Jhana without bliss or just a blockage?

Jhana without bliss or just a blockage? Andreas Thef 8/25/14 3:28 AM
RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage? Dream Walker 8/25/14 4:26 PM
RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage? Andreas Thef 8/26/14 2:01 AM
RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage? katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 8/25/14 12:02 PM
RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage? A. Dietrich Ringle 8/25/14 3:17 PM
RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage? katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 8/25/14 8:18 PM
RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage? Andreas Thef 8/26/14 2:10 AM
RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage? katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 8/26/14 3:36 PM
RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage? Andreas Thef 8/27/14 6:28 AM
RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage? katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 8/25/14 12:32 PM
RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage? Andreas Thef 8/26/14 5:10 AM
RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage? katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 8/26/14 9:05 AM
RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage? Andreas Thef 8/26/14 1:49 AM
RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage? Dada Kind 8/26/14 3:54 PM
RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage? Andreas Thef 8/27/14 6:58 AM
RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage? katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 8/27/14 8:54 PM
RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage? Andreas Thef 8/28/14 8:14 AM
RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage? Dada Kind 8/27/14 6:16 PM
RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage? Andreas Thef 8/28/14 9:02 AM
Andreas Thef, modified 7 Years ago at 8/25/14 3:28 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 8/25/14 2:51 AM

Jhana without bliss or just a blockage?

Posts: 152 Join Date: 2/11/13 Recent Posts
Recently I have some meditative experiences I really can't make any sense of and would like to ask you for advice.

I usually start my meditation with 80 - 90 % of my awareness on the present moment and whatever arises. The rest of my awareness I stick to the breath. This works pretty well at calming my mind and after about 20-30 minutes my minds gets pretty focused and stable. While doing that there's a constant shift from present moment awareness over to silent present moment awareness and finally pretty much full awareness of the breath. When I got to this point yesterday I tried to intentionally let go by silently reciting the mantra Ajahn Brahm recommends: "This is good enough for me". Suddenly it felt like my mind got sucked in deeper. This was accompanied by an almost physical movement of my awareness through my eyes and forehead into the space in front of me. I did this multiple times. But this process seems kind of blocked as it is always accompanied by tension and contraction (kriyas) of the muscles in my eyes and forehead, almost like a physical barrier my mind tries to get through. It feels like this tension wants to (and in fact does) keep me from experiencing some opening and more profound shift. And still after each of those shifts I'm left with a more calm and stable mind. Sometimes it feels like most of the effort falls away. Calm and nice, yet it feels very mundane and without any blissful feeling. And there's still some unstableness in all of this. I can be pretty aware about where I am, where my body is etc. Also thoughts still arise now and then.

I wonder if this is some kind blockage to experiencing the first jhana/nimitta or if at this time I may already be in the jhana(s) without me knowing it. I know the buddha and pretty much all other teachers writing about the first jhanas are pretty clear on their constituents, among them bliss and joy. But I wonder if I may have already entered the first jhana(s) without experiencing bliss or rather: without interpreting the feelings as blissful. Is that possible? Or is this just some kind of blockage that keeps me from getting there?

I would really appreciate your takes on this. Thank you very much!
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Dream Walker, modified 7 Years ago at 8/25/14 4:26 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 8/25/14 11:44 AM

RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage?

Posts: 1430 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Andreas Thef:
Recently I have some meditative experiences I really can't make any sense of and would like to ask you for advice.
I wonder if this is some kind blockage to experiencing the first jhana/nimitta or if at this time I may already be in the jhana(s) without me knowing it. I know the buddha and pretty much all other teachers writing about the first jhanas are pretty clear on their constituents, among them bliss and joy. But I wonder if I may have already entered the first jhana(s) without experiencing bliss or rather: without interpreting the feelings as blissful. Is that possible? Or is this just some kind of blockage that keeps me from getting there?

I would really appreciate your takes on this. Thank you very much!


Sounds like you may be experiencing the jhanas lightly and skipping past the first jhana quickly. I mostly do this in my hurry to get to EQ and work from there. Slow down if you are looking for bliss. Work methodically at getting concentrated and feel the pleasantness of breath. Take the pleasantness/giddiness as object and let it increase to whatever level of experience you wish then let go of it and move on the next jhana with more clarity/concentration. Make sense?
Good luck,
~D
(edit - when you let go of body bliss move to the next jhana and focus on the object of mental joy...stay on that until it's at the level you want then let go of it and move to the next jhana/object...)
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katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 7 Years ago at 8/25/14 12:02 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 8/25/14 12:02 PM

RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage?

