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1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 8/3/12 8:26 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 8/11/12 2:22 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration fivebells . 8/11/12 2:39 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 8/11/12 6:25 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration fivebells . 8/11/12 8:00 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 8/11/12 9:27 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 8/17/12 8:10 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Tommy M 8/17/12 4:37 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 8/23/12 3:34 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Ian And 8/23/12 10:37 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 8/23/12 11:05 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Ian And 8/24/12 12:40 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 8/27/12 5:23 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Ian And 8/28/12 12:54 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 8/30/12 10:57 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/6/12 11:09 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/6/12 12:23 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/6/12 12:56 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/6/12 2:30 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/6/12 3:03 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/6/12 7:04 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/6/12 7:49 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/7/12 7:49 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Brian K. 9/7/12 9:15 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/7/12 9:26 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/7/12 5:30 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/8/12 2:11 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/8/12 5:09 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/10/12 8:04 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/10/12 9:43 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/11/12 9:30 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/11/12 4:34 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/12/12 8:25 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/12/12 12:00 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/13/12 8:30 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/13/12 10:56 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/14/12 8:45 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/14/12 1:53 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/17/12 11:16 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/17/12 9:47 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/18/12 8:46 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/18/12 1:19 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Steph S 9/18/12 2:04 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/19/12 2:30 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/18/12 7:39 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/18/12 11:03 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/18/12 1:28 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/18/12 1:58 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/19/12 2:25 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/19/12 4:34 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/24/12 7:51 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/24/12 11:43 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/24/12 3:09 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/24/12 5:40 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/25/12 9:02 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/26/12 6:53 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/27/12 8:58 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/27/12 6:46 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/27/12 8:41 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/28/12 7:56 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/28/12 10:03 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/20/12 6:22 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/24/12 7:52 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/24/12 7:09 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Steph S 9/25/12 12:58 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/25/12 9:08 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Steph S 9/28/12 1:26 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/28/12 10:15 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Steph S 10/1/12 1:40 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 10/1/12 12:58 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Steph S 10/12/12 6:31 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 10/24/12 12:26 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Tommy M 9/25/12 3:21 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/25/12 9:09 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Zyndo Zyhion 9/26/12 4:16 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/27/12 8:44 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/8/12 3:38 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/6/12 3:05 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Nick Myers 9/6/12 7:05 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 9/6/12 7:50 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Ian And 8/18/12 11:23 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Paul Rig 8/22/12 1:37 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration fivebells . 8/22/12 5:19 PM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Paul Rig 8/24/12 10:58 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration fivebells . 8/24/12 11:59 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration Paul Rig 8/26/12 11:33 AM
RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration fivebells . 8/26/12 12:38 PM
1st Jhana and Access Concentration
stream entry access concentration no-self 1st jhana
Answer
8/3/12 8:26 AM
Hey guys,

still relatively new here, A little bit more about me from other threads is that I came from RT then moved onto LU to help guide people to seeing No-Self. I was stuck for a long time thinking that state was the end of my travels. I was trapped in thinking it was enlightenment, but am not grateful to realize it's not, just impermanent of a state in terms of the humanness affect (suffering still happens, reactions still happen, just a lot less.)

I reached dark night shortly after realizing no-self off of one of Ciarans blog posts (as my girlfriend broke up with me etc. etc.) All of those insecurities inside bubbled up and bled into my real life (unfortunately I didn't have MCTB to let me know not to let that bleed into real life haha)

Before realizing, I did do quite a bit of meditation and some of the things described by the Jhanas I can see from my practices, clear hearing going on, white lights flashing and pulsing, etc. However I didn't know how to describe them or stabalize them.


More recently I reached out here to the lovely katy who gave me some nice suggestions as I feel I want to work for first path SE, and decided to just start to work my way up starting at 1st Jhana and Access Concentration and stabilizing those two at least.

Last night I believe I hit both at different intervals of time, one was very focused, where everything took the background where all the focus was on was the counting of breath cycles (up to 10) thanks to Tomy M's little guide to access concentration which I found very helpful. I could see and maintain that for about a minute or two.

However, after this, sometimes the AC would break off and distraction would happen (it happened in my first sit). My second sit however, went from AC to 1st Jhana as it felt like a find fog descended. I still could sense some tensions in the body, but were not bothersome. The fog like feel felt very relaxing and almost like one would feel sitting on a boat as it bobs in the early morning hours, very tranquil. There was a lightness about it too, although I did perceive some tension in the head (or pressure)


Can anyone tell me if I'm on the right track and how stable I should go to make these before I move onto 2nd Jhana etc? I would like to help out some people I know where I live and are close friends that follow in the same kind of path as I so I want to know how to get, keep and move on to the next to reach SE. Would be nice to have someone in my area who can show others there is more than just the intellectual side of things.

Thanks for your help!

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
8/11/12 2:22 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
Updating my meditation:

Now there seems to be a problem. I don't think I'm any longer experiencing any kind of jhana, or very short segments that I can distinguish. What is most distinct in meditation is

Many different tensions in the back along with irritation or a feeling of grasping that seems to be on the forefront. I kind of pulls me away from focus. I press on to being attentive to breath but still the nagging feeling of irritation of "no-progress"

Also the thought sensation of, "okay I just need to give this up." As in maybe I should give up trying to "willfully" attain jhanas knowing that on some level it can't be willed.


Have been talking to Tommy a bit about this, I'm going to be moving from strictly attention to breath to noting as many sensations as i can in the body until that door opens. Since I can't seem to pull Jhanas at "will" Just going to worry about them later haha.


Anyway advice on this would be appreciate or perhaps a pointer where I might be at right now.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
8/11/12 2:39 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
With access concentration, try resting attention on some pleasant phenomenon, as described in these instructions.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
8/11/12 6:25 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
Thanks five bells.

This actually answered some of my questions about this. Like why the breath becomes really shallow etc. This quote in particular from the Buddhas earlier teachining may have answered why jhanas have been hard to access.

"Secluded from sense desire, secluded from unwholesome states of mind, one approaches and abides in the first jhana."

The need to make progress might be hindering the progress. I also took some advice from Tommy about trying noting as much as possible because I'm more partial to Stream Entry then just Jhanas however I thought that being able to stabilize and control Jhanas, it would be easier reaching SE.

However I'm seeing it's probably actually the other way around.

I found that when I'm noting during meditation after opening access concentration I note a lot of feeling of fatigue or almost that "zoning out" or "close to sleep" like sensation in the eyes and have to actively bring it back.



Do you guys think I should be strengthening my attentiveness of access concentration more or should just keep working to the best of my ability on noting and work through the tiredness sensations to make those skills stronger?

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
8/11/12 8:00 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
Does the dullness happen if you rest attention on a pleasant sensation, too?

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
8/11/12 9:27 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
I'll have to check next time I meditate. As far as I know when im being attentive to the breathe (which is also very pleasant for me) the dullness isn't there.

However it seems to happen when I'm not focused on something, just enjoying the meditation to where I have to pull myself back from succumbing to the dullness and "blacking out or falling in the gap"

It use to happen to me a lot and my last meditation I noticed that i appeared to be in some kind of dullness until something snapped me back into attentiveness during it.

Also when doing this sort of meditation, I've noticed the inside of my eyelids over time seem to get lighter as if a light source is slowly being turned up, and it becomes more of a dull green.

I don't see visions in meditation, as I'm not currently gifted with visual skills, but I can see slight colors; mainly blues, greens, and whites.



Anyway back on subject: Dullness seems to happen when there isn't active attention or focus on something, so it tends to almost go into like a "day dream" like sensation where everything seems to feel "fuzzy". If I focus on a pleasant sensation I also tend to automatically start noting things, it doesn't seem to want to just take in pleasant sensations... Maybe it means business and just wants Stream Entry?

I did send out that intent.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
8/17/12 8:10 AM as a reply to Nick Myers.
So last night on the mat, There was a moment in which there was tension slowly building up in the head.

Vision inside of the eyelids appeared to get lighter, a slight moment of bliss, and then more pressure in the head. Something feels like it wants to get out.

Then there was dissipation of this joy and dissipation of the pressure.

This was while still focusing on the breath this was noticed. They become great objects of meditation.

Is there a reason why the thought that something wants to get out arises (or any validity to this self claim) or should it be disregarded and just seen that it was a thought sensation like any other thought?

I also realized that the only reason a sense of self on this end is felt is because its mistaken from the senses that happen to make the distinction that. "this is why they are happening, you are this continuitious thing." Even though it isn't continuitious, the senses prove this wrong by being one after the other in fast succession do they not?

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
8/17/12 4:37 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
Is there a reason why the thought that something wants to get out arises (or any validity to this self claim) or should it be disregarded and just seen that it was a thought sensation like any other thought?

I wouldn't say there's any reason as such, it's more likely to be the way your mind automatically conceptualizes that pattern of sensations; tension, pressure, pushing, all of these sensations implying something needing to be released when, in actuality, all that's required is to acknowledge them, experience their transience and how, in any aspect of it's manifestation, there's no self to be found there. Thoughts are just thoughts, a sensation like any other which arises dependent upon conditions which "you" have no say in, never mind any control over; they're there and they're gone, a seemingly unbroken chain of associated mental objects...until you penetrate their true nature and experience how such concepts are ultimately not required for these luminous, yet inherently empty 'objects' to exist at all.

Next time you notice that sense of something wanting to get out, investigate what that 'something' actually 'is' rather than simply what it implies. Look at how, no matter how it's seen, there is no difference whatsoever between the way in which any of those sensations are experienced fundamentally; all differences are implied after the fact, but in the moment they're experienced directly - free from the push/pull of like/dislike (as well as the "meh" of neutrality) free from the identification, conceptualization, categorization and all those unconscious mental processes - there is just another transient, luminous, self-liberated sensation and nothing more.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
8/18/12 11:23 AM as a reply to Nick Myers.
Hi Nick,

Tommy answered your first question. I'll take a stab at the second.

Nick Myers:

I also realized that the only reason a sense of self on this end is felt is because its mistaken from the senses that happen to make the distinction that[:] "this is why they are happening, you are this continuous thing." Even though it isn't continuous, the senses prove this wrong by being one after the other in fast succession do they not?

That observation is certainly true. Keep digging deeper into your contemplation of this to see this phenomenon even clearer. The clearer you see it, the less dukkha will affect "you." Of course, you have to be able to be mindful of this truth on a continuous basis in order to lessen the effect of "dukkha charged moments." This is why Gotama emphasized mindfulness practice so much in the discourses.

That "sense of self" is an illusion created in the mind. In reality, there is only form, feeling, perception, mental volition, and consciousness, with no substantial backing (thing or entity) behind it. Just an idea that a self exists. Read that sentence again if you didn't GET IT the first time: Just an idea (thought form) that a self exists. It is this "thought form" that is being mistaken for the "continuous, connected succession of events dependently arising" evidence of a self.

In peace,
Ian

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
8/22/12 1:37 PM as a reply to Ian And.
I have some questions after reading this posts. When you speak about pay attention to pleasant sensations just when you get Access Concentration and before first Jhana im a bit confused.

In my practice, I use to pay attention to the breathing. I started only trying to be the more time possible 'looking'' at it, trying to be faster notizing when some thoughts were coming to replace the object.
With the time I was able to perceive the changing of the attention more precisely, how I was feeling the different sensations of the breathing, beeing aware of impermanence, and in some instance of suffer and how self was being created.

My problem is that I dont know where Access Concentration ends, and when 1st Jhana begins. As I dont know where is the line, i dont know when I have to pay attention to pleasant sensations. And I dont know for how long one has to be concentrated on that rather on the breathing. And I dont know why one should do that : ) hehe

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
8/22/12 5:19 PM as a reply to Paul Rig.
Pablo Elías Rego:
As I dont know where is the line, i dont know when I have to pay attention to pleasant sensations.


Try it and see what happens

Pablo Elías Rego:
And I dont know for how long one has to be concentrated on that rather on the breathing.


There are pleasant sensations in the experience of breathing itself. Try resting attention on those.

Pablo Elías Rego:
And I dont know why one should do that : ) hehe


It's essentially a form of Skinnerian operant conditioning. Attention to the present moment is being rewarded with pleasant sensations, conditioning attention to stay there.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
8/23/12 3:34 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
Thank you Tommy for the answer to the question. I see now that it is just another little thought trick that was grasped onto based on information that was read a while back about kundalini or life energy exiting the body. and even then it doesn't really make sense now that I think about it as the body is this that which is going on so why would it need to exit anywhere?

Will focus more on acknowledging rather than sticking to the labeling of said experiences.


Also Ian And, Thank you, I got you the first time with the illusion of self. I don't have trouble with that. I'm actually having more trouble with directly experiencing impermanence haha.

I'm pretty sure at this point that I haven't been in 1st Jhana, maybe a nice version of access concentration (maybe 1st jhana way back when i meditated a lot and didn't know what 1st jhana was) but I haven't obtained it. Keep you guys updated on any progress. I'm enjoying the process and will not give up. Each day is another day of progress. =]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
8/23/12 10:37 AM as a reply to Nick Myers.
Nick Myers:

I'm actually having more trouble with directly experiencing impermanence haha.

Hi Nick,

Impermanence is all around us, happening each and every moment. It's one of the easiest things to directly experience! I don't understand your statement.

The fact that a person's health is not in a permanent state of healthfulness is an indication of impermanence. One day you feel good, the next day you're down with the flu. Impermanence!

But more importantly, what Gotama was pointing out by this is that because things are impermanent, they are not necessarily always satisfying, and because of this one experiences dukkha (dissatisfaction) with the condition of life in general and having to live in a physical realm.

And yet even beyond this, because things are impermanent, this makes the creation of a "self" in the mind even more bothersome, and is why he was able to arrive at the conclusion that the basic characteristic of personality is that it is "without self" or anatta. And that anything that is impermanent, unsatisfactory, and without self cannot be worth holding onto.

Yet, even beyond all this, what one needs to work on is the breaking down of the mental conditioning that has taken place over the years which has nurtured this illusion of self and permanence. When one is able to see and understand these things as they actually are (in and through mindfulness of this truth), that recognition alone begins to chip away at this illusion in the psyche, and eventually one lets go of it, not to be bothered by it ever again.

In peace,
Ian

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
8/23/12 11:05 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Ian And:

Yet, even beyond all this, what one needs to work on is the breaking down of the mental conditioning that has taken place over the years which has nurtured this illusion of self and permanence. When one is able to see and understand these things as they actually are (in and through mindfulness of this truth), that recognition alone begins to chip away at this illusion in the psyche, and eventually one lets go of it, not to be bothered by it ever again.

In peace,
Ian


That's what I'm actually having a bit of trouble with. I've had no-self realization. I guess the body hasn't made the recognition that this false sense of self is really only just a thousand and one different sensations happening in fast succession to create the illusion of something being there aside from... well sensations happening.

Alot was let go with the seeing, but there still seems to be residue left still. Which is probably why meditation became part of my practice again, and well I think Jhanas are pretty exciting tools to have to further progress of at least stream entry +

I actually wrote about no-self being like a rubber band ball below:

http://liberatedself.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/how-a-rubber-band-ball-frees-you-from-suffering/

If you care to read and add any advice on where you think I may be, it would be much appreciated Ian or Tommy... or well anyone else for that matter haha.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
8/24/12 10:58 AM as a reply to fivebells ..
fivebells .:
Pablo Elías Rego:
As I dont know where is the line, i dont know when I have to pay attention to pleasant sensations.


Try it and see what happens

Pablo Elías Rego:
And I dont know for how long one has to be concentrated on that rather on the breathing.


There are pleasant sensations in the experience of breathing itself. Try resting attention on those.

Pablo Elías Rego:
And I dont know why one should do that : ) hehe


It's essentially a form of Skinnerian operant conditioning. Attention to the present moment is being rewarded with pleasant sensations, conditioning attention to stay there.


So paying attention to this pleasant sensations is only a complementary trick to strengthen motivation in all the process? Is not only something one has to do at the end of access concentration?

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
8/24/12 11:59 AM as a reply to Paul Rig.
Pablo Elías Rego:
So paying attention to this pleasant sensations is only a complementary trick to strengthen motivation in all the process?


No, it goes quite deep. Firstly, it's a way of conditioning attention to rest. You need the stability it affords to do effective insight practice. But it's not just a trick, it's a path to metta and mudita, two of the four brahmaviharas, which can be thought of as cognates to conventional positive emotions, but are unconditional qualities of awareness (in theory, at least; for me the experience of them still depends on establishing favorable conditions.)

Pablo Elías Rego:
Is not only something one has to do at the end of access concentration?


It's a good thing to practice any time one wishes to stabilize concentration. But enough theory. Try it! It's good!

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
8/24/12 12:40 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
Nick Myers:
Ian And:

Yet, even beyond all this, what one needs to work on is the breaking down of the mental conditioning that has taken place over the years which has nurtured this illusion of self and permanence.

When one is able to see and understand these things as they actually are (in and through mindfulness of this truth), that recognition alone begins to chip away at this illusion in the psyche, and eventually one lets go of it, not to be bothered by it ever again.


That's what I'm actually having a bit of trouble with. I've had no-self realization. I guess the body hasn't made the recognition that this false sense of self is really only just a thousand and one different sensations happening in fast succession to create the illusion of something being there aside from... well sensations happening.

Alot was let go with the seeing, but there still seems to be residue left still. Which is probably why meditation became part of my practice again, and well I think Jhanas are pretty exciting tools to have to further progress of at least stream entry +

I actually wrote about no-self being like a rubber band ball below:

http://liberatedself.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/how-a-rubber-band-ball-frees-you-from-suffering/

If you care to read and add any advice on where you think I may be, it would be much appreciated Ian or Tommy...

Hi Nick,

I read your piece. Very well done and thought out. You've got the concepts down. Now all you need to do is internalize it; make it part of your everyday way of viewing things and events so as to not cause the arising of dukkha. I won't kid you, that won't be easy (breaking down the asavas, the underlying tendencies in the mind). But it can be done. With mindfulness.

There's no magic here. No pulling rabbits out of a hat! That's only for people who want to become mesmerized by illusion. You won't suddenly wake up someday and feel totally different without understanding why. It is usually a process of gradual awakening. One day at a time. And it begins with the breaking down of the ego and personal conceit. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. . . .

Everything that Gotama taught begins and ends with mindfulness (sati). Like a perfect circle. It all comes back to this one simple idea and practice. Be mindful of every second of every minute of every hour of every day. That mindfulness will preempt the underlying tendencies, eventually breaking them down. It can be a slow and gradual process. I keep harping on this, but people don't seem to get it. Mindfulness is one of the keys; and an important key at that.

I used to be similar to you: I looked into and read as much as I could about Zen and the way Zen teaches what it knows. I had the impression that Zen had found a short-cut (so to speak) way to awakening. That it was somehow a cut above the way that others were teaching this same material. But there were always more questions than answers. And I wasn't able to connect the dots between the terminology (in Sanskrit and Pali) and it's meaning so as to see what was really being said.

That's when I decided to go back to the source, Gotama, to see what he originally had to say about all this. When in doubt, go sit at the feet of the source in order to clarify what is being taught. I was at a point in my life where I didn't have any choice: I was 48 and I wasn't going to waste any more of my time reading about other people's perceptions and misperceptions about what Gotama taught. Time, life experience, and advancing age has a way of focusing the mind of the seeker of knowledge in a way that is really difficult to communicate to one who has not experience it. Be that as it may. . .

