How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation.

How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation. finding-oneself ♤ 5/5/24 7:05 PM
RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation. finding-oneself ♤ 5/5/24 7:47 PM
RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation. Jim Smith 5/5/24 8:21 PM
RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation. finding-oneself ♤ 5/5/24 8:21 PM
RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation. Jim Smith 5/5/24 9:00 PM
RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation. finding-oneself ♤ 5/5/24 8:41 PM
RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation. Jim Smith 5/5/24 8:46 PM
RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation. finding-oneself ♤ 5/5/24 9:48 PM
RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation. finding-oneself ♤ 5/5/24 8:47 PM
RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation. shargrol 5/5/24 8:58 PM
RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation. finding-oneself ♤ 5/5/24 9:37 PM
RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation. finding-oneself ♤ 5/5/24 9:38 PM
RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation. finding-oneself ♤ 5/5/24 9:31 PM
RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation. finding-oneself ♤ 5/5/24 10:04 PM
RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation. shargrol 5/6/24 6:24 AM
RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation. finding-oneself ♤ 5/6/24 8:03 PM
RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation. Pawel K 5/6/24 4:14 PM
RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation. finding-oneself ♤ 5/6/24 8:07 PM
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finding-oneself ♤, modified 2 Months ago at 5/5/24 7:05 PM
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How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation.

Posts: 547 Join Date: 1/7/14 Recent Posts
I posted another thread about how I sort of 'pop', into the 4th vipassana jhana. It always takes a while, it's near more the end of my sit. In effect I'm asking how I can get into a concentration state, besides the 4th jhana. I want to see the other ones. 

I've felt all sorts of rapture, and seen weird visual artifacts. But on a scale of 1 to 10, the most intense it gets in the beggining or middle of the session is maybe a 3. A 10 would be the most intense I've expeirenced. "intense", meaning pretty god damn obvious vibrations. An altered state to the somato-sensory field. The most I've experienced on retreat was a 10. And at home at least a 9, and maybe even 10. But the retreat was so long ago. The 9's I've experienced at home are my goal for the earlier jhanas.

My whole thing is like, basiclly, how I incendentally get into a concentration state later, as a side-effect of being high up in equanimity. Right now it's framed as an accident. But if I can do it there, I should be able to do the other 3.

Obviously a main goal right now is trying to get to stream entry. And I won't explain it all here, it's too much. But so it seems the path I'm on is a middle path. I'm trying to fill in the proper effortful side (work out your liberation with dilligence), and also to fill in the effortless side (be here now).

Some things that propel me into the 4th-vipassana jhana. 1 Noting a lot, throughouly, and accurately. (But balancing all the 7 factors)(And balancing effot v effortlessness), as well as, and this is key, sort of "Strong determination sitting", through the painful body postures. One a good day I'm actually quite good at the latter, and have a high pain tolerance. But this is the thing here, the thing I'm asking. As you can see, I only pop into the higher vipassana jhana because I've moved up the nyanas, and by the time I'm in equanimity, my concentration is strong.

Like, I don't see how it's possible to just sit down and within 30 minutes to an hour, enter the first jhana and/or the first vipassana-jhana. Because by definition, wihin 30 minutes, havne't I already moved well past mind and body, cause and effect, and the three-characteristics? If I had to guess it takes me anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes to get to the A&P nyana.

How am I supposed to force myself to stay in mind and body? 

My whole thing is like, If I can get into the 4th vipassana-jhana, I should be able to get into the earlier ones. Like I said, the ultimate goal is stream entry, but I think it would be good for me to experience some of the earlier states. I really think it would help condition the mind. And sort of impart a feeling of healing. Not a super hard jhana. Just to the same level of intensity I've experienced with the 4th one. 

Also, one time I set out to enter a concentration state and I did indeed experience a softer version of something weird. I thought maybe it was the 3rd vipassana jhana. It felt like my head was under water. I can't remember much else. It was months ago. Which leads me to another question and hypothesis. If my center of gravity is closer to the dark night and equanimity, doesn't that mean I should be able to more easily be able to experience the 3rd vipassana jhana?

It strikes me as weird, it seems like learning the first and second jhanas is harder for me. But that's what I intuit.

Also if I'm moving through the nyanas, throughout the day, via sitting, wouldn't that mean my only shot to enter the 1st jhana is first thing in the morning?

This post feels like a mess. Partially almost getting it out on paper. But the main thing, even if I don't understand why, or what's going on, is to simply learn how to do this, ocassionally. 

