Concentration states or something else?

mikko, modified 7 Years ago at 1/11/15 9:20 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 1/10/15 5:03 AM

Concentration states or something else?

Posts: 25 Join Date: 9/20/14 Recent Posts
I just had an anapanasati session. I developed the first two tetraeds and I guess third Is about rising through the jhanas so In some ways I was developing that too. 

I went through samatha jhanas 1-8 or so I though. From 1-6 it was pretty clear what was going on.

Then I thought I was in the 7th and everything in what had been the 6th dropped off. I was still perceiving breath and bodily sensations at this time though. I thought that was then the 8th, but not really sure if you can perceive those things in the 8th so it might have actually been the 7th.

From this point on I tried to be "sensitive" to what ever was going and still keep the breath in the background there as well.

Then there was another "phase shift" so I thought ok now this is the 8th, but then after a while this phase shifts continued. There was something like 5 or 6 of these.

At the same time my body started shaking on it's own and the sesations of the body lessened more and more. 

At some point The statement breath in cessation / relinquishment really resonated with me. Then there was a "blip" when things kind seemed to phase out for something like 0,05 seconds. Although I'm not fully certain about the order of events at this point.

I still continued the meditation for a while. The shaking continued too. Then I started too feel pain in my other leg. (I sit cross leeged with one foot in front of the other so the front foot is not in the best position. Usually goes numb at some point and later starts to feel painful) I felt that this was enough for this session.

I seemed to all my wits with me when I emerged from the meditatoin and quite clear headed. Unlike when I though I had attained the PL jhanas. I was a bit disoriented after that.

Link to that thread:

After I opened my I just wanted to check if I could focus on a kasina (I've never done kasina concentration). I picked my iPhone from the table and started looking at it. After a minute or so I adjusted my eyes to a different position. In the position where the phone had been previously now there was a lighter spot in my vision in the same shape. It had kind of burned in even though my eyes were still open. Then I looked at the phone in this new position for a while and  there this kind "brightness" that started to show on the edges of the object. I thought I had attained 1st jhana or at least access concentration on it. I adjusted my eyes once more and looked at the floor and the image of the phone followed again.  Brightness in the same shape.

I'm kind of uncertain where I went after the 6th/7th jhana.

How little of body/legs/breath should I feel in the 8th? Any good descriptions about that state?

Does any of this ring a bell, where was I?

And are there good guides on how to develop the last two and especially the last tetraed of the anapanasati sutta?

Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 1/14/15 11:24 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 1/14/15 11:24 AM

RE: Concentration states or something else? (Answer)

Posts: 995 Join Date: 4/5/14 Recent Posts
Hey Mikko,

I can relate to what you're saying here.  My experience of jhana has never been very straightforward.  You can't trust the shifting feeling to indicate where you are.  Mainly I think this is because we shift in and out of jhanas we haven't mastered, and the shifting out is more of a fading, so there's a definite shift, then another definite shift, and we don't really notice the backward slide.

There were many times I thought I was hitting a formless realm before I actually did, and then there were many time where I thought I was moving between realms before I actually did.  You can have a sort of formless experience if you stop "checking in" to see if your body is there, but when you're in the formless realms, the body itself is what takes on the aspect of space, consciousness, and nothing.  Which is to say, if you check in with the body in the sphere of infinite space, the body itself feels like a big empty space.  The transition into the formless realms can actually be aided by watching physical sensations while equanimous.  I'm going by memory here, but the transition feels like inflating, or slowly expanding outward into infinity.

A good rule of thumb is to look for a very altered way of being and not just a shifting feeling.  It was very obvious to me when I had finally hit something new.
mikko, modified 7 Years ago at 1/14/15 4:52 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 1/14/15 4:52 PM

RE: Concentration states or something else?

Posts: 25 Join Date: 9/20/14 Recent Posts
I think you're probably right about the backsliding. I may visited the 8th briefly and then went onto something else. Or then it was still the 7th.

I've attained formless jhanas two ways. 
1. After 4th focus on space around me to get into 5th then focus on sensations of consciousness to get to 6th and then fading of that to 7th and I guess in general just relaxing to 8th. 8th is a bit tricky in terms how to describe how to get there except try to let go of anything perceived as stress.
2. Just abide in the 4th and then usually mind start to move to the 5th on it's own and it happens like you described it. Space starts to "expand". 

