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What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?

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What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? johnson 5/11/15 10:38 AM
RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? Ian And 5/11/15 12:19 PM
RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? Richard Zen 5/11/15 1:26 PM
RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? johnson 5/11/15 11:09 PM
RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? Richard Zen 5/12/15 8:21 AM
RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? Ian And 5/12/15 4:43 PM
RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? johnson 5/12/15 8:13 PM
RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? Richard Zen 5/12/15 9:04 PM
RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? Not Tao 5/12/15 9:20 PM
RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? Connie Dobbs 5/13/15 5:02 AM
RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? Not Tao 5/13/15 9:26 AM
RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? Daniel M. Ingram 5/14/15 12:23 AM
RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? johnson 5/14/15 1:39 AM
RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? Not Tao 5/14/15 6:38 PM
RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? johnson 5/15/15 12:14 AM
RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? Ian And 5/15/15 4:19 PM
RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? Not Tao 5/15/15 2:00 PM
RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? Pål 5/28/15 3:34 PM
RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? Ian And 5/12/15 10:38 PM
RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? CJMacie 5/13/15 8:07 AM
RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? Pål 5/12/15 4:09 AM
RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? Richard Zen 5/12/15 8:22 AM
RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? Scott Kinney 5/13/15 4:39 PM
RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana? Matt 5/14/15 8:20 AM
I wanted to ask because I don't think I am putting in enough time to reach jhana any time soon. At this rate, I might never even reach it in my entire lifetime. I am putting in about 1 hour total a day, split into two 30 minute sessions. Sometimes I sporadically do a couple 15 minute sessions throughout the day. I've been doing this for about a year and a half, and I don't feel like I'm making too much progress in being able to lengthen my sessions or improve the quality of my concentration and mindfulness during those sessions.

To those who have attained jhanas, I am wondering what was your schedule like shortly before you reached jhana for the first time, and what is it like now?

RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?
Answer
5/11/15 12:19 PM as a reply to johnson.
Hello Rich,

Listen, Rich, I'm going to be blunt. You're going to have to face facts.

If you don't know what dhyana is from an experiencial standpoint from having previously entered such a state before (when it was a pleasant mental state to be in, but you didn't know what it was called), then you're going to have to figure out what it is first so that you know it when you experience it.  The easiest way to figure it out is to use your intuition and go back in your memory to figure out what experiences that you had that sound similar to the dhyana factors arising. Once you know the "feeling" (sensation) that you're going for, then you can figure out how to allow your mind to recreate that experience. That's the first step. Once you know what dhyana is and how you got there, then you'll be able to achieve it at will whenever you want. See?

Next step, you need to increase your sit times to, at the very least, one hour apiece. A half hour is not going to cut it if you don't know what you are attempting to achieve. Many people report (myself included, when I was first making this attempt) that they're just beginning to get a settled mind after 30 minutes; that's why you need at least another 30 minutes to go deeper or to extend the method that you're using in order to reach contact with the dhyana state. Two sits a day should be fine; if you can up it to three sits on the weekends, that might be better.

Next step, you need to be able to lay all your worldly cares and concerns at the doorstep of your sanctuary before you even begin to sit. If your mind is preoccupied with resolving this or that problem, you're never going to establish a mindful enough state to quiet the mind down in order to make any kind of progress. That's why they call it a concentration practice. The thing you have to shoot for is a quiet, calm, and peaceful mental state. If that isn't established, you won't be able to make any progress toward deeper states of calm abiding.

Focus on accomplishing those things first, and then come back and tell us how you're doing.

In peace,
Ian

RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?
Answer
5/11/15 1:26 PM as a reply to johnson.
Hi Rich,

The time you are putting in is fine. It's your attitude. What got me jhana for the first time was simply following basic instructions without any expectation of results. It's counterintuitive but it's what needs to happen. Make sure you are doing the following:

