Announcements Announcements

DhO Hacked and Upgrade

General

ATTENTION!: It appears that our server has been hacked through this version of Liferay, meaning it is no longer secure, and so expect instability as we deal with this and attempt to upgrade to Liferay 7, which we failed to be able to do last year the last time the team attempted it, but we have no choice at this point, so bear with us as we try again. Save any long posts in a text file before posting them. You can follow me on Twitter at @danielmingram for updates if the site is down. Apologies for any complexity this causes. We will work as fast as we can. We have backups of the database, so hopefully nothing will be lost. Thanks to all helping with this complex process.

 

 

 

Message Boards Message Boards

Concentration

Involuntary Eye Activity in Jhana Practice?

Toggle
Involuntary Eye Activity in Jhana Practice?
eyes
Answer
4/21/13 7:56 PM
Has anyone experienced strange eye activity while practicing Jhanas?

My eyes were closed the whole time in the sit tonight; at one stage my eyes were twitching like in an REM sleep state, then some time later it was like they wanted to turn upwards in my head, and at one stage they may have indeed been looking directly up without any apparent volition to do so on my part (it was hard to tell if they were or weren't, but it felt like they were).

My eyes still feel a bit strange a few hours after the sit.

Thanks for any input,

Harry.

RE: Involuntary Eye Activity in Jhana Practice?
Answer
4/21/13 9:37 PM as a reply to Harry F B.
You can read some of the hypnosis literature for this. Jhana = trance = hypnosis.

Plenty of Googleable stuff. Googleable...sure why not?

example:

There are several outward signs of trance that can be observed in all subjects. These signs can not be simulated by the subject. The subject will exhibit at least one, and in many cases, multiple signs.

Body warmth

Many subjects note a distinct change in body temperature. Many subjects feel cold, and others feel warm. This is attributed to the lower pulse rate and extreme relaxation of the subject.

Fluttering eyelids (R. E. M.)

Virtually all subjects in trance exhibit a 'fluttering of eyelids'. The subject is actually in R. E. M. state. (Rapid Eye Movement)

Reddening of the eyes

All subjects will demonstrate a reddening of the eyes once they've entered trance. This phenomenon is attributed to the relaxation of the muscles in the eyes of the subject, allowing a greater flow of blood through the veins.

Increased lacrimation

Many subjects, upon entering trance, will exhibit an increased 'tearing of the eyes.' This is attributed to the relaxation of the muscles surrounding the tear ducts.

Eyes rolling back

Many subjects, upon entering trance, will experience their eyes rolling back in their head. It will appear as if the subject is looking up through the top of his head.

RE: Involuntary Eye Activity in Jhana Practice?
Answer
4/21/13 10:53 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
Please be careful what you tell people. It's potentially harmful to claim that jhana is either a trance state or a hypnotic state, as well as inaccurate.

RE: Involuntary Eye Activity in Jhana Practice?
Answer
4/21/13 10:54 PM as a reply to Harry F B.
What do you mean by practicing jhana?

RE: Involuntary Eye Activity in Jhana Practice?
Answer
4/21/13 11:38 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
You can read some of the hypnosis literature for this. Jhana = trance = hypnosis.

This equation is faulty. Jhana, practiced correctly, does not equal hypnotic trance.

However, if practiced without sati (mindfulness) it can devolve into a trance-like state (dull mindedness) which would be very unfortunate for the practitioner, causing him to be liable for making mistakes in discernment.

The eyes looking up toward the middle brow is nothing to be concerned about. It's something that many yogis experience. It can be a sign of increasing concentration. Looking upwards, the meditator is not as likely to fall asleep, is another reason that is taught for this behavior. It's what I was taught, and it has worked for me for over 32 years. And I don't fall into trance states when I practice dhyana.

RE: Involuntary Eye Activity in Jhana Practice?
Answer
4/22/13 7:02 AM as a reply to Ian And.
Ian And:


The eyes looking up toward the middle brow is nothing to be concerned about. It's something that many yogis experience. It can be a sign of increasing concentration. Looking upwards, the meditator is not as likely to fall asleep, is another reason that is taught for this behavior. It's what I was taught, and it has worked for me for over 32 years. And I don't fall into trance states when I practice dhyana.


HI, Ian.

Thanks for the info. My eyes are fine now (the morning after that sitting), the slight discomfort may have been due to the fact that I was a bit tired yesterday.