So the first one is more "forcing it" and the second is taking it slow and relaxed.

I've also experienced jhana deepening after I've checked on bodily sensations for example my feet touching the ground. I was actually trying to get a more "vipassana" feel to the 4th, but only managed to deepen the jhana. emoticon

I have to say sometimes the 5th has been so "soft" that it didn't feel that much like an altered state, but when you get into it more deeply then it definately is.
Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 1/15/15 5:04 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 1/15/15 4:54 PM

RE: Concentration states or something else?

Posts: 995 Join Date: 4/5/14 Recent Posts
Would you say the first four jhanas are fairly stable for you?  As in, you enter into piti, and it stays steady for a few minutes before switching to sukha, then that stays steady before switching to equanimity?  The reason I ask is because of another thread I made - I was looking at some articles on "original Buddhism" and came across the idea that the formless realms and the jhanas are separate and not a single arc.  I've been able to enter formless realms with very little piti showing up beforehand and a not-very-stable equanimity.  Conversely, the most stable experiences of piti and suhka I've had were actually off the cushion when I wasn't meditating.  So the idea seemed to line up IME.

BTW, in your first post you asked if bodily sensations were still present in the 7th or 8th.  Body sensations go away completely for me in the 5th - which is to say, if I try to figure out where my hands are, or where my legs are, there is only a singular sensation of open empty space.  In the 6th, it feels like this empty space expands to nothing and there is only a kind of unified knowing quailty wherever I "look."  In the 7th, the spacial aspect - like a kind of giant mind - fills with nothingness.  Maybe that is a weird way to say it.  It's kind of like the knowing quality loses it's sense of being something and is rather just the knowing.  Then in the 8th - which I've only bounced off of but never stabilized - this knowingness kind of blurs out, or blinks, and there is only awareness left.  The awareness doesn't seem to have any object, though, it's just kind of aware.  In the previous ones, the knowing quality knew itself - but in the 8th, this self-knowling loses one end, and there is just knowing without anything to know.

Anyway, that's just whatevever I am calling the formless realms.  Hope it helps.
mikko, modified 7 Years ago at 1/16/15 10:14 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 1/16/15 10:13 AM

RE: Concentration states or something else?

Posts: 25 Join Date: 9/20/14 Recent Posts
That depends a bit whether I focus on piti and then sukkhan and so on or do I stay with the breath. I've changed my meditation from purely samatha to more all encompassing "hightened awareness" vipassana-samatha hybrid. Right now I can't access jhana at all. I think I may be in Dissolution stage 5 on the Theravada insight map.

This was not a result of watching vibrations at high speed, but more on the fact that I was able to combine hightened awareness and samatha into "clear seeing" which leads to "release" according to the suttas. I have to say my experience corresponded to that. The suttas do not mentione the insight map as far as I am aware though.

The fact that you're not aware of the body may be testament to the "hardness" of the jhana. You're probably were deeply absorbed whereas with "softer" jhana you could then feel more things. I have experienced "soft" and "medium" formless jhanas and the harder it gets the less you can feel other sensations.

Are you using a kasina as the object of meditation or some physical sensations like breath? The reason I'm asking is that I've read you can get really "hard" jhanas or deep absoption with kasinas.

I think your description of 7th and 8th jhana are in line with what I described in my original post. So I think I did go to 8th jhana (and have achieved it multiple times) and then potentially backslided into something else. It didn't feel like the time I though I had attained the PL jhanas. So where I actually went may be left as a mystery. emoticon
Not Tao, modified 7 Years ago at 1/16/15 1:47 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 1/16/15 1:47 PM

RE: Concentration states or something else?

Posts: 995 Join Date: 4/5/14 Recent Posts
Back when I was hitting those mindstates I was using a formless practice, just "letting go."  I used to do a kind of body breathing method before that, though, so it was a process to get to that point. The body breathing was basically just concentration on the sensation of breathing "into" different body parts. Like a moving concentration.

It's actualy hard for me to say what is hard jhana vs. soft jhana, TBH.  I thought I was maybe doing soft formless realms until the bodyless experiences started showing up, but those have a different quality to them - like a different way of being in each one - and the versions before this almost felt more like deepening concentration.  A few times I've landed in this incredibly deep absorption by accident too - which makes me think the bodyless experiences were soft by comparison.  It's just kind if amazing how many different ways of "being" there are, no?