Distracted By Pleasant Phenomena

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Michael Cannon, modified 8 Years ago.

Distracted By Pleasant Phenomena

Posts: 28 Join Date: 5/16/12 Recent Posts
I'm reluctant to call this first jhana but it's something. I get a ringing in the ears, my skin feels kind of carbonated and I feel - there's really no better way to say it - GIDDY. It's easier to stay concentrated but I can end up pulling to the side and I'm also still thinking. At its worst, I'm worrying about the fact that I'm thinking. I'm pretty sure I use good technique to deal with it: I've been using the breath at the anapana spot as my object and I focus on the spot just below the nostrils. I conceptualize the breath as a wave. When I do this, more than just the tactility of it, it really strengthens the concentration. So I reinforce this when the buzzy good feelings come, just locking on to the in breath and out breath. But still, I feel there's some kind of anticipation going on and it could be to the detriment of the practice.

A few months ago was when I first had this feeling and it was intensely strong. I'm pretty sure it wasn't jhana because I was thinking the whole time and completely distracted and pulled off of the breath by it. My exact words were: "Holy S--t, I can't believe this happening, I can't believe something real is really happening! This is awesome!" Anyway, I only say that to say, since then, I've had a sliver of a negative voice telling me "Look at you, you're getting worse, how'd you manage that? You're practicing with better technique, sitting longer but you can't get it to be like that first time!" I'm willing to look at that first time as some freak occurrence and therefore mitigate my expectations to obtain it again in the near future. And I do believe my practice is getting better. But I'm curious to know, if:

A. This might be some kind of jhana lite, or am I completely off because I thought by first jhana you're suppose to lose at least a little self-referencing, and I have not done this, despite the pleasant sensations.

B. Would anyone else start to get pleasant sensations and then get derailed by them, or would start to get them and not actualize them? Is it normal to have them be really strong one time and then not the next time? (All conditions being equal)

C. In general, is this normal and maybe (hopefully, hopefully) just the average symptoms of early progress in samatha?

Thanks everyone.
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fivebells ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Distracted By Pleasant Phenomena

Posts: 563 Join Date: 2/25/11 Recent Posts
When the buzzy good feelings come, switch to an insight practice. Noting the three characteristics of phenomena as they arise and pass away would be a worthwhile thing to try first, if you haven't developed an insight practice yet.
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Richard Zen, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Distracted By Pleasant Phenomena

Posts: 1633 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
If you feel relief and a joy with that relief which gives you rapture and a warm vibrating pleasure then I think it would be the first jhana. It's like making meditation time a time to let go of all objects to chase and just stay with one object. It's almost like doing a complicated job and then only having to do a simple job to the point you feel relief. I remember when I got my first jhana I definitely talked in my mind and got distracted because there's no better proof than actual experience.

Try to look at your concentration practice as a way to let go of all thoughts and relish in the seclusion of just one object. When you relax in this and have enough jhana experiences you should be able to let go of the meditation object and then move it to a nimitta (brightening of the retina) or just use the enjoyable body sensations as an object to then just stay with the object without a need for much sustaining. Because of the enjoyment there is no need to keep sustaining it. At this point you would get to the 2nd jhana and that feels smooth and blissful and less agitating than the 1st jhana. It happened to me when my brain got used to the first jhana and moved to the 2nd. The more refined and less exciting the jhana the more restful and peaceful it becomes. It's like the brain goes crazy with novelty and then it lets go of attachment to what it knows too well.

Leigh Brasington has good instructions:

Leigh Brasington - Instruction for Entering Jhana

Once you get to the 1st jhana you can start looking at the 3 characteristics as Fivebells describes.
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fivebells ., modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Distracted By Pleasant Phenomena

Posts: 563 Join Date: 2/25/11 Recent Posts
Richard Zen:
Once you get to the 1st jhana you can start looking at the 3 characteristics as Fivebells describes.
I meant something a bit different: switching to an insight practice as a topical response to elation. I agree, though, that an essential foundation for systematic insight practice is a systematic way to enter some sort of stable state of attention like 1st jhana.
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Michael Cannon, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Distracted By Pleasant Phenomena

Posts: 28 Join Date: 5/16/12 Recent Posts
Yes, that was the other thing that made me suspect of calling it jhana: no nimitta. Definitely vitakka, some vicara, a little piti and sukha. But the white light still eludes. I'm ok with that. I know people can get hung up on trying to see it and of course, they end up suggesting themselves into thinking they see it. Don't want that.

My loose plan is to hold off on insight until I feel stable and confident with concentration. I don't want to put a jhana ceiling on it, but it'd be nice to get to 2nd or 3rd or 4th. My initial attraction to this practice was concentration. But after some vipassana exposure, of course it feels like a mistake to not to do insight. Does any body do both? Can I do samatha on the cushion and three characteristics on the feet?

Thanks Richard and Fivebells for your feed back. I appreciate it. Going to check out that link.
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Richard Zen, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Distracted By Pleasant Phenomena

Posts: 1633 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
When you do insight practice your concentration does increase but it's different because you are not trying to get absorbed but to develop disenchantment with attachment to anything (including jhanas). Instead of solidifying a concentrated state (into a fabricated habit that keeps fading if you stop practice) you allow anything (including thoughts) to arise and pass away on their own which releases some of the repressive tension that is in concentration practice. When I got to equanimity I didn't get to really enjoy it as much until I could do the "do nothing" Shinzen Young practice which literally feels like it smooths out the striving part of your mind that is still striving for meditation attainments. I think just doing the concentration practice until you get stable jhanas is the way many people like to do it. Getting jhanas and blissing out on them is fun and a good way to reduce stress. It's a eureka for the brain when it gets good at it. After the 2nd jhana I started noting in meditation and during daily life. It feels like a new skill so you feel like you're back to kindergarden but then if you resolve to keep it up it's a wild ride to equanimity. Going back to jhanas after that starts to feel crude or antiquated. Once people hit stream entry some come back to jhanas and try to get all of them because it's easier after stream entry. I've only gotten to the 4th jhana but I'm sure the others are probably more restful. Some of those descriptions with Ken Folk and Nick are tantalizing:

Pure land jhanas emoticon

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