Getting stuck just before Jhana states

Jim W, modified 10 Years ago at 2/8/12 6:05 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/8/12 6:05 AM

Getting stuck just before Jhana states

Posts: 27 Join Date: 2/8/12 Recent Posts
Hi all, newbie here ! I have been sitting in earnest for about 18 months (and on and off for a few years prior to this). I sit for 30 minutes every day (apart from the odd day when I have been too ill / travelling). I sit with the Samatha Trust in the UK and have an excellent and very experienced teacher.

I have got to the stage where I can get to access concentration in 5 /10 minutes (start with a bit of counting, then following breath, then placing awareness on nostrils / abdomen). I have experienced a Jhana state once and have had pitti/sukka coming through a bit on other occasions. I get to access then either get eye/headache (over-focusing?) or just stay at access for a bit then loose concentration.

My teacher recommended trying to 'let go' at access and/or use metta for a bit to try to prevent over focus. I know that wanting jhana can prevent it (as desire hindrance arises), so I try to have the view of letting go when I sit (I do though have a little nagging voice that says 'maybe this is it' at access). Has anyone experienced similar problems /found ways of getting through (dropping!) this ?

Many thanks and much metta.

Jim
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 2/8/12 7:27 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/8/12 7:27 AM

RE: Getting stuck just before Jhana states

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Hiya Jim, welcome to the DhO.

I get to access then either get eye/headache (over-focusing?) or just stay at access for a bit then loose concentration.

I think you're right about over-focusing, when you hit access concentration stay with the breath but hold it lightly rather than zeroing in on it tightly. It takes a bit of trial and error to find the balance but you'll find that is easier if you're not fighting with it and trying to stay with your object. Let attention rest on it naturally and just keep bringing it back gently if you catch yourself wandering off, your breath counting is a great way to do this. Remember that every time you realize that you've followed a train of thought, or got distracted, you're immediately back to being aware of your object again which is where you want to be.

Once you've gotten access concentration, begin to pay attention to the pleasant feelings arising in the body but, again, don't try to do anything with them other than observe them as they are. This will lead to an increase in those sorts of feelings and if you can continue to focus on the jhana factors arising then you'll find 1st jhana showing up quite naturally.

The way I would go about dropping the tightening focus and over-exertion would be to just accept that what's happening is what's happening, that jhana will naturally arise if the conditions are right for it to do so, and that thoughts of "I must get into jhana" or "I really want to experience jhana" are not actually required or even helpful. Thought will arise but you're not trying to stop that from happening, accept that they're there and acknowledge them without fighting with them or trying to change them, stay with your object and it'll happen.

Hope that's of use to you but feel free to ask whatever, there's plenty of people on here with really good concentration skills who can help out so get as much info as you can. There's a knack to it but, once you get used to it and are familiar with it, it's possible to enter jhana at will with a bit of practice.

Tommy
Jim W, modified 10 Years ago at 2/8/12 8:14 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/8/12 8:14 AM

RE: Getting stuck just before Jhana states

Posts: 27 Join Date: 2/8/12 Recent Posts
Hi Tommy,

Many thanks for the advice and encouragement - I will try what you suggest when I sit later on. Very glad I found this forum emoticon

Thanks again,

Jim
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Eric B, modified 10 Years ago at 2/9/12 12:20 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/9/12 12:20 PM

RE: Getting stuck just before Jhana states

Posts: 187 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
Good advice from Tommy. One thing comes to mind from my own experience. When the pleasant feeling has arisen, let yourself melt into it. For a long time, I kept it at a distance by having too much of a "me" watching "it" perspective/mindset. Let it pervade the mind as well as the body.

Eric
Jim W, modified 10 Years ago at 2/9/12 1:49 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/9/12 1:49 PM

RE: Getting stuck just before Jhana states

Posts: 27 Join Date: 2/8/12 Recent Posts
Thanks for the advice Eric! When I sit I get quite a strong overall energy awareness, a bit like a gentle hum. I will have a go at melting into it as you suggest. I have heard that people often use the hands if a pleasant sensation arises there. I think I need to apply a bit less 'force' to the concentration as well.

Are there any tips for dealing with inner thoughts/dialogue that goes something like: 'I wonder if jhana is going to happen?' ?! I have been warned that this can mean desire has arisen and as a hindrance, this can prevent getting into jhana. I suppose all that can be done, is to acknowledge it and return to the breath!
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Eric B, modified 10 Years ago at 2/9/12 2:10 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/9/12 2:10 PM

RE: Getting stuck just before Jhana states

Posts: 187 Join Date: 8/24/09 Recent Posts
Jim Wilson:


Are there any tips for dealing with inner thoughts/dialogue that goes something like: 'I wonder if jhana is going to happen?' ?! I have been warned that this can mean desire has arisen and as a hindrance, this can prevent getting into jhana. I suppose all that can be done, is to acknowledge it and return to the breath!