It took me two or three years to read through the translations from Pali of the Digha, Majjhima, and Samyutta Nikayas as well as one tenth of the Anguttara Nikaya (printed in a translated anthology). I also read the Dhammapada, the Sutta Nipata, the Itivuttaka, and the Udana. I not only read, but contemplated and took notes about what I was reading and contemplating. It was a slow but immensely rewarding experience. One that I recommend more people to have. Yet, in this fast moving "immediate gratification" seeking world, this is not something that everyone will take the time to do. And that is really sad. However that may be. . .

At the same time, I was meditating two and three times a day, for 45 minutes to an hour each sitting. Learning about and entering absorption (jhana) meditation, using that to help me gain more control over the mind and to reign in its habit of wandering. Meditation plays a vital role in assisting the practitioner to recondition the mind for being able to successfully establish mindfulness. Once mindfulness can become established, contemplation (real contemplation on phenomena) can take place. And this is when insight occurs. Insight into the teachings, insight into the workings of the mind, into almost anything you wish to focus upon.

Yet, when it comes to dealing with everyday matters, mindfulness is key. It helps you to see when the underlying tendency (asava) is arising so that you can consciously deal with it. Consciously dealing with these tendencies is key to breaking their grip on the mind. Like I said above, this is not always easy (although people want to believe that it is, that there is something magical in this process, yet they only delude themselves by thinking this way).

Part of the awakening process involves recognizing the way in which one has been deluding oneself for such a long time. One cannot be awakened, and continue to buy into such delusion. As it says in the Satipatthana suttas: "A monk, breathing in a long breath, he knows that he breathes in a long breath, and breathing out a long breath, he knows that he breathes out a long breath." And: "Again, a monk, when going forward or back, is clearly aware of what he is doing, in looking forward or back he is clearly aware of what he is doing..." It all reduces down to being aware and knowing what you are doing in each and every moment of the day. There is no getting away from this.

Awake means awake, here and now, each and every moment. This is not easy to accomplish. But it can be done. Taking one step at a time. Little by little a person will notice that they are mindful for longer and longer periods during the day. And with each passing day it can become a bit easier to maintain this mindfulness, with unbending diligence and patience towards practice.

In peace,
Ian

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
8/26/12 11:33 AM as a reply to fivebells ..
fivebells .:
Try it! It's good!


So my question was if this practice was a complement, rather than a replacement. I mean, doing that doesnt mean the end of a previous process, and the preceding step to another?

Another question is. What is the nature of this pleasant sensations? Is something physical that we have to find, or is a way of experiencing the already physical things we were looking at?

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
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8/26/12 12:38 PM as a reply to Paul Rig.
It can go either way. It can be a complement, or a replacement. The key thing at this stage is to do it in the midst of access concentration.

It's whatever pleasant aspects arise in the experience of the breath. If you can't feel any at first, try resting the breath at the peak of each in/out breath, until the next phase starts of its own accord. There should be some pleasure associated with that.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
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8/27/12 5:23 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Thank you Ian for your story.

I really enjoyed reading where you came from and how you got to where you are now.

So what it comes down to it seems is to dig into some of the Buddhas words straight from the source. See what he's actually saying and continue my meditation practice in concentration. I feel that my concentration has been getting better over time. I can not engage my breath throughout the day which causes thoughts to subside when concentration is on the breath, walking, blinking, swallowing, etc.

It almost feels less stressful this way, however things are becoming evident (as I expect they would). As in sexual desire seems to be coming up more again, something I probably haven't really dealt with on a larger scale. I think in my younger years i had bypassed that somewhat as the desire for that dropped away for a long time and then I fell in love (thought I did) with a girl and then had that identity ripped away later by the break up after I had no-self realization haha.

I'm really intrigued by the feeling these memories bring up but can't quite put my finger yet on which sensations make up the complete sensation of these past triggers of memory. I know of there impermanent nature because bring back to the breathe they dissolve back into nothing only to come up later (which I'm guessing is because I can't pin point which sensations are which quite yet as they keep dissolving when I try and AMP them by trying to focus on the memory).

I have been doing concentration meditation everyday for now it seems to be 30 minutes (i started at 20). I'll probably have to order at least the middle discourses of the buddha and start reading it soon though. I'm hoping this is going to help me continue my Jhana training as well as internalizing no-self until it breaks through the other 2 characteristics.

I appreciate the help you've given me to this point Ian

Namaste.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
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8/28/12 12:54 AM as a reply to Nick Myers.
Nick Myers:

So what it comes down to it seems is to dig into some of the Buddhas words straight from the source. See what he's actually saying and continue my meditation practice in concentration.

Well, what I was attempting to point out is that when you read and contemplate what the suttas are teaching, it comes across as being different in terms of how some modern commentators (writers) have written about what Gotama taught. You read a sutta like the Anapanasati Sutta (MN 118) and it doesn't come across like anything that a person like Thich Nhat Hanh has written. Although Nhat Hanh comes as close to anyone at attempting to translate the "feel of the simplicity and lightness" of meditation that Gotama was attempting to get across.

Gotama was a pragmatist and he had to deal with the practical issues of teaching what he had learned from his own practice and striving. So, even though he uses metaphor and similes, he is attempting to speak to the listener's (the reader's) own intuitive ability to be able to translate that simile into something they personally can understand. And once you catch onto the way he uses these communication devices, you begin to see how he thought and catch onto the way he communicated subtle personal experiences which are difficult to communicate in a straightforward way. Sometimes you have to give only an impression, and hope the listener can make enough sense of that impression from their own experience to recognize what he's attempting to communicate.

And yet at the same time, he is teaching the listener exactly what he needs to learn in order to accomplish their goal. For instance, he is saying quite a bit in the following extract from the Anapanasati Sutta:

"Bhikkhus, when mindfulness of breathing is developed and cultivated, it is of great fruit and great benefit. When mindfulness of breathing is developed and cultivated, it fulfills the four establishments of mindfulness. When the four establishments of mindfulness are developed and cultivated, they fulfill the seven enlightenment factors. When the seven enlightenment factors are developed and cultivated, they fulfill true knowledge and deliverance."

There's a lot there to contemplate from this simple paragraph if you really want to grasp what he's saying. First, you need to find out what the four establishments of mindfulness are so that you have those concepts clearly in mind and KNOW what he's referring to. Then you have to find out what the seven enlightenment factors are so that you can understand what he's pointing at with this instruction. And then he provides you with the big payoff hint: "When the seven enlightenment factors are developed and cultivated, they fulfill true knowledge and deliverance." This should make you want to find out what true knowledge and deliverance means. He says a lot using just a few words and ideas (references to what he has taught: the four establishments of mindfulness and the seven enlightenment factors) and he expects his students to eventually understand and see what he is referring to.

It takes deep concentration abilities and steady dedication to undergo the training that he lays out. But if you challenge yourself to undergo his training somewhat in the way he has laid it out, you will be ahead of most people who are only fiddling around the edges of what he taught without challenging themselves very much at all! As I said before, this won't be easy (there is no easy way to learn this; it takes dedication and diligence and forging ahead when you feel like you can't do anything more); however when you finally arrive it will be immensely rewarding.

I hope I haven't scared you too much. It's not meant to be scary, but, rather, challenging and exhilarating once you catch onto what's being taught and begin to see it manifest in your life!

Nick Myers:

I'll probably have to order at least the middle discourses of the buddha and start reading it soon though. I'm hoping this is going to help me continue my Jhana training as well as internalizing no-self until it breaks through the other 2 characteristics.

The Middle Length Discourses would be perfect for you to begin with as they deal heavily with the meditation technology. They're also more straightforward in how they describe the practice, and it's interesting to discover some of the insights Gotama talks about with regard to meditation. There are a lot of answers to questions about meditation you might have that can be found in this volume of the Nikayas. That is, if you know what you're looking at and know what you are looking for in terms of what you are pursuing in your practice. You may need some help in being able to distinguish what is important from what is perhaps not so important from someone with some experience. So don't be afraid to ask questions if you don't understand something.

Everything comes down to being able to see (in real time) the movement of the mind, where it goes and where it doesn't go, how it perceives various phenomena and how it arrives at those perceptions. It takes time to develop the kind of concentration and mindfulness of the subtle movements of mind to be successful at this; but it is well worth spending the time to develop and cultivate. Especially when you realize that the payoff is: the end of dukkha. And the disengaging from samsara and the Round of Rebirth.

Take it slow and easy and try not to go past an idea or concept that you don't understand. Read the footnotes that Bhikkhu Bodhi has provided, in place as you are reading the sutta itself so that you can understand the passages wherein the footnotes expand or further explain the concepts and intent mentioned. This way you'll understand the passage with more insight into what was meant by it. And don't be too put off by the rather prosaic way in which these discourses are translated; remember that what you are reading was composed in the way it was composed (oftentimes repeating important passages) to be easily memorized by the bhikkhus. After a while you get used to it; but also, it helps to emphasize important ideas and concepts of which you need to become aware.

Have fun with reading and contemplating the the meaning of the discourses. Don't make it into a boring project that you have to do; but rather try to relate to what's being said and taught from your own life's experiences. That way it will always have meaning for you, and it should spur you on to more discoveries!

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
8/30/12 10:57 AM as a reply to Ian And.
Ian And:
It takes deep concentration abilities and steady dedication to undergo the training that he lays out. But if you challenge yourself to undergo his training somewhat in the way he has laid it out, you will be ahead of most people who are only fiddling around the edges of what he taught without challenging themselves very much at all! As I said before, this won't be easy (there is no easy way to learn this; it takes dedication and diligence and forging ahead when you feel like you can't do anything more); however when you finally arrive it will be immensely rewarding.

I hope I haven't scared you too much. It's not meant to be scary, but, rather, challenging and exhilarating once you catch onto what's being taught and begin to see it manifest in your life!


Don't worry, this stuff isn't scary in the least. I appreciate the information given. There have been a lot of "scary" times in my life that involve ego death, but these days it seems more fascinating than anything else as to the things going on.

Ian And:
You may need some help in being able to distinguish what is important from what is perhaps not so important from someone with some experience. So don't be afraid to ask questions if you don't understand something.


I definitely will not hesitate to ask given I need the guidance, the help is definitely appreciated. emoticon

Ian And:
Have fun with reading and contemplating the the meaning of the discourses. Don't make it into a boring project that you have to do; but rather try to relate to what's being said and taught from your own life's experiences. That way it will always have meaning for you, and it should spur you on to more discoveries!


Oh trust me, nothing is forced here. When the time for contemplation starts, it will start. It isn't forced past what needs to be recognized in that moment.

I will continue my practice as I have been as there seems to be a shift that wasn't being felt when first started. there isn't so much labeling of negative energies attached to memories or thoughts, but rather just a different kind (or flavor)

Also what i've noticed is that when I throw that thought "Where Am I" out there, there is typically a tension right where the tempural lobes are, which is very interesting. I can't reason as to why but interesting that a thought like that would cause said reaction in the head almost every time its asked.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
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9/6/12 11:09 AM as a reply to Tommy M.
A little update on meditation practice...

It seems I'm starting to run into a roadblock at the moment.

In everyday life, it's a lot easier to see how head tensions and pressure are not "negative" and to just kind of watch them with curiousity.

I'm also starting to see that the story makes the way the body feels x10 worse then if just seeing the body doesn't feel well one day. As in... The story adds both a mental problems and an emotion problem to the equation rather than just having one problem to deal with (not that it's really a problem)



Meditation:

I seem to be getting stuck around 30-40 minute sits. This incredible urge to just stop at that point arises. Not sure why it arises. Or if I should just keep it short and sweet 20 minutes with as much focus I can on note-breath meditation or not. But aversion to longer sits seems to be keeping me from going past 30-40 minutes.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/6/12 12:23 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
Hi Nick:

Meditation:

I seem to be getting stuck around 30-40 minute sits. This incredible urge to just stop at that point arises. Not sure why it arises. Or if I should just keep it short and sweet 20 minutes with as much focus I can on note-breath meditation or not. But aversion to longer sits seems to be keeping me from going past 30-40 minutes.
Is the incredible urge to stop related to leg pain or other pains?

Perhaps try:
- taking a few long, slow, deep, breathes.

- having a few rich pauses in the exhale interval (kumbhaka).

- gently looking upwards with the eyes; this is so small a movement that the eye 'muscles' do not seem moved), then let the eyes drop lightly away to the sides [still lightly upwards] [keeps forhead without tension, helps mind have a place to 'check' seeming changes in light - should not be used as a deliberate distraction, just something to perceive when making and re-making the adjustment of eyes that prevents forehead/brow tension]

- placing [keeping/returning] the mind then back to the nostril-upper lip area and closely observing the breath

- noticing any changes in the mind's light perception (without moving focus of the breath)

- relaxing body and keeping mind gently at the breath, eyes relaxed, a little upwards and outwards



[edits: in brackets]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/6/12 12:56 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
I'm also starting to see that the story makes the way the body feels x10 worse then if just seeing the body doesn't feel well one day. As in... The story adds both a mental problems and an emotion problem to the equation rather than just having one problem to deal with (not that it's really a problem)

Meditation:

I seem to be getting stuck around 30-40 minute sits.
I think this is very natural. The meditation room naturally starts to rustle a bit more about 40 minutes; I think it is a familiar place of agitation.


So two things:
It is quite useful to see that some story "makes the way the body feels x10 worse".

It is useful to just practice, ever consistently:
- relaxing, and
- staying at the breath

There can be no expectation of what is to come or what should happen. Not at first anyway. Later there are signs indicating concentration is taking up the mind's directions into one direction.

"Concentration" may have a connotation of furroughed brow and obvious effort. However, in meditation, staying at the breath and relaxing the body, the face, the jaw (not slack though) is key.

A person can, as a means to get through the 30-40 minute points, sit in, for example, a gentle, fairly upright chair, with legs out nearly straight (little rolled towel under knees), and do breathing meditation there.

When there is this gentle pursuit of the mind-sewing-itself-into-the-breath-movements and when there is a "safe" body posture and when there is good planning for the time of meditation, then there is no reason for the person to get into motion and stop [the practice]. Really, it is an attentive vacation: relaxing, the breath in the mind, the mind in the breath.

If I were to go own about events of this, then it would be distracting. I will say that there are times wherein I sit for more than an hour, dipping forward and lurching with sleep, and - in staying through this natural stuff - the mind will also suddenly snap into focus with its object.

Best wishes :]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/6/12 2:30 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Hey Katie! Nice to see you again!

To Answer your question. It doesn't have anything to do with physical posture.

It's mental agitation, thought "I just want to go to bed." sort of blockage. (this is seeing some story is making the body feel x10 worse haha)

"Concentration" may have a connotation of furroughed brow and obvious effort. However, in meditation, staying at the breath and relaxing the body, the face, the jaw (not slack though) is key.


I definitely can see that connotation being made. And the body does make this apparent to where I would have ot keep bringing it back to its relaxed state sometimes. What i noticed on noting is that the head (top of head seems to tense a lot to where I have to be mindful of so that it will "loosen" its tensions. Most of the time though face is usually fairly in a comfortable state, without being slack.

If I were to go own about events of this, then it would be distracting. I will say that there are times wherein I sit for more than an hour, dipping forward and lurching with sleep, and - in staying through this natural stuff - the mind will also suddenly snap into focus with its object.


I get this same thing going on in my meditation too. Especially the SNAP back into focus. Was always interested in that experience. Nodding off and then a snap back into attention!

There was one meditation that focus supassed the nodding and then some state seemed to happen that it felt as if a warm fog was rolling over my mid body/arms.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/6/12 3:03 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
What i noticed on noting is that the head (top of head seems to tense a lot to where I have to be mindful of so that it will "loosen" its tensions.

If you have found a way to loosen your pains, then there is no issue there.

In the interest of sitting without agitation after 30-40m --- and there is benefit to being able to sit extensively and to finish the sit with the mind having entered concentration --- then just: the mind in the breath, the mind in the breath, the mind in the breath, the mind within all sorts of original breaths.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
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9/6/12 3:05 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
[btw: funny photo]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
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9/6/12 7:04 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:
What i noticed on noting is that the head (top of head seems to tense a lot to where I have to be mindful of so that it will "loosen" its tensions.

If you have found a way to loosen your pains, then there is no issue there.

In the interest of sitting without agitation after 30-40m --- and there is benefit to being able to sit extensively and to finish the sit with the mind having entered concentration --- then just: the mind in the breath, the mind in the breath, the mind in the breath, the mind within all sorts of original breaths.


Thank you katy you brought me back to something I lost in meditation. I dropped all striving this time in meditation. I remebered when I use to meditate for hours back then and I recalled what it was, that was allowing me to do so.

Surrender and Acceptance.

So instead of striving for a "state" I just simply had the intention of following breath but also to just let go of control as well. I ended up in and out of nodding off but being attentive toward the nodding off and was happy in catching myself nodding. I got to a 40 minute meditation sit with no problems, no agitation, not even the headache I have seemed to agitate me out of it.

So I will continue to be attentive to do that because it seems to be yielding the best result for me at this moment.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
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9/6/12 7:05 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:
[btw: funny photo]


haha, Yeah I love it! I go by zenkitties on other forums where I guide people in no-self and it just sorta transferred over! emoticon

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
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9/6/12 7:49 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
So instead of striving for a "state" I just simply had the intention of following breath but also to just let go of control as well. I ended up in and out of nodding off but being attentive toward the nodding off and was happy in catching myself nodding. I got to a 40 minute meditation sit with no problems, no agitation, not even the headache I have seemed to agitate me out of it.
Okay. Nice. I can relate to this. Now there will begin to be "access concentration". First jhana will make itself clearly known like an elephant on the highway, It is like that SNAP, but comprehensive, "suffusive", atemporal and not brief nor interrupted. I'll stop putting words on this, but this aspect of attention (concentrated attention) is beneficial, as is the preceding access (the unstable/interrupted training sits).


It is funny how just mind in the breath, mind in the breath, mind in the breath helps and transforms.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/6/12 7:50 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
I visited your site a while back. Nice photo there, too, same blue hue, interesting angle and cropping.

I have never seen a cat bite piano keys [until here].

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/7/12 7:49 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:
So instead of striving for a "state" I just simply had the intention of following breath but also to just let go of control as well. I ended up in and out of nodding off but being attentive toward the nodding off and was happy in catching myself nodding. I got to a 40 minute meditation sit with no problems, no agitation, not even the headache I have seemed to agitate me out of it.
Okay. Nice. I can relate to this. Now there will begin to be "access concentration". First jhana will make itself clearly known like an elephant on the highway, It is like that SNAP, but comprehensive, "suffusive", atemporal and not brief nor interrupted. I'll stop putting words on this, but this aspect of attention (concentrated attention) is beneficial, as is the preceding access (the unstable/interrupted training sits).


It is funny how just mind in the breath, mind in the breath, mind in the breath helps and transforms.


Hey Katy!

Yes the kitty biting piano keys touched my heart when I saw the picture haha. I'm glad you like the graphics of my blog too. I'm actually thinking about making a post about surrender and acceptance. It can really be a key in anything in life. It has practical value outside of meditation so we'll see where that takes me this weekend.

