Message Boards Message Boards

Claims to Attainments

1st Jhana...maybe more?

Toggle
1st Jhana...maybe more?
access concentration 1st jhana 2nd jhana
Answer
12/10/12 6:49 PM
Hello fellow travelers,

There has been reluctance to post, on my part, because I have purposely not done a lot of reading on the Jhanas...the thought has been "well, the buddha mastered them and found they weren't the "be all, end all", so why bother?"...this WAS the thought I was holding until I went on a monastic retreat this summer.

I'll try and keep this brief: A big intention of mine, for going on this retreat, was to step outside my comfort zone, to "push myself"...go on retreat with teachers I wasn't already friends with, surrounded by people I'm not closely connected to, in a place that I haven't been before. It was a week long retreat...started off great, the first day or 2...beautiful landscape, very peaceful, I felt great. Then came the pain, which I haven't experienced this bad on retreat before. Started with my knees and I would escape to a chair for a bit...but then it got worse and I had to sit more and more in a chair, even graduating to standing when the pain or sleepiness arose with ferocity. Doubt and anger were creeping in..."these nuns are sadistic! how can we do silent hour long sits with NO guidance!" "if I can't do this, then all these old people must be really hurting!!" "I can't even do Metta anymore, I will never be able to do it again!"...you catch my drift. We had our exit interview on the second to last day and I think I talked a little bit about what was arising, and then to my luck, before the last sit of the night, I ran into one of the nuns outside the quite zone and we talked about my practice and I had some questions. I described what had been happening for awhile in my practice and it turned out to be access concentration. The nun then told me about picking the one spot in the tip of my nose or nostrils and to just stay on that one spot only. She may have told me more but it's been 6 months and I don't have the greatest memory.

So I go into that last 60 minute sit of the night. I sat on the cushion, in my Burmese pose, and focused just on one inside spot in one nostril and I stayed there like a motherfucker (excuse my french). Soon enough, ALL the hindrances fell away and, with a lot of effort, I stayed on that one spot the whole sit and sat like a ROCK. No pain, no discomfort and, again this was 6 months ago, I think I felt an overwhelming joy washed thru me. It may have been during the sit or it may have just come after the sit. The bell rang at 60 minutes and they called it a night. The rest of the night, I was feeling blissful and full of joy. My original intention for coming on this retreat came to mind and I had total appreciation arise for both the nuns. That night, I slept like a baby.

The next morning, we had the first and only sit of the day. I went right to the single point of focus again, BUT this time it didn't take much effort at all. Zero hindrances, sat like a rock and total euphoria filled me up. The time FLEW by.

OK, so cut to now....I've read up a little on the Jhanas, a little. I have been practicing the single point of focus a lot, but not necessarily in my daily practice. And also not reaching the joy and bliss that I experienced on retreat. Just a couple days ago, I read Lee Brasington's instructions on reaching 1st Jhana and followed his instructions thoroughly. Started with Metta for myself, then went to the single point of concentration. Once the breath started to barely be noticeable, I stayed with that a bit and then switched to the pleasant feeling of the semi smile I had been holding most of the practice. That pleasant feeling built up more and more more, I felt like my smile was bigger than my head and it was smiling on it's own, I didn't will it. The pleasant feeling seemed to take a swirling, flowing motion, taking over my whole head, then my whole body and then it just kept expending outside my body, my house, etc. Not sure how long it was, but I stayed with it til it seemed to just fade a little. Once I felt grounded in my own body, I got off the cushion. It was quite late at night, felt very joyful and content. Slept like a baby.

I tried it again last night, but I was much too tired. I know I don't want to cling to it or try and will it to happen every time. The plan is to start reading up more on it but I'm curious if any of you could verify if it sounded like 1st Jhana or even 2nd Jhana?

With metta- gary

RE: 1st Jhana...maybe more?
Answer
12/11/12 1:54 AM as a reply to Gary Sanders.
HI Gary.

Certainly sounds about right doesn't it? Next time you do this rather than letting the pleasurable feeling expand out of your body, try seeing if you can feel it in your face, neck, chest --expand it through the body. The trick for me is in keeping just enough attention on the pleasurable feeling to maintain it while expanding awareness through the whole body.