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
HI Andreas,
When I got to this point yesterday I tried to intentionally let go by silently reciting the mantra Ajahn Brahm recommends: "This is good enough for me". Suddenly it felt like my mind got sucked in deeper. This was accompanied by an almost physical movement of my awareness through my eyes and forehead into the space in front of me. I did this multiple times. But this process seems kind of blocked as it is always accompanied by tension and contraction (kriyas) of the muscles in my eyes and forehead, almost like a physical barrier my mind tries to get through. It feels like this tension wants to (and in fact does) keep me from experiencing some opening and more profound shift. And still after each of those shifts I'm left with a more calm and stable mind. Sometimes it feels like most of the effort falls away. Calm and nice, yet it feels very mundane and without any blissful feeling. And there's still some unstableness in all of this. I can be pretty aware about where I am, where my body is etc. Also thoughts still arise now and then.

(...)

But I wonder if I may have already entered the first jhana(s) without experiencing bliss or rather: without interpreting the feelings as blissful. Is that possible? Or is this just some kind of blockage that keeps me from getting there?

I would really appreciate your takes on this. Thank you very much!

So the first part, the "sucking" deeper feeling by mind you describe.. yes, I find this is a sensation-feeling which accompanies the mind and personality ("me") that is initially developing the jhanic attribute of "unification of mind", ekaggatā. There a naturally persent "me" still claiming events of the mind as if "I" relate to that "that". Because of this natural I-claiming of experience there's a lot of energy that collects in the forehead, around the eyes, which area seems like a sort of home of the "I"-- the executive funtioner of self that's (perceiving itself as) in charge of being and doing, experience-owning, including owning the choice and outcome of meditation.

This "me" naturally is looking for something conclusive/answering/resolving in every meditative experience and that initial "sucking" down, sinking feeling you mention is big bait to the "manager self": Is this It or it this distracting from It." 

Without caution ~ by not just knowing "okay, this has been observed/ this is being observed / aware of this" ~ the mind will prevent itself from progressively training towards calm and unified concentration. This is not a problem though; the mind can also ramp up expectation and look for "this" and meet with deep frustration, go to new traditions, until one is again at a point of inflating some experience that is naturally deflatable-- then at some point the mind is ready to just sit with what is happening without provocation, with just observation. Then when that unification of mind happens, there be more clearly seeing. Many many provocative and exhilirating sensations can happen in meditation ~ and this is "the magic" of the mind-- not trivial, yes, sometimes fun, sometimes terrifying or unnerving ~ but it's not real nor false, it's just stuff to been known for release. It's a funny practice.

What to do? Sit and observe everything; be aware of the wanting and expectation; have suffusive kindness for own-self (this will extend then to others); let the tension of unanswered/ unsolved/not known/wanting just be and peter themselves out. Their natural, patient unwinding is useful.

I hope this is helpful.





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katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 7 Years ago at 8/25/14 12:32 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 8/25/14 12:29 PM

RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage?

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
I was typing this while DW was posting his reply, so I just read his and I agree should you want to work through the jhanas and know them one by one now. And if you're already naturally letting the mind get to "sucking down onto the object" (what I have called "sinking that has a magnetized sensation feeling") and there is no affective feeling either positive or negative then you're probably naturally oriented to equanimity perhaps through previous experiences in your life, then you can let this sort of practice continue to happen: the affectless calm of mind sinking equanimously into nothing at all. Sounds funny, but you are starting to directly experience affectless sinking, so I think you may know what I'm describing. I could be wrong.

And a general note: It would be provocative and de-railing (from equanimity) to view a readiness for equanimity-practice (fourth jhana) as "advanced" or in any comparison at all.

And, if one is sort of natually experiencing jhanas out of "order" or jumping around in them with attachment (4th does not seem to happen if the mind is doing this) then bliss of second jhana or the blissful ease of third jhana can easily become sources of attachment, which include the painful longing of "Why aren't they happening now?" and "why aren't these solving all my troubles?" as much as they can become sources of addiction and life-avoiding, ways to avoid seeing things as they are. This can happen to anyone; I'm not cautioning you specifially. That's okay, too.  

So I like also what DW is saying for progressive training if you are at the place of progressive training or if later you move to understand each of these broad areas of mind, the jhanas 1-3. And fourth jhana will only arise, in my experience, when one has an ability to just observe and then the observer itself will fade or fall out. And expecting that to happen will prevent it and lead to some period of time of yearning for release, frustration of not releasing, moving between traditions. That's all okay.