Yes, it felt like I was more concentrated at the time, but I was still aware of sounds in my environment, so I'm also not sure if calling the state a trance is accurate as that term suggests to me that I would have been unaware of my surroundings etc... but yet some of the descriptions I've read do seem to suggest that this does happen when a person has entered certain jhana states, that they become completely unaware of their senses and surroundings etc (which could be described as trance-like)...?

Thanks & Regards,

H.

RE: Involuntary Eye Activity in Jhana Practice?
Answer
4/22/13 6:04 AM as a reply to fivebells ..
fivebells .:
What do you mean by practicing jhana?


Hi,

I suppose I mean practicing entering and observing jhana states.

Sorry, I'm likely not really up on all the terminology used here.

Regards,

Harry.

RE: Involuntary Eye Activity in Jhana Practice?
Answer
4/22/13 9:52 AM as a reply to Harry F B.
I get the fluttering eyelids and such when I'm at the 2nd jhana, and at the A&P. When it first happened to me, I thought I was just focusing too hard and that the eye stuff was just from too much strain, but once I worked into it and let the intensity and energy take me away, I crossed the A&P. Actually, sometimes, when I'm in the earlier stages of insight and things begin to become uncomfortable (itches, pain, aversion, 3rd nana stuff), I purposefully let the unpleasant sensations take over and grow in intensity, which leads to the inevitable eye twitching and intensity in the eye area, to 4th nana of A&P.

Some insight advice: at first it was distracting, but in general, my advice is to never worry about smoothing out wrinkles like this in insight practice, as there are peculiar sensations like this that tend to further one along on the road to insight. Whatever comes, watch it carefully and let it run it's course.

RE: Involuntary Eye Activity in Jhana Practice?
Answer
4/22/13 11:42 AM as a reply to Harry F B.
Harry F B:

Yes, it felt like I was more concentrated at the time, but I was still aware of sounds in my environment, so I'm also not sure if calling the state a trance is accurate as that term suggests to me that I would have been unaware of my surroundings etc...

Your understanding of the trance experience is somewhat faulty. I took a couple of courses in self-hypnosis when I was younger, so I'm speaking from experience.

A person in trance can be aware of their surroundings. Consciousness is not lost to one in trance. One of the distinguishing characteristics about trance states is the person's vulnerability to suggestion. This is how stage hypnotists work, by changing mental thought or perception through suggestion. Also, one in trance will recall (after the experience; although they can be aware of this during the experience, too, if they are paying attention) the nature of the mind as having been dull and overly relaxed, without the gatekeeper of sati on duty to filter any incoming content for its veracity. In other words, the mind becomes susceptible to accepting as true any suggestion that is made to it. Even nonsensical, irrational suggestions (even though not every subject of hypnosis accepts such suggestions).

Harry F B:

but yet some of the descriptions I've read do seem to suggest that this does happen when a person has entered certain jhana states, that they become completely unaware of their senses and surroundings etc (which could be described as trance-like)...?

The problem with reading about subtle states like dhyana is that unless the reader knows and has confidence in the source of the information, they may be accepting faulty information as being true. By faulty information, I mean, it may be partially untrue or totally untrue; either way, the person accepting such falsehoods has been compromised in their understanding of the truth, and therefore are more likely to be mislead by what they have accepted as being true.

It sounds like you may have been reading information coming from someone who espouses similar ideas about dhyana as does Ajahn Brahmavamso, the Englishman Peter Betts who traveled to Thailand in the 1970s and became a student/disciple of the famous Thai Forest meditation master Ajahn Chah. Ajahn Brahm puts out the idea that true "jhana" is only attained with the diminishing and cessation of the senses. But this can be a misleading and ultimately harmful idea to accept. Also, it is not what his teacher Ajahn Chah espoused!

While it is true that one can attain to a state in dhyana that is without any sense awareness, such states are not the only indicator of achieving dhyana. Dhyana can be achieved with full awareness of hearing, seeing, smell, taste, and touch. It is the strength and level of one's sati that maintains one's awareness of these qualities, rather than becoming totally absorbed by the dhyana experience. In addition, insight could not take place if the mind were totally shut down, hence self-realization would be impossible while in such a state.

