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1st Jhana, twitching face

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1st Jhana, twitching face
Answer
11/17/12 4:21 PM
Hi everybody, feel like I'm posting lots of questons here...

I've been practicing mindfulness of breathing for a few months using Leigh Brasington's method of getting to 1st jhana, which if you didn't know involves getting to access concentration and then when there shifting your attention to a 'pleasant' sensation in order to create a positive feedback loop that takes you to 1st jhana.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I did the above, began to feel a rush of energy, white light, increase in breathing and massive twitching of my mouth! I should note that for my 'pleasant' sensation I make a smile and leave my attention there. so this faded anyway still leaving me feeling really nice and relaxed for a good few hours. then when meditating tonight a similiar thing happened, same signs and my twitching mouth again, my problem is that it kind of faded because I couldn't keep my attention on the 'pleasant' sensation as it was my twitching mouth. kept trying to go back to it but it didn't feel as pleasant anymore while it was twitching away like mad!

any suggestions if this comes up again? Should I go back to the breath? I've had difficulty finding another pleasant sensation and the smile does seem to work quite well for me. Should I perserve with the twitching in some way?

Thanks for your time in reading this, I realise I need to explore these things myself but if anyone has been in a similiar situation perhaps they might have a suggestion or 2. Thanks again!

RE: 1st Jhana, twitching face
Answer
11/20/12 5:33 PM as a reply to Scott P.
I had a similar experience on a recent retreat with Leigh, only it wasn't a twitching mouth, but a faceful of itches that suddenly took over as I was going for 1st jhana. He told me the itches were a form of piti energy, but that it manifested as unpleasant because I didn't have enough sukkha to accompany it (i.e., the pleasurable feeling). This may be the case with you.

I will mention that I don't use a smile to produce the good feeling because it feels strained to me, like a muscle spasm. I searched a bit and landed on a feeling of warmth in the heart center as my best bet for a pleasant sensation. Others use the palms of the hands. You might try experimenting and see if you can find another pleasurable sensation on which to focus as you begin to move into 1st jhana. I know the smile works for a lot of people, but it might not be the best approach for you.

RE: 1st Jhana, twitching face
Answer
11/21/12 5:36 AM as a reply to Scott P.
Scott P:
I've been practicing mindfulness of breathing for a few months using Leigh Brasington's method of getting to 1st jhana, which if you didn't know involves getting to access concentration and then when there shifting your attention to a 'pleasant' sensation in order to create a positive feedback loop that takes you to 1st jhana.


Sounds a bit akward, where can I read more about his method? Try to keep the focus on pleasant sesations in the background and use the touch of the breath or the nimitta or both to get to jhana. Relax your mouth and the rest of the body as much as you can without loosing your posture.

RE: 1st Jhana, twitching face
Answer
11/25/12 5:57 AM as a reply to mind less.
Sorry I've took so long to reply, I locked myself out of my account haha... since then the twitching and tremoring seemed to spead all over my body at first, the past couple of days I've had no twitching tho, maybe I have more concentration now, or less haha. As for the smile it does feel somewhat weird holding a smile sometimes, other times it seems to work really well at building sukkha tho, that's why I've been sticking to it. I'm trying to find the best combination of experimenting while also giving things a chance though so I've also been trying out other areas.

Jane thanks for your reply, I was thinking of going on one of his retreats this year, would you recommend it?

Morgan thanks for the advice, I've been trying that approach also. I just started shifting my attention more to the pleasant sensation recently as it was very prominent and seemed to fade when i stuck with the breath. here's an article about the method if you're still interested http://www.leighb.com/jhana3.htm

RE: 1st Jhana, twitching face
concentration equanimity phenomenon
Answer
3/31/13 10:33 AM as a reply to Scott P.
Hi Scott,

I am just coming across this post. I have had very similar experiences with twitching, and crystalline sparkles in the eyes and a rush of energy. The first couple of times this happened, I too could keep not focus on the breath and attention became so unstable, I fell right back into the phenomenon that preceded this experience. For me, there seems to be 15-30 minutes of my skin feeling so saturated that it might burst, and a loud, dense, roving sense of pain.

