Piti-Sukha Anapanasati Guidance Needed

Jason R, modified 8 Years ago.

Piti-Sukha Anapanasati Guidance Needed

Posts: 25 Join Date: 2/22/13 Recent Posts
Hi everyone. I have a question I would very much appreciate guidance in. I've been meditating for a while now, but I cannot say I've entered jhana. I experienced a brief flash nimitta once, but lost it immediately. Outside of formal meditation, I've had a couple very blissful experiences, and I've read a lot of material by Ajahn Brahm, Ajahn Chah, MCTB and various other sources. Because of this is why I feel confident I haven't entered jhana yet.

For the last four weeks I've been earnestly meditating and studying all day long. Lately I keep hitting this one stage and unable to progress beyond it. I have an idea what it is, but never mind that--I'm not concerned with naming the stage. I just want to hear your thoughts on piti-sukha on relation to my situation.

This state has an extremely strong "body buzz", and a seemingly still mind, with the exception that loud sounds like a crow cawing or door shutting keep distracting me. I return to the breath, but no matter how long I stay, piti-sukha never arises. Or rather, I don't think it does. Once recently I did feel this subtle rising feeling of joy and happiness--but I lost it. Otherwise, the body buzz just gets stronger and stronger while I get distracted by these occasional sounds. So sounds, smells, taste, and feeling are rather suppressed, but louder sounds tend to very briefly throws off the breath. And I can smell, taste and feel if I direct my mind to intentionally arouse those faculties

Any guidance? Just keep being mindful and observing the breath? Or am I hitting a snag that others have some tips in?

PS I've tried putting contentement, loving kindness, and patience even more so between awareness and breath, as well.

Thank you.
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Richard Zen, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Piti-Sukha Anapanasati Guidance Needed

Posts: 1640 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Absorption is when your brain stays on the object on it's own. It feels like it shifts automatically onto the object from so much practice and conditioning. You'll know when it happens. Just bring your mind back to the breath every time it wanders and with no analysis of any kind. The Dalai Lama said the best students just return to the breath as soon as it's wandered. It's almost like you bring it to the breath regardless of whether there will be a reward at the end of it. It's like you are so patient and you don't mind just bringing it back over and over again. It took me a couple of months to get my first jhana. I had so much strain and stress trying but I learned to relax my body muscles (which is good for any practice) and just keep on doing it. It's like any other skill that becomes automatic with practice.

It's also a good lesson on any conditioning of how long it often takes to learn new skills. Lots of repetition.
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Ian And, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Piti-Sukha Anapanasati Guidance Needed

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Jason R:

Once recently I did feel this subtle rising feeling of joy and happiness--but I lost it.
Otherwise, the body buzz just gets stronger and stronger while I get distracted by these occasional sounds.

So sounds, smells, taste, and feeling are rather suppressed, but louder sounds tend to very briefly throws off the breath. And I can smell, taste and feel if I direct my mind to intentionally arouse those faculties

Any guidance? Just keep being mindful and observing the breath?

If you finding that you become easily distracted by loud sounds, this is just an indication that your concentration is weak. It's okay to become momentarily startled by loud sounds for brief moments until you are able to satisfy yourself that it is nothing dangerous, just a distracting noise, and can resume your concentration. The fact that you are not able to resume concentration tells you right then and there what is happening. Make sense so far?

Jason R:

For the last four weeks I've been earnestly meditating and studying all day long. Lately I keep hitting this one stage and unable to progress beyond it. I have an idea what it is, but never mind that--I'm not concerned with naming the stage. I just want to hear your thoughts on piti-sukha on relation to my situation.

This state has an extremely strong "body buzz", and a seemingly still mind, with the exception that loud sounds like a crow cawing or door shutting keep distracting me. I return to the breath, but no matter how long I stay, piti-sukha never arises. Or rather, I don't think it does.

In relation to dhyana meditation, if you are using this (the arising of piti-sukha) as a guideline for attaining to dhyana, then you must become aware that the instructions for attaining dhyana meditation were given in light of the fact that you, the meditator, are making that happen (fabricating an experience) by way of internal phenomena that you personally relate to as being pleasant and soothing, bringing the mind to a tranquil but alert state wherein mental phenomena may be examined outside the normal mental conditioning in order to "see things just as they are" without bringing in any preconceived notions or prejudices. Reaching this state of mental quietude is what dhyana meditation is meant to help facilitate. It is also meant to help facilitate stronger states of concentration (or the state of appana samadhi, which refers to "fixed concentration"), but realizing this is usually farther down the road from where you are.

The fact that piti and sukha don't seem to arise and subside at this point (after having become distracted by a loud sound) is, for all intents and purposes, irrelevant. The fact that you are unable to return (relatively quickly) to a stable and concentrated state has to do with how you are allowing the mind to react to these disturbances. Your mind is still in training, and you have not yet gained control over it.