In terms of meditation. I did do another sit before bed and I think the closer I am to bed, the more resistance the mind seems to have so now i've seen another reason as to why those tensions are happening with the story. This time i stuck with the meditation, and did have several snap backs.

Still continueing to have low pressure in the forehead and near my temples throughout the day but they aren't bothersome. I can usually get into access concentration pretty easily at the moment but have yet to say, "yep that's a true 1st jhana." Still unclear of what to look for but I think you and tommy both have said that I'll know it when it's experienced so, I would rather just be able to let it hit.

Is there a reason for the snaps or is it just a re-orchestrating part of meditation?

Also my dream states seem very chaotic at the moment. It doesn't bother me as i've had this happen before, but waking up and a bunch of story still running on. I'm sure this probably happens to others too when going through stages of meditation. Do you have any insight on this?

Oh, and I don't have trouble getting back to sleep, just figured i'd note it here. I usually just note the story but don't give into any of it as it's not really important in terms of content anyway.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
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9/7/12 9:15 AM as a reply to Nick Myers.
is ur name zen kittens on liberation unleashed?

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
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9/7/12 9:26 AM as a reply to Brian K..
Brian K.:
is ur name zen kittens on liberation unleashed?


Yes sir. emoticon

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
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9/7/12 5:30 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
so, I would rather just be able to let it hit.
yes'm. Tomber la chemise! (intended meaning: "let's roll up the sleeves and get to work", but literally "to take off the shirt")

Is there a reason for the snaps or is it just a re-orchestrating part of meditation?
I think this is just part of the training.

When just starting out at the gym a person may not know milestones in the body (like heart rate optimization), therefore the body does not collect around it. Then as a person grows their intention in working out, they ask questions of the other buffs ;) and start to learn about targets and indicators of good working out.

Before the newbie in the gym can get to the place of asking pointed questions of the buffs ;) they generally have often made a decision: I'm gonna give this a real try.

Now suddenly the body collects its energies towards some fitness goal and eagerness builds up in the body-mind (this is, I think, the origin of some types of persistent forehead tension: as if the body-mind knows ahead of mundane consciousness that some decisive effort is coming and tension is building in the anticipation, waiting for the mundane consciousness to catch up to the body-mind that already knows)

Now the person (probably after the body-mind) decides: I'm gonna do this. And their effort drives up and the buffs start to know how to help in their own limited ways.

Now the 'real' training starts. So, just like, lifting weights (hi Bruno Loff) or running, the intensity can only occur in spurts. The spurts are so short relative to human sense of time, that these seem instable.

So a person continues to train and, naturally, without a berating effort and without added tension, but with consistent daily, friendly effort, that muscle grows and the lighting effects in the mind stabilize.

This stabilization and focus of lighting (as a direct result of the mind joining the breath (or other object) incredibly well) is an indicator, a sign, of the approaching single-point concentration (and its preceding 'stages' which are beneficial, too).

That's just what I think from experience: however, some friends helped me understand a Pali phrase this week: ehi-passika. Literally, "come and see", and which is used abundantly in the Pali canon to mean: this dhamma is not mysterious, not esoteric; by one's own efforts one will know their mind and its insights, reality.

So, like the Standard Model Autonomous Cat, don't take my word for it!



[some grammar and format edits, maybe some clarifications]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
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9/8/12 2:11 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
[quote="katy steger"]yes'm. Tomber la chemise! (intended meaning: "let's roll up the sleeves and get to work", but literally "to take off the shirt")

Haha, I much enjoyed that although I didn't understand a word of that music video. So I will roll up the ol sleeves (or take off my shirt, whichever gets the job done? emoticon)

[quote="katy steger"]Now the 'real' training starts. So, just like, lifting weights (hi Bruno Loff) or running, the intensity can only occur in spurts. The spurts are so short relative to human sense of time, that these seem instable.

So a person continues to train and, naturally, without a berating effort and without added tension, but with consistent daily, friendly effort, that muscle grows and the lighting effects in the mind stabilize.

This stabilization and focus of lighting (as a direct result of the mind joining the breath (or other object) incredibly well) is an indicator, a sign, of the approaching single-point concentration (and its preceding 'stages' which are beneficial, too).

That makes perfect sense. The intent is now there much more, just behind those fiery helpful words of yours. The small flame is re-lit and become a bigger flame based on the content at which it has to go off of!

[quote="katy steger"]That's just what I think from experience: however, some friends helped me understand a Pali phrase this week: ehi-passika. Literally, "come and see", and which is used abundantly in the Pali canon to mean: this dhamma is not mysterious, not esoteric; by one's own efforts one will know their mind and its insights, reality.

So, like the Standard Model Autonomous Cat, don't take my word for it!

Challenge accepted haha. I will investigate this, and keep all updated! Thank you katy.

btw are you from France?

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
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9/8/12 3:38 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Katy,

something has happened. Clear hearing is happening now. A sense of equanimity seems to be happening again. An ease into things seems to be happening. Tensions of the body were given up in my sit today for 40 minutes. Lightness is being felt, breathing is at ease. okayness is resulting. hands and feet are warm.

I'm guessing this is just equanimity. It feels like anatta too, like there is no one there. In the sit it felt more strongly like, things were just going on as they should (And it still fills this way even with tension in the forearms due to the typing on the keyboard)

This is the update for today. No snaps, this time a shift. VERY subtle shift, and then the thought sensation came up with a "this is different"

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
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9/8/12 5:09 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
Challenge accepted haha. I will investigate this, and keep all updated! Thank you katy.
It is my 'challenge' (effort) to me, too. I am working with everything we've discussed. Thank you, zenkittyies' nick. I am sitting a home retreat right now, and the support of a meditative community, even just so, online, is very helpful.

btw are you from France?
No ma'am. I first learned about this stuff (meditation and siddhartha g.) when living in a francophone place when a kid; first sit was under a helvetic tree. Language and practice maybe got myelinated together? I don't know. They often come up together. Or, maybe when when the naming-familiarizing mind is starting to quieten, to sleep, this other language is a source for the superficial mind to perk up again and futz and avoid...tombant la chemise. Sais pas... ;)


I just read your update. It sounds beneficial and nice.

The changes in practice - when the brain experiences something new and from unprovoked terrain (meaning one does not do nor create the new, distinct experience occurring in meditation) - it can have a pleasant startle: If I didn't create that, what did? Where is that from? This can also be frightening for some, especially if the experience if not subtle.

Anyway, breathing down the chattering surface mind into a nap, exposes the unprovoked mind. This sets the bait for future practice.

Even if months follow with meager or no practice habits, a unique and 'good' mental experience stays with the mind, a bait to return. What was that? And then breathing-focus training may start up again...

A funny balance: being baited by those phenomena that only arise from/are apparent to an unprovoked mind (where, figuratively, the chatty-familiarizing aspect of mind has been put down for a nap in the hammock of the breathing-focus), yet learning not to be provoked by it (not to be provoked by the beneficial experiences into the feelings of expectation and wanting).



[some edits for clarity]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/10/12 8:04 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
[quote="katy steger"]It is my 'challenge' (effort) to me, too. I am working with everything we've discussed. Thank you, zenkittyies' nick. I am sitting a home retreat right now, and the support of a meditative community, even just so, online, is very helpful.

Yeah, I definitely agree. It's nice to see where we each are in our practice for some motivation to keep treading through it... well if it could be called treading. I definitely appreciate the feedback you've been giving me.

[quote="kay steger"]No ma'am. I first learned about this stuff (meditation and siddhartha g.) when living in a francophone place when a kid; first sit was under a helvetic tree. Language and practice maybe got myelinated together? I don't know. They often come up together. Or, maybe when when the naming-familiarizing mind is starting to quieten, to sleep, this other language is a source for the superficial mind to perk up again and futz and avoid...tombant la chemise. Sais pas... ;)

Haha, I see! I was never in a specific practice. All mine was kind of rogue built around dead gurus into what I have today. Which is why it seems so peculiar as to my interest in many different things. It wasn't cut straight from any cloth per say.

[quote="katy steger"]Anyway, breathing down the chattering surface mind into a nap, exposes the unprovoked mind. This sets the bait for future practice.

I can confirm this myself, as when I reach that state of equanimity, everything melts into this pleasant direct focus, and everything is really seen just going on without an agenda.

[quote="katy steger"]Even if months follow with meager or no practice habits, a unique and 'good' mental experience stays with the mind, a bait to return. What was that? And then breathing-focus training may start up again...

This state is definitely more interesting now that it is showing up more then I thought it would. Before when I meditated, things would only be experienced sporadically.

It definitely compels me to keep up my practice, because it bleeds over into everday active life too! It helps relate to other people, and compassion seems to flow more freely.

However I am curious how to get past this equanimity, should I start some gentle noting of the state...? (besides what I'm already doing?)

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/10/12 9:43 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
However I am curious how to get past this equanimity, should I start some gentle noting of the state...? (besides what I'm already doing?)
After canceling lots of long replies, I keep coming to the shortest answer.

Finding an object that one respects enough to just observe without expectation is excellent. If not the breath, then looking at a leaf. If not a leaf then perhaps hearing a sound, or attending to the natural sounds.

If I pick an object that has a huge gratification potential (like pizza) then I am doomed. The skhanda of volition and perception and sensation will flare up in a mad delta-fos B circuit through the brain: must eat fatty, yummy pizza.

So I find an object that I respect enough to spend hours in focus with, or I have the option of picking something sensate, but not letting the volitional skhandas flare up.

It takes time. Volition to move, to go outside, to find meditation totally nuts, to roll over and sleep. Those are huge and seemingly reasonable ideas. It can very tedious and counter-intuitive to develop just sitting without expectation and being alert.

But that's how it's done.

One reason the actualism practice helped me is my take on that practice was to be concentrated at the sense-doors with felicity. For 4-6 weeks I had excellent attention at the five sensed. One night, watching a dharma teacher talk and then a student respond, the mind entered fourht jhana, like a vortex of connectivity. I had no idea that would happen and after it was done, there was quite a thrill in me. I could've run around shouting, "I know why they call it single-pointed equanimity!" [I didn't. I was surprising quiet - truly awed for a long time after that]

Anyway, it's about dedicated concentration. One can have no timeline and one has to collect all one's interest in the activity. There can be no partial, "I put in the time". This is like, "I took the pill, but don't feel better."

It is only a matter of taking keen interest in the object and building on it. Yet, in that, it is easy to give up.

How does that sound to you? It seems you've had some sort of new exposure recently? What of keeping up what you're doing with no expectation, just total interest. Setting a time allows one to take interest, take interest, take interest. Just being at the object, letting loose of defining, setting free every concept. Being at the object. Rupa. rupa. Just being at the object: breath, mandala, deity, sense door... The object is your choice, but excellent conditions for the practice may not always exist



[and that was the short answer ;) ]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/11/12 9:30 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
[quote="katy steger"]If I pick an object that has a huge gratification potential (like pizza) then I am doomed. The skhanda of volition and perception and sensation will flare up in a mad delta-fos B circuit through the brain: must eat fatty, yummy pizza.

Haha. Yes I totally get what you are saying here (mmm pizza). But also on a real life level as I was stuck in this for a little while. I'm sure you remmber when I first started posting here wanting to get to 1st jhana so bad. I kept getting stuck because the expectation of the goal. I was doomed even before I started because of this.

Once I gave that up, everything broke loose and that this equanimity and new excitement in meditation came from. The product of surrender and acceptance to the immediate experience.

[quote="katy steger"]One reason the actualism practice helped me is my take on that practice was to be concentrated at the sense-doors with felicity. For 4-6 weeks I had excellent attention at the five sensed. One night, watching a dharma teacher talk and then a student respond, the mind entered fourht jhana, like a vortex of connectivity. I had no idea that would happen and after it was done, there was quite a thrill in me. I could've run around shouting, "I know why they call it single-pointed equanimity!" [I didn't. I was surprising quiet - truly awed for a long time after that]

I'm actually kind of curious about this. Say I do meditation on the breath on the way off to sleep at night. Will there possibly be a point where no sleep happens, but samadhi happens through the eight hours in which the body is usually spent sleeping? As in to like attentiveness of the surroundings (and maybe sleep does happen but still that meditative attentiveness?)

I'm curious because i've heard stories but have yet to experience. So I know the possibility is there, I just haven't seen it yet, or worked up to it. But if I keep up this practice while drifting off to sleep.

[quote="katy steger"]How does that sound to you? It seems you've had some sort of new exposure recently? What of keeping up what you're doing with no expectation, just total interest. Setting a time allows one to take interest, take interest, take interest. Just being at the object, letting loose of defining, setting free every concept. Being at the object. Rupa. rupa. Just being at the object: breath, mandala, deity, sense door... The object is your choice, but excellent conditions for the practice may not always exist

That sounds perfect. I can stick with what I respect probably the most, the breath. I don't know there is just something utterly pleasant and gentle about it. The relationship almost seems intimate at this point (that sounds weird). The expectation is dropped for me at this point. (Although will keep being mindful for expectation to pop up so I can give them a high five.) Yes, new exposure... I never thought that a state of equanimity could be so clear in meditation and felt a lot different then like an everday feeling of equanimity. Not only that but it bleeds over into everyday life, which is nice. It allows me to share it with others more easily.

I find it a lot easier to practice like an hour after waking up. How about you? Last night I did my sit and noticed I had the dozes again (in and out of sleepness, followed by a snapping awake sensation). Its so much more exciting now then when I use to meditate. It feels like a game.... (Imagine me telling a girl that, "yeah, I meditate for funsies because it's like a game to me.")

How are your meditations going?

[Oh and by the way I love reading the edits you do at the bottom. I always look forward to them haha.]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/11/12 4:34 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
Once I gave that up, everything broke loose and that this equanimity and new excitement in meditation came from. The product of surrender and acceptance to the immediate experience.
(...)
I can stick with what I respect probably the most, the breath.
(...)
Last night I did my sit and noticed I had the dozes again (in and out of sleepness, followed by a snapping awake sensation). Its so much more exciting now then when I use to meditate. It feels like a game....

I agree there is a game aspect. How close is the attention to the object, how soon 'til the mind grows very bright and the body is still and comfortable despite time passing? Can I get to that more quickly in this sit?


I find it a lot easier to practice like an hour after waking up. How about you?
I practice now upon waking. I am specifically working on sleepiness and scattering that desire for sleep with the brightness of concentrated mind. If I do not quickly gather attention to the breath, and closely, then there's just a very hard slog ahead: lurching forward, to the sides, a huge mental struggle against going back to sleep.

How are your meditations going?
Well, I am going through and basically trying to shore up good concentration and make the rupa jhanas clean. I accidentally got a little ahead of recommended order, and a lack of stable capacity for concentration naturally limits discernment. It's like having an unreliable flashlight going on and off at night, just when one wants a steady light to show the path and the environs.

Just in case any reader finds "jhana" esoteric, I just want to say, this is just strong concentration. So concentrated that the mind seems to become very bright (as if a strong light, or a strong sun ray is shining in through the eyelids), and the body and breath become still. One is training the mind to be able to go here readily. At first this is characterized by a lot of joy (piti), and the joy burns off a bit, and sukkha (comfort) is paramount (this body comfort that begins at access concentration is why meditators can sit for a long time and also rise often without pain [edit: this should not be used to judge others; judging others is nonsensical diversion here anywho]), and finally even awareness of comfort recedes (though comfort does not cease) and there is a completely equanimous, bright mind. This last conditioning of mind is the conditioning fit for examining stuff. It is just like if a boxer who trains and trains with bags and weight. At some point the body is found fit enough to actually box.

Yes, it looks like a funny hobby. But it relates directly to understanding and peace of mind. Nevertheless, it is hard to find masters. Strangely, it is a hard practice. What did Pascal write about the world's troubles coming from the fact that a person cannot sit in a room, alone? Something like that.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/12/12 8:25 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
[quote="katy steger"] Can I get to that more quickly in this sit?

That question ALWAYS peeks my interest. I'm guessing that it does over time of consistent meditation as the state stabalizes and hones the ability to snap into that state.

I seem to be experiencing more of the gap feeling the past few sits (I did two last night)

I hit the short spurt of equanimity, and then it fades out then nothing haha. Maybe I'm TOO relaxed. emoticon

[quote="katy steger"]I practice now upon waking. I am specifically working on sleepiness and scattering that desire for sleep with the brightness of concentrated mind. If I do not quickly gather attention to the breath, and closely, then there's just a very hard slog ahead: lurching forward, to the sides, a huge mental struggle against going back to sleep.

You and me both sister, the lurching thing happens. I've been working on even relaxing into this as well. I don't consider it a hindrance as just seeing it happens is as much progress as seeing it not happen and being in the concentrated state because wouldn't that require pretty good attentiveness to see these things going on?

[quote="katy steger"]Well, I am going through and basically trying to shore up good concentration and make the rupa jhanas clean. I accidentally got a little ahead of recommended order, and a lack of stable capacity for concentration naturally limits discernment. It's like having an unreliable flashlight going on and off at night, just when one wants a steady light to show the path and the environs.

I know what you mean. the Equanimity seems like a flash light that goes on and off for me at the moment. The last two were pretty clean but now it seems to be flashes of it and then just off haha. How long do you do your sits for?

I'm wondering if once one gets to an 8 hour sit without worrying about anything if one could replace sleep with this state? Because I'm guessing this is probably a lot more calming then the dream state, as the mind is still running amock most of the time (at least in my experience)

[quote="kate steger"]Yes, it looks like a funny hobby. But it relates directly to understanding and peace of mind. Nevertheless, it is hard to find masters. Strangely, it is a hard practice. What did Pascal write about the world's troubles coming from the fact that a person cannot sit in a room, alone? Something like that.

Agreed, however i find it easier for me to sit in a room on my own then with others in meditation. I don't know how your experience with this is. I haven't read much of Pascal!

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/12/12 12:00 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
You and me both sister, the lurching thing happens. I've been working on even relaxing into this as well. I don't consider it a hindrance as just seeing it happens is as much progress as seeing it not happen and being in the concentrated state because wouldn't that require pretty good attentiveness to see these things going on?
: )
"Sloth and turpor" (aka: lethargy and drowsiness) are techinically hindrances, but - and I take this to be your meaning (please let me know if I am wrong): there is no reason to escalate drowsiness and lethargy into a "villain" status. Drowsiness (mental) and lethargy (physical) are just traits of mind that interfere with clarity of mind, "clearing seeing" (vi pas as in "vipassana").

There is a simile of a pot of water to express five hindrances. Lethargy and drowsiness are said to be like algae sliming over the water in the pot and obscuring the clear water

While drowsiness and lethargy are not bad, they do hinder. Training in meditation works to prevent these [or to treat them, like applying antidotes to illness].

How long do you do your sits for?
For the past few weekends I carve out time in which I just make the goal "sit until samadhi happens". This really helps focus all the faculties much more quickly, because now the mind knows if it futzes around, then the body aches or the drowsiness will arise. When these arise, it is much harder to continue the meditation for me.

During the week I try to give my mind at least one hour: it still takes my mind about 1/2 hour to one hour before the mental field seems to brighten and then perhaps one hour to 1.5 hours for the brightness to enter first jhana [edit: so in this example, the whole sit would be 1.5 hours]. Three times in the last three weeks, a single inhale caused access to commence [edit: when it happens so quickly, there is something like dizziness-feeling in that one inhale and then the mind starts to brighten. This is not better than growing concentration with more breathes]. So those are useful indicators to me that the practice is going along okay.