It seems I'm asking two questions. 1. The mess about how I'm supposed to get into 1st or 2nd when my gravity is 3rd or 4th. 2. How do I practice shamatha/concentraiton better regardless of map theory. And Do you have any advice to calibrate my technqiue? (This part I will detail below).

I think the best path for me is to focus on the entire body as the object. So theoretically, what I want to do is just hone in on that chunk of sensations as one continuous object. To really dig in to it. Balance the 7 factors, but temporarilly delete 'invenstigation' (of the 3 C's). Also, if and when available focus on the tingling, and let it mingle with the visual light behind the eye lids. And finally, let the mind-stream calm.

I think it would be best done, lying down, in bed, near the end of the day. But again, this goes back to the cunundrum. That by the end of the day, I'm most assuredly going to be more centered in the Dark Night to Equanimity.

I must know how to do this. I can't read yet another dharma book on learning to concentrate right now. My life/mental resources are limited. I don't think I need another big treatise on the topic. Between reading TMI, MCTB1 (in full), I can't get myself to read yet another book. I can try. But I have so little time on the weekends. I actully bought the Path of Serenity and Insight. I'll start there. Ill read a few pages right now. To contradcit what I just said. You know what. What I'm trying to say here, is that it's hard for me to read a lot and digest it sometimes. Sometimes basic pragmatic summaries in english help better.

But on that note, I would be interested in pragmatic dharma links, pages, or DhO posts. And/or answers to my questions. 

I suppose what would be helpful would be to experiment with more concentration oriented practice, for a few months, see how I'm doing, and recalibrate and ask the right questions, by keeping a phenomenology log.
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finding-oneself ♤, modified 2 Months ago at 5/5/24 7:47 PM
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RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation.

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I was reading The Path of Serenity and  Insight and one thing I noticed was how The Mind Illuminated can sort of be sumarized by the 5 hindrances. And how the jhanic factors counter them. And how the techniques counter them. He talks about laxity and exiation. That sort of thing.

But one thing I realized, trying to answer my own question above. Is that for this to work my ass has to hit the cushion with the equanimity of the 11th nyana. Daniel Ingram said that "The equanimity in the 4th vipassana jhana is the same equanimity that can be used to counter the dark night". Which I already do. Part of my attitude when I initially hit the cushion to do vipassana is sort of "Alright (slap!), let's do this!" or "Alright, gonna make some fucking progress". If I want to work on concentration/centering/samadhi, I'm going to have to hit the cushion with the same sort of equanimity that counters the dark night.

(and with The Path of Serenity and Insight, there are huge chunks I'm skipping for the reasons listed above (I fantisize though about beaing a stream enterer, to third path to arahat and sitting on a chair on a porch, and peacefully reading the old buddha stories) 
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 5/5/24 8:21 PM
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RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation.

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"How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation."
It is normal to have to meditate a while for the mind to calm down and concentration to develop. When I have been on retreats or at group meditations at the Zen center we would do bowing practice and or chanting practice before sitting meditation that would help quiet the mind to prepare for sitting meditation. When I am at home I do relaxing meditation to prepare for meditating on the breath and meditating on the breath to prepare for vipassana.

I have an article on my blog that has suggestions for experiencing bliss. You just keep focusing on the bliss to make it more intense. It you might find the article helpful:
https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/10/a-quick-guide-to-producing-bliss-with.html

But I guess I don't understand your post, you want stream entry but you are trying to get intense bliss and happiness because a 3 out of ten is not sufficient?


How does that relate to getting stream entry?

My advice is to quiet the mind, then observe it. Notice how dukkha arises and fades, and notice how the ego/self-image is involved in that. Various states, in my opinon, can be helpful but are not required. 

https://inquiringmind.com/article/2701_w_kornfield-enlightenments/
As Ajahn Chah described them, meditative states are not important in themselves. Meditation is a way to quiet the mind so you can practice all day long wherever you are; see when there is grasping or aversion, clinging or suffering; and then let it go.

And despite what you might read on the internet, awakening is most often gradual.
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finding-oneself ♤, modified 2 Months ago at 5/5/24 8:21 PM
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RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation.

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Sweet, thanks Jim. I will read that.

So It's not a scale of bliss on a scale of one to ten. It's a scale of the intensity of somatic sensations. Or maybe using a scale to describe it is inaccurate. Because the mildy pleasant rapturey sensations I experience in my limbs at the start of a sit. Is a lot different than the full field turning into this weird thing, presumably the 4th vipassana jhana. I want to turn the "mildy pleasant rapturey sensations I experience in my limbs at the start of a sit" into a jhana. I want to know what that's like.