You must become aware (through insight into what is currently happening) that an untrained mind is like a jumpy animal in the wild (like a cottontail rabbit fearing for its life at the hands of a predator). The untrained mind will move very quickly and instinctively, like that rabbit, when it senses danger nearby. It doesn't stop to analyze the situation; it just runs. A mind that is running is not settled or tranquil, not concentrated and fixed.

You need to be able quickly to stop and analyze the situation when loud noises distract you in order to calm yourself down so that you may resume concentration. The fact that you are not able to do this shows you graphically that your mind is not in your control. How do you correct this?

One method is the one recommended by Richard Zen, by bringing the mind back, again and again, to the object of meditation and refocusing on that object after the distraction has passed. Over time, after having done this many, many times, your mind will eventually begin to automatically obey your first impulse that it stop and refocus on the object. And then this won't be a problem any longer.
Jason R, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Piti-Sukha Anapanasati Guidance Needed

Posts: 25 Join Date: 2/22/13 Recent Posts
Thanks for all the guidance. I must have used the wrong words. My mind returns very quickly to the breath after the crow--but that just happens over and over. When I check the time afterward, I'm able to estimate that this happens for forty minutes or more. This is why I am posting, because it doesn't make sense. I return very quickly, but no matter how many times I do it, and know there is no reason to let the crow or door distract me--it just keeps happening. To be fair with my practice, I've only been consistently hitting this place for the last week, according to meditation journaling. And in retrospect, after sleeping, it does seem that time between returning to the breath, and level of distraction after each sound are gradually being lessened. Patient endurance, right?

In further consideration of your words, I can affirm that I do have weak concentration--although not nearly as weak as when I began years ago. I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was a kid, because it was so obvious. I know that is just mind conditioning that has slowly been re-conditioned through the years of formal and daily meditation. It probably goes without saying that it took a while to even get to this point.

I tell you that only for a laugh; It's rather humorous when you think about this situation. Jokes about ADHD have been made for a long time where a person with it will be talking and then suddenly say "Bird!" when it is picked up by his awareness emoticon Thankfully, I only face this hurdle in meditation, now.
Jason R, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Piti-Sukha Anapanasati Guidance Needed

Posts: 25 Join Date: 2/22/13 Recent Posts
I guess I'll just keep going the way I'm going. I can see small progress being made, and think I have the basics down. At this point, i think you're both correct that I just need to continue to patiently re-condition. One thing is certain, 7 hours of meditation in two day is better than 1 hour a day for seven days.

Thanks for the support. I think I just needed to be told to keep at it. Hopefully I can put up some news of progress in the right direction before the end of the day. This is my last day off before I return to work.
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Michael Cannon, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Piti-Sukha Anapanasati Guidance Needed

Posts: 28 Join Date: 5/16/12 Recent Posts
The "body buzz" you're getting is most likely piti. It could be a slow build. As you keep practicing, different characteristics will come about with the piti. It's not just one fixed thing. Piti can be course, and make your body tighten up with intense visceral sensations, it can have a visual dimension of colorful swirly swirls on the back of your eyelids. It can make your eyelids flutter. It can have an audial hum, etc., etc.

The point is, it's usually a sign of progress and if you keep practicing, it'll intensify then spill over to some much needed sukha and then things will start to stabilize and then you'll be knocking at jhana's door.

There's many strategies for developing concentration even just within the breath. Explore how you perceive the breath. Get in there deep with it. Is your attention strongest at the middle of the inbreath, at the top, bottom? Do you keep your attention at a fixed point and maintain vigilant moment to moment awareness as the breath passes up and down that point? Explore and you'll discover your own set of strategies that work for you, boost concentration and reward your directed and sustained attention with the fun jhana factors.
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Richard Zen, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Piti-Sukha Anapanasati Guidance Needed

Posts: 1640 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Jason R:
I guess I'll just keep going the way I'm going. I can see small progress being made, and think I have the basics down. At this point, i think you're both correct that I just need to continue to patiently re-condition. One thing is certain, 7 hours of meditation in two day is better than 1 hour a day for seven days.


Both will work but the 7 hours in two days will give the brain a feeling that there's no rush to get on with your daily tasks because you've devoted so much time to the practice. There's a momentum as well as you continue this practice. Most important is to relax the body muscles because it helps to relax the mind. It's hard for the mind to relax when the body is stiff. It's also a clue to vedana in mindfulness practice but you'll deal with that later in the insight practice.

Another tip is to pay attention to the breath in daily tasks. When you are doing high processing work it will be much harder to do but when you're doing some easy chores (eating/washing dishes/brushing teeth) you can note whether the breath is going in or out. Do this gently without any concern for pure concentration because it will be too much to block all thoughts and function normally.

Another tip is to note just the feeling of your feet on the ground when you're walking. If you do any exercise find some repetitive part of your exercise you can stick with to develop concentration. I was able to do this with running. Having a jhana with your eyes open while jogging was kind of fun (until insight practice made it better).

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