If the feeling in the body is such that I know I can sit longer, I do - this helps the mind get a new sense of how long to be concentrated. This is like muscular set-training: a person starts with small weights for short cycles and gets longer and heavier.

All I know right now is that concentration is not stable in each of the jhanas, so I keep practicing, little by little.

I'm wondering if once one gets to an 8 hour sit without worrying about anything if one could replace sleep with this state?
Each person can experiment with the practical implications of a mind trained in excellent, luminous-effect concentration. Many people sleep less with meditation. Maybe you will find out about no sleep?

Agreed, however i find it easier for me to sit in a room on my own then with others in meditation. I don't know how your experience with this is.
I think it really helped me to sit with a group during lethargy and drowsiness. I certainly have too much pride in a group on retreat to let myself get to the point of falling over or just giving up. At home I was much more easily defeated by lethargy and drowsiness.

Now, however, creating the challenge "still until/through samadhi" (which challenge is apt now in these past few weeks and which challenge would not have been apt before now and which challenge would have been a harsh application if I tried it as little as one month ago) has given the mind some influence over drowsiness and lethargy, even at home during very early hours without coffee and with less sleep. I am transitioning into this gently. I treat mental training exactly as I do physical training: gently, but always attentive to where to push effort a little more.



[edit: grammar, spelling, clarification edits. As usual, edits reflect a lack of concentration in writing and a lack of concentration usually means there is some level of disregarding the object and I admit that I am lazy about language structure.]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/13/12 8:30 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
[quote="katy steger"]While drowsiness and lethargy are not bad, they do hinder. Training in meditation works to prevent these [or to treat them, like applying antidotes to illness].

Yes. I don't know if its just mean but it seems to be a push pull in meditation of these for me. I'll get to a point of drowsiness and lethargy and each lengthening of meditation. This happened with my 20 minute sits, now they are setting in with my 40 minute sits.

Being more patient with them this time, seeing how much of a block they are actually doing. A general, blankness of nothing going on that causes these to take over because maybe the mind is getting bored of no movement?

I will keep staying attentive and mindful of them until they pass again because I know just around the corner is something new and exciting always!

[quote="katy steger"]Three times in the last three weeks, a single inhale caused access to commence [edit: when it happens so quickly, there is something like dizziness-feeling in that one inhale and then the mind starts to brighten. This is not better than growing concentration with more breathes]. So those are useful indicators to me that the practice is going along okay.

That seems really beneficial, does this mean you can do this in everyday life too when needed? Also your practice seems to be going well, 1st jhana is something yet to be knowingly experienced here, but I dropped those expectations for now as I just want to focus on what's presented to me in each and every sit (which is what you're doing)

[quote="katy steger"]If the feeling in the body is such that I know I can sit longer, I do - this helps the mind get a new sense of how long to be concentrated. This is like muscular set-training: a person starts with small weights for short cycles and gets longer and heavier.

I should probably do this more often, that looks like a really good idea. I probably could of gone longer in those sessions of equanimity hitting. When they come up again, I will definitely attempt to see where they get me!

Each person can experiment with the practical implications of a mind trained in excellent, luminous-effect concentration. Many people sleep less with meditation. Maybe you will find out about no sleep?


Who knows, it would be nice to not have the belief in there anymore that this body needs 8 hours to sleep, then maybe I could get more stuff done during the day haha. ;)

Now, however, creating the challenge "still until/through samadhi" (which challenge is apt now in these past few weeks and which challenge would not have been apt before now and which challenge would have been a harsh application if I tried it as little as one month ago) has given the mind some influence over drowsiness and lethargy, even at home during very early hours without coffee and with less sleep. I am transitioning into this gently. I treat mental training exactly as I do physical training: gently, but always attentive to where to push effort a little more.


It sounds to me in a couple of ways our practices seem to have some same themes. It seems I may be in the few months before you started your new "still until/through samadhi". Although I think you're a bit further in your path with access within first inhale leads me to think your post first path?

I don't think I'm quite there yet, but that is my ultimate goal when the body catches up to the insights and realizations to take hold of it. emoticon

[edit: grammar, spelling, clarification edits. As usual, edits reflect a lack of concentration in writing and a lack of concentration usually means there is some level of disregarding the object and I admit that I am lazy about language structure.]


Haha, we all have to be lazy about something, and that's Okay too. ;)

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/13/12 10:56 AM as a reply to Nick Myers.
A general, blankness of nothing going on that causes these to take over because maybe the mind is getting bored of no movement?
This causes me to think of two possibilities.
1) if there is insufficient interest in staying that the object, then "a general blankness of nothing" can become boring.
On one hand, this is quite useful: blankness shows the saṅkhāra aspect of mind has settled. So a simile could be, finally, a rowdy table of dinner guests has agreed readily to be calm and quiet. 10 minutes go by, this table of guests is being quiet, 20 minutes go by and they are still quiet and even not itching, 30 minutes go by...35 minutes and one guest can feel an itch, 36 minutes go by and another guest at the table is starting to nod and lurch lightly, 37 minutes go by and someone really wants to clear their throat...40 minutes go by and they DO clear their throat which triggers another person to shift and another person to scratch and another person to stretch. Okaaaay: 42 minutes: sit over.

So in this case, the mind did exactly what it was asked and settled all of its volcanic thoughts of joy, anger, want, planning, pleasure, cleverness, intellect, etc. That is an initial, "low" equanimity of saṅkhāra when dukkha nanas and all other expressions of saṅkhāra are placated. [What keeps it "low" is there is one aspect of saṅkhāra asking, "now what? now what?" -- it is measuring (ma as in manos, an intellect aspect of mind.]

At this point, though, that table of guests also needs to be fully recruited into a job. That job is taking total interest in the breath (or whatever object one chooses). Otherwise, the volitional aspect of mind has really just agreed to be subdued into a temporary placidity which passes for equanimity.

When there is placation of the volitional aspect of mind, there is what can be called something like "initial" or "outset" equanimity. Suddenly, that which was highly visible has subdued, so now a once mountainous landscape [of thoughts and feelings, agitation] has become delta, tundra, more flat.


Here is the time to continue with the breath, the breath, the hammock of the breath. Not creating special breathes, just being at the natural breath. It's totally okay that a thought or feeling will flush up from the flat delta terrain like a plover or a curlew. Totally okay, just let it settle right back again into the hammock of the breath, this gentle automatic sway of the lungs in a calm, flat delta. breath. breath. breath. breeze, breeze, breeze on the shore of the nostrils and upper lip.

An indicator that volition is no longer just placated, but is entering "high" equanimity is that the mind brightens. However, if one keeps looking for that brightness, then it cannot happen. When concentration is just starting to become suffusive, the mind's brightness is not ignorable. It is not necessarily a big diversion, but at some point a person (in a dark room even), "it is like there is a light in here, in the mind". AND, because the volitional aspect of mind is so calm (the dinner table of party guests are so calm) that even this brightness is often met with a feeling of "nothing special".

As concentration grows, that brightness grows. The comfort (sukkha) and steadiness (shtira) of the body grows. My own posture tends to become quite straight. I sit in a zen style wherein the biceps tend to "work" to hold the hands at the "hara" -- the whole body gets comfortable, there is not effort and yet there is this excellent alert posture following the focusing, bright mind.

The very bright mind usually gives enough positive feeling to the brain, that it sets a seed. Even if a person goes on a joy-ride for the next three months or three years, there's some seed of memory that the mind contains this positive quality when it is focused on a simple well-being, like each breath.

So this becomes the teacher: this bright mind growing in response to all the outflows of mind (all the skhandas) quietening their individual expressions and letting the mind fully go to the object. Each thought arising is no problem, but it lands more and more quickly back in the calm delta of a placated mind so that focus on the gentle sway of the breath can return.


2) Or, to quote your words again, a "blankness of nothingness" arises and drowsiness and lethargy also result after a time simply because the bright mind experience has been of a slight quality and of a short duration. The mind hasn't yet adequately, sufficiently experienced what happens when focus collects on the object.

When the mind experiences what happens when it collects fully around the object a natural fascination builds and this results in more practice. In human terms, this can easily take 6 months (could be 6 minutes, too, if there is some past supporting effort(s)) . During whatever time it takes for a keen interest to increase the frequency of practice, one starts to practice other things: sati, looking at what inflames the mind in daily life unhelpfully, looking at what calms the mind in daily life helpfully.


That you can read my long posts: that is promising concentration already.

At some point there is samadhi occuring (and probably as first jhana) or the period of keen effort and interest will pass and other goals will arise from the mind. This is totally okay. Sometimes a person has to relax a little for a little while.

Have you had sits yet wherein the body feels like perhaps it is becoming heavy and comfortable, like a "living stone"?



[edit: in brackets and color]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/14/12 8:45 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Phew... My concentration skills must be getting good! I finished your post! haha.

I've noticed this in meditation. Especially this week (during the common work week) is that drowsiness and lethargy seem to do their own thing no matter how I'm concentrating. I could be keeping my attention so much on the breath and then *whamp* out for a moment... then a lurch! Wide awake! Then it settles down... gone... then *SNAP* wide awake.

It's a very curious thing! This happened to me last night again and I find that meditations go much better when I am well rested! (not to say I will stop doing them during the week as i'm sure its better to have something there then nothing to keep the momentum going.)

Still working on ways in which I can make it a better meditation environment during the work week. As in taking like a 20 minute nap to refresh my energies a bit to be able relax my concentration on breath more etc.


So in this case, the mind did exactly what it was asked and settled all of its volcanic thoughts of joy, anger, want, planning, pleasure, cleverness, intellect, etc. That is an initial, "low" equanimity of saṅkhāra when dukkha nanas and all other expressions of saṅkhāra are placated. [What keeps it "low" is there is one aspect of saṅkhāra asking, "now what? now what?" -- it is measuring (ma as in manos, an intellect aspect of mind.]


Yes, the mind doesn't really have much to say besides some story sensations every now and again, which sometimes i may watch play out to see what energies are coming up and then refocusing on breath... other than that not much goes on in those times of "dropping off"

Here is the time to continue with the breath, the breath, the hammock of the breath. Not creating special breathes, just being at the natural breath. It's totally okay that a thought or feeling will flush up from the flat delta terrain like a plover or a curlew. Totally okay, just let it settle right back again into the hammock of the breath, this gentle automatic sway of the lungs in a calm, flat delta. breath. breath. breath. breeze, breeze, breeze on the shore of the nostrils and upper lip.


mmm, I can feel that just by the description. Thoughts seem to happen right now exactly like that, almost as if they stick out in plain view just to show energy patterns, or whatever and then fall.

As concentration grows, that brightness grows. The comfort (sukkha) and steadiness (shtira) of the body grows. My own posture tends to become quite straight. I sit in a zen style wherein the biceps tend to "work" to hold the hands at the "hara" -- the whole body gets comfortable, there is not effort and yet there is this excellent alert posture following the focusing, bright mind


This actually use to occur a lot in my past meditations (and is beginning to now as well). Where it feels like the room is lit even though there are no lights on. I always kind of wondered about this but now its nice to see that this means some kind of more focused concentration happening.

Luminosity now is starting to make more sense to me. I didn't get how people talked about this before, was totally foreign to me. But I am not starting to see why this is described as so. Does that luminosity eventually transmute into our "waking states" at some point. I've heard stories of things getting more "vibrant." Is this a product of the luminosity that is built up over strong concrentration or is it just a by product of enlightenment in general?



Have you had sits yet wherein the body feels like perhaps it is becoming heavy and comfortable, like a "living stone"?


Haha! It's funny that you mention this... Actually this last weekend I was doing a meditation in a park with a friend. And the thought crossed my mind, "I wonder if this is what a rock feels like?" Maybe it was because it felt like ants werer crawling on me (there probably were) and because everything felt alive around.

Also in the equanimity experiences I had I could definitely feel the weight of the sit, however it felt like no one was home, and everything was still going on. Like the body was there but I was not it. So I don't know if that's what you were wondering?

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/14/12 1:53 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
Luminosity now is starting to make more sense to me. I didn't get how people talked about this before, was totally foreign to me. But I am not starting to see why this is described as so.

When these two indicators start to arise -- when the mental terrain starts to become bright, then the body begins to follow the mind and it becomes steady and comfortable (this is why I asked about "living stone" or some such vibrant, heavy, stationary body response) then meditation can train itself and go in many places*.

A key becomes how not to derange the capacity of this calm abiding, this basic sitting meditation, so that the tool of concentration (samadhi) is not just mental bright lights, big city, but can then be applied to the investigation of phenomena. Common invitations to trouble which upset the capacity for this calm abiding are unethical conduct and unchecked gratification. So these two aides seem to deepen with the practice. hence why the fetter model reports losses of certain fetters along the way.

Does that luminosity eventually transmute into our "waking states" at some point. I've heard stories of things getting more "vibrant." Is this a product of the luminosity that is built up over strong concrentration or is it just a by product of enlightenment in general?
*For me, part of the answer to this question, is in the Simsapa Sutta.
Here there is a simile about what in meditation can actually lead to nibbana.

A straight-forward personal answer on luminosity effecting "waking states" --- by this I understand you to mean, does the bright mind of meditation effect the daily mind off the cushion. Most definitely. I do not have that stabilized, nor do I think about "stabilizing" it: just in between hindering myself with hindrances, I practice. A "good" practice has bright overflow into daily life, and that brightness is cut short by the upwelling return of the mind that is effected by hindrances.


Cheers, nick emoticon

[edited ;)]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/17/12 11:16 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Hey Katy!

Happy mondays miss! emoticon

Sorry it took so long to get back to you. I had a weekend of LAN parties with my buddies and some Amazing Spiderman action. emoticon

(this is why I asked about "living stone" or some such vibrant, heavy, stationary body response) then meditation can train itself and go in many places


Can you talk a little more on this katy? Places as in different areas of conditioning that is built up. That is what I took you to mean but I wasn't so sure.

A key becomes how not to derange the capacity of this calm abiding, this basic sitting meditation, so that the tool of concentration (samadhi) is not just mental bright lights, big city, but can then be applied to the investigation of phenomena. Common invitations to trouble which upset the capacity for this calm abiding are unethical conduct and unchecked gratification.


hmmm, maybe that's what going on. Because the equalibrium hasn't come back. It seems no matter what at the moment, I still am falling into lethargic states at 40 minute sits. So i started doing one 40 minute sit. And last night I did a couple 10 minute sits where I kept my concentration on a flame in the dark and just kind of paid attention to it. I don't know why that particular practice started but I felt it would help concentration at least to build up hopefully.

Also it seems to be helping in daily life, as things are back to a general okayness. People have been more "mellow" at work if that's any indication of anything.

*For me, part of the answer to this question, is in the Simsapa Sutta.
Here there is a simile about what in meditation can actually lead to nibbana.


So this might be in respect to cessation of suffering. This would make sense to me. Finding out the source more and more. I've actually been having dreams about my EX-girlfriend (and thus thoughts have been cropping up in daily life) lately and that stuff has been coming up again. I've been following the energy that its giving off rather than the actual story itself. Its way too easy to get caught up in the story if i try and "reason" with the story.

Is this making room for more luminosity do you think?


Blessings Katy!

[edit: haha.. ;) love it!]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/17/12 9:47 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
Hi Nick,

Nick:
Can you talk a little more on this katy? Places as in different areas of conditioning that is built up. That is what I took you to mean but I wasn't so sure.
I am asking to see if you're getting one of the physical indicators of concentration. The body can become very comfortable, very still, and even seem to dissolve boundaries. I have sometimes thought, "ah this is the living stone, or statue, phase."

So there's brightening mind that is an early indicator.
Then the body follows in steadiness and profound comfort.
And then breath changes. By the time this happens the mind is usually very calm.

So I was just asking about body sensations, because your thread concerns developing concentration and [a concentrated] mind has trailing indicators of concentration. [You can detect these indicators for yourself and see that concentration is developing or departing. Then a person naturally starts to correlate what one is doing in meditation to give rise to those indicators and what one is doing that is impeding concentration (and consequently that which is impeding indicators of concentration)]


Nick:
Katy:
*For me, part of the answer to this question, is in the Simsapa Sutta.
Here there is a simile about what in meditation can actually lead to nibbana.

So this might be in respect to cessation of suffering. This would make sense to me. Finding out the source more and more.
Yeah, I just wanted to put that out there as your practice starts to develop concentration. In the Simsapa Sutta, the Buddha uses a simile of four leaves and a forest of leaves to convey that while a lot of things may occur in meditation, very few events are useful to Unbinding, nibbana.

For example ( I am clearly not Unbound) my mind has presented well-ordered light displays in meditation, like the game Lite-Brite. [At my stage in development, as a relative beginner] the only benefit there is in this kind of occurrence is that the mind is just going through some motions that are definitely not thinking or emoting. That is useful to see. The hazard in these displays of mediation is that they really offer nothing more than a good beer commericial during the superbowl. When the novelty wears off, there's nothing. The insight there is, "Hey, mind is a funky thing, whatdyyaknow." These kinds of displays do not compare to the complete equanimity of 4th jhana. And I am really a non-adept in the jhanas still, but I have full conviction in the value of the 4th jhana for insight and insight is what changes behavior fundamentally. Nobody questions why touching a hot stove changes ones behaviour, well, 4th jhana has that effect in my very, very limited experience.

So this might be in respect to cessation of suffering. This would make sense to me. Finding out the source more and more. I've actually been having dreams about my EX-girlfriend (and thus thoughts have been cropping up in daily life) lately and that stuff has been coming up again. I've been following the energy that its giving off rather than the actual story itself. Its way too easy to get caught up in the story if i try and "reason" with the story.

Is this making room for more luminosity do you think?
I don't understand. Do you want to clarify?

[edit: in brackets]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/18/12 7:39 AM as a reply to Nick Myers.
Also, is there any place you just love to sit and relax, doing basically nothing?

The buddha remembered jhana from sitting under a fragrant rose-apple tree.

Just sitting in an upright chair in a place you simply enjoy and where sitting quietly looking out in the distance or eyes shut will not garner you hostile or peculiar attention, that could be very useful to go to regularly.

Then also there are Bhikkhu Thanissaro's anapansati instructions which take up the whole body. So breathing is again natural and the mind follows it, but the mind is aware of the effects in the body. So there can be a nice tidal lapping of breath there. If the mind wanders off and needs a spot to return to, then at the nostrils, then back to the body.

First jhana is suffusive piti. So preparing the mind for piti, by taking the mind to a place the brain recognizes as pleasant (undoubtedly because is also physically, sensately pleasant), sets the tone. From the very first inhale, just let them mind take up the wave of pleasure in sitting there in that body. There. The pleasant waves riding in the body with the breath, in sitting there.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/18/12 8:46 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
So there's brightening mind that is an early indicator.
Then the body follows in steadiness and profound comfort.
And then breath changes. By the time this happens the mind is usually very calm.


I recall this in my previous meditations back then. But not now, something is hindering it again. Maybe expectations again. I'll have to investigate. I'm also not sure how I got to that profound comfort and breathing change (nor do i think i had any control on those two things from occurring.)