I actually don't really experience much, if any bliss, at all. Except in equanimity, it's kind of a pleasant blasze, feeling attitude. It feels blissful being anxiety free.

As far as it relates to stream entry, they are two seperate goals in a way. If I'm meditating anyway, and can get into the 4th vipassana-jhana, I might was well try to experience the other ones. But it also relates to stream entry because I read that dwelling in the jhanas, helps condition the mind. It helps condition it to be like the same kind of state, that leads to 1st path. I think I read that from Shargrol, on the compilation page.

"And despite what you might read on the internet, awakening is most often gradual."

I'm really really really, a big fan of this. Although I didn't often say it a lot on here, I don't think. I'm a fan of both the idea, as well as Shinzen specifically saying it. Because I have gradually cultivated a sense of no-self over the last 10 years. And in the last several months to a year, I've infused my work with some more equanimity and various mediation techniques. And the no-self thing. It's particularly obvious when I stare at myself in the mirror. It's particularly intense. 

Edit: I could also list a bunch of other gradual stuff. A lot of training in morality stuff. Literally having a better moral compass. Or making up a personal religion for myself. Praying. Etc.
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 5/5/24 9:00 PM
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RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation.

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finding-oneself ♤
Sweet, thanks Jim. I will read that.

...

I'm really really really, a big fan of this. Although I didn't often say it a lot on here, I don't think. I'm a fan of both the idea, as well as Shinzen specifically saying it. Because I have gradually cultivated a sense of no-self over the last 10 years. And in the last several months to a year, I've infused my work with some more equanimity and various mediation techniques. And the no-self thing. It's particularly obvious when I stare at myself in the mirror. It's particularly intense. 

Edit: I could also list a bunch of other gradual stuff. A lot of training in morality stuff. Literally having a better moral compass. Or making up a personal religion for myself. Praying. Etc.


I had a hard time relating my own experiences to what other people reported. I had similar experiences but they didn't have the significance to me that other people were seeing. It was very confusing. Eventually I had a conversation with someone who had studied with Shinzen and that was very helpful. 

In my opinion the moral compass thing is a better indication of progress than insight into anatta. There are multiple dimensions to awakening. Insight into anatta is just one. Less suffering, increased equanimity, increased compassion are other dimensions. People develop in different dimensions at different rates. Stream entry is not a single point on a line, it is a line/area/volume/hyper-object in a multidimentional space. For gradual awakening it is not really relevant since you can't tell exactly when you make the transition and transition point is somewhat arbitrary anyway.

Maybe you should just focus on cultivating samatha and vipassana and not worry too much about stream entry or awakening etc.
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finding-oneself ♤, modified 2 Months ago at 5/5/24 8:41 PM
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RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation.

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

I read that one. "access relaxation". Wow that concept helps a lot.

https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/08/preparing-for-meditation-with.html

I read this relaxation one too. I've heard about, and done progressive relaxation before but only a handful of times. I need to do this more. But holy shit the part about mental relaxation too... the thing about visualizing and labeling colors, and labeling body parts... That ought to help. I remeber Frank Yang describing all the various basic techniques a yogi should do/learn. And he equated part of it, to a musican learning scales. That makes so much sense.

Now in terms of relaxation. I have a very difficult and stressful life and history. But somehow I have a relatively high level of equanimity. Now I'm finding one of the most important things is having both an impersonal and a personal relationship with god. Whatever that means. Including prayer. Because I really feel the only thing getting me through this is being in line with the universe, and in return, the universe helping me back, where I need to be. As long as I'm moral. I'm helping the universe back. Therefore, in terms of warm up and scales, I ought to include prayer, in the warm up.

I need to start doing this. I need to start getting used to it. I've been meaning to pray more, but so far I don't have a systematic way to do it. So what I'm not planning on doing is starting with the progressive relaxation, then working prayer in. I think that could help with the so-called "invisible-stress", of which I feel chronically, probably.
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Jim Smith, modified 2 Months ago at 5/5/24 8:46 PM
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RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation.

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finding-oneself ♤
https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/10/a-quick-guide-to-producing-bliss-with.html

I read that one. "access relaxation". Wow that concept helps a lot.

https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2020/08/preparing-for-meditation-with.html

I read this relaxation one too. I've heard about, and done progressive relaxation before but only a handful of times. I need to do this more. But holy shit the part about mental relaxation too... the thing about visualizing and labeling colors, and labeling body parts... That ought to help. I remeber Frank Yang describing all the various basic techniques a yogi should do/learn. And he equated part of it, to a musican learning scales. That makes so much sense.