It;s like telling a person: You've got to put your feet on the pedals and circle them to ride the bike. They will do that when they're completely ready and that's a nice way to learn. So a person will "let go" be naturally unprovoked in meditation and equanimity will arise naturally when a person is ready.

Do you think you want the bliss and/or the ease of the first and second through third jhanas, or are you okay with the mind sinking deeply again, largely affectless-- your mind having this experience with no gratification? 
A Dietrich Ringle, modified 7 Years ago at 8/25/14 3:17 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 8/25/14 3:17 PM

RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage?

Posts: 882 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
Katy, I like what you posted.


For me, I have been noticing some sort of pattern where I will get some kind of "insight" which makes life easier and more pleasant, followed by (after a few days), some sort of bliss shearing process.

My mind keeps finding smaller and smaller places to hide. Its a bit disconcerting, I will admit, so I am just holding on to the hope that someday it will all make sense.
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katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 7 Years ago at 8/25/14 8:18 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 8/25/14 7:34 PM

RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage?

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
HI Adam, 

Could you say more about this? How, for example, do you detect this is happening in daily life as well as in a mental training practice like meditation on the breath (or whatever mental gym technique you're using over time recently)?
My mind keeps finding smaller and smaller places to hide. Its a bit disconcerting, I will admit, so I am just holding on to the hope that someday it will all make sense.

I also want to say what I think we know is clear: we are consciousness; or we could say, too, we "have" consciousness. The meaning in those two phrasings is a little different. So there will always be that consciousness except when there is unconsciousness due to injury/illness/electrical stasis, some meditative cessation cause of non-consiousness, or death.

What we're dealing with, at least what I train in and what I try to express on this forum for myself, is understanding a) how consciousness, when taken seriously as a self (my starting point in meditation as an adult) ~ as some paramount, central agency ~ is helpful and also only exists to a certain point, and how, and it is  is it worth sustaining? and b) how consciousness also exists without a central self, still effects agency, survival functioning and how is that useful and extant and is that worth allowing totally?

There is fear only in the self consciousness (a) and that fear is also key to developing a safe practice, steady practice.

Going batty*** and attempting no-self transformation in one night or rapidly as an escape can just be "going batty" with no insight whatsoever, just battiness, and this battiness is not a reliable comfort, nor is it a groundless stability of at-peace understanding that even a brief moment of nibbana shows.

So "a mind that is finding smaller and smaller places to hide," so to speak and to borrow your words, can that just be a very reasonable and useful sense of self that can help pace the practice through to pracitcal, useful insight (understanding) and skill so that one doesn't go aim for going nuts (the easy escape with loads of physical discomfort and alienation), but rather helps shepherd a frightened mind and self through to seeing consciousness and aliveness and here-this-place as it is with reliable peace of mind, peaceful consciousness?

Did that make sense, Adam?

__________
***These two paragraphs on any urges/yearning toward "going batty"/psychotic break /profound frustration of being locked- or bound to self-view, to self-consciousness that one may feel in the effort for the nibbanic releases / bhavana / meditative stabilization (from wee view to the full monty) aren't targeted to you, Adam.

I just think as what is called in the Progress of Insight "Desire for deliverance" people can naturally have urges for shortcuts. And sometimes one can think that forcing a psychotic break would help. Not that you think this, I just want to address it because the desire for some release to happen with meditation naturally grows very strong.
Andreas Thef, modified 7 Years ago at 8/26/14 1:49 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 8/26/14 1:49 AM

RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage?

Posts: 152 Join Date: 2/11/13 Recent Posts
First, thanks to all of you for your help and replies. There's a lot to ponder about and some things I don't quite understand yet. I will go through your posts bit by bit as I find the time throughout the day.
Andreas Thef, modified 7 Years ago at 8/26/14 2:01 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 8/26/14 2:01 AM

RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage?

Posts: 152 Join Date: 2/11/13 Recent Posts
Dream Walker:


Sounds like you may be experiencing the jhanas lightly and skipping past the first jhana quickly. I mostly do this in my hurry to get to EQ and work from there. Slow down if you are looking for bliss. Work methodically at getting concentrated and feel the pleasantness of breath. Take the pleasantness/giddiness as object and let it increase to whatever level of experience you wish then let go of it and move on the next jhana with more clarity/concentration. Make sense?
Good luck,
~D
(edit - when you let go of body bliss move to the next jhana and focus on the object of mental joy...stay on that until it's at the level you want then let go of it and move to the next jhana/object...)
Thanks for you advice, DW. I feel that there are more and more bodily feelings and tinglings showing up in my meditation. When I focus on these they usually vanish. So I guess they are either not yet stable enough and/or I'm pushing too hard to make them stronger. I will go with your advice and try to slow down a bit and let these feelings increase naturally without too much force.
Andreas Thef, modified 7 Years ago at 8/26/14 2:10 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 8/26/14 2:07 AM

RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage?