RE: 1st Jhana...maybe more?
Answer
12/11/12 7:18 AM as a reply to Gary Sanders.
You were probably in access and maybe in jhana. In jhana there is no sense of struggle - it takes very little effort to sustain it. Leigh's instuctions for attaining jhana is very misleding. I agree with Bagpuss that the "joy" must be on the sensate level. Do not do Metta in this context, and please read what I'm saying in these threads:

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3704284
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3710799

RE: 1st Jhana...maybe more?
jhana access concentration
Answer
12/12/12 7:54 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Bagpuss The Gnome:
HI Gary.

Certainly sounds about right doesn't it? Next time you do this rather than letting the pleasurable feeling expand out of your body, try seeing if you can feel it in your face, neck, chest --expand it through the body. The trick for me is in keeping just enough attention on the pleasurable feeling to maintain it while expanding awareness through the whole body.


So BTG- I guess I could have expanded my descriptions and experiences better. My writing skills, and conversation skills, are not my strongest features. My height and dashing good looks are what i lead with....a joke, by the way.

I can get into access concentration fairly easy, I've been doing it a lot. Focus on a single point in the nose and follow the breath only there. Stay with that single point until the breathing becomes so slow, so shallow, it's barely there. Correct, right?

Per Brasington's instructions, i then turned toward the pleasurable feeling of my smile and kept my attention there...which took very little, if any, effort, to hold my attention there...that pleasure/bliss/joy feeling swirled around and around my mouth, at first, my smile became very big and uncontrollable, felt like I had a BIG Jim Carrey/The Mask kind of smile on..but then the feeling grew to my whole head, stayed that way for awhile...a big swirling mass of pleasure, coursing thru my head....then i felt it slowly consume my whole body, again for a period of time. Then i felt it, I think, pulse out, bigger than my body...the room, thru my roof and whole house and then it wasn't so specific, it just felt vast and huge. I stayed with that vastness for awhile....until I started thinking about it too much, like what, why, how kinda thoughts and it all just slowly dissolved away. Once I felt more in my body, like normal in my body, I opened my eyes and got off the cushion.

This is a better description.

-g

RE: 1st Jhana...maybe more?
Answer
12/13/12 1:51 AM as a reply to Gary Sanders.
I can get into access concentration fairly easy, I've been doing it a lot. Focus on a single point in the nose and follow the breath only there. Stay with that single point until the breathing becomes so slow, so shallow, it's barely there. Correct, right?


Sounds right. You may feel like you're in a kind of bubble/cloud of calm/concentration. I don't think it's necessary for the breath to be shallow to be in access, but it's a common sign.

Per Brasington's instructions, i then turned toward the pleasurable feeling of my smile and kept my attention there...which took very little, if any, effort, to hold my attention there...that pleasure/bliss/joy feeling swirled around and around my mouth, at first, my smile became very big and uncontrollable, felt like I had a BIG Jim Carrey/The Mask kind of smile on..but then the feeling grew to my whole head, stayed that way for awhile...a big swirling mass of pleasure, coursing thru my head....then i felt it slowly consume my whole body, again for a period of time. Then i felt it, I think, pulse out, bigger than my body...the room, thru my roof and whole house and then it wasn't so specific, it just felt vast and huge. I stayed with that vastness for awhile....until I started thinking about it too much, like what, why, how kinda thoughts and it all just slowly dissolved away. Once I felt more in my body, like normal in my body, I opened my eyes and got off the cushion.


See the instructions in the Kayagatasati sutta:

"Furthermore, quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities, he enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He permeates & pervades, suffuses & fills this very body with the rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal. Just as if a skilled bathman or bathman's apprentice would pour bath powder into a brass basin and knead it together, sprinkling it again & again with water, so that his ball of bath powder — saturated, moisture-laden, permeated within & without — would nevertheless not drip; even so, the monk permeates... this very body with the rapture & pleasure born of withdrawal. There is nothing of his entire body unpervaded by rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal. And as he remains thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, any memories & resolves related to the household life are abandoned, and with their abandoning his mind gathers & settles inwardly, grows unified & centered. This is how a monk develops mindfulness immersed in the body.