These kinds of displays do not compare to the complete equanimity of 4th jhana. And I am really a non-adept in the jhanas still, but I have full conviction in the value of the 4th jhana for insight and insight is what changes behavior fundamentally. Nobody questions why touching a hot stove changes ones behaviour, well, 4th jhana has that effect in my very, very limited experience.


Oh i don't doubt it. That is actually my ultimate goal as well. Stream Entry and 4th jhana. I wanted to start out little by little. I just wonder why it "seems" to be difficult to get to such a natural state of mind. IF this is part of a minds natural state, it should be able to jump to it without trouble? Or has fetters clouded it so much?

I know that progress can be made once 4th jhana is stable but just reaching 1st jhana seems to be a nice little challenge. emoticon

I don't understand. Do you want to clarify?


Story or "memory" is coming up and it may have actually nothing to do with luminosity coming through, but those memories don't typically come up for me often, so when they do, its kind of an indicator that somethings going on whether there is a making room process or what.

Should I at this point relax into that stuff and just watch to surrender to those thoughts. Or should I try to the best of my ability use them to observe their nature more closely. Only thing about that part is some pretty heavy emotion is carried in with those thoughts which is rather unpleasant. (I know, no one said it would be easy lol)

I'm being very careful how i talk about it because the story is just a story, it really has not much if any relevance to this meditation practice. emoticon

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/18/12 11:03 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Also, is there any place you just love to sit and relax, doing basically nothing?

The buddha remembered jhana from sitting under a fragrant rose-apple tree.


I do actually. I have two couches in my apartment I can do just that.

First jhana is suffusive piti. So preparing the mind for piti, by taking the mind to a place the brain recognizes as pleasant (undoubtedly because is also physically, sensately pleasant), sets the tone. From the very first inhale, just let them mind take up the wave of pleasure in sitting there in that body. There. The pleasant waves riding in the body with the breath, in sitting there.


So how does one go on to just recognize exactly which steps bring about which states to look for.. I can realize when state is coming on, but narrowing it down to particular sensations seems like its a little more subtle, a little more tricky. Do you have any tricks you use for this, or is it just come down to bare focus on whats going on?

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/18/12 1:19 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
I'm also not sure how I got to that profound comfort and breathing change (nor do i think i had any control on those two things from occurring.)
In my opinion, that's exactly right. The personality - that which has a strong sense of being in the driver's seat making stuff happen - just needs a simple job to do. It also needs to have conviction that the job is worthwhile. The only way I know that the personality, the sense of resident director (e.g., Katy, me) gets to sample not being in charge and being okay, is when this personality, this sense of resident director of the body and mind, gets a bit tired of itself.

Here's an exercise to see what am I, Katy, directing and what is happening without any director:
- I plan to get up and get some water. So I plan to:
1. sit up straighter
2. stop typing
3. get my mug
4. turn on the water
5. pour the water
6. turn off the water
7. drink the water
8. put the mug down
9. return to the table
10. type out what actually happened

Okay. Here I go...
And I am back. Some things that happened without my direction. I see now it would be silly to write down several things that happened without my diction, but one unplanned novelty was the way I drank the water: The lips made all these little decisions on their own so that there would be no dribbling. The eyes took in a few unrelated things besides the water spout. The shoulders dropped.

So, there's a lot going on by itself. I am sure you know that. And yes, there's a lot of proper volition going on to: a girl's gotta stay hydrated, have some water now and then.

So what is happening in training the mind for meditation is not so much about making anything happen, it's gently bringing the mind in from wandering - in thoughts, feelings, ambitions, boredom - to an object.

It is not for everyone all the time.

Whatever object you admire and relax with can be a suitable object of meditation. I found myself regularly looking at light on water for several months. Moonlight on water. Sunset on water. This was great mental loosening. Then my mind did the same thing with listening to people as it did with watching light on water. Certainly not 100% of the time. But that's when my mind learned, "Hey, focusing on something that I naturally like and which is relaxing, sedates the provokable aspect of mind (strong thoughts and feelings) and lets other aspects of mind show themselves in greater relief.

It is like the topography of mind changes: first the saṅkhāra faculty of mind is so dominant, a mountain range of volition. When the mountain range settles down it becomes a prairie, and now maybe the other aspects of the mental faculty come up: basic perception: ah, the noon bell is ringing in the tower; then that aspect may call and now there are just sensations coming in through the sense doors, but with the perception faculty subdued, who is there to name them: smell or taste? Feeling or sound? etc.

It is not a decision not to recognize the senses, the mind just enters that skhanda and in a few months the other aspect of mind, says, "Hey, wait, we call that sensation "smelling". And then the skhanda of volition (sankhara) comes up and says maybe, "Hey. cool. Who knew we could have senses without me there saying, 'now smell the wiff of cut grass in the air.' "...

wanted to start out little by little.
Excellent. It is minute by minute, with sincere focus. It is often reported, that mid-stream somebody had a big mental release. Sometimes it's in a breath, some people go into a yoga pose as one person and come out deeply changed - just one moment of focus. The mind was ready at some point to loosen some brain sphincter.

Story or "memory" is coming up and it may have actually nothing to do with luminosity coming through, but those memories don't typically come up for me often, so when they do, its kind of an indicator that somethings going on whether there is a making room process or what.
Okay, yes. I think that is related, like a napkin flying out of a car window. Sometimes the mind becomes quite clear about a memory, as if there. I remembered my middle school locker last year, very detailed. It was weird, like standing there again, knowing the feelings again. It was a little heavy for such a bland moment. There was equanimity knowing the weight of individuated feelings. Like the interesting light displays, I let my natural attraction to the memory occur and as that attraction grew in "wanting more" the concentration was already uprooted. That's natural and ok.

When concentration is uprooted the body may start to ache or just have the impulse to stop meditating. That's okay: can't sit around all day. "Wanting more" breaks the concentration; steady concentration depends on equanimity. To deprive oneself of a nice immersion into the meditative display (memory, lights, etc) can build up a tightness around "attainment", e.g., "must attain. Must focus. Avoid that stuff." That approach, I think, builds deprivation and is counterproductive.

This is why meditation can seem to take a long time and teachers want students to practice regularly, early a.m. and before bed. The mind needs time to taste, to have, then to naturally release objects of mind without a sense of deprivation. It is just like a young kid who is asked to pick which toys to keep. If it's possible, a lot of moms and dads just wait a few months or another year: the child will naturally let a toy go after it matures past it.


I just wonder why it "seems" to be difficult to get to such a natural state of mind. IF this is part of a minds natural state, it should be able to jump to it without trouble? Or has fetters clouded it so much?
This is the volitional aspect of mind that is lucky to have led a life in which it learned, "if I want it, I can make it happen." Now, for concentration, it must learn to just do something very simple and contentedly so.

Concentration is like all the skhandas are getting tuned like a guitar. Let's say volition (saṅkhāra) is the E-string and perception (saññā, recognition) is the A-string: the E-string and the A-string have been played so long in great dominance. It's part of our social species to develop perception and volition aligned with our community. That is the safe thing to do.

But using two skhandas in such dominance also becomes like a repetitive stress disorder: carpal tunnel of the saṅkhāra and saññā. So people learn about meditation and say I''ll try that to de-stress. Really, we can go gardening, sitting on a bench, for a mountain walk, a dog walk, a quiet walk with a friend, and just practice, say letting the skandha of vedanā and the sense-doors lead. The volitional skhanda saṅkhāra has a very small job to do if I am walking in a familiar area; now vedanā can show pleasantness and even the recognition faculty vedanā that knows "breeze", "sunlight", "walking" can start to quieten. Naming can naturally stop.

Now meditation is asking that the mind get to show the other three strings: rūpa, vedanā, and viññāṇa. They are always there, but it's really hard to know them in the constant loud playing of perception and volition.

So it's important to find some space in which one is basically pleasant and relaxed. For me that was sitting by the water often at sunset and waiting up to watch moonlight on water. I also sit by the windows often and just enjoy a tree and sky. This already "loads" my body with some piti, some joy. It took me 4-6 weeks of this sincere pratice (I knew I needed it] and then jhana arrived --- absolutely not from the volitional aspect of mind, not from me. From letting the volitional aspect placate, and letting the vedana and rupa aspects show themselves. Viññāṇa showed up on its own, so nature and everything started to seem crisp and bright and wonderful. I was incredibly fortunate to have a safe, pleasant environment in which to practice.

Should I at this point relax into that stuff and just watch to surrender to those thoughts. Or should I try to the best of my ability use them to observe their nature more closely. Only thing about that part is some pretty heavy emotion is carried in with those thoughts which is rather unpleasant. (I know, no one said it would be easy lol)
I think there's a very common issue of things getting a little tight as practice goes on without a clear release. What do you think of the above, about balancing the skhandas, enjoying the senses, delighting in them at a form-sensation level for a while? This means you may choose to abandon blogging for a while (again, it's a natural decision, not a force--somedays just are away from the computer, some days back at it reporting experience and mentation).

There's a real lingering note after playing the sankhara skhanda, just like carpal tunnal can ache during sleep. For people who've done well in life with intellect, it can take a while of letting that go and just delighting in the senses. When "delight" seems a little contrived, it is. But one is focusing the skhanda of sankhara to do one job: not conceive, not elaborate just focus on mild delight of the contact between sense-object and sense-door: Housemate's voice:: my ears = pleasant. Pleasant. Listening, pleasant. Seeing, pleasant.

Also, some excellent elaboration can happen when one focuses on the senses. (It is like those memories coming up: suddenly some "great ideas" happen, and some old fluff, too). So I am basically saying: one also can become too tight around sensate delight and too strictly reject the intellect. If a great urge to express and write comes, one can go for it! It's a totally dynamic process (and it can be so on the cushion, but this often feels deprived and too strict at phases) .



[edit: correcting typos, re-formatting to aerate some dense paragraphs]
[edit: more words. yay.]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/18/12 1:28 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
Nick Myers:
Also, is there any place you just love to sit and relax, doing basically nothing?

The buddha remembered jhana from sitting under a fragrant rose-apple tree.


I do actually. I have two couches in my apartment I can do just that.

First jhana is suffusive piti. So preparing the mind for piti, by taking the mind to a place the brain recognizes as pleasant (undoubtedly because is also physically, sensately pleasant), sets the tone. From the very first inhale, just let them mind take up the wave of pleasure in sitting there in that body. There. The pleasant waves riding in the body with the breath, in sitting there.


So how does one go on to just recognize exactly which steps bring about which states to look for.. I can realize when state is coming on, but narrowing it down to particular sensations seems like its a little more subtle, a little more tricky. Do you have any tricks you use for this, or is it just come down to bare focus on whats going on?


Okay. great about the couch. Sitting there. BUT if falling asleep happens, it can cause some issues pretty quickly. Like just training the mind to nap. Naps ARE useful and healthful, but naps do not train in focus nor resulting insight.

About the second bit: I think your questions may be the volitional skhandha getting a little inflammed with near-frustration. That skhanda is trying to "will" jhana. And jhana can happen at will (and I am totally not adept in that, it takes refinement; this is my current training). So it is very natural that volition will go from "ok, let's try!" to "Dammit, how much longer." That skhanda, for the moment, probably cannot get this done, unless you go on a retreat. Usually the first 4 days of retreat are exhausting the volitional skhanda, letting it wear itself out. What do you think?

So, lacking a retreat (maybe a few) I wrote quite a lot about how to practice developing the other skhandas in the up-thread. What do you think?

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/18/12 1:58 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
I can realize when state is coming on, but narrowing it down to particular sensations seems like its a little more subtle, a little more tricky. Do you have any tricks you use for this, or is it just come down to bare focus on whats going on?
Frankly, it is my experience, that until the mind enters the very brightened condition (which passes, but the concentration stays) and the steady comfortable body happens (is practically forgotten), the mind is too agitated to narrow down.

So I first focus until massive brightness and body comfort, then the mind has its capacity for focus. But it is like a bull moving in a China shop. It has to learn to move in very very small shifts or the equanimity is broken and it is the volitional skhanda that breaks it. Here emotion gets very very subtle. There's just a hair's breath for the upwelling of, say, frustration. More than that an concentration ends. No problem, though.




[so now, there are three replies: Small, Medium and X-Large. Sorry: outta plain Large today emoticon ]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/18/12 2:04 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
The advice about simply sitting, enjoying nature, with bright awareness is something I'll second - and has been a really important part of my practice. Excellent for contemplation of interdependence, as well as tranquility.

The video below on the 5 elements, with simple & straight forward guided instruction for about 20-30 minutes and Q&A for the remainder, is also awesome for tuning into nature, and as Katy says, loosening mind:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVthNdcDChI

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/19/12 2:25 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
[quote="katy steger"]To deprive oneself of a nice immersion into the meditative display (memory, lights, etc) can build up a tightness around "attainment", e.g., "must attain. Must focus. Avoid that stuff." That approach, I think, builds deprivation and is counterproductive.

Yes this is probably what is happening. I use to not meditate at all for a long time there and only took in what was going on. It seemed to give me really good opportunities to make large leeps in morality, and insight toward suffering.

Maybe i should just get back to that and seeing the wonderful sensations and emotional aspects of the human being for a bit, instead of trying to will something that will happen exactly when its suppose to. I know i have capacity of it, but when its ready really isn't on "my" time per se haha.

If it's possible, a lot of moms and dads just wait a few months or another year: the child will naturally let a toy go after it matures past it.


And belief can work in the same way, as long as they are being paid attention to. When given enough attention they will take their leave on their own without effort. If not, they will stick aroud.

I think there's a very common issue of things getting a little tight as practice goes on without a clear release. What do you think of the above, about balancing the skhandas, enjoying the senses, delighting in them at a form-sensation level for a while? This means you may choose to abandon blogging for a while (again, it's a natural decision, not a force--somedays just are away from the computer, some days back at it reporting experience and mentation).


Yeah its times like these I wish I could take a break from work and just rest rest rest. But that will come in little time, when I have enough money saved up to survive without a job for a bit while I work on a new career path! I can however take more attention to just the pleasant feeling of nature! I started exercising more and taking in more sun as it is. So small steps toward the bigger cause!

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/19/12 2:30 PM as a reply to Steph S.
[quote="Steph S."]The advice about simply sitting, enjoying nature, with bright awareness is something I'll second - and has been a really important part of my practice. Excellent for contemplation of interdependence, as well as tranquility.

Yes, I agree. And thank you very much for the kind words and video at the bottom. I will watch it when I get home and If i have feedback, i'll get back to you!

It seems my mind is very analytical sometimes, and I forget about the relaxing into nature part of it, that it is just as important as the active meditation and inquiry.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/19/12 4:34 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
Yeah its times like these I wish I could take a break from work and just rest rest rest. But that will come in little time, when I have enough money saved up to survive without a job for a bit while I work on a new career path! I can however take more attention to just the pleasant feeling of nature! I started exercising more and taking in more sun as it is. So small steps toward the bigger cause!
Yay sun and exercise! Yay, one step always.

I'd also like to say that some of the work happens when it seems most frustrating or boring. I don't know how that is, but it is. A person makes all this effort for weeks -- a forward lean into the practice, looks around after a while and may think, "Why haven't I gotten there? Why do I still feel the same?" But then six months later, looking back at that period of effort, it looks like it was useful, was just like it was supposed to be. ***

Anyway. In practice or in daily life, now is now. Emotions (like those found in sincere effort) create an "emotional now" that is defined by mood. Oh, now I am happy so this "now" is three hours, I am now three hours. Oh, I am now, low and tired, and this now is 20 minutes long; I am now, low and tired.. And now I am productive and disciplined and charging forward and this is the week-long undercurrent "now" or life-long emotional "now". These emotional "nows" are more like a string of sustained volitions creating a blanket on this moment, now. But if I am now, just now, then there's something different happening. This is why senses seem to brighten. Truth is, now the senses are just not being muted by various blankets of emotional nows. Then a person can create and receive everything differently.

Now is now. Somehow there's often a sense that if I am just apt now, I'll be dimwitted or spacey, or I'll lose my place in the "rat race". Not so. Now is very rich with anything. I do not enjoy adding back the blankets, but, man, habits are deep!



[edit***: so what you have been working on in terms of concentration practice seemed like it was going well, to me. I would keep that up]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/20/12 6:22 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
Have you read Practical Insight Mediation, Nick?

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/24/12 7:51 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Hey Katy!

I hope you had a wonderful weekend. I had a very relaxing weekend and even took friday off haha. Had a chance to be out and about a lot more then I usually would, and instead of striving for something, I got back agian to just being now without the story of everything going on. Handled it from moment to moment.

The reocurring theme of this week seemed to be control as there were a few of my friends that came into my life that needed help (over relationships and what to do and what have you).

This helped me see this undcurrent inside and relax into my meditations.

[quote="katy steger"]Now is now. Somehow there's often a sense that if I am just apt now, I'll be dimwitted or spacey, or I'll lose my place in the "rat race". Not so. Now is very rich with anything. I do not enjoy adding back the blankets, but, man, habits are deep!



[edit***: so what you have been working on in terms of concentration practice seemed like it was going well, to me. I would keep that up]

I know the feeling or "reasoning" of being a "robot/dimwitted/spacey" is a common one that mind conjures up. I can definitely attest to this, however I know this isn't the case through my experience.

emotionally its a lot more vibrant.

In meditation, the flashlight has been getting more consistent and the resistance to 40 minute sits has been diminishing. It feels as if something big is coming, I just don't know what. And probably won't know when it happens. emoticon

Much agreed though that habits run deep! especially when humans as a whole have been conditionined in a way that makes them feel separate from something

I had brought my meditation down during the week to 20 minutes again, however now I went back to 40 and it seems fine. emoticon

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/24/12 7:52 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Oh btw, I haven't read that book Katy, I had looked for it at some point on the net or possibly an eBook I could put on my kindle but couldn't find it.

Hard book to find?

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/24/12 11:43 AM as a reply to Nick Myers.
Hi Nick,
In meditation, the flashlight has been getting more consistent and the resistance to 40 minute sits has been diminishing.
Okay. This is a useful occurrence. When people first start to meditate, there's usually first working with emotions, thoughts and impulsive actions arising during the sit.

Then, with some practice, the mind gets a little subdued, and then there's often reporting this stall-out around 30-40 minutes.

What's "special" about that time is that two things are happening. 1) the mind-body have calmed down emotions/thoughts/impulses enough to experience "boredom" (which is, yes, an emotion, but not a terribly gross one until it is grown into some other emotion, like irritation and so on) and the mind-body is not developing itself further into impatience and aversion. In plain language, the mind is now asking, "Now what?"

And to me it seems like your mind is developing from this area - the "now what?" - spot on. That is to say, it's developing the fundamental skill of concentration, getting back to the object of focus contentedly. Good development of concentration is evidenced here by arising brightness, comfort and the volitional aspect of mind (sankhara skhanda) starts to give up on developing resistance to/boredom in sitting.

This development, as you know, is not a "muscle through it" effort. When done properly, "concentration" training causes physical comfort and brighting. Accessing, stabilizing this brightness of mind (which is followed by easy, natural body stillness) only requires contented dedication to keeping awareness at the object of concentration (e.g., the breath, ānāpānasati).