  • Relaxing all limbs, thoughts, and expectations of anything.
  • Enjoy this time as a time for yourself where you don't need to DO anything.
  • Whatever concentration practice you do you need to return the mind to the object everytime it wanders.
  • Do not judge, ruminate, fixate, obsess about anything when the mind wanders. This is natural for the mind to wander endlessly onto goals. Gently return the mind back to the object of the breath. You must do this non-chalantly with no analysis, strategizing, ruminating, obsessing. It's actually possible to analyze how to analyze the breath. Drop all analysis. Just notice when the breath is off and calmly, non-reactively return the mind back to the breath. Remember the root of stress is analyzing and then not wanting something or wanting something to be a certain way. This interrupts mediation.
  • Savour the breath like savouring something delicious to eat or savouring a sunset. Gratitude really helps.
  • Often start with metta practice (may this mind be happy, may this body be happy, etc) and then continue with your concentration object (the breath) as per usual.
  • Consistency is more important than judging whether you "made it" or not. The measuring part of the mind is what we want relaxed. It's very easy for the ego to try to control even meditation.
  • Gentleness, relaxation, gratitude, relief from troubles. The mind goes off? That's okay. Just gently bring it back with love and compassion. Harshness has no place here.
  • By being goaless you'll reach the goal with consistency. It's something you bump into instead of analyze, control, foressee etc.
Make sense?

RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?
Answer
5/11/15 11:09 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:

I try my best to do those things. I realize that "goallessness" is the goal in meditation. It's just... very much easier said than done. I'm trying to find a way to truly practice those things during my sessions, rather than just knowing it on a logical and rational level but not being able to implement them into my practices and life.

I can't control things such as being bored of my breath, or expecting results, or getting impatient. All I can do is shift my attention back to my object when I notice it drifting, and keep a consistent practice, and try my best to keep a loving attitude, even though that might be something out of my control as well.

But perhaps the main thing I need to work on that is entirely within my control is the consistency of my practice.

Ian And:

I have had pleasant experiences a couple times. I remember a bit about how my mind was shortly before reaching that state. My mind was continuously drifting, but I was almost instantly shifting it back to the object without any judgement. After around 5 or 10 minutes of that, I started feeling physical pleasure and mental peace.

I reach that state of concentration very sporadically, for some reason. Maybe it really is just a matter of a lack of time being put into my practice?

I'll set a schedule so I just meditate one 1 hour session a day. From what you posted, it sounds like it's better to do one 1 hour session rather than two 30min sessions. I'll still do short sessions but I'll be doing yogic type meditation with mantras/visualizations and leave the long sessions to focus purely on my concentration.. does this sound fine to you?

I deal with a great deal of emotional anguish at this point in my life to be honest. A big reason I'm doing these practices is to alleviate myself of those issues. I don't think entering my sessions without those emotions will be an option, and I hope it won't hold me back from being able to overcome that part of myself.

RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?
Answer
5/12/15 4:09 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:

  • Savour the breath like savouring something delicious to eat or savouring a sunset...


I'm in pretty much the same situtation as OP. From my inexperienced point of view, what you wrote above makes me doubt if your version of Jhana is the Jhana described in the suttas. The Buddha warns countless times about the dangers of sensuality and says that the pleasure of Jhana is beyond the senses and also that the way to Jhana is through letting go. (How) is what you're describing not sensuality? (Not a rethorical question.) Or isn't sensuality a hindrance?

RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?
Answer
5/12/15 8:22 AM as a reply to Pål.
Pål:
Richard Zen:

  • Savour the breath like savouring something delicious to eat or savouring a sunset...


I'm in pretty much the same situtation as OP. From my inexperienced point of view, what you wrote above makes me doubt if your version of Jhana is the Jhana described in the suttas. The Buddha warns countless times about the dangers of sensuality and says that the pleasure of Jhana is beyond the senses and also that the way to Jhana is through letting go. (How) is what you're describing not sensuality? (Not a rethorical question.) Or isn't sensuality a hindrance?

What I'm describing is not jhana but an ATTITUDE while cultivating the skill of jhana. Having a positive attitude, developing metta, and enjoying breathing sensations are all a part of entering the first jhana. Pleasure is actually possible and welcome in jhanas.  The problem is people have a clinging, striving attitude (which is the main target for insight practices) and this gets in the way of jhanas. Roughly the first jhana is a pleasant rapture. The second jhana is a pleasant feeling of bliss, and the third jhana is more like gladness. The 4th jhana is equanimity where there's neither pleasure nor aversion. It's more peaceful. All are absorptions because they happen on there own since the practitioner has been repeatedly conditioning concentration by repeatedly returning to the breath (for me it was months). The absorptions should have a lock-in feeling like the brain is doing it on it's own.

The difference between a shallow jhana and a deep jhana is simply the hours of cultivating it. I've rarely experienced a deep jhana. It's more efficient in my life to develop insight so that my stress relief is portable. Spending hours blocking thinking has other consequences of being mentally dull at work by doing jhanas when it isn't skillful to do so, and escapism. When people get good insight these traps are glaringly obvious. When talking to Ron Crouch he plainly said he doesn't meditate much anymore. He doesn't need it. 

