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Trying to attain Jhana

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Trying to attain Jhana
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4/16/15 12:11 PM
I am doing breath meditation by focusing on the spot at upper lips and nostril. Basically, I just rest my attention there and try to watch the breath without influencing it. A couple of times I have gotten very relaxed and the breath has become very fine, pleasant, almost "syrupy". I try to focus on these sensations of pleasure. However I cannot always generate such a state, and when I try to I lose my relaxation. So, my question is am I on the right track to jhana? How do I stop from straining so hard? Or should I just forget all this and let these issues resolve themselves in practice? I have done forum searches on this issue, but it seems describing these subtle mental states is really difficult. 

RE: Trying to attain Jhana
Answer
4/16/15 1:01 PM as a reply to Atharva Karandikar.
"Getting to Jhana seems impossible to me" discussion of April 6 seemed usefull to me.  I spent quite a bit of time trying to get into first Jhana and found it challenging, even on retreat.  there are a number of good books on the topic, including a couple by Sheila Catherine.  There is plenty of free material on Leigh Brassington's site.

I would post the April 6 discussion here but havent yet figured out how.

Alex

RE: Trying to attain Jhana
Answer
4/16/15 1:49 PM as a reply to Atharva Karandikar.
Atharva Karandikar:
I am doing breath meditation by focusing on the spot at upper lips and nostril. Basically, I just rest my attention there and try to watch the breath without influencing it. A couple of times I have gotten very relaxed and the breath has become very fine, pleasant, almost "syrupy". I try to focus on these sensations of pleasure. However I cannot always generate such a state, and when I try to I lose my relaxation. So, my question is am I on the right track to jhana? How do I stop from straining so hard? Or should I just forget all this and let these issues resolve themselves in practice? I have done forum searches on this issue, but it seems describing these subtle mental states is really difficult. 
You are clearly on the right track.

Time on the cushion will reduce the strain. One of the luminaries defines maturity of the meditator by how little yearning they bring to the cushion, the mature meditator doesn't have goals or expectations.  But that doens't mean you're not bringing faith, energy, concentration and mindfulness to the cushion!

One thought that worked for me: put your 'effort' on recreating the conditions that lead to success.

When you notice the syrup coming on, don't drop awareness that got you to that point.  Let the pleasure come to you.  Notice all the sensations that come up when your attention moves.

It's good to hear other peoples descriptions, as long as you don't thet them get between you and what/how you actually experience your own present moment sensations.

Hope this is useful.

Matt

RE: Trying to attain Jhana
Answer
4/17/15 12:20 PM as a reply to Atharva Karandikar.
According to Ajahn Brahm you're on the right track! Note that his definition of Jhana is very strict compared to many other teachers.

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books/Ajahn_Brahm_The_Jhanas.htm

RE: Trying to attain Jhana
Answer
4/17/15 12:34 PM as a reply to Pål.
So I guess what I was describing in my original post was the beautiful breath described by Ajahn Brahm, because it required no effort at all. I've been trying to re-create that state ever since, to no avail. 

RE: Trying to attain Jhana
Answer
4/18/15 7:24 AM as a reply to Atharva Karandikar.
According to the Samannaphala sutta, the way to get to the pleasant  state right before Jhana (which I think is the same as what Ajahn Brahm calls "beautiful breath" and the commentaries call upacara samadhi/access concentration) is to make the five hindrances temporarily disappear. Here is a sutta about how to feed and starve them (what you shouldn't and what you should do):


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn46/sn46.051.than.html