Early Access Concentration

Travis James, modified 1 Month ago at 5/8/24 4:39 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/8/24 4:39 PM

Early Access Concentration

Posts: 2 Join Date: 5/8/24 Recent Posts
Hey all,

I am new here, and apologies if this is very beginner stuff. But I have been meditating a long time now, but only recently read MCB. I am making progress, but am running into a block. I focus on my breath, but when I get close to what I think is access concentration, my ego sort of panics. Like I feel like if I am to "zoned in" something bad might happen to my physical body while "I'm away". Mind you, I meditate in my own home and have no logical reason to fear anything happening to me, so I am sure it is more of the ego not wanting to lose control. Does anyone have any experience/advice on this and how to work past it? Thank you! 
Olivier S, modified 1 Month ago at 5/8/24 4:52 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/8/24 4:52 PM

RE: Early Access Concentration

Posts: 958 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
One trick I had was to ask, and look for the answer in experience directly: is the thing that is aware of fear, that knows that there is fear, itself afraid?  
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Month ago at 5/8/24 5:41 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/8/24 5:41 PM

RE: Early Access Concentration

Posts: 2860 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Travis welcome to DhO! emoticon 

For us to give you anything useful we need to know exactly how long you have meditated daily, as in how many months or years of daily practice. What have you been practicing all this time exactly? Describe the practice before and after you read Ingram's book. Also how long is your usual meditation session (30min, 45min, 60min etc )

During those years have you had any special experiences?

How old are you (in my 20-es, 30-es, 40-es ... )

How do you know you are getting close to Access concentration? Please try describe in detail the sensate experiences happening at that time. I mean the body sensations included not just "ego fears to lose control" thinking part.

Thank you and welcome once again! emoticon
Travis James, modified 1 Month ago at 5/8/24 6:27 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/8/24 6:27 PM

RE: Early Access Concentration

Posts: 2 Join Date: 5/8/24 Recent Posts
Thank you both for your responses! To answer a few questions. I am in my mid 30's, meditating for about 10 years. But for much of that time I was doing what I refer to as "Mc-Meditation" you know, the 10 minutes daily to feel relaxed. Over the past few years I have gotten more serious. I meditate twice a day for 30 minutes at a time. I may not be doing enough to make real progress, but that's where I am at. 

And to answer the question on how I know I'm close to access concentration? Well, in short, I don't know. However, this is how it feels. I focus on my breath, in my nostrils. At some point it almost feels like a tether forms between my forehead and my nostrils, like I'm "locked on". And it's fairly effortless to stay focused on the breath in that state. Things feel lighter and at ease. BUT, then I get panicky. Like "don't do this, something bad might happen." 

I should also note, I was raised Christian, with a family that believed in heaven and hell, and while I no longer do and count myself as a "Buddhist atheist" I believe some of that may be left over in my subconscious.

​​​​​​​of course, I am just putting all these thoughts together, not sure what makes sense and what doesn't. And I have already finished MCB, re-reading it for a second time.  
Olivier S, modified 1 Month ago at 5/8/24 6:41 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/8/24 6:41 PM

RE: Early Access Concentration

Posts: 958 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Hey Travis!

I would reiterate my recommendation emoticon 
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Month ago at 5/9/24 3:36 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/9/24 3:36 AM

RE: Early Access Concentration

Posts: 2860 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
Thank you for the extra info. 

At the start of each session do you say a statement of intent? 


example; 

May I have loving acceptance for any and all experiences arising during the entirety of this meditation. May any and all exoerience be seen for what they truly are. May I be free from suffering. May I awaken. May be happy. May all being above bellow and all around, May they too be free from suffering, May they awaken, May they be happy. 

Another method for heavy emotions can be Noting Aloud or just noting silently but moving lips as if actually talking so to be able to sense the bodily sensations of lips moving; 
fear, fear, unpleasant, pressure in the chest, unpleasant, desire to stop meditating, inability to trust this calmness and relaxation, anticipation, unpleasant ... (always connect stuff with body sensations). 

When it comes to insight meditation it's good to know what to note; 
1. body sensations (5 sense doors)
2. thoughts
3. feeling tones 
4. mind images
5. mind states 

Once stuff calms down after a few minutes of noting you can either keep on noting calmly or just return to calm-abiding by using the body sensations of breathing. 

It's good you are re-reading the book. 

​​​​​​​Best wishes and May fear and uncertainty fuel your awakening. 
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Dream Walker, modified 1 Month ago at 5/9/24 5:13 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/9/24 5:13 AM

RE: Early Access Concentration

Posts: 1746 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Travis James
Like I feel like if I am to "zoned in" something bad might happen to my physical body while "I'm away".
Unfortunately you will not be 'away' by just meditating. Are you thinking of some kinda spontaneous astral travel trip? Unlikely but not impossible, i'd worry about crashing your car, as that is much more likely and dangerous.