I remember some of my earlier posts when I was high on jhanas and Nikolai had to encourage me to come down from that. I was pretty resistant. emoticon

Those who are teachers often get good at all 8 jhanas plus the pureland jhanas because they want to teach and know everything but it isn't necessary to do this.

These jhanas are teaching insight without people knowing it. The jhanas are interfering with the ruminating habit and the relief makes one cling to those jhanas (albeit not as clinging as a Black Friday sale). With insight a person can see small doses of stress in being needy of jhanas and then learn to wean themselves off of jhanas so they become more like tools for stormy weather rather than a desperate need. They are also recreation when a person doesn't need them. Shaila Catherine calls jhanas a refined form of pleasure.

BTW savouring and gratitude are quite healthy even without jhanas. When a person learns insight savouring is improved because if there's something to savour you can. If there's nothing to savour you're still okay.

RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?
Answer
5/12/15 8:21 AM as a reply to johnson.
rich r a:
Richard Zen:

I try my best to do those things. I realize that "goallessness" is the goal in meditation. It's just... very much easier said than done. I'm trying to find a way to truly practice those things during my sessions, rather than just knowing it on a logical and rational level but not being able to implement them into my practices and life.

I can't control things such as being bored of my breath, or expecting results, or getting impatient. All I can do is shift my attention back to my object when I notice it drifting, and keep a consistent practice, and try my best to keep a loving attitude, even though that might be something out of my control as well.

But perhaps the main thing I need to work on that is entirely within my control is the consistency of my practice.


Keep consistent along with the other instructions. Positive moods really help with entering jhana. I was able to develop jhanas while dealing with academic struggles, bullying at work, and a dying mother. If I can do it then anyone can.

RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?
Answer
5/12/15 4:43 PM as a reply to johnson.
Hi Rich,

I liked what Richard Zen had to suggest in his first followup after my post. Ideally, that's the right instruction to give. However, I sensed that you were in need of something further, hence my suggestion in the fourth paragraph of my post regarding being able "to lay all your worldly cares and concerns at the doorstep of your sanctuary." Your reply confirms my suspicion.

What you need to focus on accomplishing at this time (perhaps in addition to, if not beyond, the consistency of your practice) is the ability to quiet the mind. And by "quieting the mind" I mean complete silence from the monkey mind that has become a distraction from your ability to set up a mindful calm abiding. Once you experience this astonishing silencing of mental chatter, it will amaze you that you even had such an ability. (It did me, anyway.) This is called taking back control over your own mind!

There is a book that I would recommend that you pick up and use in order to develop this ability to quiet the mind. It is a book written and published in 1959 by an author who went by the name Mouni Sadhu. The book's title is Concentration, A Guide to Mental Mastery. In it he has several exercises which he suggests will help a practitioner to develop concentration. You don't have to use all the suggestions in order to accomplish your goal. Only the ones that make sense to you to use in order to accomplish your goal.

I wrote a review of this book here: Concentration, A Guide to Mental Mastery

In that review you will come upon a paragraph that reads:

A second myth that is dealt with, which has been promoted in recent years, is that it is not important to be able to develop within oneself the ability to quiet the mind of all extraneous thoughts. This is the subject of Chapter Fourteen wherein is given a method of beginning to develop this ability to quiet the mind. In his usual straightforward way, Mouni Sadhu states quite unequivocally, "The key to success in this study is just the losing of interest in uncontrolled thinking. With that key you may open the golden gate, from which you expect so much. Without the key, there is no purpose in even beginning the exercises."

This is the chapter that you need to read and then go to Part III of the book where he has described "The Techniques" for accomplishing this.


rich r a:

I deal with a great deal of emotional anguish at this point in my life to be honest. A big reason I'm doing these practices is to alleviate myself of those issues.

I understand. Been there, done that myself. In that case, you may also need to seek out someone trustworthy to help you in your emotional healing.

If you'd like to do a little reading on that subject from someone who works with such cases, I'd suggest looking at this thread and a book titled Shadows on the Path and checking out the book and website mentioned there. Tool around on his website to research all the information and tools he might have there which may help you establish a place to begin. Read some of his blog entries and find how what he's able to share.

