access concentration?

Alex M Espinosa, modified 8 Years ago.

access concentration?

Posts: 5 Join Date: 10/30/12 Recent Posts
Hello everyone, i've been meditating for almost a year now and recently (past few weeks) i've been making sure i at least practice once a day for however long i can. I've also been taking down notes like how long i was meditating, how many times in the day, if it was inside or outside lol (kind of a habit of mine to take notes in general).

Anyway i know im not a seasoned meditator and usually when i meditate i feel calm and peaceful but still have chatter going on in my head like in daily life (just less) or even a song stuck in my head. Today tho, i had listened to a chant of the heart sutra and had one part of it stuck in my head while meditating. I thought it wasn't going to stop so i decided just to accept it and continue anyway, but eventually and suddenly everything in my mind seemed to quiet completely and my head felt very clear. Along with that i had an unusual feeling of spaciousness, sensations on my hands and face, and an extreme deep soothing clam. I was able to remain like that for a time but couldn't really go anywhere with it since this is new to me.

I know there are people that are wayyyy more experienced then me on here and was wondering if they can share some insight with me :].

Is this actually anything significant?
or is this normal?
or am i just a nut? lol

I've also posted this on another site but haven't gotten any answers :/
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Ian And, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: access concentration?

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Alex M E:
Hello everyone, i've been meditating for almost a year now and recently (past few weeks) i've been making sure i at least practice once a day for however long i can. I've also been taking down notes like how long i was meditating, how many times in the day, if it was inside or outside lol (kind of a habit of mine to take notes in general).

Anyway i know im not a seasoned meditator and usually when i meditate i feel calm and peaceful but still have chatter going on in my head like in daily life (just less) or even a song stuck in my head.

Today tho, i had listened to a chant of the heart sutra and had one part of it stuck in my head while meditating. I thought it wasn't going to stop so i decided just to accept it and continue anyway, but eventually and suddenly everything in my mind seemed to quiet completely and my head felt very clear. Along with that i had an unusual feeling of spaciousness, sensations on my hands and face, and an extreme deep soothing calm. I was able to remain like that for a time but couldn't really go anywhere with it since this is new to me.

I know there are people that are wayyyy more experienced then me on here and was wondering if they can share some insight with me :].

Assuming that you are sincere in your pursuit of meditation and study of the Dhamma, I will venture to comment on what you have presented.

It's good that you are taking notes; keeping a journal in the beginning of establishing a practice in meditation can be very beneficial, as it gives one an opportunity to look back and see whatever progress they have made over a period of time. It also serves as a way to document your journey (especially for yourself, not so much for others), allowing you to recall specific meditative events that occurred and to watch how your perception of these events changes over time.

Did you notice the clue you presented that seemed to make a difference for you regarding how you normally experienced meditation, and the change that occurred in the session that you wrote about? If you did, then you gained a bit of insight about how to bring that state into fruition the next time around. Buddhist meditation techniques are about bringing calm (samatha) and insight (vipassana) into sharp relief, being able to discern when these two qualities are present and learning from that experience.

Alex M E:

Is this actually anything significant?
or is this normal?

If you are asking: "Is that what access concentration is like?" Then it very well may have been; or may have been even more profound. Achieving that kind of clarity of mind is what is essential to being able to examine the Dhamma in more depth on the path to achieving awakening. If this is what you are asking about, then, yes, what you experienced was a significant moment. But its significance depends on what you decide to do with it from this point on.

It won't amount to anything unless you obtain some guidance concerning where you wish to take this new found ability to calm and quiet the mind. There is a reason for being able to accomplish this. But if you are not clued into that reason, you may well spend your time just spinning your wheels in the sand! emoticon And that would be sad indeed, and not good for your overall practice and study.

The term "access concentration," as you should know if you've been studying this area of meditative teaching with any diligence, is simply a level of concentration necessary for being able to pursue deeper levels of concentration, using absorption (jhana) as a vehicle and tool for learning. Access concentration in itself is not that difficult to achieve; although depending on the severity of the conditioning of the mind it may prove to be difficult to pin down in the beginning. What one does with it after they've been able to achieve it is what can make the difference in the quality of the journey they experience afterward.
Alex M E, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: access concentration?

Posts: 5 Join Date: 10/30/12 Recent Posts
Ian And:

Assuming that you are sincere in your pursuit of meditation and study of the Dhamma, I will venture to comment on what you have presented.

Did you notice the clue you presented that seemed to make a difference for you regarding how you normally experienced meditation, and the change that occurred in the session that you wrote about? If you did, then you gained a bit of insight about how to bring that state into fruition the next time around.


Meditation and Dharma study (daily practice) are definitely in my priorities and i did notice everything that was happening as it was going on. The method i used for my meditation is something i will stick with and the day after i was almost able to put myself in that state of mind but i think my desire to achieve the same results held me back (ill need to work on that i suppose).