Fear is a block that you overcome by repetition. (oh, that thing again, yawn)
Wait til excitement blocks progress (SOMETHING is happening WOOT! oops, excitement popped that bubble, sigh, restart.) this is actually harder to remedy, again repetition

Papa Che has good advice.

google this - site:www.dharmaoverground.org Access Concentration

Welcome and good luck!
~D
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Martin, modified 1 Month ago at 5/9/24 11:00 AM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/9/24 11:00 AM

RE: Early Access Concentration

Posts: 873 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
I used to get some massive fear when I started doing concentration practice. I found that, if I just kept going, firmly by gently, the fear would pass. It had a time limit, or a rise-and-fall function, or whatever. On the other side of the fear was a much higher level of concentration. I started to be happy to see the fear come up because I knew what would come next. Eventually, the fear stopped showing up. I almost miss it :-)
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 5/9/24 12:00 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/9/24 12:00 PM

RE: Early Access Concentration

Posts: 1750 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Travis James
Hey all,

I am new here, and apologies if this is very beginner stuff. But I have been meditating a long time now, but only recently read MCB. I am making progress, but am running into a block. I focus on my breath, but when I get close to what I think is access concentration, my ego sort of panics. Like I feel like if I am to "zoned in" something bad might happen to my physical body while "I'm away". Mind you, I meditate in my own home and have no logical reason to fear anything happening to me, so I am sure it is more of the ego not wanting to lose control. Does anyone have any experience/advice on this and how to work past it? Thank you! 

What do you think access concentration is like that it would be so different from what you are experiencing already? It probably isn't. Can you concentrate for 10 seconds? Access concentration is just like that only the time is a bigger number. There isn't anything different about it to be afraid of.

http://www.leighb.com/jhana2a.htm
​​​​​​​How do you know access concentration has been established? The mind is fully with the object of meditation and, if there are any thoughts, they are wispy and in the background; they do not draw you away from the meditation object.
"Fully with the object" means you don't get distracted. But it's just like ordinary focus. It's not anything mystical like you are absorbed into or merege with the object or lose awareness of your surroundings. Those states are very hard to experience and it's why the term access concentration was invented - so people could move on to vipassana without having to devote so much time to concentration that wasn't necessary. 

What are you planning to do when you get access concentration? Vipassana? I would say just go ahead and do whatever it is without access concentration. You're at home right? There are no monks who are going to hit you with a stick if you don't follow the rules.

You say you are a long time meditator, if you haven't seen this interview with Shinzen Young, I recommend it. Particularly the part about gradual enlightenment...

https://www.lionsroar.com/on-enlightenment-an-interview-with-shinzen-young/
When it happens suddenly and dramatically you’re in seventh heaven. It’s like after the first experience of love, you’ll never be the same. However, for most people who’ve studied with me it doesn’t happen that way. What does happen is that the person gradually works through the things that get in the way of enlightenment, but so gradually that they might not notice. What typically happens is that over a period of years, and indeed decades, within that person the craving, aversion, and unconsciousness—the mula kleshas (the fundamental “impurities”), get worked through. But because all this is happening gradually they’re acclimatizing as it’s occurring and they may not realize how far they’ve come. That’s why I like telling the story about the samurai...

No-self isn't the only facet of awakening. And different people develop the different facets at different rates. 

This is worth reading too:

Jack Kornfield, "Enlightenments"
https://inquiringmind.com/article/2701_w_kornfield-enlightenments/
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Month ago at 5/9/24 1:06 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/9/24 1:05 PM

RE: Early Access Concentration

Posts: 1750 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Jim Smith

What do you think access concentration is like that it would be so different from what you are experiencing already? It probably isn't. Can you concentrate for 10 seconds? Access concentration is just like that only the time is a bigger number. There isn't anything different about it to be afraid of.

http://www.leighb.com/jhana2a.htm
​​​​​​​How do you know access concentration has been established? The mind is fully with the object of meditation and, if there are any thoughts, they are wispy and in the background; they do not draw you away from the meditation object.
"Fully with the object" means you don't get distracted. But it's just like ordinary focus. It's not anything mystical like you are absorbed into or merege with the object or lose awareness of your surroundings. Those states are very hard to experience and it's why the term access concentration was invented - so people could move on to vipassana without having to devote so much time to concentration that wasn't necessary. 

....


Maybe you should try counting the breath. Count breaths up to 10 then start over counting at one and continue on like that. At first you might get distracted before you reach ten. After a while as the mind calms you can get to ten sometimes. As you continue you get to ten more and more often and you see you are less distracted. When you get access concentration you get to ten every time without distractions. But it is a continuous process there are no surprising transitions or anything like that. If you can get to ten twice in a row then you know what access concentration will be like, just more of the same, nothing to be afraid of.
Martin, modified 1 Month ago at 5/9/24 2:15 PM
Created 1 Month ago at 5/9/24 2:15 PM

RE: Early Access Concentration

Posts: 873 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
For me, access concentration is basically always accompanied by the fairly sudden appearance of diffuse light and invigoration. There is a hard shift from warm-up breath-watching to access concentration. It is very obvious. The length of time for which access concentration is maintained is a major determinant of the intensity of the first jhana. 

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