Ideally, dhyana is used to help the meditator to reach states of samadhi (what some term as appana samadhi or states of "fixed concentration"). From this platform of "fixed concentration" the mind is totally at ease, bright, malleable, established, cleansed of impurities, workable, and having gained to imperturbability. It is therefore in the perfect condition to perform insight meditation on the Dhamma in order to realize the truths that Gotama taught. Seeing and recognizing these truths from the perspective of one's own direct experience (having gained confidence and assurance in what one is discerning) is what the process of self-realization is all about. Nothing more, nor nothing less.

RE: Involuntary Eye Activity in Jhana Practice?
Answer
4/22/13 12:49 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Ian And:


It sounds like you may have been reading information coming from someone who espouses similar ideas about dhyana as does Ajahn Brahmavamso, the Englishman Peter Betts who traveled to Thailand in the 1970s and became a student/disciple of the famous Thai Forest meditation master Ajahn Chah. Ajahn Brahm puts out the idea that true "jhana" is only attained with the diminishing and cessation of the senses. But this can be a misleading and ultimately harmful idea to accept. Also, it is not what his teacher Ajahn Chah espoused!


Hi, Ian.

Yes, I think that's what I was referring to; and I have to say the idea of concentrating oneself senseless is not an attractive proposal to me... but what do I know! I hope I keep an open mind to it all.

On the other hand, I was just listening to a talk by Leigh B here:

http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/108/?search=Jhana

... where he says that the diminishing of senses (he refers specifically to hearing) in entering jhanas will happen in proportion to the level of the practitioner's concentration; so that a person with very developed concentration will experience them more quietly (this is discussed in the talk 'Focus and Freedom: Introduction to the Jhanas' @ 40 mins). He doesn't seem to think that such highly developed concentration levels are a prerequisite to entering jhanas however, which is different to the impression I get from other seemingly more exclusive sources, including Ajahn Brahm.

Yes, 'trance' might be a tricky word, and there may be a lot of semantic nuance lost to the layman who's going on the standard dictionary definition. I have undergone hypnotherapy and have been in hypnotic states... were they 'trance' states? Well, not as I would consider a 'trance' to be, more like a state of deep, conscious relaxation to my mind... but I accept that may well reasonably constitute a trance to someone else.

Regards,

Harry.

RE: Involuntary Eye Activity in Jhana Practice?
hypnosis trance
Answer
4/22/13 12:43 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
You can read some of the hypnosis literature for this. Jhana = trance = hypnosis.




Hi CCC,

I really appreciate your contributions on this forum but I absolutely disagree with your statement.

Hypnosis means, translated from old greek, sleep. Jhanas have nothing to do with sleep in my eyes.
If you look at the technical aspects of jhanas, i.e. their factors, you will find that all of them are absent in hypnosis/trance.

My personal experience is that practicing jhanas and hypnosis is that they are completely different. It is true though,
that to induce trance one may use one pointed and sustained attention to produce a trance state. As for the first jhana sukkha is a factor, it is not for trance.

I would say that jhana and trance are very much opposite mind states. Nobody would call sleep (or any hypnogogic state) meditation.
As a fact, the great strenght of the Mahasi noting technique is that the constant feedback (if done aloud) is, as Kenneth Folk put it, to *avoid* a hypnogogic state.

Cheers
Sven

RE: Involuntary Eye Activity in Jhana Practice?
Answer
4/22/13 12:53 PM as a reply to Harry F B.
Harry F B:
I mean practicing entering and observing jhana states.


No special terminology required. I read your description in the jhana experience thread. During the shift, what drew your attention to the eye/head region? Are you directing attention there in an attempt to recreate that experience?

RE: Involuntary Eye Activity in Jhana Practice?
Answer
4/22/13 1:07 PM as a reply to Harry F B.
Harry F B:

On the other hand, I was just listening to a talk by Leigh B here:

http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/108/?search=Jhana

... where he says that the diminishing of senses (he refers specifically to hearing) in entering jhanas will happen in proportion to the level of the practitioner's concentration; so that a person with very developed concentration will experience them more quietly (this is discussed in the talk 'Focus and Freedom: Introduction to the Jhanas' @ 40 mins). He doesn't seem to think that such highly developed concentration levels are a prerequisite to entering jhanas however, which is different to the impression I get from other seemingly more exclusive sources, including Ajahn Brahm.

I'm in complete agreement with what Leigh mentions in the quotation you provided above.

As I mentioned above, the purpose of dhyana meditation it to allow the mind to become clear, unblemished, imperturbable, bright, established, and workable in order to be able to direct it toward "knowing and seeing things as they are." That is the essence of self-realization.