Ian And:

If you are asking: "Is that what access concentration is like?" Then it very well may have been; or may have been even more profound.



More profound? It cant be a Jhana i've only been meditating for about a year lol. What elce could it have been?


Ian And:

But its significance depends on what you decide to do with it from this point on.

It won't amount to anything unless you obtain some guidance concerning where you wish to take this new found ability to calm and quiet the mind. There is a reason for being able to accomplish this. But if you are not clued into that reason, you may well spend your time just spinning your wheels in the sand! emoticon And that would be sad indeed, and not good for your overall practice and study.

Access concentration in itself is not that difficult to achieve; although depending on the severity of the conditioning of the mind it may prove to be difficult to pin down in the beginning. What one does with it after they've been able to achieve it is what can make the difference in the quality of the journey they experience afterward.


It is a bit frustrating for me that i cant find a nearby teacher to give me guidance and this is the best site ive found for learning more about meditation in the pursuit of jhana, stream entry, and achieving deeper and deeper states of awareness. I almost wish i could take a few members from here and get them all into a room so i can gain some of their knowledge and wisdom lol.

If its not too much to ask from you or anyone viewing this thread are there any tips/advice you can give for gaining AC in an easier manner or even gaining jhana? I hear metta can help reach jhana but for me that practice is difficult for me to cultivate that loving-kindness :/
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Fitter Stoke, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: access concentration?

Posts: 487 Join Date: 1/23/12 Recent Posts
Alex,

The state that arose for you is one I've encountered many times before and call "first jhana". The fact that you got there by practicing acceptance is a good clue. So is the pleasure and calm. Here are my recommendations, if you care:

1. It's good that you're keeping a detailed log, because now you can go back and see what you did that was different from before and use that information to make it more likely that the first jhana will rise again for you. Keep up that practice of keeping notes; I have found it very helpful.

2. Once the first jhana arises, there's really nothing special you have to do. Hang out in it. Steep in the pleasurable sensations. Allow more and more of the sensations of anxiety or agency to slough off naturally, so that you're really just kind of enjoying yourself, and the second jhana will naturally arise for you. It will probably arise without you knowing it; the jhanas can easily blend into one another and not feel all that different when you're starting (the exception is the third one). So...

3. Don't worry too much about which jhana you're in. Just take good notes afterward, post them here if you want, and folks can help you map the territory. But while you're doing the practice, the important thing is to just pay close attention to what's going on.

It sounds like you're doing good work. Keep it up!
Alex M E, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: access concentration?

Posts: 5 Join Date: 10/30/12 Recent Posts
Fitter Stoke:
Alex,

The state that arose for you is one I've encountered many times before and call "first jhana". The fact that you got there by practicing acceptance is a good clue. So is the pleasure and calm. Here are my recommendations, if you care:

1. It's good that you're keeping a detailed log, because now you can go back and see what you did that was different from before and use that information to make it more likely that the first jhana will rise again for you. Keep up that practice of keeping notes; I have found it very helpful.

2. Once the first jhana arises, there's really nothing special you have to do. Hang out in it. Steep in the pleasurable sensations. Allow more and more of the sensations of anxiety or agency to slough off naturally, so that you're really just kind of enjoying yourself, and the second jhana will naturally arise for you. It will probably arise without you knowing it; the jhanas can easily blend into one another and not feel all that different when you're starting (the exception is the third one). So...

3. Don't worry too much about which jhana you're in. Just take good notes afterward, post them here if you want, and folks can help you map the territory. But while you're doing the practice, the important thing is to just pay close attention to what's going on.

It sounds like you're doing good work. Keep it up!



Its possible to reach jhana and not be sure that you've arrived?

After reaching 1st jhana or even AC how difficult is it to return to those states later on down the road?

The ideal of reaching 1st jhana is exciting but i thought it was something that took years to enter?. I will say tho i do study meditation and reaching jhanas extensively and im dying (as soon as im not broke anymore lol) to buy mastering the core teachings.My plans are to at least reach stream entry within this life time HOPEFULLY emoticon
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Fitter Stoke, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: access concentration?

Posts: 487 Join Date: 1/23/12 Recent Posts
Its possible to reach jhana and not be sure that you've arrived?


Yup! If you're a beginner who is unfamiliar with these states and who is practicing in a non-retreat environment, you can expect to be very confused about whether jhana or jhana factors are arising and which jhana you're in.

After reaching 1st jhana or even AC how difficult is it to return to those states later on down the road?


I'm not sure what you mean by "later on down the road". Generally, the more often you do it and the more time you put in, the more often these states will arise. This is why you need to keep up a very consistent, daily practice and take good notes.

The ideal of reaching 1st jhana is exciting but i thought it was something that took years to enter?