Posts: 152 Join Date: 2/11/13 Recent Posts
katy steger:
HI Andreas,

So the first part, the "sucking" deeper feeling by mind you describe.. yes, I find this is a sensation-feeling which accompanies the mind and personality ("me") that is initially developing the jhanic attribute of "unification of mind", ekaggatā. There a naturally persent "me" still claiming events of the mind as if "I" relate to that "that". Because of this natural I-claiming of experience there's a lot of energy that collects in the forehead, around the eyes, which area seems like a sort of home of the "I"-- the executive funtioner of self that's (perceiving itself as) in charge of being and doing, experience-owning, including owning the choice and outcome of meditation.

This "me" naturally is looking for something conclusive/answering/resolving in every meditative experience and that initial "sucking" down, sinking feeling you mention is big bait to the "manager self": Is this It or it this distracting from It." 

Without caution ~ by not just knowing "okay, this has been observed/ this is being observed / aware of this" ~ the mind will prevent itself from progressively training towards calm and unified concentration. This is not a problem though; the mind can also ramp up expectation and look for "this" and meet with deep frustration, go to new traditions, until one is again at a point of inflating some experience that is naturally deflatable-- then at some point the mind is ready to just sit with what is happening without provocation, with just observation. Then when that unification of mind happens, there be more clearly seeing. Many many provocative and exhilirating sensations can happen in meditation ~ and this is "the magic" of the mind-- not trivial, yes, sometimes fun, sometimes terrifying or unnerving ~ but it's not real nor false, it's just stuff to been known for release. It's a funny practice.

What to do? Sit and observe everything; be aware of the wanting and expectation; have suffusive kindness for own-self (this will extend then to others); let the tension of unanswered/ unsolved/not known/wanting just be and peter themselves out. Their natural, patient unwinding is useful.

I hope this is helpful.

Hi Katy, this makes a lot of sense and my mind naturally seems to go this way as I found in recent sessions.

Thinking more about it I find that I usually neglect the 'silent present moment awareness' part which is focused on the present moment but without the thoughts and interpretations. I guess that state almost automatically gets rid of the tendency to try to make anything out of this other than it is. And I think that part of my meditation may need some more attention and cultivation. This may be the reason why I experience the Jhanas only lightly, as DW has put it. Very inspiring, thank you!
Andreas Thef, modified 7 Years ago at 8/26/14 5:10 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 8/26/14 2:29 AM

RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage?

Posts: 152 Join Date: 2/11/13 Recent Posts
katy steger:
I was typing this while DW was posting his reply, so I just read his and I agree should you want to work through the jhanas and know them one by one now. And if you're already naturally letting the mind get to "sucking down onto the object" (what I have called "sinking that has a magnetized sensation feeling") and there is no affective feeling either positive or negative then you're probably naturally oriented to equanimity perhaps through previous experiences in your life, then you can let this sort of practice continue to happen: the affectless calm of mind sinking equanimously into nothing at all. Sounds funny, but you are starting to directly experience affectless sinking, so I think you may know what I'm describing. I could be wrong.

I think you're onto something here. The "sinking that has a magnetized sensation feeling" is exactly what it feels like. And pondering about my inclinations I can say: yes, the equanimity is definitely something I'm naturally orientied to. Whereas I seldomly have intense feelings of happiness and bliss. I don't mean I'm in anyway depressed but I always had some scepticism about these kinds of feeling. Which in turn might another reason why it does not come easily to me in meditation.

And a general note: It would be provocative and de-railing (from equanimity) to view a readiness for equanimity-practice (fourth jhana) as "advanced" or in any comparison at all.

And, if one is sort of natually experiencing jhanas out of "order" or jumping around in them with attachment (4th does not seem to happen if the mind is doing this) then bliss of second jhana or the blissful ease of third jhana can easily become sources of attachment, which include the painful longing of "Why aren't they happening now?" and "why aren't these solving all my troubles?" as much as they can become sources of addiction and life-avoiding, ways to avoid seeing things as they are. This can happen to anyone; I'm not cautioning you specifially. That's okay, too.  