Now in terms of relaxation. I have a very difficult and stressful life and history. But somehow I have a relatively high level of equanimity. Now I'm finding one of the most important things is having both an impersonal and a personal relationship with god. Whatever that means. Including prayer. Because I really feel the only thing getting me through this is being in line with the universe, and in return, the universe helping me back, where I need to be. As long as I'm moral. I'm helping the universe back. Therefore, in terms of warm up and scales, I ought to include prayer, in the warm up.

I need to start doing this. I need to start getting used to it. I've been meaning to pray more, but so far I don't have a systematic way to do it. So what I'm not planning on doing is starting with the progressive relaxation, then working prayer in. I think that could help with the so-called "invisible-stress", of which I feel chronically, probably.


You might like this too, it is a good way to connect with God. It might not seem that way at the beginning of the article but when you get to step one of the exercise you will see what I mean, and if you feel it, you will really know what I mean. (Like the holy spirit infusing you.)
https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2013/01/a-synthesis-of-spiritual-healing-and-qi.html

I do a slightly more complicated version every morning. The jhanas are a joke compared to this.
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finding-oneself ♤, modified 2 Months ago at 5/5/24 8:47 PM
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RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation.

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"Maybe you should just focus on cultivating samatha and vipassana and not worry too much about stream entry or awakening etc."

Yes, I like this. I think this is where I'm naturally going anyway. For me it's way less about trying to get to stream entry, that it used to be. As the benfits, and insights from practice show for themselves.
shargrol, modified 2 Months ago at 5/5/24 8:58 PM
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RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation.

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Okay f-o,

1st Jhana involves consistency of effort, so put your mind on the very general sense of breathing at the nostrils. Treat all of the sensations of breathing as a generic thing called "the breath". Imagine your attention rubs against "the breath" as it moves in and out. It's like watching the point at which a saw is sawing. Hold your attention at one point and watch the sawing of the breath. The reward of consistency is the feeling tone, the feeling of achievement. 

2nd involves fascination, so delight in the warm sparkling of the sensations of breathing at the nostrils. In this case the sense of effort drops and you allow "the breath" to become sparkles of sensations, still somewhat vague but more flavors. You can also key into the feeling of juicy, almost sexual pleasure, AKA rapture. Imagining warm colors like red and orange, the color of sun through your eyelids, might help. 

3rd involves a numbness a very chill bliss. For this one, it's usually good to feel the coolness of the incoming air how it cools the nostrils... but I also just imagine a cool breeze on my skin and that does it better for me. The sensations are very vague except for the cool bliss that they swim in. I always think of the color electric blue for this stage.

Some people can go very deep (higher intensity) at home, other people need retreat time.

Some people are naturally drawn toward particular jhanas, the studyous types can like J1, pleasure seekers can like J2, dark night yogis can like J3, repressed/scared but experienced meditators can get stuck in EQ/J4. 


(For what it's worth, I'm picking up a vibe of questing, seeking spiritual achievement, doubt about your practice, FOMO --- something like that. Which usually means going back to basics, at least when that all shows up for me.)
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finding-oneself ♤, modified 2 Months ago at 5/5/24 9:31 PM
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RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation.

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Damn Shargrol. That post hit nice. Can you include J4 just for completeness so myself and others can reference? I mean, while youre on a roll. emoticon

By the way. The way you described J1. And the way you distinguished J1 from J2 helps a lot. 

Combined with the other basic advice given in this thread, I think I have a lot of good shit to work with here.

"repressed/scared but experienced meditators can get stuck in EQ/J4. " 

I always love the type casting buddhisty personality labels. Like ignorant, greedy, aversive types. I love that shit. But yes. The way you described it, makes sense. "scared". I always have been scared. In this case, probably scared of taking the leap.

"(For what it's worth, I'm picking up a vibe of questing, seeking spiritual achievement, doubt about your practice, FOMO --- something like that. Which usually means going back to basics, at least when that all shows up for me.)"

I am. I'm definitely questing. Jim's comment about just focusing on cultivating shamatha and vipassana hit as well. I was getting some stuff ready for bed/ ready for tomorrow, looking at myself in the mirror, and I just felt way better. But also, I've been contemplating this thing you said about how you got to SE, and gerneral advice you offer at this stage. Which is a period where meditation became almost effortless for you, which lead to SE.