It is an area each person can train themselves in because there is such nice positive feedback in both the mind and body. "Ah, there is the brightness. Wow, the body is feeling very comfortable." Brightness keeps expanding, body keeps settling.

Once there is sitting and accessing fairly reliably the brightness-phase, the mind is becoming balanced enough to enter jhana. This access concentration of the bright mind is getting the mind very close to first jhana. It is just a matter of staying contendedly and dedicated at the object.

[edit: brevity emoticon]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/24/12 3:09 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
[quote="katy steger"]"boredom" (which is, yes, an emotion, but not a terribly gross one until it is grown into some other emotion, like irritation and so on) and the mind-body is not developing itself further into impatience and aversion. In plain language, the mind is now asking, "Now what?"

Haha, That's actually probably what it was turning into quickly. Was boredom to irritation up at that 40 minute mark. At that point I would usually just stop and go to bed at that point and try again the next day. It might of been also the fact that maybe I was burning myself out over meditation, which is probably why the small cut back to 20 minutes last week might of helped.

I will continue to get exercise because that seems to help practice (maybe grounding?)

And to me it seems like your mind is developing from this area - the "now what?" - spot on. That is to say, it's developing the fundamental skill of concentration, getting back to the object of focus contentedly. Good development of concentration is evidenced here by arising brightness, comfort and the volitional aspect of mind (sankhara skhanda) starts to give up on developing resistance to/boredom in sitting.


I like the sound of that. What I also changed up is that I started doing metta at the beginning of my meditation which is good practice? But for whatever reason it seems to incorporated itself into the beginning without really willing it to happen of various people and myself that I'm close with.

Aslo my attention seems to have changed from breath (it sometimes go back to death) but all encompassing of sensations (such as light tensions in the head to vibrations in the kidney area, to raptures, etc. Something is taking interest in it all at the same time.

This development, as you know, is not a "muscle through it" effort. When done properly, "concentration" training causes physical comfort and brighting. Accessing, stabilizing this brightness of mind (which is followed by easy, natural body stillness) only requires contented dedication to keeping awareness at the object of concentration (e.g., the breath, ānāpānasati).


the muscle through it effort didn't really work out to well haha! The brightening from my experience starts from the right side and then begins to shift to the left side until it fully fills the view. I destinctly remember this in the past happening as well because when I was younger haha.

Man if i would of known and would of kept doing it, I probably would of hit path and not even realized. emoticon


Once there is sitting and accessing fairly reliably the brightness-phase, the mind is becoming balanced enough to enter jhana. This access concentration of the bright mind is getting the mind very close to first jhana. It is just a matter of staying contendedly and dedicated at the object.


Thanks so much for sticking with my katy and the encouragement. And of course the advice has been very helpful. Will keep up my meditation. Your my knight in shining armor. emoticon

[Edit: one last question. Alot of people talk about intent on jhanas before starting? Is this necessary, as when I found that I use intent, expectations arise, and causes much more irritation then just being with everything going around?]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/24/12 5:40 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
Haha, That's actually probably what it was turning into quickly. Was boredom to irritation up at that 40 minute mark. At that point I would usually just stop and go to bed at that point and try again the next day. It might of been also the fact that maybe I was burning myself out over meditation, which is probably why the small cut back to 20 minutes last week might of helped.
Nice! It's actually a sign of settling to know someone is stalling around 40 minutes. It's like a runner who gets to five miles and no longer gets the "runner's high" - that person is getting healthy and maybe has forgotten to see their work up to that point.

I will continue to get exercise because that seems to help practice (maybe grounding?)
Exercise suppresses pain and provides a boost of endorphins. It's a great companion to meditation.

I'd wager that jhana does, too, as well as early and high "access" concentration. I think there's probably just some awesome chemistry behind first jhana in particular and that having that experience is why a person often enters a phase of "big keenness to meditate". I think Leigh Brasington has written about possible chemistry in meditation.

Aslo my attention seems to have changed from breath (it sometimes go back to death) but all encompassing of sensations (such as light tensions in the head to vibrations in the kidney area, to raptures, etc. Something is taking interest in it all at the same time.
Nice. So that's a nice "loose reins" way to observe that the mind is wandering away from the breath. And going into the the body is a good place for the mind to go if it's going to wander from the breath.

Body scanning is a part of vipassana: the practice of clearly seeing about one's own body.

What can happen in vipassana practice before there is stable concentration practice is the same limit(s) that is stymying concentration: the mind can't really sit with what is and so it adds to the experience, like adding an emotion (boredom) or a story ("why does my head feel so capped?"). Totally natural. However, if a person has a low concentration practice for too long and applies the same limited skills to vipassana, then the body-mind will sour on meditation. This is just like if long-distance running had no high, then people would not do it. Meditation has "highs" and when a person gets to those (jhana) --- even though those are not the point --- meditation (bhavana, development) is among the first of the "clearly seen" (vipassana) phenomena: it is useful and insightful.

To me, it is a great indicator that the mind is going to the body during a period of ramping down sitting time. This is just like physical cross-training. You saw that 40 minutes was having a straining effect, took a break, modified the practice and came back with loose reins. Awesome. That is good gym work, IMHO.

What I also changed up is that I started doing metta at the beginning of my meditation which is good practice? But for whatever reason it seems to incorporated itself into the beginning without really willing it to happen of various people and myself that I'm close with.

And metta! That's awesome. I totally forgot about this. Maybe you can describe your metta practice and how metta is effecting the sitting. [I tend to use words like "gentle", "friendly" and forget to outright say, "lay on the metta". Another translation for metta is friendliness. Anywhooo, bravo for doing it and thanks for mentioning it.]


Thanks so much for sticking with my katy and the encouragement. And of course the advice has been very helpful. Will keep up my meditation. Your my knight in shining armor.
You're so welcome. Many people here help me [including you. It is very useful to chat with you has I am working on stabilizing jhanas and also just to see reports of your sustained, balanced efforts over time]. This site is so useful for many reasons and at many "stages" of bhavana. Meditation is a very challenging thing to start at the outset (strong emotions, strong thoughts, big impulses), and then meditation is almost MORE challenging when the brain starts to become more equanimous. The practice is well, well worth it. Your progress seems right on.


[Edit: one last question. Alot of people talk about intent on jhanas before starting? Is this necessary, as when I found that I use intent, expectations arise, and causes much more irritation then just being with everything going around?]

Are you talking about making a resolution (like, I am not going to wallow in XYZ jhana place today...), or are you talking about a kind of intention of the practice (like, "I dedicate the merit of this practice to the well-being of all sentient beings...")

Again, very cool, you knew to pull up metta...

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/24/12 7:09 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
Okay, the book is something for another time.

Practice is key.

I want to third what Steph seconded.

Several of us here have practiced at length developing awareness at the senses. Steph and I, Tommy, Nikolai and others. I think I can say that we all got a big benefit out of going down that path.


To start, if we think of the five faculties of mind (the skhandas), we can think of the saṅkhāra faculty as being inflammed. Saṅkhāra-itis.

Saṅkhāra is in an all-it-can-eat world: so much conceptual stuff everywhere.

To cross-train the mind and reduce the saṅkhāra overuse (again, it's just like carpal tunnel, an overuse disorder with it's own signs of overuse - like stress) one dedicates themselves to living in the other faculties of mind. You seem to have a favorable life circumstance (ex-girlfriends and LAN par-tays, etc) and this is incredibly useful in being safe to cross-train the other faculties of mind.

What do I mean by cross-train in the other skhandas? Basically, this is being here. It is like every moment being an awesome listener. Some one is speaking: one is a warm, alert, close listener. Hands are turning on water: one is warmly, keenly turning on the water (as if one is a devoted "listener" to the actions of one's self, too). Walking? One is keenly, delightedly staying at the foot falls.

Pretty soon one realizes, "Hey, in all those spaces, I was actually saṅkhāra-izing the moment with some thought, related or unrelated. I was all conceptual and thinking about it/something." It's not needed. In fact, saṅkhāra-izing is exhausting. It's stressful. It's a inflammation.

When the saṅkhāra skhanda gets a break, just like cushion meditation, the other skhandas show. This includes the brightness of consciousness itself.

Really, it's an excellent training and it can be done so much more than sitting on the cushion. And it benefits those around us. I mean, if someone is berating you, there's no need to stick around if it can be helped. But listening to and being in the company of others this way, it has a noticeable effect. Contented, alert, receptive.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/25/12 12:58 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:
Okay, the book is something for another time.

Practice is key.

I want to third what Steph seconded.

Several of us here have practiced at length developing awareness at the senses. Steph and I, Tommy, Nikolai and others. I think I can say that we all got a big benefit out of going down that path.


LOL @ you third'ing my second'ing of you. emoticon


So Nick...

But for reals, when I said that you should go out and contemplate nature and how it is interdependent... I didn't mean just go outside and chill out, lazily. (or maybe you didn't even read it that way). What I meant was, go outside and be ultra alert while hanging out somewhere naturally scenic. Being near water works really well for me (I sincerely credit the Pacific Ocean as one of my greatest teachers in life). Pay attention to the ebbs and flows of nature and how that coincides with what's happening with you. Break down the filter between you & nature. See that it's the same process. See that the body is porous, not different from anything that seems to be "out there". See that there isn't any difference between sense door and perception of what's happening at that sense door.

Is that easy to understand or should I say more?

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/25/12 3:21 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
I want to third what Steph seconded.

I'll fourth that. emoticon

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/25/12 9:02 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
[quote="katy steger"]I'd wager that jhana does, too, as well as early and high "access" concentration. I think there's probably just some awesome chemistry behind first jhana in particular and that having that experience is why a person often enters a phase of "big keenness to meditate". I think Leigh Brasington has written about possible chemistry in meditation.

And when that chemistry makes the connections in the brain, I would assume given practice is consistent, those bridges aren't cut off... At least until you make the imprint of Stream Entry. I'm theorizing here, if anyone can help with this or has any experience on this, that would be much help!

[quote="katy steger"]Meditation has "highs" and when a person gets to those (jhana) --- even though those are not the point --- meditation (bhavana, development) is among the first of the "clearly seen" (vipassana) phenomena: it is useful and insightful.

But those highs can definitely fade away given you spend time away from meditation right?

[quote="katy steger"]To me, it is a great indicator that the mind is going to the body during a period of ramping down sitting time. This is just like physical cross-training. You saw that 40 minutes was having a straining effect, took a break, modified the practice and came back with loose reins. Awesome. That is good gym work, IMHO.

Yep reved it down to 20 minutes, back up to 40 minutes this week but different approach. Does the stress indicate a potential to learn though as well, or growth. Sitting through the irritation no matter how tiring it is?

I'm just not clear on when to break, and when to just sit through it and try and let is just wash through me.

[quote="katy steger"]And metta! That's awesome. I totally forgot about this. Maybe you can describe your metta practice and how metta is effecting the sitting. [I tend to use words like "gentle", "friendly" and forget to outright say, "lay on the metta". Another translation for metta is friendliness. Anywhooo, bravo for doing it and thanks for mentioning it.]

My metta is usually in terms of visualization of people that I feel need it at the time and picture their smiling faces in my head. I then picture my heart vibration as well as a pole of light channeling through me coming into contact with this person and hugging them while my heart energy vibrates through them. Then any sense of good feeling I get I focus on that and then back at the idea of me transmitting that onto them. I even do this for myself and sometimes the whole world. right now I'm just getting the hang of it so the whole world sometimes doesn't make it into the metta because i'm starting small... (people I know or want to be either part of my live or wants back into my life so I can help them on an energetic level.)

[quote="katy steger"]You're so welcome. Many people here help me [including you. It is very useful to chat with you has I am working on stabilizing jhanas and also just to see reports of your sustained, balanced efforts over time]. This site is so useful for many reasons and at many "stages" of bhavana. Meditation is a very challenging thing to start at the outset (strong emotions, strong thoughts, big impulses), and then meditation is almost MORE challenging when the brain starts to become more equanimous. The practice is well, well worth it. Your progress seems right on.

I'm really glad we are able to help each other in this way. Yeah thoughts use to be a tough one. (before my no-self awakening after college) now they just sorta stop in to give me a high five and go on their way most of the time. Still struggle with changing the ex-girlfriend beliefs back into good friendly ones, shes been in my metta a lot lately as dreams surfaced and brought it on the forefront so i made it a priority for metta.

I can definitely see how it can be more challenging with equanimity, because of the feeling it tends to give off, but it also seems easier to ease into meditation on it... maybe this can be seen as a sort of stalling point.

[quote="katy steger"]Are you talking about making a resolution (like, I am not going to wallow in XYZ jhana place today...), or are you talking about a kind of intention of the practice (like, "I dedicate the merit of this practice to the well-being of all sentient beings...")

Again, very cool, you knew to pull up metta...

Well the way i was doing it was "I will attain this jhana today etc. etc." but I'm not sure what others mean when they do intent at the beginning of every meditation? Do you do dedications or intents before, and if so, how do you go about doing it without then being followed by the expectation of an outcome? Even a subtle expectation?

I'm not even sure how metta came up but I'm glad I pulled it up to. It allows me to keep in touch of friends that may be in need at the moment!

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/25/12 9:08 PM as a reply to Steph S.
[quote="Steph S"]But for reals, when I said that you should go out and contemplate nature and how it is interdependent... I didn't mean just go outside and chill out, lazily. (or maybe you didn't even read it that way). What I meant was, go outside and be ultra alert while hanging out somewhere naturally scenic. Being near water works really well for me (I sincerely credit the Pacific Ocean as one of my greatest teachers in life). Pay attention to the ebbs and flows of nature and how that coincides with what's happening with you. Break down the filter between you & nature. See that it's the same process. See that the body is porous, not different from anything that seems to be "out there". See that there isn't any difference between sense door and perception of what's happening at that sense door.

Is that easy to understand or should I say more?

I think I do this on a very second nature activity now. I'm always paying attention to how things are done. "breathing in, breathing out." "Oh irritation is there because this was said, watching reaction now." etc.

Listening usually is much more focused I feel when I'm out in nature then seeing at least for myself. Although I can appreciate being lazy sometimes. I don't know if how i see things now can relate of how I use to see things. I've made a sort of shift in presence.

However if you could elaborate on what you mean by it, please do. I would like to incorporate it as much as possible in practical life.

I appreciate your feedback Steph!

Tommy brought me to a place after of watching sensations even more then I was after I realized that not self state was not enlightenment and that I still had a way to go... so his guidance has also helped influence watching sensations of the five doors quite well.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/25/12 9:09 PM as a reply to Tommy M.
[quote="Tommy M"]I'll fourth that. emoticon

You Would! Haha...

Hell I'll fifth that.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/26/12 4:16 AM as a reply to Nick Myers.
Hi Nick, i've followed portions of this thread, but have been hesitant to contribute as all the language is in the teratory of maps that are associated with Vipassana Jhana and the Hard & Soft Jhanas that are Associated with it. This is the Language of Jhana that is most dominant with in the Dharma overground Community, thought Ian And has been endeavouring in some of his threads to redefine and broaden its parameters he is still quite sympathetic to the notion of soft and hard Jhana. Where as I see, soft and hard Jhana as merely factors.
Access and Fixed Concentration
"We have to understand that upacara samadhi is very wide. There is a wide level of upacara, access concentration. It covers many experiences. And it differs with different objects. Generally, we can say a person reaches upacara samadhi when the five hindrances are inhibited. That means the concentration goes up to the level where greed, anger, sloth and torpor, worry and restlessness, and doubts do not arise. When the concentration has reached up to the level where the five hindrances are pushed aside (although they may come back after one comes out from the meditation) one can be said to have attained initial access concentration. Because the function of putting away the defilements or hindrances is satisfied, you can, if you want, go into the practice of vipassana and observe with a sharp and calm mind."
"For ... absorption, ... it does not mean that when you have these five factors you have the first jhana. Even if you don't have any concentration these five mental factors are already there. When you think of food, when you miss very much your food, or your 'Penang Laksa' there are also these five factors present , because the mind keeps running to the Laksa, it stays on it thinking 'how nice if I have Laksa', and then after that when you think of the Laksa you have joy 'when I had Laksa it was so nice, I was enjoying myself' and you feel very happy also and the mind is actually as if you could taste the Laksa, then these five factors are there but it is more like wrong concentration, greed."
"From the description I've given on the absorptions you definitely cannot know it while you are in the jhana. While you are in these absorptions it is like you are in deep sleep, you are in a state deeper than deep sleepso how can you know while in it? You know it only before you go in, because before you enter it will be clear which factors are stronger and which are weaker and have to disappear, or after emerging, through making of proper resolutions to reflect on the factors present." (Access and Fixed Concentration, Venerable Sujivo, Transcribed by Bhikkhu Bodhisara)

This following thread in the compilation of ideas that I am slowly refining on this forum

High Equanimity and Access Concentration are at the same level!

Kind Regards Neem

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/26/12 6:53 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
But those highs can definitely fade away given you spend time away from meditation right?
In my experience, a basic access concentration event like pure brightness and body stillness-comfort-vanishing, yes, that high is relatively small and fades. Still, the mind learns that something other than a minefield of hindrances may come from it. Seeing that potential can very useful. It is like learning to read: it is a potentially wonderful skill, but one can still use the skill of reading (as with meditative stabilization (aka: concentration)) to cause stress/unease/suffering or set up conditions that will be shown ultimately to cause stress/unease/suffering. (For example, the natural joy of finding access concentration and the ability to sit in calm abiding at length can corrupt into conceit, not always, but sometimes. Or a person thinks that steady, comfortable seat and bright mind is the limit of meditation, even though it is clearly, on its own, not able to erode hindrances)


At least until you make the imprint of Stream Entry. I'm theorizing here, if anyone can help with this or has any experience on this, that would be much help!

Other concentration experiences, as you say, definitely do "imprint" and do work. A person knows for themselves if an experience is imprinting beneficially. When people mention "hey, maybe wait 6 - 12 months to see if that experience was useful?" I find that to be a useful suggestion. Some very "bland" events can happen and these work like a chemical base (as opposed to a chemical acid) working more deeply and getting more effective with time, actually polishing down the jagged terrain of some hindrances and habitual tendencies.

Not everything happening in jhana is necessarily useful towards unbinding and there are suttas explaining this, such as the Simsapa Sutta and the Kalakarama Sutta --- these respectively caution any practitioner that just a few areas of practice are useful for Unbinding and that the consciousness skhandha has a strongly attractive/spellbinding aspect to it that can mislead a practitioner. A person can get carried away by an experience and it will take awhile for them to see that either a) the experience did not affect dukkha, or b) the grasping and elaboration of the event is causing dukkha.

What is it in any concentration (access or jhana) that can cause trouble: gratification-seeking. Without understanding and clearly seeing gratification, gratification can give rise to craving-gratification (tanha). Craving insidiously motivates volitional action of mind and body. It does not sound like you're having this issue (this comes up in jhana or non-jhana concentrated states (and of course in daily life, but this topic has not come up in this thread)). You seem to be having a natural desire to progress in correct meditative training and stabilization. So it's just a matter of time and right effort. Daniel cites a sutta about the one good desire (the desire for unbinding) the One Fortunate Attachment, but I don't know what sutta it is. I will ask him what sutta it is.---okay [time elapse] Daniel pointed out "the suttas are: MN 131-234"and provided this link to MN 131 and noting the translator's note re: translation. One translation that comes up is "One Fortunate Attachment". Thanks, Daniel.)