No, sir. Jhana arises quite naturally if you can bring enough tranquility and alertness to the mind.

Now, getting very deeply into a jhana - what's often called "absorption" - does take a bit more work and special circumstances (a retreat of some length), but that's not at all necessary to "do jhana" or achieve a certain degree of awakening with it.

I will say tho i do study meditation and reaching jhanas extensively and im dying (as soon as im not broke anymore lol) to buy mastering the core teachings.


Okay. You realize the book is free, right?

My plans are to at least reach stream entry within this life time HOPEFULLY emoticon


Perfectly doable. Have you taken an undergraduate college course before? I would say the time-investment is comparable to a one-semester undergrad course (maybe less if you do a retreat).

Also, describe your meditation practice. What do you do when you meditate?
Alex M E, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: access concentration?

Posts: 5 Join Date: 10/30/12 Recent Posts
Fitter Stoke:

I'm not sure what you mean by "later on down the road". Generally, the more often you do it and the more time you put in, the more often these states will arise. This is why you need to keep up a very consistent, daily practice and take good notes.


Sorry for the confusion, i think that was just a bad question...i meant how difficult, with daily practice, to return to those states(after the 1st time being able to do it again and again each time i meditate)


Now, getting very deeply into a jhana - what's often called "absorption" - does take a bit more work and special circumstances (a retreat of some length), but that's not at all necessary to "do jhana" or achieve a certain degree of awakening with it.


So for any significant amount of absorption expect to do a retreat?

Any advice if i want to work on that at home before i can do a retreat?


Okay. You realize the book is free, right?


Ugh! im an idiot lol thank you :] :] :]



Perfectly doable. Have you taken an undergraduate college course before? I would say the time-investment is comparable to a one-semester undergrad course (maybe less if you do a retreat).

Also, describe your meditation practice. What do you do when you meditate?


I haven't been to college or taken any college courses :/ but I do understand what you mean :]

As for my meditation practice, I like to begin with making sure wherever I'm sitting is quiet with no distractions or as few as possible, and if at night as dark as possible. I try to pick times when I'm in a pleasant mood and start by watching my breathing before i meditate while straightening up, changing into something comfortable, and opening my window a little as i prefer the cold instead of heat and sweating.I then sit down, get comfortable, allow a few minutes to pass in case of any little movements or shifting i need to do.

As I sit I watch my breathing saying "breathing" in my head on the in and out, then just to the out breath, then not at all. I allow (from the start)the in-breath to arrive and on the out-breath i use that to tranquilize my body and overall relax while staying alert. As thoughts that arrive i say "peace" in my head then return to the breath without forcing the thought to leave or i find an appropriate one word label for the thought. Generally negative emotions aren't an issue for me and movement is at a minimal especially if i used my wall as a back brace with a pillow for my lower back.

I try to meditate for at least a half hour a day, mostly at night, sometimes in the morning, and sometimes ill try to sit for around or over an hour

hmmm I'm not sure if I'm forgetting anything but if there are any other question about my practice please ask away :] :] :]
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Fitter Stoke, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: access concentration?

Posts: 487 Join Date: 1/23/12 Recent Posts
Alex M E:
So for any significant amount of absorption expect to do a retreat?


Correct. And at this stage of your practice, that's probably a good thing. If you manage too much absorption, you're not going to be getting a lot of insight into the nature of the sensations composing your experience. (If you don't know what I mean by that, read the three characteristics section of MCTB.)

Any advice if i want to work on that at home before i can do a retreat?


Yes. Do what you've been doing.

As I sit I watch my breathing saying "breathing" in my head on the in and out, then just to the out breath, then not at all. I allow (from the start)the in-breath to arrive and on the out-breath i use that to tranquilize my body and overall relax while staying alert. As thoughts that arrive i say "peace" in my head then return to the breath without forcing the thought to leave or i find an appropriate one word label for the thought. Generally negative emotions aren't an issue for me and movement is at a minimal especially if i used my wall as a back brace with a pillow for my lower back.

I try to meditate for at least a half hour a day, mostly at night, sometimes in the morning, and sometimes ill try to sit for around or over an hour


This sounds pretty good. It sounds like you're achieving a good balance between investigation and tranquility.

I suggest continuing with this practice for a few more weeks before changing anything. See if you can extend the sits a little bit, maybe aiming for 45 mins a session. It can take time at the beginning for the body and mind to calm sufficiently, so you want to leave enough time for the jhana factors to arise and mature. If you do find yourself back in the jhana again, do like I suggested earlier and really steep in it. You can mix some light noting in by occasionally asking yourself, "Is there pleasure?" or "Is there peace?" and then just watch what sensations arise. Even if you think nothing is happening, if you gently pose those questions, you may find that the jhana qualities are there, they just needed a little nudge.

Continue to take good notes, and keep us posted. :-)