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Access Concentration?
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12/20/11 7:36 PM
In my samadhi meditative practice (the breath), 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 (like I am in a cave).

Is this "access concentration?" I know isn't jhana, but it certainly seems to be a more intense form of concentration, as it is much easier for me 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). I can easily count from 1-10 and then from 10-1 when I am in this "zone."

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

The breath seems more pleasurable when this happens as well, but it isn't 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.

Questions #1) Do you think this is access concentration, #2) Is this level of concentration sufficent to productively begin vipassana meditation, and #3) about how far off would you say 1st jhana is from this? Also, is it advisible to begin focusing on the pleasurable sensations associated with the breath at this point, or just "ignore that" and continue to focus on the breath from beginning to end?

RE: Access Concentration?
Answer
12/20/11 10:06 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
If you can observe your breath at this point with consistency, then yes, sounds like MCTB access concentration. The body stuff is probably incidental, and may stick around, or may eventually change.

The level of concentration you're describing is definitely sufficient for vipassana. But, if you want something deeper before you start, then, instead of trying to get 1st jhana, just see whether you can breathe in a way that increases pleasure in your body.