month ago at 5/21/22 6:50 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/21/22 6:47 PM

Jhanas for the jhana resistant?

Posts: 6 Join Date: 5/20/21 Recent Posts
Around 3 years ago I reached the first jhana during simple daily practice of awareness of the breath and body sensations, as described in the book The Mind Illuminated. It felt like I had stepped on a high voltage joy power cable. I remember the practice at the time was of short-ish, maybe 30 to 40 minutes at a time, but around two times per day.

Ever since that one occurance I was never able to reach the first jhana and had only reached access concentration, on and off. My daily practice is patchy, due to periods of great anxiety and whatnot.

Wanting to get back there might have derailed my practice, as it is effortful and and there is a lot of wanting and striving. The flames around the elephant path feel very real. As an antidote I try to let go of the wanting and striving and just return to the sensations of the breath and the body as they appear, but with little results.

Anyways, it feels like I am never going to get anywhere and it is quite disheartening. Any advice? Previous threads on the matter? I am ready to divulge more details if it is relevant.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 5/21/22 10:04 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/21/22 9:59 PM

RE: Jhanas for the jhana resistant?

Posts: 1134 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Low Quality Qualia
Around 3 years ago I reached the first jhana during simple daily practice of awareness of the breath and body sensations, as described in the book The Mind Illuminated. It felt like I had stepped on a high voltage joy power cable. I remember the practice at the time was of short-ish, maybe 30 to 40 minutes at a time, but around two times per day.

Ever since that one occurance I was never able to reach the first jhana and had only reached access concentration, on and off. My daily practice is patchy, due to periods of great anxiety and whatnot.

Wanting to get back there might have derailed my practice, as it is effortful and and there is a lot of wanting and striving. The flames around the elephant path feel very real. As an antidote I try to let go of the wanting and striving and just return to the sensations of the breath and the body as they appear, but with little results.

Anyways, it feels like I am never going to get anywhere and it is quite disheartening. Any advice? Previous threads on the matter? I am ready to divulge more details if it is relevant.


I'm not 100% sure if you are looking for hard jhana or soft jhana. If the latter, these links might help.

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/23790401#_com_liferay_message_boards_web_portlet_MBPortlet_message_14564976

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/10/a-quick-guide-to-producing-bliss-with.html



My main suggestion is to relax, I think more in terms of access relaxation than access concentration. Meditate by breathing in a relaxed way, notice the pleasant feeling of relaxation as you inhale and exhale, as you become relaxed and if it feels good and you feel like smiling then go ahead and smile. Notice the pleasant feeling and that should amplify as you continue to observe it. One thing to try is to meditate when you are naturally in a good mood. Notice the feeling of happiness and focus your attention on that. Also if eating helps to elevate your mood then it can help to try meditating after a meal.

And I think it's worth pointing out that you can't feel bliss without the right brain chemicals, and people's moods naturally fluctuate so there can be times when it just won't work and it has nothing to do with skill at meditation. I actually don't think there is any "trick" to entering the soft jhanas it doesn't require a lot of skill at meditating, if there is a trick it is hacking your brain chemistry (eating right to get the brain to take in tryptophan, relaxing, etc,) to be sure you have the right brain chemicals to feel bliss.
shargrol, modified 1 Month ago at 5/22/22 7:03 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/22/22 7:03 AM

RE: Jhanas for the jhana resistant?

Posts: 1760 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
If you work on fixing what makes your daily practice patchy, you will also be working on fixing what is limiting your ability to dwell in jhana.

It's really that simple. Jhana is an artifact of being able to more directly experience what is already happening with less and less greed, aversion, or indifference... and the jhanas develop as you rest in the flow of experience. 

If meditation is important to you --- and hey, sometimes there are other aspects of life, like education, training in a trade, employment, getting an apartment/home, diet, exercise, friends, etc. that are sometimes what we need to work on first... so no big deal if meditation isn't the highest priority ---  but if meditation is the thing you want to do, it's important to develop consistent, non-heroic, daily practice.
George S, modified 1 Month ago at 5/22/22 11:36 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/22/22 11:29 AM

RE: Jhanas for the jhana resistant?

Posts: 2461 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Relax more than you have ever relaxed in your whole life, then double it, then double it again! As you relax, your breath will naturally sink deep, deep, deep into the belly. This will not necessarily be a smooth process! As tensions in your body release, there can be great variation in the length of the breaths (steps 1-2 of anapanasati, cf holotropic breathwork). Just let your body breathe however it wants to breathe, without imposing an artificial standard of smoothness. It will eventually settle down into a smoother pattern, but it can do some crazy stuff along the way emoticon

Actively scan your body/mind for areas of tension. Whenever you find a knot, bring your full awareness to it as if it was the most important and interesting thing in the world to you (which it is!) The power or pain of the tension release can seem overwhelming at times, but it can’t hurt you -- this is actually the healing process. Notice how when you resist or ignore a tension it says stuck, but when you relax into it it starts to move (even if it intensifies). Your only job is to keep relaxing into tension and holding the frame of awareness steady, so that whatever needs to pass through your system can pass through with the minimum of resistance.

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