So I like also what DW is saying for progressive training if you are at the place of progressive training or if later you move to understand each of these broad areas of mind, the jhanas 1-3. And fourth jhana will only arise, in my experience, when one has an ability to just observe and then the observer itself will fade or fall out. And expecting that to happen will prevent it and lead to some period of time of yearning for release, frustration of not releasing, moving between traditions. That's all okay.

It;s like telling a person: You've got to put your feet on the pedals and circle them to ride the bike. They will do that when they're completely ready and that's a nice way to learn. So a person will "let go" be naturally unprovoked in meditation and equanimity will arise naturally when a person is ready.

Do you think you want the bliss and/or the ease of the first and second through third jhanas, or are you okay with the mind sinking deeply again, largely affectless-- your mind having this experience with no gratification? 

Yes, I definitely have been waiting for the bliss to happen and I would really like to experience that. Probably in part because of my above mentioned lack of experience I had with bliss and joy in general. But I think I also have the capacity to let that go and - like you said - let my mind sink deeply again, largely affectless. And I understand that it's probably the more fruitful way to work with this than sticking to any expectation about what should or shouldn't happen.
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katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 7 Years ago at 8/26/14 9:05 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 8/26/14 8:59 AM

RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage?

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Yes, I definitely have been waiting for the bliss to happen and I would really like to experience that. Probably in part because of my above mentioned lack of experience I had with bliss and joy in general. But I think I also have the capacity to let that go and - like you said - let my mind sink deeply again, largely affectless. And I understand that it's probably the more fruitful way to work with this than sticking to any expectation about what should or shouldn't happen.

Excellent course of action, as I see your plan for yourself, Andreas .

One way to help "treat" some of the yearning and/or expectation of where you are is to state at the outset of practice a) these understandings you have and then b) state the intention of the present practice.

For example, "I know I really want to experience a great bliss that people and texts have described and I know I'm concerned about my lack of experience with bliss and joy in general. I also understand that this period of medidation study is to offer nonreactive, accepting and keen attention to what this/my mind is presenting, even if this/my mind presents nothing, even magnetization with just the breath, like an octopus suctioned quietly to the bottom of the still ocean floor. So my intention for this sit is to offer the mind nonreactive and accepting keen attention and let things happen as they may for this sitting period. If there's bliss, so be it; if there's lethargy; so be it; if there's magnetized sinking, so be it. My intention is to offer nonreactive, accepting and keen attention to mind."

Now I'm going to go try to apply keen attention to work... : ) 


________
Edit: Adreas, also if you were to be experiencing depression in your daily life, then this way of practicing may feed depressiveness over time. Not that you are, but I want to put this out there just on case because there are ways to not feed such a mental state or to be aware of a depressing mind without following it into depressive actions. So far, though, I think you've indictated non-strong emotions either positively or negatively. 

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katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 7 Years ago at 8/26/14 3:36 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 8/26/14 3:29 PM

RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage?

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Hi Andreas, 

I, too, took a moment to back up and re-read some of your observations. This is a very useful reflection to me:
Thinking more about it I find that I usually neglect the 'silent present moment awareness' part which is focused on the present moment but without the thoughts and interpretations. I guess that state almost automatically gets rid of the tendency to try to make anything out of this other than it is. And I think that part of my meditation may need some more attention and cultivation. This may be the reason why I experience the Jhanas only lightly, as DW has put it. Very inspiring, thank you!

So sometimes people feel that they are living their whole life in a sort of equanimous benignity, an equanimity yet that doesn't feel satisfactory to them or feels incomplete to them but which makes them excellent, stable, helpful community members. I've seen people who report this who are also very effective neighbors and colleagues over the long-haul -- waaaaay more than I (I candidly buddy up with them as friend-mentors); they are kind, hard-working, even-keel, generally neighbors-friends-family we'd all love to have or that we do have.

And when these equanimous helpful people report struggling with meditation and, yes, pervasive and disatisfactory "equanimity" it can be surprising.  To me, this is the heart of the subtle aspect of "Conceit" noted in the fetter model of meditative training: mind trying to place itself in life-meaning relative to itself -- which is exactly right understanding for any being that's alive today having evolved with survial instincts packaged for one, this one, me.