I would try to keep those feelings grounded firmly in the body. It seems a tad early to be waltzing off into the formless relams emoticon and may prove more of a distraction/hindrance to progress than the progress it may seem to be right now. Now that you can generate that pleasurable feeling, try concentrating on the aspect of pleasantness divorced from the physical sensation of holding a smile.

You may also want to experiment with not dropping the breath, but splitting your attention between the breath and the pleasure. For me this has the effect of keeping the jhana grounded within the body but also it helps intensify and steady the concentration and thus the pleasure. Out of the two techniques this is what seems to work for me best.

Ultimately you just have to play with it. Figure out what works for you. Just try to keep it well grounded.

RE: 1st Jhana...maybe more?
Answer
12/14/12 11:46 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Bagpuss The Gnome:


See the instructions in the Kayagatasati sutta:

I would try to keep those feelings grounded firmly in the body. It seems a tad early to be waltzing off into the formless realms emoticon and may prove more of a distraction/hindrance to progress than the progress it may seem to be right now. Now that you can generate that pleasurable feeling, try concentrating on the aspect of pleasantness divorced from the physical sensation of holding a smile.

You may also want to experiment with not dropping the breath, but splitting your attention between the breath and the pleasure. For me this has the effect of keeping the jhana grounded within the body but also it helps intensify and steady the concentration and thus the pleasure. Out of the two techniques this is what seems to work for me best.

Ultimately you just have to play with it. Figure out what works for you. Just try to keep it well grounded.


Thanks, BTG. When staying with the pleasurable feeling (piti, right?), should I just watch it, or really investigate and question it? I'm guessing a simple watching....

So in Brasinton's instructions, once you hit access concentration, he says to just drop the breath and find a spot in the body that is experiencing and focus on that. If I split my attention between the breath and the pleasure, does it take longer for the pleasure to build? Do I need to use effort to get it to build?

I really appreciate the help. Thank you!

RE: 1st Jhana...maybe more?
Answer
12/14/12 11:47 AM as a reply to mind less.
Morgan Gunnarsson:
You were probably in access and maybe in jhana. In jhana there is no sense of struggle - it takes very little effort to sustain it. Leigh's instuctions for attaining jhana is very misleding. I agree with Bagpuss that the "joy" must be on the sensate level. Do not do Metta in this context, and please read what I'm saying in these threads:

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3704284
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3710799


Morgan, I'm not ignoring your suggestions, just taking time to fully read both your links. Thank you!

RE: 1st Jhana...maybe more?
Answer
12/16/12 6:31 AM as a reply to Gary Sanders.
Gary Sanders:
Bagpuss The Gnome:


See the instructions in the Kayagatasati sutta:

I would try to keep those feelings grounded firmly in the body. It seems a tad early to be waltzing off into the formless realms emoticon and may prove more of a distraction/hindrance to progress than the progress it may seem to be right now. Now that you can generate that pleasurable feeling, try concentrating on the aspect of pleasantness divorced from the physical sensation of holding a smile.

You may also want to experiment with not dropping the breath, but splitting your attention between the breath and the pleasure. For me this has the effect of keeping the jhana grounded within the body but also it helps intensify and steady the concentration and thus the pleasure. Out of the two techniques this is what seems to work for me best.

Ultimately you just have to play with it. Figure out what works for you. Just try to keep it well grounded.


Thanks, BTG. When staying with the pleasurable feeling (piti, right?), should I just watch it, or really investigate and question it? I'm guessing a simple watching....



Both seem to work for me, but for best results just watch it.

Gary Sanders:

So in Brasinton's instructions, once you hit access concentration, he says to just drop the breath and find a spot in the body that is experiencing and focus on that. If I split my attention between the breath and the pleasure, does it take longer for the pleasure to build? Do I need to use effort to get it to build?


Those are questions you'll have to answer for yourself. Here are some things to play around with though:

* Split the attention evenly
* Move the breath to the background
* Ignore the breath, focus on the pleasure
* Come back to the breath when the pleasure is established

See Ian And's sticky thread on Jhana here for a more in depth look at jhana.