It's desire for some future point yet to come in which jhana has arisen, which is a sticking point. Contentment with the present moment facilitates creating the conditions for jhana. As you noted above, acknowlegde and return to the breath (i.e., the present).

Eric
Jim W, modified 10 Years ago at 2/9/12 4:41 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/9/12 4:41 PM

RE: Getting stuck just before Jhana states

Posts: 27 Join Date: 2/8/12 Recent Posts
Thanks again Eric, I shall bear your advice in mind when I sit. I am just trying to stay positive, as I am getting frustrated with the feeling of being stuck ! I often have to deal with quite a lot of physical pain from my neck/shoulders/back which makes my practice an 'interesting' experience sometimes!
Bjorn Hjelte, modified 10 Years ago at 2/10/12 10:30 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/10/12 10:30 AM

RE: Getting stuck just before Jhana states

Posts: 21 Join Date: 12/27/11 Recent Posts
If you want something to read check out the book "Beyond mindfulness in plain english". I'm currently reading it and today I read the chapter there about access concentration, it clarified a few things for me. Very straightforward book, less "fluff" and more useful information, I like it.
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 10 Years ago at 2/10/12 12:16 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/10/12 12:16 PM

RE: Getting stuck just before Jhana states

Posts: 704 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Tommy:
Once you've gotten access concentration, begin to pay attention to the pleasant feelings arising in the body but, again, don't try to do anything with them other than observe them as they are. This will lead to an increase in those sorts of feelings and if you can continue to focus on the jhana factors arising then you'll find 1st jhana showing up quite naturally.


Over the past few days, though I've heard the advice to "not interfere, or manipulate", to "just observe" pleasant feelings many times, I think I finally managed to apply it. It's surprisingly hard not to manipulate the pleasure. Not to "help it a bit" -I have thus far found it neigh on impossible!

After reading this thread, and trying once more I appear to be able to consistently get into jhana now - not a real hard jhana, but quite unmistakable - up to what seems very like 3rd jhana on a good sit.

Eric Bause:
Good advice from Tommy. One thing comes to mind from my own experience. When the pleasant feeling has arisen, let yourself melt into it. For a long time, I kept it at a distance by having too much of a "me" watching "it" perspective/mindset. Let it pervade the mind as well as the body.

Eric


I second the vote of good advice from Tommy! And thanks for your comment here Eric.

This is something I've also found really useful, though for me it's very, very close to manipulating. There's quite a fine balance between "melting in" and "helping along" - it's hard to put into language, but Im sure you know what I mean.

Good luck with this Jim, and thanks Tommy & Eric
Jim W, modified 10 Years ago at 2/10/12 1:02 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/10/12 1:02 PM

RE: Getting stuck just before Jhana states

Posts: 27 Join Date: 2/8/12 Recent Posts
Thanks again everyone for the tips and advice - I will plough on and see how it goes. I am aware that I lack patience at least emoticon
Jim W, modified 10 Years ago at 2/11/12 2:38 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 2/11/12 2:38 AM

RE: Getting stuck just before Jhana states

Posts: 27 Join Date: 2/8/12 Recent Posts
An update having followed my teacher's advice and that posted here:

Last night I sat and gently focused on the breath for while and let it go a bit having got to access. I then did a lot of Metta (something I normally find very difficult) - this time is was quite easy and I rapidly became rather joyful, to the point where I even had a little giggle (again - not like 'me' at all).

I was very relaxed, full of energy and very bright (even though my shoulder was going into spasm a bit as it sometimes does).

I also felt like I had a lot of control over thoughts and after a while - no idea why, I rationally went through the list of 5 hindrances and thought 'nope, doesn't seem to many here at the moment, bit of shoulder pain, but that's OK, it doesn't matter', and then returned to just enjoying the good feelings. I wasn't even that fussed that my shoulder was quite painful (I have chronic spinal problems). I sat like this for about 20 minutes (after 5 mins of settling in) but ended up having to shuffle around a bit and started to run out steam. I spent the next half an hour or so grinning like a loon.

Not sure what label to give this, it was a bit different to my previous experience of jhana - which was not this joyful, but a little more serene.

Anyone else had similar experiences ?

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