You are, of course, free to do as you see fit. Leigh (and myself) are just trying to save you some time on your journey. In the end, you will end up proving the truth from your own experience of it.

Harry F B:
...and I have to say the idea of concentrating oneself senseless is not an attractive proposal to me...

Nor should it be for anyone who is seeking self-realization. It's good to hear that at least you realize that!

RE: Involuntary Eye Activity in Jhana Practice?
Answer
4/22/13 1:41 PM as a reply to fivebells ..
fivebells .:


No special terminology required. I read your description in the jhana experience thread. During the shift, what drew your attention to the eye/head region? Are you directing attention there in an attempt to recreate that experience?


Hello, fivebells.

I was following Leigh B's instructions and focusing on the 'emotional joy/happiness' after having established a pleasant physical sensation:

1. Switch attention away from the breath to a pleasant physical sensation:
a. Stay focused on the 'pleasantness' of the pleasant sensation,
b. Do not do anything else but stay focused on the 'pleasantness', it will increase in
intensity automatically.
c. When the physical pleasure and emotional joy/happiness rises, focus on that
experience.

2. Focus on the emotional joy/happiness that is accompanying the intense physical
sensations of the 1st Jhana:
a. Push the the intense physical sensations into the background - taking a deep
breath now will be helpful in doing this,
b. Stay one pointedly focused on the joy/happiness.


...The feeling was like being pulled into the eye/ head area, or just 'clicking in'. That occasion was the first time I'd tried it, so I didn't know what to expect I suppose. As it happens, I have just been listening to one of Leigh B's talks where he suggests avoiding consciously placing the attention in any area when entering a jhana, but focusing on the correct 'object' and allowing it to just happen.


Regards,

H.

RE: Involuntary Eye Activity in Jhana Practice?
Answer
4/23/13 10:43 PM as a reply to S. Pro.
Hi Sven,

Thanks for your reply.

You agree they can both be induced by sustained single pointed concentration. If the method of induction is the same, how can the outcome be different? The eyes do the same thing, as I indicated in my first post. The OP was obviously not impressed with the obvious similarities I pointed out. It's possible he has a dim view of hypnosis; in reality it is just manipulation of the mind to achieve a defined mind state, as is jhana.

People tend to think of hypnotic trance as being half asleep, but it can be anything you want. A high level of mindfulness during trance is quite possible... in fact desirable if you want to affect change.

You make the point about sukkha, which is valid. But hypnosis can be made very pleasurable in a short space of time. I have done it with subjects who have reported back to me that they have never felt so relaxed, light and free. I'm not even an expert.

Have a look at Derren Brown - he is an expert. You will see a subject who is fully awake and mindful. He is transported to a moderately pleasant state in minutes. Given some time and deepening techniques, ecstasy would be quite possible for someone of his skill.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=js_unuMakWc


Even more stunning is this 'spontaneous' realization of higher love and redemption, which Brown manufactures in a religious skeptic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLzT4CeBT6I


I challenge anyone to find a real difference between hypnosis and jhana.

RE: Involuntary Eye Activity in Jhana Practice?
Answer
4/23/13 11:18 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
I know this is a Buddhism website, but I've never liked the feeling of attachment to any ~ism. If you're bound to *one way*, then it tends to blind you to other possibilities. For example, if I was to go onto a hypnosis forum and talk about the similarities with jhana, there would be people there who are so attached and bound to hypnosis, that they would literally not allow themselves to take in what i was saying about jhana. There would be some who are offended by the introduction of a spiritual angle into such a forum. To be open to something else would feel like a betrayal of a long time love-attachment.

Try this short test.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ahg6qcgoay4

RE: Involuntary Eye Activity in Jhana Practice?
Answer
4/28/13 1:35 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
I know this is a Buddhism website, but I've never liked the feeling of attachment to any ~ism. If you're bound to *one way*, then it tends to blind you to other possibilities. For example, if I was to go onto a hypnosis forum and talk about the similarities with jhana, there would be people there who are so attached and bound to hypnosis, that they would literally not allow themselves to take in what i was saying about jhana. There would be some who are offended by the introduction of a spiritual angle into such a forum. To be open to something else would feel like a betrayal of a long time love-attachment.