So a person who's been in equanimity for a while or is drawn to it for a while, they too may grow very frustrated-- they are fully aware of non-permanence, including the impermanence of 'self' and the non-centricity of all of us (just by virtue of you not being at the center of my world, I can see that I am also not really the center of my world but for sensations, sensations craving/aversion and biological drive to live)-- so such people don't really have arrogance, but a hard-to-shake conceit of "I am". And it is true, they are. I am. You are. To me, this area very much requires quiet mental sinking and sitting in meditative stabilization with sincere attention and it requires very pure sati in daily life-- like, routine walks just have attention in the senses.

Anyway, I am a newbie myself and I always trust people's own personal instincts more than my blah-blah-blah, even if people choose a very hard route for themselves, some times that just the best thing they can do-- run out their oats, their impulses. So also, sometimes people in long sustained equanimity look for "highs", something to break up the calm, something to cause insight. But I think here Ramana Mahasi could be trusted: Silence. If one can well stay with mental silence/willing stillness/ willingness to observe equanimity itself and to be an equanimous observer (even with its dissatisfactory aspect, resulting from lack of complete understanding and preventing suffusive, sustained, pure equanimity (which can be known in temporaroly in the so-called fourth jhana)) that's where there is the understanding: right in where the mind is going anyway. It is the same for any mental state: if a person is craven, they must sit with the craven mind and see it carefully, arising and passing; if a person is nearly saintly equanimous, yet still bothered, eventually there's just sitting with "equanimous, benevolent, bothered".

Make any sense?


Anyway, I have a lot of daily life improvement/stabilization/ development/effort to get back to : ) 
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Dada Kind, modified 7 Years ago at 8/26/14 3:54 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 8/26/14 3:54 PM

RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage?

Posts: 633 Join Date: 11/15/13 Recent Posts
I posted about the same problem here.

The best model I've found for explaining it is Reich's 'character armor'. Pick up any book by Alexander Lowen (esp. Bioenergetics) and you'll find an explanation.

Armoring is the condition that results when energy is bound by muscular contraction and does not flow through the body”(Reich:1936) . He saw that there existed character armouring which he defined as “the sum total of typical character attitudes, which an individual develops as a blocking against their emotional excitations, resulting in rigidity in the body, and lack of emotional contact ”.  He defined muscular armouring as “the sum total of muscular(chronic muscular spasms) which an individual develops as a block against the breakthrough of emotions and organ sensations, particularly anxiety, rage and sexual excitation” (Reich:1936).

The overall effect of muscular armouring with character armouring created the individual.  Alexander Lowen, who was an associate of Reich, best summed up this overall effect as “The character of the individual as it is manifested in his typical pattern of behaviour is also portrayed on the somatic level by the form and movement of the body.  The body expression is the somatic view of the typical emotional expression which is seen on the psychic level as character. Defences show up in both dimensions, in the body as muscular armoring. ” (Lowen:1976).


Physical exercises to target the block can be found in the free pdf here. Although, in theory, an ideal psychotherapeutic process will eventually remove the block. Of course, meditation focused on the area alone would also eventually remove the block. FWIW, I haven't removed my primary block completely, although I've definitely weakened or removed many minor blocks.
Andreas Thef, modified 7 Years ago at 8/27/14 6:28 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 8/27/14 6:28 AM

RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage?

Posts: 152 Join Date: 2/11/13 Recent Posts
katy steger:
Hi Andreas, 

Anyway, I am a newbie myself and I always trust people's own personal instincts more than my blah-blah-blah, even if people choose a very hard route for themselves, some times that just the best thing they can do-- run out their oats, their impulses. So also, sometimes people in long sustained equanimity look for "highs", something to break up the calm, something to cause insight. But I think here Ramana Mahasi could be trusted: Silence. If one can well stay with mental silence/willing stillness/ willingness to observe equanimity itself and to be an equanimous observer (even with its dissatisfactory aspect, resulting from lack of complete understanding and preventing suffusive, sustained, pure equanimity (which can be known in temporaroly in the so-called fourth jhana)) that's where there is the understanding: right in where the mind is going anyway. It is the same for any mental state: if a person is craven, they must sit with the craven mind and see it carefully, arising and passing; if a person is nearly saintly equanimous, yet still bothered, eventually there's just sitting with "equanimous, benevolent, bothered".

Make any sense?

Yes, that makes sense. I can relate to the equanimity without bliss thing and the frustration that can arise from that. It's like being content but without having access to the full scope of human emotions. And I see that I can't figure this just by thinking or trying to get around it. That's helpful advice, thank you!
Andreas Thef, modified 7 Years ago at 8/27/14 6:58 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 8/27/14 6:57 AM

RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage?

Posts: 152 Join Date: 2/11/13 Recent Posts
Droll Dedekind:
I posted about the same problem here.