Somewhere in here, is the middle path of recognizing that I'm going to work with giving up my desire for stream entry, knowing damn well that it's a crazy bug and it aint going away peacfully. Back to basics. I know how to do this. I basically did it all now. I did all the nyanas, and all of the house cleaning. Now, it's just time to let itself put it all together, including my entire life, around it, as needed. I just have to orient in space properly. But that last god damn leap (inquisively scratching my chin, curiously). : )

I definitely have doubts about practice. I basically feel like I will get there. But a big part of me doubts. The main lifeline though, is god, or my HGA, guideing me.

Ironically I'm feeing confident about J1 - J3.
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finding-oneself ♤, modified 2 Months ago at 5/5/24 9:37 PM
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RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation.

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" It's like watching the point at which a saw is sawing"

​​​​​​​HOLY FUCK! That's gold!
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finding-oneself ♤, modified 2 Months ago at 5/5/24 9:38 PM
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RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation.

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"The reward of consistency is the feeling tone, the feeling of achievement."

This is key. This is key, for me, because it distinguised WTF, J2 is supposed to be. Like the factors of applied and sustained attention. But finally boiled down to a very friendly and easy to read analogy.
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finding-oneself ♤, modified 2 Months ago at 5/5/24 9:48 PM
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RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation.

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https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2013/01/a-synthesis-of-spiritual-healing-and-qi.html

Thanks Jim, this is great. Ive been wanting to ask folks how to pray, and/or work with god, type stuff. I'm going learn this. I've experimented with energy/chi before. Like that shitty sleep deprived feeling in the face. I'd hold my hand over it, and it would feel like it was helping sooth it.
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finding-oneself ♤, modified 2 Months ago at 5/5/24 10:04 PM
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RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation.

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Ya know. Sometimes back to basics means just focusing on the saw blade inside ur nostril

​​​​​​​C: C: C:
shargrol, modified 2 Months ago at 5/6/24 6:24 AM
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RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation.

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Just a note that having sudden urges to research stuff and figure out practice and rededicate... is very Desire for Deliverance. It can be worth noting the particular emotions/thoughts associated with searching, seeking, striving, hoping, planning, comparing, dedicating, judging, etc. 

​​​​​​​ 9. Desire for Deliverance – MCTB.org
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Pawel K, modified 2 Months ago at 5/6/24 4:14 PM
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RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation.

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In order to have concentration state at the START of meditation it is best to have concentration even before you do your meditation. And even better is to never leave meditation, then you won't need to start it ;)

Seriously though, rather than trying to tire your quote on quote 'normal' mind by doing concentration practice of keeping it on object the way to get really concentrated really fast is to have object of concentration arise outside your mind as the only thing that exists. It takes some practice to learn how to do but not only you can practice it all day long on anything but in total it is much closer to what we want to achieve with meditation. It is possible to be concentrated like this in everything you do and then experiences which arise because they are the only thing happening at the moment they arise can very easily arise in their jhanic forms. In jhanic form they are so attractive to mind it will want them to arise like that more thus to controll how much mind is concentrated on object can be done by making it arise jhanic.

I call this way of using attention as right concentration.
At least I didn't found any righter way to do it yet. Kinda feels surreal but only when I shift to my old ways of using mind - if I don't it feels like I could make my attention much noisier and harder to really focus on anything if I added too much stuff to arise at once... but then it would be like using this quote on quote 'normal mind'. Its inefficient and all the noise only makes experiences want to get even louder and here dukkha enters the picture. I for one prefer dukkha to stay comfortably out of my mind's picture.
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finding-oneself ♤, modified 2 Months ago at 5/6/24 8:03 PM
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RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation.

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shargrol
Just a note that having sudden urges to research stuff and figure out practice and rededicate... is very Desire for Deliverance. It can be worth noting the particular emotions/thoughts associated with searching, seeking, striving, hoping, planning, comparing, dedicating, judging, etc. 

​​​​​​​ 9. Desire for Deliverance – MCTB.org
Fascinating. 

Desire for deliverance is like an extra stage, which is an odd ball 

It's probably the stage I think of the least. I need to study it.... OH SHIT <- I just did it. How very studious of me. Haha just messing around 

But for real. It helps having it be specifically pointed out for me to reinvestigate.

if i notice myself striving, searching, seeking, judging, hoping, planning, maping.

note it 

I rewrote some of what you wrote, in attempts to help memorize it.
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finding-oneself ♤, modified 2 Months ago at 5/6/24 8:07 PM
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RE: How do I enter a concentration state at the START of meditation.

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@ninurta

Wow Ni Nurta. Im sitting here rubbing my chin. Very interesting.

Have the object of concentration arise outside your mind, as the old thing that arises. Fascinsting.

"At least I didn't found any righter way to do it yet."

​​​​​​​Hahaha c:

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