Try this short test.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ahg6qcgoay4


Coming from someone who has consistent access to jhana, and someone who has tried hundreds of experiments in hypnosis, along with looking into the work that has been done in hypnosis, I don't think that they are the same thing. Jhana is very clear, lucid, present, and awake, whereas hypnosis is vague, numbing, releasing, and in my experience, more similar to falling asleep, pushing the border of staying conscious while the body and mind fall asleep. I think people experience hypnosis and mistake it for meditative states like jhana, and vice versa, but there are plenty of people here that consistently hit jhanas that could read accounts of hypnosis to know that they are not the same. I'm sure that there is even some overlap, most likely access concentration (just my opinion), but past that, the effects don't add up.

http://www.experienceproject.com/groups/Have-Been-Hypnotized/46476

-Hypnosis = Bordering on sleep, whereas jhana = immense wakeful clarity, sleepiness not present whatsoever
-Hypnosis = Generally just releasing awareness and conscious control, whereas jhana= carefully tuning awareness, through conscious control, in order to expand perception and sensory clarity

Check out some of these accounts of hypnosis, and compare them to the descriptions of jhana, especially factors such as joy, rapture, formless descriptions and the typical arising of jhanas in order. I've never experienced or read about hypnosis resembling these jhanic states.

Anyways, I'm not trying to say, "It's jhana, not hypnosis! Hypnosis doesn't exist", or vice versa. I'm saying I've experienced both and found them to be completely different ways of manipulating consciousness.

RE: Involuntary Eye Activity in Jhana Practice?
Answer
4/29/13 10:43 AM as a reply to Mind over easy.
Mind over easy:

Coming from someone who has consistent access to jhana, and someone who has tried hundreds of experiments in hypnosis, along with looking into the work that has been done in hypnosis, I don't think that they are the same thing. Jhana is very clear, lucid, present, and awake, whereas hypnosis is vague, numbing, releasing, and in my experience, more similar to falling asleep, pushing the border of staying conscious while the body and mind fall asleep. I think people experience hypnosis and mistake it for meditative states like jhana, and vice versa, but there are plenty of people here that consistently hit jhanas that could read accounts of hypnosis to know that they are not the same. I'm sure that there is even some overlap, most likely access concentration (just my opinion), but past that, the effects don't add up.

You won't find any argument here with those comments or descriptions.

CCC has always had his own peculiar outlook on things, likely based on moments of pain that his mind hasn't fully processed yet.

Mind over easy:

-Hypnosis = Bordering on sleep, whereas jhana = immense wakeful clarity, sleepiness not present whatsoever
-Hypnosis = Generally just releasing awareness and conscious control, whereas jhana= carefully tuning awareness, through conscious control, in order to expand perception and sensory clarity

Check out some of these accounts of hypnosis, and compare them to the descriptions of jhana, especially factors such as joy, rapture, formless descriptions and the typical arising of jhanas in order. I've never experienced or read about hypnosis resembling these jhanic states.

Anyways, I'm not trying to say, "It's jhana, not hypnosis! Hypnosis doesn't exist", or vice versa. I'm saying I've experienced both and found them to be completely different ways of manipulating consciousness.

While the dhyana experience can be perceived and described in many different ways, those who have described it as you have above tend to be more experienced in attaining to the state and knowing how to retrieve it time and again.

What can make it a problematic state to aim for achieving is that once one figures out what it feels like to be in dhyana, and therefore gains an idea about how to achieve it the next time, one realizes that there is a measure of "letting go" that needs to happen just before the mind jumps from normal consciousness into the dhyana state. The problem with that "letting go" comes when one resists resuming control over the experience through the implementation of sati (mindfulness), allowing the mind to remain dull, overly relaxed, and in a suggestive state (which is a classic hypnotic state, just as Mind over easy has described). This might be described as the "bliss factor" where one overly (to his own detriment) enjoys the experience of the bliss (the dull, drugged-out feeling) over anything else, and resists resuming control over the mind using sati. When a practitioner insists on becoming mindful while in the state, the state takes on a vastly different hue, which includes the faculties of clarity, wakefulness, pliancy, hyper-awareness, workability, having established the mind in imperturbability.

The longer one works with the dhyana experience, the more one learns about one's ability to direct the mind to any state (like appana samadhi) and be able to maintain it there effortlessly in order to perform contemplation.

RE: Involuntary Eye Activity in Jhana Practice?
Answer
6/10/13 7:45 PM as a reply to S. Pro.
In dream yoga, the hypnogogic state is highly desirable as a point of transit (induction) into the lucid dream. And it usually occurs with the eyes gazing upwards between the brows.