Finally one time I was stable enough in concentrating on the breath, that all of this set of sensations culminated in a massive ball of energy taking hold of my meditation, and progressing up my spine and bursting through the highest limit of the awareness, at the crown of my head. It felt like awareness was expanding like a lawn sprinkler, until it filled an infinite amount of space.

These symptoms are common stuff of the A&P experience in Daniel's MCTB.

What I have gathered about the painful part that precedes that phenomenon of ecstasy is that it serves a great purpose of forcing me into developing dispassion, detachment, and Equanimity. Equanimity is the "balance needed to see the set of phenomenon through and progress further with insight.

Daniel actually described the stage of the 3 C's as feeling like a "little" stage of Equanimity, that sometimes confuses the over eager meditator into thinking they have hit enlightenment when the A&P happens to them in whatever form it does.

I know this sounds more like Insight language than Concentration, but I have never separated the two in practice and the experiences have certainly never discriminated themselves either.

I hope this helps a little. I know you actually posted this a long time ago though.

Peace

Loren

RE: 1st Jhana, twitching face
Answer
3/31/13 12:08 PM as a reply to Scott P.
Scott P:


Jane thanks for your reply, I was thinking of going on one of his retreats this year, would you recommend it?


Rats--didn't see this until today. Yes, I would heartily recommend it.

RE: 1st Jhana, twitching face
Answer
4/4/13 4:15 AM as a reply to Jane Laurel Carrington.
Thanks guys. It was a while ago and I have now changed my practice quite a-lot, doing insight meditation now. The twitching face came back tho as the rush in EQ! I think I may just have a predilection for a twitchy face during different states of consciousness.

Loren, does Daniel really describe the 3c's as a small equanimity? I always seem to experience this stage as quite unpleasant.

Jane, I now probably wouldn't go as I'm not that interested in developing the jhanas at the moment, funny too it seems when I just do concentration on a retreat and I actually start to feel very 'weird' and quite low at points. Thanks tho!

RE: 1st Jhana, twitching face
Answer
4/30/13 6:05 PM as a reply to Scott P.
Hi Scott,

I hope your practice is going well.

I misspoke about which stage seems like equanimity. Daniel is referring to the A&P territory in this manner:

"It is very easy to confuse this stage with descriptions of stage eleven, Equanimity, especially as the stage before it, Re-observation, has some distinct similarities to stage three, The Three Characteristics. A brief discussion of the fractal nature of things that describes this will follow in the chapter called “The Vipassana Jhanas”. The big difference is that this stage is ruled by quick cycles, rapidly changing frequencies of vibrations, odd physical movements, strange breathing patterns, heady raptures, a decreased need for sleep, strong bliss, and a general sense of riding on a spiritual roller coaster with no breaks. The higher stages (ten and eleven) do not have those qualities.

As to the cycles, they tend to proceed as follows, with this description assuming that you are using the breath as object. The mind kicks in, follows faster and faster vibrations, things really engage and speed up, perhaps accompanied by more pronounced shaking or strange breathing patterns increasing in speed, and then finally half-way down an out-breath there is a shift, things drop down slowly, it takes work to stay with things as they slow down, and then things bottom out. The breath may stop entirely for a while. Then things come back up with the breath, attention tends to flag, things relax, and then the cycle begins again with things speeding up, etc. These breathing cycles may happen quite on their own and may even be difficult to stop when we are deeply into this stage. Those using visualizations as object, may notice that the objects begin to spin with the phase of the breath, or move in ways that they seem to have a life of their own, albeit a two dimensional one, as compared to the three dimensional visions that may arise later. "

I guess my original confusion comes from the need to develop a visceral sense of equanimity in response to the pains that arise during the 3C's stage.

Peace

Loren