That's very interesting, Droll. You're description in your linked post pretty much resembles what I experience lately:

I feel a pleasurable sense of bliss-anticipation build in my navel center and heart center, I let it build naturally or focus on it to coax it into building in a metta-like way, then I get the feeling it should be exploding outwards into bodily bliss but instead I feel a lump build in the top of my throat/base of my head area accompanied by the continued feeling that the bliss is being blocked and welling of tears in my eyes. Often the throat lump will make me yawn or feel like I want to yawn. The entire bliss-block is very similar to the maddening feeling of having to sneeze but being unable.

Exactly! For me it's in the forehead/third eye area and feels like being just a few seconds away from exploding outwards into bodily bliss or crying out loud full of you. Like a few steps away from yawning or sneezing and opening to something big and important.

Intersting also that we both take a similar approach. I'm also an INTP type and work through my childhood trauma in therapy. As a very nice way to work with my body and trauma I've found TRE (Trauma Release Exercises) by David Berceli. Very powerful. When doing them I have facial and bodily kriyas and also the twitch feeling in my lower spine you describe here. And the tremors I experience are beginning to spread out more and more throughout the body. Often accompanied by an on the verge like feeling and an inner shudder that is not far away from spreading through my body.

Another interesting conicidence is that the first Reichian exercise you posted is similar to how I experience my kriyas. A lot of stretching of the forehead, eyes, mouth and neck. And there's also sometimes the turning of my head and pressing down my chin on the breast/bringing my shoulder to ears.

I bookmarked both your threads and will re-read them once in a while. Thanks for posting!
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katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 7 Years ago at 8/27/14 8:54 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 8/27/14 5:26 PM

RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage?

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
(...)then I get the feeling it should be exploding outwards into bodily bliss but instead I feel a lump build in the top of my throat/base of my head area accompanied by the continued feeling that the bliss is being blocked and welling of tears in my eyes. Often the throat lump will make me yawn or feel like I want to yawn. The entire bliss-block is verysimilar to the maddening feeling of having to sneeze but being unable.

Okay, this is a useful reminder to me. I used to get something like this and the last time I had this was about two weeks after the so-called stream entry moment in 2012. It culminated in a lot of tears. I can just say the door for me of 'stream-entry' was a totally affectless re-booting and could be called direct knowledge anatta, but what happened when the throat/chest cleared two weeks later there were just pouring tears during meditation which I think pinpointed my anger/frustration at cruelty in the world, the needlessness of it, my sense of impotence in it and its role in why I sat down (meditation) in the first place. Thereafter, I notice that my sinuses often have a little "pop" and open up with access concentration. Someone else noted this sinus clearing thingy elsewhere in the forum. Anywho, interesting body metrics. 

____
Reading DD's last comment (below this one) I'm going to add that I did do six months of intense yoga before this initial "State Fair Goldfish" moment (meaning: stream-entry, the level which Theravadan buddhism says everyone can get, like a State Fair gold fish prize ;). I think at lot of people, myself included, start seeing how much tension there is in the body throughout the day and that that tension is a great indicator of where/how the mind is starting to amp up. And so to have a solid body practice could be helpful. For me, I suspect it was, particularly in that it was de-tensing, long-slow posture yoga, with deep breathing. For about a year after that my posts are yoga, yoga, yoga..swim, job, yoga, yoga..ketogenic diet, yoga, yoga, yoga ;)


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Dada Kind, modified 7 Years ago at 8/27/14 6:16 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 8/27/14 6:16 PM

RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage?

Posts: 633 Join Date: 11/15/13 Recent Posts
If you fit the INTP profile you might fit the schizoid profile. Stephen M. Johnson's Character Styles has an excellent section on the healing process of schizoids.

I must admit, I get irked when people take a subset of Reich/Lowen's work and then brand it as the New Revolutionary Body Yoga Trauma-PTSD-Release Kittens Magic®. I have Berceli's book Revolutionary Trauma Release Process and, to be fair, there's one paragraph about other body-based work that mentions Reich, Lowen, and Pierrakos. But, AFAIK Berceli hasn't contributed much of anything except branding.

If you've had success with TRE then I can't recommend Lowen, Willis, and Pierrakos enough (I'm excluding Reich because he didn't leave any exercises written down). I believe TRE has <10 exercises... Lowen's book Way to Vibrant Health has about a hundred exercises and Willis' book (free pdf available in Reichian thread) is 350~ pages of explaining exercises.

