What happened?

John, modified 9 Years ago at 9/20/14 6:28 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/20/14 6:28 PM

What happened?

Posts: 51 Join Date: 7/11/14 Recent Posts

On Wednesday after a pretty anxious period I managed to focus on the breath and come to a point where I felt there was a force field around my body and it felt extremely good and it lasted a long time. I didn't need to intentionally focus anywhere to make it stay, it was just there.
There were thoughts and it wasn't a complete absorption but felt pretty good nevertheless. I managed to replicate the experience 5 times.
Is this what is called access concentration?
Today I did it for 40 minutes and it's so effortless that it's mind boggling, it feels like I'm not meditating but sitting on a cloud.
My other question is, is the time of the year somehow connected to how easy meditation becomes?
Because I've been meditating for months and even though I could lock my attention to the breath it took effort and this never happened.

Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 9/20/14 6:42 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/20/14 6:42 PM

RE: What happened?

Posts: 1665 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
It's hard to say but what you described sounded like the 4th jhana equanimity.  It depends on what "force-field" means to you. Floating on a cloud sounds more like 5th jhana.  Access concentration never made me feel like those things so I have no clue.

In terms of the time of year I think anytime you don't feel too cold or too hot would be conducive for any brain work and the more you practice the better you get.
John, modified 9 Years ago at 9/20/14 8:14 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/20/14 8:14 PM

RE: What happened?

Posts: 51 Join Date: 7/11/14 Recent Posts
Don't I have to access the first Jhana before moving to the other ones?
And what about pleasant sensation I didn't focus on a pleasant bodily sensation, just the breath, it did feel good but it was only the breath.
Is it correct to say that a person who is enlightened is in that state all the time?

Richard Zen, modified 9 Years ago at 9/20/14 8:51 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/20/14 8:51 PM

RE: What happened?

Posts: 1665 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
You do have to access prior jhanas and after stream-entry you have easier access.  Once you get them and practice them really well you can skip the order if you want.  The problem was that your description was too vague to make any easy diagnosis.  This is a good site to learn about jhanas:


An enlightened person IMHO is someone who doesn't cling/obsess/ruminate about anything.  They are unattached to all experiences (including not attached to Buddhist concepts).  Being attached to jhanas would not be enlightenment.  Jhanas for an arhat would be more about the 7 factors of awakening and using concentration as a tool to understand the 3 characteristics of all experiences.  Seeing the 3 characteristics over and over again creates disenchantment and a natural letting go so that the mind is relaxed and peaceful instead of noisy with attachments.  The noise = stress chemicals.  Also jhanas interfere with thinking which means you can't sustain them in a normal life.  Try doing work while being in a jhana? Useless.
katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 9 Years ago at 9/20/14 11:20 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 9/20/14 10:20 PM

RE: What happened?

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

I'd like to mention that Jack Kornfield wrote a book called "Modern Buddhist Masters" in which some very famous and well regarded meditation practitioners have quite divergeant views of what jhana is and how the jhanas are defined--- even if they are using the same descriptions of jhana (mental concentration states) from the Pali canon. 

So it is certainly okay to train in one teacher's way, but to not be too gripping of "This happens in jhana, this does not".  Teachers do say theses things, but over time a person learns well-regarded teachers are saying contradictory things, even opposing each other, sometimes in veiled ways. One teacher says, "If someone tells you you cannot hear in jhana, they are wrong" and other teacher will say, "If you can hear, you are not in jhana!" I have sat with some of the famed folk and learned: this is own practice, own investigation. If one practices well, there is comfort in being independent of deemed teachers-- though I am grateful to many deemed teachers who were available to me at the outset and I have my one or two go-to teachers who are still just natively the ones I listen to or I pose questions to-- and just learning, just curiosity, not presuming or declaring or grabbing the "raft" shaking it and saying this is what happens in fourth, etc. One can just practice and not know. 

And one can just use these maps as helpful orientation amid the vast ocean of mental terrain, as if the mind were a giant mall and it's relaxing to have a "you are here" sticker, and that orientation alleviates some major exhausting searching for a while by giving the mind a useful directionality. So jhana training is useful and positive-direction (not harmful, yes helpful) mental development. It can be a stressors if one gets caught up in views of it.

Edit: For me, John, when there is comfort in sitting at length, that is the start of 3rd jhana, called sukkha, which is often translated as "ease" or "comfort" or "contentment".

And, for me, 4th jhana (a mentally focused state wherein the mind is still generating and/or knowing forms it detects through the senses (including the sense of consciousness), but mind is not also not making itself separate from form) is pure equanimity; there is no ego, no I, no central part. There is just attention-magnetized-with-objects, attention-bridge.

This is your study though. Good luck.

(edited to reduce this a lot)