Does the stress indicate a potential to learn though as well, or growth. Sitting through the irritation no matter how tiring it is?
Many people do this, sit through pain or fatigue. So far I have not had to deal with a lot of pain (when I was younger and had more interests competing with meditation, yes, there was more pain. I suppose if I live and age pain may be likely to also return. I don't know). Fatigue on the other hand: what a personal nemesis. I cannot over emphasize how important it is to NOT go directly to sleep as a result of the mind wanting this during meditation: it builds a terrible habit. It is very useful to adopt an iron-clad rule of getting up and walking around after meditation and finishing the time one set forth. So, if 50 minutes into a 60-minute mediation, one is falling over from drowsiness, then, pull earlobes a little or, yes, stand a minute, then return and finish the sit. After evening mediation I think it is good to have another activity planned besides sleeping...like brushing the teeth. Those few minutes can refresh a person and the brain learns that meditation and sleep are not connected.


I'm just not clear on when to break, and when to just sit through it and try and let is just wash through me.
If you've had a decent night's sleep, yes: I say, do try to sit through it periodically. It breaks the mind's sense of "can't do this" and this habit is useful. This is how a group sitting/retreat can help: a person just stays upright and committed through influence of the team and the presence of a teacher.


I think if someone is cultivating their daily life well - abiding ethical discipline (and here I do add the 6th precept as an exceptionally great tool and I take up the 8th precept when I am intensifying the practice (and I am nearly always in 7th precept as a 'plain Jane' emoticon )) then a lot of meditation becomes easier.

So, as you are already at the 40-minute area, and to me, a person who is sitting at 40 minutes and is dealing with sleepiness is a person having relative equanimity. (People in the dukkha nanas tend to struggle with sitting for 20 minutes and there are other issues raised: itchiness, pain, grumpiness, emotions, intellect/conceptual urges, etc). So I would try aligning your daily life a little to improve concentration practice (and I do do this for myself): reduce eating before bed, such as not eating 5 hours before bed (e.g., just have some water after 4 or 5 p.m.). Try to go to sleep early. Maybe have a nice long work-out in the morning, lots of strength training sets/kung fu/a long hike in beautiful natural terrain when cooler weather starts in your area). A warm shower before bed (whatever helps one sleep before bed which is not food -- I know this is a challenge for many). Getting into bed at 9:30-10 p.m. and settling into sati (just awareness of the night, the night sounds, the pillow, the bed, the cover (I think you've mentioned this before; other thread?). Set the alarm for 4:30 or 5 a.m. and start sitting at 5 or 5:30 a.m.. Set the timer for one hour. During the day, really abide in the paramitas and precepts. Perhaps try this for 4 days in a row. Check the moon schedule and try to time such an experiment around the full moon and sit near a window in the morning with a view to the setting moon. There is nothing mysterious about the moon: it's just a natural light and contributes to a natural alertness. Your eyes will likely be shut or nearly so, but the mind is still pretty perked up by the light of the moon, in my experience.

My metta is usually in terms of visualization of people that I feel need it at the time and picture their smiling faces in my head. I then picture my heart vibration as well as a pole of light channeling through me coming into contact with this person and hugging them while my heart energy vibrates through them. Then any sense of good feeling I get I focus on that and then back at the idea of me transmitting that onto them. I even do this for myself and sometimes the whole world. right now I'm just getting the hang of it so the whole world sometimes doesn't make it into the metta because i'm starting small... (people I know or want to be either part of my live or wants back into my life so I can help them on an energetic level.)
Thank you for that.

Well the way i was doing it was "I will attain this jhana today etc. etc." but I'm not sure what others mean when they do intent at the beginning of every meditation? Do you do dedications or intents before, and if so, how do you go about doing it without then being followed by the expectation of an outcome? Even a subtle expectation?
So, I make a little resolution, because of the nature of my own practice, "I will watch out for the formation of the rope of attraction-gratification-and-clinging". The book Practical Insight Meditation has more about resolutions around paths. For me, I cannot look at "paths": I have to look at exactly what is in practice, particularly attraction and clinging. (A surge of gratification is not a problem, it is the follow-up of mind looking for more of it, its attraction and craving for more gratification that is the hazard and hindrance).

Equanimity is really that: it is a period of wearing down all expectation. So one just keeps trying, gives up on all outcome (practically by exhaustion, or almost a sense of luckless defeat, "I'll just sit under the full moon anyway" *sigh*), yet sits anyway. Useful.


So I want to add that I am very lucky to practice both on this forum with people who search the canon and commentaries, work with teachers and sincerely practice, but and I am fortunate to have some regular exposure now to a monastic community with resident scholars and keen minds, young and old. If my practice is improving it is because people here and there strive to recognize what is stress, the causes of stress, the cessation of stress and the path that causes the cessation. I am also going offline to intensify practice before a retreat and will be away until early November. Best wishes to you and lots of thanks for your work. Truly, when a person works on this stuff, it not only benefits the person, but it reduces stress that a practitioner can develop and pass on to others. Steady practice. I appreciate how you arrived here and got right to work. I have no doubt that this stage of readiness, eagerness, steadiness to practice well bodes well for the practitioner.

I hope you are finding all the right resources as you need them.


[edit: strike-through and color, never mind: so many!]


__________
Update: Neem, thanks for that link.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/27/12 8:58 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
[quote="katy steger"]Seeing that potential can very useful. It is like learning to read: it is a potentially wonderful skill, but one can still use the skill of reading (as with meditative stabilization (aka: concentration)) to cause stress/unease/suffering or set up conditions that will be shown ultimately to cause stress/unease/suffering. (For example, the natural joy of finding access concentration and the ability to sit in calm abiding at length can corrupt into conceit, not always, but sometimes. Or a person thinks that steady, comfortable seat and bright mind is the limit of meditation, even though it is clearly, on its own, not able to erode hindrances)

I can definitely relate to this. I've noticed this a lot lately that the concentration states can become very stressful, it almost causes the mind to try and shut itself down, but sometimes when broken through it causes what you call the calm abiding. sensations of irritation and stress are commonly noted with my practice though, but learning to accept them as they come and go are key I think.

The tensions are a lot more enjoyable when they are met with acceptance.

What is it in any concentration (access or jhana) that can cause trouble: gratification-seeking. Without understanding and clearly seeing gratification, gratification can give rise to craving-gratification (tanha). Craving insidiously motivates volitional action of mind and body. It does not sound like you're having this issue (this comes up in jhana or non-jhana concentrated states (and of course in daily life, but this topic has not come up in this thread)). You seem to be having a natural desire to progress in correct meditative training and stabilization. So it's just a matter of time and right effort. Daniel cites a sutta about the one good desire (the desire for unbinding) the One Fortunate Attachment, but I don't know what sutta it is. I will ask him what sutta it is.---okay [time elapse] Daniel pointed out "the suttas are: MN 131-234"and provided this link to MN 131 and noting the translator's note re: translation. One translation that comes up is "One Fortunate Attachment". Thanks, Daniel.)


Thank you for that katy, I really appreciate it. Although I do admire the jhanas for their pleasant stories. I do want to utilize them for unbinding overall. I've done a lot of intellectual work inside and have gotten to the part with like you said, "rolling up my sleeves" and unbinding those fetters.

I think my re-orchestration of a not self realization helped towards that. It's interesting how the orientation wasn't this at all until it was noticed these things were hindering from seeing reality for what it is and always has been. Now the mind just wants to rest in itself, not have to do so much work, or not want to expound so much energy that it use to if it doesn't have to.

Fatigue on the other hand: what a personal nemesis. I cannot over emphasize how important it is to NOT go directly to sleep as a result of the mind wanting this during meditation: it builds a terrible habit. It is very useful to adopt an iron-clad rule of getting up and walking around after meditation and finishing the time one set forth. So, if 50 minutes into a 60-minute mediation, one is falling over from drowsiness, then, pull earlobes a little or, yes, stand a minute, then return and finish the sit. After evening mediation I think it is good to have another activity planned besides sleeping...like brushing the teeth. Those few minutes can refresh a person and the brain learns that meditation and sleep are not connected.


I'm right there with you sister. Fatigue seems to be my biggest battle at the moment with full time work. I almost didn't even get around to meditation last night because of exhaustion (I did end up doing it and am thankful for it.) I did however learn something new though because I usually do go to bed right after meditation. So Now I will be changing what I do after. Just maybe a little break before I go to bed (glass or water, check forums, brush my teeth etc.) just to get my mind not sleep oriented.

reduce eating before bed, such as not eating 5 hours before bed (e.g., just have some water after 4 or 5 p.m.). Try to go to sleep early. Maybe have a nice long work-out in the morning, lots of strength training sets/kung fu/a long hike in beautiful natural terrain when cooler weather starts in your area). A warm shower before bed (whatever helps one sleep before bed which is not food -- I know this is a challenge for many). Getting into bed at 9:30-10 p.m. and settling into sati (just awareness of the night, the night sounds, the pillow, the bed, the cover (I think you've mentioned this before; other thread?). Set the alarm for 4:30 or 5 a.m. and start sitting at 5 or 5:30 a.m.. Set the timer for one hour. During the day, really abide in the paramitas and precepts. Perhaps try this for 4 days in a row. Check the moon schedule and try to time such an experiment around the full moon and sit near a window in the morning with a view to the setting moon. There is nothing mysterious about the moon: it's just a natural light and contributes to a natural alertness. Your eyes will likely be shut or nearly so, but the mind is still pretty perked up by the light of the moon, in my experience.


I have to be honest with you haha, but I wake up at 4:40am as it is for work at 5:30 so some of those things I would not be able to do without waking up at like 2:30 and that's not gonna happen at my age. emoticon Where I work currently has no allowance for me to see the moon set (at least until I'm freed from my job which is coming soon!)

I usually meditate before bed and I do actually eat close to when getting home. (around 4pm) and try not to eat anything after that.

Equanimity is really that: it is a period of wearing down all expectation. So one just keeps trying, gives up on all outcome (practically by exhaustion, or almost a sense of luckless defeat, "I'll just sit under the full moon anyway" *sigh*), yet sits anyway. Useful.


Very Useful, I've actually been getting this coming up a lot lately. Memories have been coming up again, and also more "reading of spiritual stuffs" I've noticed has been causing lots of mind tensions that it just wants to rest. It is saying, "please no more, just silence now."

I am also going offline to intensify practice before a retreat and will be away until early November. Best wishes to you and lots of thanks for your work. Truly, when a person works on this stuff, it not only benefits the person, but it reduces stress that a practitioner can develop and pass on to others. Steady practice. I appreciate how you arrived here and got right to work. I have no doubt that this stage of readiness, eagerness, steadiness to practice well bodes well for the practitioner.


I'm so happy for you katy, I hope that your retreat goes well. I can't wait to hear the results, and i'm sure you'll have lots to share. Maybe i'll even see a little halo around your name. ;)

Also, I'm glad for your guidance up to this point. Back when I was 21, I had no such guidance and it is very helpful to see which things are working and which things have nothing to do with advancing in practice.

I'll see you in November, and hopefully will have some very nice updates for you. =]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/27/12 6:46 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
Hi Nick,

I'll be reading your thread.

So I've been thinking about this earlier statement you made and some of the other information you've put in this thread (e.g., the EX )
Only thing about that part is some pretty heavy emotion is carried in with those thoughts which is rather unpleasant. (I know, no one said it would be easy lol)
If a person can treat their own heavy emotion with patient, receptive listening -- in the same way one would do for an injured person or animal, then that experience can cause a tremendous compassion and insight, as well as tension relief. This is one of the huge values of the struggle that goes on in equanimity.

Man, every time I have not listened well to my own mind nor received it with patient, kindly listening, well: watch out. That is aversion running wild, and that will come out somewhere, usually unexpectedly and protectively, a held-tension just waiting to fire. Not pretty. Look at that fetter model, right? Ill-will can persist. Ugh. It starts with one's own head, one's own ability to sit with one's own mind.

Metta, like you said.

Running into heavy emotion is normal terrain for Equanimity: one continues to bounce off of/bob near the dukkha nanas while wading in equanimity. It is totally natural to meet with the stuff floating around in scary, murky waters of the dukkha nanas. Equanimity feels awesome at first (free at last!), then there's the realization that, "Crikey, I'm still so close to that stuff. Hey, what just touched my ankle! What just shadowed over my sense of well-being?"

If equanimity were the bees' knees, everyone's practice would stop there.

Re-encountering fresh dukkha is what provokes one to stabilize equanimity, from a "low", shaky equanimity to "high", stable equanimity. And then, yes, then there's Khemaka Sutta: even sotapannas, well, "smell". Dukkha. Can't go over it. Can't go under it. Can't go around it. Gotta go through it.

It's kind of nuts: one has to make all this effort in equanimity (one is meditating, one gets into daily sati more, one's ethical discipline starts to climb, one starts to look at and work on breathing out (letting go of) tension/guarding in the body) and yet one has to wear out every idea that this effort will "get" anything.

But equanimity is the time when one's effort is really about stabilizing equanimity. Each time one drifts back into dukkha nana territory, there's a choice: can I transform this into something without dukkha? Can I not add to the dukkha? Did I do something that landed me in here again? Is this dukkha dukkha ("just-is" dukkha)?

A person is consciously relaxing where they can, at the copy machine, in the post office, in traffic. Contentedness. A person is becoming contented with simplicity. Letting go of tension, letting go of a sense of holding, or guarding (this does not mean to make oneself unsafe). Breathing deeply. Ah, look at that sunset. Ah, look at that fender bender. ;)

So the effort in equanimity has to do with developing stable, thorough contentment over nothing special, over simple delights, continuing to make good effort. Somehow, in this relaxed and alert contentment of day in and day out - there is only this, jobs well-done, backsliding, re-efforting, re-content, simple delights - then, there in "high" equanimity, relaxed, content, confident in its own ability to handle some dukkha, to not harbor tension, somehow the mind loosens. Then sitting meditation is also content, relaxed, properly effortful, but not strained, not wanting, just content to be sitting calmly in a calm, open mind, no thought about brightness or concentration. Just sitting. Oddly, it is through all the effort of equanimity that enables just sitting contently***. So equanimity precedes the other stages.

Also, I'm glad for your guidance up to this point. Back when I was 21, I had no such guidance and it is very helpful to see which things are working and which things have nothing to do with advancing in practice.

I'll see you in November, and hopefully will have some very nice updates for you. =]
Oh lordy. Me at 21: I'm certain people tried to help...

Yeah, back at you: thanks for your help as well. If anything really useful happens on this retreat, it will be hard to know that until, say, next June!

So I look forward to your news and the other good will and feedback your effort and sincerity has availed you to.


[edit: just 'cause ;) ]

[*** and the resolution could be, "make sure I don't just stay in EQ, that I keep up effort without strain or wanting...]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/27/12 8:41 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
First of all Katy,

wow.. this post really resonates with where I am at right now. You must be doing metta for me ;) So if i'm in low equanimity then there is still subject to formations of the five sense gates.

First i'll tell you what the mind has logically made about why this is coming up (regardless of it being a story) but it was decided that no matter what I still wanted to be her friend (and of course now in an attempt to accept the reality of her wanting the same or not)

Anyway so metta ensues and then memories begin to come up again. I see this as being the minds defense to keep it away, but how am I going to ease tension if I keep it away? So which is why I've been laying it on even if it is turning up memories.

katy steger:
Man, every time I have not listened well to my own mind nor received it with patient, kindly listening, well: watch out. That is aversion running wild, and that will come out somewhere, usually unexpectedly and protectively, a held-tension just waiting to fire. Not pretty. Look at that fetter model, right? Ill-will can persist. Ugh. It starts with one's own head, one's own ability to sit with one's own mind.

Metta, like you said.


Yes this is what I'm currently feeling, the choice to react one way or the other, and you're so right. It starts with thoughts. Being patient with this and sitting with them seems to be key here. Responding to them compassionately and not reacting in a lunge type manner toward the story that seems to be unfolding inside (as its empty in nature.)

Running into heavy emotion is normal terrain for Equanimity: one continues to bounce off of/bob near the dukkha nanas while wading in equanimity. It is totally natural to meet with the stuff floating around in scary, murky waters of the dukkha nanas. Equanimity feels awesome at first (free at last!), then there's the realization that, "Crikey, I'm still so close to that stuff. Hey, what just touched my ankle! What just shadowed over my sense of well-being?"


Especially the Crikey part. I thought I had dealt with all that stuff head on a year and a half ago when it happened, but it's all coming back up again, and it all seems so close still, just not as heavy as last time. Last time there were deep waves of depression.

Truly a splendid dark night! Without that I wouldn't of come into contact with Abandonment, Jealousy, and Control, Helplessness... hmm I just noticed the last one.

I read over the Khemaka Sutta and this resonated with me (this might help you to see me):

[quote="Ven. Khemaka"]"Friends, even though a noble disciple has abandoned the five lower fetters, he still has with regard to the five clinging-aggregates a lingering residual 'I am' conceit, an 'I am' desire, an 'I am' obsession. But at a later time he keeps focusing on the phenomena of arising & passing away with regard to the five clinging-aggregates: 'Such is form, such its origin, such its disappearance. Such is feeling... Such is perception... Such are fabrications... Such is consciousness, such its origin, such its disappearance.' As he keeps focusing on the arising & passing away of these five clinging-aggregates, the lingering residual 'I am' conceit, 'I am' desire, 'I am' obsession is fully obliterated.

I suppose that is just part of the burning away process, as it wouldn't be coming up if it weren't wanting to give the opportunity to purify it or "fully obliterate" it. Sounds so epic.

It's kind of nuts: one has to make all this effort in equanimity (one is meditating, one gets into daily sati more, one's ethical discipline starts to climb, one starts to look at and work on breathing out (letting go of) tension/guarding in the body) and yet one has to wear out every idea that this effort will "get" anything.


That seems to be the subtle trap. "I don't want anything from this." but in the back of the human mind there is still this desire for peace of mind. the potential of its never going away is always still going to be there isn't it?

This is where the High EQ happens to make the Okayness to where even if it is there, that it is all okay and accepted as being perfect still.

Is this dukkha dukkha ("just-is" dukkha)?


Is this what some may refer to as "past-live" stuffs, like stuff from way way before experiencing of this body was taking place or can you clarify this one a little bit?

Then sitting meditation is also content, relaxed, properly effortful, but not strained, not wanting, just content to be sitting calmly in a calm, open mind, no thought about brightness or concentration. Just sitting. Oddly, it is through all the effort of equanimity that enables just sitting contently***. So equanimity precedes the other stages.


Is it possible to wax and wane through both low EQ and High EQ. Sometimes I feel a lot stronger in my resolve, and sometimes I feel like shit but still okay about it. (right now, more on the shitty side but still okay with it, sitting with it.)

Oh lordy. Me at 21: I'm certain people tried to help...

Yeah, back at you: thanks for your help as well. If anything really useful happens on this retreat, it will be hard to know that until, say, next June!

So I look forward to your news and the other good will and feedback your effort and sincerity has availed you to.


Well it's nice to hear that you'll still be checking in periodically. Although I don't know whether you would call yourself a guru or teacher I feel that you have taught me a lot about myself in such a short time.

