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1st concentration jhana experience?

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1st concentration jhana experience?
Answer
12/26/11 3:48 AM
Hi folks,

My first post here. I've been working to attain the 1st concentration jhana, and am not quite sure if I just hit. I had expected something "big" and "unmissable." Here's what I experienced:

I first sat and stilled my mind focusing on my breath and the inflow/outflow feelings in the tip of my noise. After my breath had quieted to a significant amount, I moved my focus to the tingling feeling in my hands. Not sure how long I sat: perhaps in total ~1 hour for this experience.

The best I can describe is I felt wave's of the pleasurable tingling sensation "increase" in volume. Everytime they'd increase in a wave/pulse, I would do the best I could to keep my mind just on the pleasant tingling sensation. Sometimes, the waves were accompanied by a brightish/whitish light I saw (my eyes were closed throughout the meditation) This light did not hurt me at all, but I have to admit was a bit distracting. When the wave of increased pleasure finished, I'd be back at the plain old tingling in my palms. All this was nice.

While this was happening, I did not think the pulses were the 1st Jhana. Then while really fixing my resolve/focus, I felt one sort of bound out in a very different way. The best I can explain is I felt like I was lifted up, and my whole sense of self expanded into a much more spacious area. A very nice feeling spread throughout my body. It was remarkably different from the nice "pulses" described above. Certainly a unique experience for me. I stayed in this sensation for a few minutes most likely and then opened my eyes (as my knees were starting to give out and I didn't want to push them).

I'm writing this writeup just a few minutes after my session to try to capture the experience in the best fidelity possible.

Any thoughts or comments from experienced folks would be very much appreciated.

I suppose one corollary question: the 1st time you hit the 1st Jhana, was it clear as day what happened to you? Is it possible to go through the 1st Jhana and onto the other ones without knowing what happened to you?

Cheers,
Tommy

RE: 1st concentration jhana experience?
Answer
12/26/11 8:13 AM as a reply to tdiggy t diggy.
Waves or pulses of pleasure / tingling are probably insight-related rather than concentration-related.

In general, to improve your concentration (and to make the experience less insight-related), you have to pay attention to the pleasure (in a very relaxed, effortless way...no striving) and ignore the tingling, as the tingling is itself not pleasurable.

If the tingling sensation's time-course was represented visually, you could think of it (oversimplified) as a teardrop; at the very beginning (tail) is something pleasurable, and at the end (head) is the "big" salient vibrating tingle. So, there are two basic goals:

1) See the difference between the pleasure and the tingle, to whatever extend is necessary in order to
2) Ignore the tingle while effortlessly noticing the pleasure, and breathing in a way that increases it.

RE: 1st concentration jhana experience?
Answer
12/26/11 9:51 AM as a reply to tdiggy t diggy.
tdiggy t diggy:

When the wave of increased pleasure finished, I'd be back at the plain old tingling in my palms. All this was nice.

While this was happening, I did not think the pulses were the 1st Jhana. Then while really fixing my resolve/focus, I felt one sort of bound out in a very different way. The best I can explain is I felt like I was lifted up, and my whole sense of self expanded into a much more spacious area. A very nice feeling spread throughout my body. It was remarkably different from the nice "pulses" described above. Certainly a unique experience for me. I stayed in this sensation for a few minutes most likely and then opened my eyes (as my knees were starting to give out and I didn't want to push them).

I'm writing this writeup just a few minutes after my session to try to capture the experience in the best fidelity possible.

Any thoughts or comments from experienced folks would be very much appreciated.

Hi Tommy,

Welcome to the DhO.

Experiences like the one highlighted in red, though interesting, should not be accepted as relevant to the onset of samatha jhana; the event described was more closely related to vipassana (insight) jhana. There's a very fine difference between the two, but one which until you become more experienced with jhana will likely not be fully understood or appreciated. Jhana involves an increase in the mind's ability to concentrate, to remain focused without disturbance on an object. This can occur under numerous circumstances and events.

No doubt, you are searching to achieve the classic stock description of jhana: the first, second, third, and fourth jhanas, yes? The problem with this description is: that one can achieve samadhi concentration without having undergone this sequence. When you know that your mind is unshakably fixed on an object, then you know you are in jhana concentration.

I know, this is all somewhat complicated and confusing when you are just beginning to learn concentration. But once you remove all the whiz-bang experiences from the equation, what remains is the unshakable experience of rock solid mental concentration on an object, nothing more nor nothing less. This is why it is best to work directly with someone (in person) with some experience in order to properly learn this.

tdiggy t diggy:

I suppose one corollary question: [1.] the 1st time you hit the 1st Jhana, was it clear as day what happened to you? [2.] Is it possible to go through the 1st Jhana and onto the other ones without knowing what happened to you?

Answering your first question, no, it is not always clear as day what was occurring to you, especially if you are inexperienced and working without a guide.

The answer to your second question is: Yes. Because these processes can occur very quickly, and until your concentration improves to the point where you are able to follow them, the whole process may seem quite mysterious.

This is the best that anyone can do on the Internet to provide you with some kind of guidance. As I mentioned above, you are better off working with someone directly when attempting to learn about this practice. And hopefully, someone who isn't too screwed up themselves about the process, such that they end up passing on their aberrations about it to you.

In peace,
Ian