Also, when you start to shake and jerk give this posture a try:
Cross your legs at your ankles, interlace your fingers and rest them loosely on your stomach, let your jaw hang open, make sure the bed (or floor etc.) is supporting the full weight of your head, and then unfocus your eyes. (credit to Dr. Regardie)

Good luck with your block!
Andreas Thef, modified 7 Years ago at 8/28/14 8:14 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 8/28/14 8:14 AM

RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage?

Posts: 152 Join Date: 2/11/13 Recent Posts
katy steger:
(...)then I get the feeling it should be exploding outwards into bodily bliss but instead I feel a lump build in the top of my throat/base of my head area accompanied by the continued feeling that the bliss is being blocked and welling of tears in my eyes. Often the throat lump will make me yawn or feel like I want to yawn. The entire bliss-block is verysimilar to the maddening feeling of having to sneeze but being unable.

Okay, this is a useful reminder to me. I used to get something like this and the last time I had this was about two weeks after the so-called stream entry moment in 2012. It culminated in a lot of tears. I can just say the door for me of 'stream-entry' was a totally affectless re-booting and could be called direct knowledge anatta, but what happened when the throat/chest cleared two weeks later there were just pouring tears during meditation which I think pinpointed my anger/frustration at cruelty in the world, the needlessness of it, my sense of impotence in it and its role in why I sat down (meditation) in the first place. Thereafter, I notice that my sinuses often have a little "pop" and open up with access concentration. Someone else noted this sinus clearing thingy elsewhere in the forum. Anywho, interesting body metrics. 

____
Reading DD's last comment (below this one) I'm going to add that I did do six months of intense yoga before this initial "State Fair Goldfish" moment (meaning: stream-entry, the level which Theravadan buddhism says everyone can get, like a State Fair gold fish prize ;). I think at lot of people, myself included, start seeing how much tension there is in the body throughout the day and that that tension is a great indicator of where/how the mind is starting to amp up. And so to have a solid body practice could be helpful. For me, I suspect it was, particularly in that it was de-tensing, long-slow posture yoga, with deep breathing. For about a year after that my posts are yoga, yoga, yoga..swim, job, yoga, yoga..ketogenic diet, yoga, yoga, yoga ;)


Today I had a very productive psychotherapy session in which my body tremors again connected to my emotions (crying). Interestingly there are no thoughts or memories involved, just crying. I imagine an opening to that similar to yours. I think there's a lot of emotional content that is trying to surface. Thanks for sharing your experiences, they are very inspiring to me.
Andreas Thef, modified 7 Years ago at 8/28/14 9:02 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 8/28/14 9:02 AM

RE: Jhana without bliss or just a blockage?

Posts: 152 Join Date: 2/11/13 Recent Posts
Droll Dedekind:
If you fit the INTP profile you might fit the schizoid profile. Stephen M. Johnson's Character Styles has an excellent section on the healing process of schizoids.

I must admit, I get irked when people take a subset of Reich/Lowen's work and then brand it as the New Revolutionary Body Yoga Trauma-PTSD-Release Kittens Magic®. I have Berceli's book Revolutionary Trauma Release Process and, to be fair, there's one paragraph about other body-based work that mentions Reich, Lowen, and Pierrakos. But, AFAIK Berceli hasn't contributed much of anything except branding.

If you've had success with TRE then I can't recommend Lowen, Willis, and Pierrakos enough (I'm excluding Reich because he didn't leave any exercises written down). I believe TRE has <10 exercises... Lowen's book Way to Vibrant Health has about a hundred exercises and Willis' book (free pdf available in Reichian thread) is 350~ pages of explaining exercises.

Also, when you start to shake and jerk give this posture a try:
Cross your legs at your ankles, interlace your fingers and rest them loosely on your stomach, let your jaw hang open, make sure the bed (or floor etc.) is supporting the full weight of your head, and then unfocus your eyes. (credit to Dr. Regardie)

Good luck with your block!

Thanks for the helpful advice, Droll. Yes, I was sceptical about this "revolutionary" thing, too. But my impression is that Berceli has really found something very helpful, though not solely based on his own work. And its simplicity is exactly what attracted me. Over the years I found that I'm more and more driven to very basic and simple approaches. And it does exactly what it promises to do, at least for me. Anyway, I will surely look into Reich's work, as he probably can be seen as the father of western body psychotherapy (have already read Lowen).

And thanks for the exercise you posted. I just tried the unfocusing my eyes part and found that it interestingly leads right away to that pressure feeling in my forehead. I will try that more extensively when I have some time. Thanks!

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