You're probably the closest to a teacher I've had in this. So I thank you again for this. emoticon

[edit: just 'cause ;) ]

[*** and the resolution could be, "make sure I don't just stay in EQ, that I keep up effort without strain or wanting...]


Haha love the edits! emoticon And thank you for the resolution, I'm going to try and work that into the beginning of my sits, it sounds perfect.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/27/12 8:44 PM as a reply to Zyndo Zyhion.
Hey Neem,

First of all I really appreciate you contributing to the thread. That information looks super useful. I'm sure it will be useful for me at some point. My brain can't go there right now, its in a stage where its almost rejecting any kind of very long reading haha.

What you've written in the little I read at work, looks like it is very useful for those that may pass by this thread wondering about Jhanas and Equanimity and so for that I am very appreciative of your drop in! emoticon

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/28/12 1:26 AM as a reply to Nick Myers.
You're welcome emoticon Before I go into more detail... what type of shift in presence did you have, cuz that will make a difference in what I advise. What's becoming more obvious about how things are perceived lately?

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/28/12 7:56 AM as a reply to Nick Myers.
HI Nick -

Your question about dukkha-dukkha: there are types of dukkha/stress, and this is the type that just seems inherent. Like when someone fears death and they know they can't avoid it: dukkha-dukkha. Contrast that with sankhara-dukkha: if I feed squirrels and they start to tear down my house for peanuts or I get a hantavirus -- yeah, that dukkha, we could agree, "Gee, you brought that on." Speaking of which, I "have to" go get a peanut for the little one throwing itself at the window.

About guru: I am really glad that this thread helps. As I am sure you know, it's just studying oneself closely, patiently, kindly, in the 16 stages of insight, no guru. Everyone has this after a stage stabilizes. So, you'll probably bail me out of some stage in the spring. Thanks in advance ;)

Personally, while there are some threads happening around the DhO right now that relate to what you are doing (maybe triggered by following your thread, maybe just happenstance), I totally understand when the mind wants quiet, simplicity, no more words, no more foreign words, no more reading. As you probably know, zen calls a practice "just sitting" (shikantaza: yay, additional foreign word+concept). It's just sitting. When the mind is ready for this, this can be an excellent practice. The mind just sits and gets stuff done (or it can be a wasting zone: each person knows for themselves if the mind is able to develop here and be without structure and without goal and without "work" yet be fine: like a child learns just by sitting and finding objects and touching the floor and seeing light pass, etc: unstructured, delicate, somehow useful). I was doing this as I was practicing along the lines of what Steph, Tommy, Nickolai and others were practicing (in my opinion, but it's tricky to suppose for others) and just sitting was the natural instinct and complement to that other practice (being at the sense doors, open sensateness/awareness). I know this thread started with access and concentration question, but if you are entering into just sitting and daily sati/open sensate awareness/loosening the barnacles of conceptual mind/ receptive listening/open awareness for self and others: useful, too. There's no law keeping you to "1st jhana and access concentration" right now. It's about life, and cushion-time is a support training. It doesn't sound like you're at risk for the "roll-up the mat" (turn one's back on sitting practice), but even if that did happen, who's to say you would'nt become a fire fighter or knitter and find total peace there?


I'll be heading out in mid-October, but know I should drop out of your thread now for both of our practices, making space for other sharing and experience, etc. But, yep, I'll be reading this, weening the squirrels off peanut crack, working... Cheers, and thanks so much. It's a lot of fun to see this effort, like watching a mountain climber alternately sitting in a nice meadow, alternately walking a narrow, high path... totally relatable!


[you know: edits]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/28/12 10:15 AM as a reply to Steph S.
You're welcome Before I go into more detail... what type of shift in presence did you have, cuz that will make a difference in what I advise. What's becoming more obvious about how things are perceived lately?


Hey Steph!

Back a year and a half ago, something clicked on not self, where there isn't anything over here running the show. Things play out very much without the stories sense of "I am doing this. Or I am doing that." There is no I actually there doing anything. There is no seer, but seeing happens, there is no one having sense feeling but feelings come in and out of experiencing. Experiences are just happening at a very quick rate.

Up to recently I hadn't got much past that until I was introduced and went further into DHo where I met Tommy and he convinced me to look further into the in-continuitious relationship that the sense doors having that give the illusion of there being an entity there. However I see that non-continuity doesn't translate into non-separation. Everything is very much connected in the sense that it all a part of the same thing. IT IS IT. However the sense there being someone due to non break up of illusory continuity is still there.

I actually wrote a blog on continuity here: How A Rubber Band Ball Frees You From Suffering.


I can also see that there is no-mind. The container in which thoughts come and go is not so, there is no container. thoughts flow freely and emptily just like any other sensation that comes through sense doors. So just like there is no you there experience, there is no mind as these two formations are working in the same way in which a lot of small sensations creating a big experience!



In Meditation:

It seems I'm popping in and out of low and high EQ at the moment. Life seems to be stirring things back up to the surfaces (some of which seem to be forming around my Ex, and this is residing at this point as events have recently come up indicating so. emoticon)

My sits seems to be shifting a bit too, 45 minute sit last night, brightness in the inner eye lids are becoming more stable. General Okayness seems to be there, still tensions in the head at times. There are rough what seem like feeling/numb movement in the skull, hands warm up.

Experiences here lately have been a lot of memory formations followed by tension in various places in the face which are lightened up as soon as attention is brought to them.

Every day zen: from moment to moment, interest in reaction, emotional states, pretty much takes up my day. Any quiet time during work hours is spent observing sensations and how delightful they are regardless of whether its a "bad" or "good" feeling.

Just recently seen that all interaction is like different aspects of the same thing all sharing in a non-separate experience, although not connected (as in i am not seeing their experience although its acknowledge that these experiences are sharing each other in a sense.)



Anything else you want to know before we continue missy? emoticon

[edit: fixed embedded url]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
9/28/12 10:03 AM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
[quote="katy steger"]About guru: I am really glad that this thread helps. As I am sure you know, it's just studying oneself closely, patiently, kindly, in the 16 stages of insight, no guru. Everyone has this after a stage stabilizes. So, you'll probably bail me out of some stage in the spring. Thanks in advance ;)

It's funny that you say that, because something did happen last night (however I really can't say whether it was stabilization or not) but this morning it seems people seem to be dropping out of my life almost sysynctly to what you are saying haha. How delightful! Life is showing another one of its many lessons. This isn't abandonment, it's freedom, I see that now. Thank you Katy. Much gratitude to you. emoticon

and just sitting was the natural instinct and complement to that other practice (being at the sense doors, open sensateness/awareness). I know this thread started with access and concentration question, but if you are entering into just sitting and daily sati/open sensate awareness/loosening the barnacles of conceptual mind/ receptive listening/open awareness for self and others: useful, too. There's no law keeping you to "1st jhana and access concentration" right now.


Yes my practice has always seemingly come back to this, sitting and paying attention to whatever arises, watching it closely and with compassion. (watching closely however, I don't mean with great effort, just as if I were watching a cloud pass a clear sky.)

There seems to be a going all the way feeling this time around, however not even this feeling i am in control of.

It doesn't sound like you're at risk for the "roll-up the mat" (turn one's back on sitting practice), but even if that did happen, who's to say you would'nt become a fire fighter or knitter and find total peace there?


haha, i turned my back on meditation a year and a half ago when I decided to take up infatuation as an object, I don't think that's a problem this time around. once I saw that not self wasn't IT a new fire for meditation spurted up. So between that and copywriting training, fulfillment is the main feeling at the moment.

but know I should drop out of your thread now for both of our practices, making space for other sharing and experience, etc. But, yep, I'll be reading this, weening the squirrels off peanut crack, working... Cheers,


We are both doing this with each other it seems as well. emoticon Thank you for meeting me on the mountain to help pull me up before continuing on!


[edit: I'm sure i'll see you again at some point ;) until then!]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
10/1/12 1:40 AM as a reply to Nick Myers.
Nick Myers:

Hey Steph!

Back a year and a half ago, something clicked on not self, where there isn't anything over here running the show. Things play out very much without the stories sense of "I am doing this. Or I am doing that." There is no I actually there doing anything. There is no seer, but seeing happens, there is no one having sense feeling but feelings come in and out of experiencing. Experiences are just happening at a very quick rate.

Up to recently I hadn't got much past that until I was introduced and went further into DHo where I met Tommy and he convinced me to look further into the in-continuitious relationship that the sense doors having that give the illusion of there being an entity there. However I see that non-continuity doesn't translate into non-separation. Everything is very much connected in the sense that it all a part of the same thing. IT IS IT. However the sense there being someone due to non break up of illusory continuity is still there.


Heya

So there is a weird sense of presence that is not any sort of action taker... it's just a "feeling" that you don't really know what it is and why it is there? I know that fucker well! hahaha

Maybe just a technicality of how you wrote it... but in the blog when you said, "Everything else is left there in that vast space, which in reality is all there is." does it mean there is still an impression that things are happening IN space?

No matter how diffuse or vague this "space" seems.. it's not actually all that diffuse or vague if you look closer. I'm gonna say keep on track with what you're getting at in your rubber band post.. this sense of presence also comes down to just peeling it away even more. Each time there is a sense of vague or diffuse space that it seems like things are happening within, you can find what seems to be the edge to that. Look at those sensations specifically that seem like they are the edge, and see that those are more microscopic sensations. Every time you have anything that seems like it is arising look specifically at what it is that makes it seem like it has an edge or location to it... or even more precisely, what it is that makes it seem like there is that sensation and any space surrounding it... what makes it seem like it is its own bubble popping up with some vague nothing around it. Tricky one it is... the "nothing around it" can be broken apart too.

I can also see that there is no-mind. The container in which thoughts come and go is not so, there is no container. thoughts flow freely and emptily just like any other sensation that comes through sense doors. So just like there is no you there experience, there is no mind as these two formations are working in the same way in which a lot of small sensations creating a big experience!


Small sensations creating a bigger sensation that is happening as no container? Not so sure! Experience is non-linear and without a general grander size that can be perceived... and big is a comparative term (what are you comparing big and small against?) Given your above comments and below that you are in EQ right now, I think you are getting all spacey and infinite like when trying to talk about this. When people talk like that about experience as big, I think they are trying to describe it as something vast. Get outta the trap of trying to think of big and infinity interchangeably cuz contrary to many discussions about the universe, infinity is not something that can be spatially described really. And it does make a difference in how things are perceived in my experience.


Just recently seen that all interaction is like different aspects of the same thing all sharing in a non-separate experience, although not connected (as in i am not seeing their experience although its acknowledge that these experiences are sharing each other in a sense.)


More on this one?

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
10/1/12 12:58 PM as a reply to Steph S.
Hey Steph!

Thanks for getting back to me missy! I hope you had a good weekend. emoticon

So there is a weird sense of presence that is not any sort of action taker... it's just a "feeling" that you don't really know what it is and why it is there? I know that fucker well! hahaha


Yes that fucker! It seems to just hang around, I'm getting the sense you want to help me get rid of em! emoticon

I actually just read a post on AENs blog and I think this has to do with dependent origination which I don't know much about actually.

does it mean there is still an impression that things are happening IN space?


Yeah, actually although I say there is no container, I guess the belief is still there that it is happening in some sort of space!

However I was really looking at it, and now it seems like the space itself is that sensation. They aren't two separate things, when sensations happens, that space is that sensation in that the focus and what have you are that sensation. I never thought of it, but I was seeing it as things were happening in something when it could be the case that the space just changes so quality that it isn't noticed.

Was this what you were getting at or should I continue to look further into that belief?

Tricky one it is... the "nothing around it" can be broken apart too.


Can you say a little bit more about this, or the mental process that needs to take place to perceptual see what this is talking about?

and big is a comparative term (what are you comparing big and small against?)


Your right, what am I guaging it against.. I don't know haha! It could be anything, probably just a mentally habitual thing! Thank you for catching me on that..

Hmmm smaller to larger... I guess i put the parts to a car to a car itself as being the guage of big to small so for some reason I think that each sense coming through the sense doors as being small as opposed to a sense of some entity being big?

Maybe that's where the gauging is happening, does that make sense?


infinity is not something that can be spatially described really. And it does make a difference in how things are perceived in my experience.


so infinity should be described as such instead of dumbing it down to BIG experience. Kind of like higher and lower self in this regard, that it may lead someone astray in terms for what they are actually looking for or perceiving?


More on this one?


The interactions between human being to human being are going to be different. Like you may go out for a night at the clubs and I may be in a complete different location at a completely different club.

Well when we come together the next day and you tell me what a great time you had and explain some experience you had that night, I can't say, "yeah i remember that, that was great." because well... I never directly experienced it from that side of experiencing.

However this sharing are two different aspects of the same experiencing, although different in manifestation (i don't know if this is the right word).

I guess this can only be gauged also by the spacial of time as well, otherwise they have no real connection either! whamp whamp...



So now it feels just like a bunch of different realities like a picture book. lol... damnit!

[Edit: add some more content up at the presence quote about dependent origination]

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
10/12/12 6:31 PM as a reply to Nick Myers.
Hey Nick - apologies for such a delayed reply!


I actually just read a post on AENs blog and I think this has to do with dependent origination which I don't know much about actually.


I highly recommend reading more of AEN's blog because it's a gold mine and has been super helpful for me (check his e-book too ), as well as any of the suttas on dependent origination. Become ultra familiar with dependent origination. It has to be seen clearly, as seeing it clearly in action is precisely what untangles the whole process.


Yeah, actually although I say there is no container, I guess the belief is still there that it is happening in some sort of space!

However I was really looking at it, and now it seems like the space itself is that sensation. They aren't two separate things, when sensations happens, that space is that sensation in that the focus and what have you are that sensation. I never thought of it, but I was seeing it as things were happening in something when it could be the case that the space just changes so quality that it isn't noticed.

Was this what you were getting at or should I continue to look further into that belief?


So then yes, this thing that appears like space can be seen more clearly. In my experience it manifested as a sense of stillness that things would come and go through, or lay on, or arise in... and over time it started morphing into the sense that the stillness wasn't necessarily a resting point or ground (although it did sometimes still appear as such), but it became much more like stillness was infused through everything - like there was a magical stillness/silence potion that was injected in and fusing through all sensations.

What I did to break up the stillness was simply pay close attention to the sense of stillness itself and see that it wasn't really any different in how it arose than any of the sensations that seemed to arise in it, wasn't actually separate, and didn't have any distance or location in relation. Treat this as any other sensation - it is not something that can be pinned down and it doesn't have any special qualities that make it fundamentally different. As cool and calm as the space seems, it isn't always there (meaning it goes away just like everything else). Taking an example of a misperception that often occurred: There would be a feeling arising at the heart and then a mental sensation that appeared like it was focus itself dropping down and resting in the heart, all while there was stillness underneath it. There was a mentally felt separating of each of those "actions/things" as different pieces of a puzzle that happened chronologically along with a mental image of the part of the body they seemed to be happening at. So then, even the stillness isn't actually any sort of ground nor some special felt quality, it's yet another no big deal sensation.


Can you say a little bit more about this, or the mental process that needs to take place to perceptual see what this is talking about?


As far as the nothing around it - what's the "it"? I looked back at your initial reply to me and realize you didn't mention there being something "around it" and so I might have misunderstood what you were saying. haha.. is there a sense of something happening "around" sensations? (likely so if there's still a sense of space things are happening "in" - because that implies an "out" or impression that there is any sort relationship of sensation and space).


Your right, what am I guaging it against.. I don't know haha! It could be anything, probably just a mentally habitual thing! Thank you for catching me on that..

Hmmm smaller to larger... I guess i put the parts to a car to a car itself as being the guage of big to small so for some reason I think that each sense coming through the sense doors as being small as opposed to a sense of some entity being big?

Maybe that's where the gauging is happening, does that make sense?


That's an ingrained habit of dualistic comparison, like above with in/out. I spent alot of time looking at opposites to see how they are implied. Keep looking at anything that seems like "this or that", opposites, and either/or. Investigate how and why it appears that way... what causes it to happen?

Hope this is helpful... lemme know if you need clarification on anything.

RE: 1st Jhana and Access Concentration
Answer
10/24/12 12:26 PM as a reply to Steph S.
[quote="Steph S"]I highly recommend reading more of AEN's blog because it's a gold mine and has been super helpful for me (check his e-book too ), as well as any of the suttas on dependent origination. Become ultra familiar with dependent origination. It has to be seen clearly, as seeing it clearly in action is precisely what untangles the whole process.

Yes I've been reading from his eBook, which then has led me to various of his blog posts which have been incredible helpful and powerful to seeing dependent origination. I'm still integrating it into my looking. It still seems very hard to portray to someone else without going overboard and making it seem abstract.

(I can usually guage how well I see something by how well or more simply I can explain it to someone.)

[quote="Steph S"]So then yes, this thing that appears like space can be seen more clearly. In my experience it manifested as a sense of stillness that things would come and go through, or lay on, or arise in... and over time it started morphing into the sense that the stillness wasn't necessarily a resting point or ground (although it did sometimes still appear as such), but it became much more like stillness was infused through everything - like there was a magical stillness/silence potion that was injected in and fusing through all sensations.

What I did to break up the stillness was simply pay close attention to the sense of stillness itself and see that it wasn't really any different in how it arose than any of the sensations that seemed to arise in it, wasn't actually separate, and didn't have any distance or location in relation. Treat this as any other sensation - it is not something that can be pinned down and it doesn't have any special qualities that make it fundamentally different. As cool and calm as the space seems, it isn't always there (meaning it goes away just like everything else). Taking an example of a misperception that often occurred: There would be a feeling arising at the heart and then a mental sensation that appeared like it was focus itself dropping down and resting in the heart, all while there was stillness underneath it. There was a mentally felt separating of each of those "actions/things" as different pieces of a puzzle that happened chronologically along with a mental image of the part of the body they seemed to be happening at. So then, even the stillness isn't actually any sort of ground nor some special felt quality, it's yet another no big deal sensation.

Yes, I'm not starting to see this in meditation and in everyday mindfulness. That this stillness is not actually a container at all but more of an infusion on everything else going on. the sensations don't happen in this as the stillness is a sensation itself. This can easily be seen throughout my day.

Stillness may be there and then op, looks like irritation, looks like depression, looks like anger, looks like equanimity. These sensations continue to happen throughout the day that they aren't a background but part of everything else going on. That's ALL thats going on, there isn't anyone making these things happen, just billions of different sensations whether they be wiggly, tingling, tensions, emotions, thoughts. all arise and all fall. Not linked in any way as they are their own little guy celebrating its existence haha. (Image of a little guy throwing arms up in the air going YAY!) and pop! gone. emoticon

[quote="Steph S"]As far as the nothing around it - what's the "it"? I looked back at your initial reply to me and realize you didn't mention there being something "around it" and so I might have misunderstood what you were saying. haha.. is there a sense of something happening "around" sensations? (likely so if there's still a sense of space things are happening "in" - because that implies an "out" or impression that there is any sort relationship of sensation and space).

even the one noting is just part of whats going on isn't it? I'll start focusing on this feeling of "background" because from what you're saying and for what it looks like, it really is like it is, there is no background and foreground. The mirror and the reflection are the same, not separate.


Thanks Steph for helping me out so far. Sorry it took me so long this time. Big things happening! And no problems with taking so long. emoticon