There are ways to use contemplation in order to handle "emotional anguish," although I sense that you are not ready for that just yet and would be better served with first just learning to quiet the mind. This all, of course, depends upon the severity of the emotional issues. It may be that the emotional issues need to be handled first. If you would like an opinion, PM me and we will talk off forum.

In peace,
Ian

RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?
Answer
5/12/15 8:13 PM as a reply to Ian And.
I am just getting into Concentration: A guide to Mental Mastery and... it's quite fascinating. The sheer pragmatic tone of it while speaking of things that are fantastical(to me) such as tangible mental powers kind of reminds me of MCTB. Thanks so much for telling me about the book. I will begin studying it.

My emotional issues can be summed up as occasional feelings of very low self-worth and an intense longing for things that I don't have. I think if I could just become good at meditating, those emotions will no longer bother me and will dissipate.

Thanks Richard Zen and Ian And. I will continue my practice.

RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?
Answer
5/12/15 9:04 PM as a reply to johnson.
That's good. Just keep at it. Make it fun. Look at it as a way to give your mind a rest. I really think a basic metta practice: "May this mind be happy. May this body be happy...etc" can help a lot.


http://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5556399
Somatic Metta

RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?
Answer
5/12/15 9:20 PM as a reply to johnson.
If you would really like to get to jhana quickly, there's a kind of "ironman" shortcut you can use to get there.  Essentially, stop all forms of entertainment, start taking cold showers, don't eat anything except bland food (i.e. stop any and all physical pleasantries), and do as much strong endurance sitting as you can.  Strong endurance sitting is sitting perfectly still without moving for a specific period of time - a half hour at a time is good because it will kill you mentally but it won't hurt your body.  Do a bunch of them in a row with a short stretch break in between.

Personally, I wouldn't want to do it (or, I should say, I wouldn't want to do it again) but it will catapult you 100mph into the correct mindset.  When I had my first A&P event, this is essentially what I did afterwards and I was spending whole days in jhana.  The correct mindset is to drop all attachment to physical comfort and pleasure (much like what pal says).  It's a bit of a paradox because the result is a kind of perfect physical/emotional state, where it simply doesn't matter what you're feeling because everything is bliss.  After figuring it out, as long as you keep practicing it's pretty easy to reproduce.  A good general hint is that it doesn't come from the same place as other kinds of pleasure, so you can't get there by "feeling good" or trying to broaden out of a good feeling.  It's something unexpected and kind of out of left field.

There's a relationship to vipassana trainging, too, that isn't immediately clear.  If you try noting with the intention to be perfectly fine with whatever physical feelings come up, jhana can result from this.  Maybe even try noting while doing strong endurance sitting.  Ooh, or even noting while doing strong endurance sitting in particularly uncomfortable positions!  Not even kidding.

Anyway, the only reason I suggest this idea is because it pairs nicely with desperation.  If you want something dramatic, you can do something dramatic and it will actually give results, haha.

RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?
Answer
5/12/15 10:38 PM as a reply to Ian And.
For anyone wanting to download a free PDF of Sadhu's book Concentration, A Guide to Mental Mastery, I found two locations. One that you have to sign up for (the first link), and one that you don't (the second link); it just downloads when you click the link.

www.mediasharex.info/download/book/109635/Concentration--A-Guide-to-Mental-Mastery/MjAxMy0wMy0xNw--/


http://fullchan4jtta4sx.onion.city/fringe/src/1427037720818-0.pdf

RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?
Answer
5/13/15 5:02 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
If you would really like to get to jhana quickly, there's a kind of "ironman" shortcut you can use to get there.  Essentially, stop all forms of entertainment, start taking cold showers, don't eat anything except bland food (i.e. stop any and all physical pleasantries), and do as much strong endurance sitting as you can.  Strong endurance sitting is sitting perfectly still without moving for a specific period of time - a half hour at a time is good because it will kill you mentally but it won't hurt your body.  Do a bunch of them in a row with a short stretch break in between.

Personally, I wouldn't want to do it (or, I should say, I wouldn't want to do it again) but it will catapult you 100mph into the correct mindset.  When I had my first A&P event, this is essentially what I did afterwards and I was spending whole days in jhana.  The correct mindset is to drop all attachment to physical comfort and pleasure (much like what pal says).  It's a bit of a paradox because the result is a kind of perfect physical/emotional state, where it simply doesn't matter what you're feeling because everything is bliss.  After figuring it out, as long as you keep practicing it's pretty easy to reproduce.  A good general hint is that it doesn't come from the same place as other kinds of pleasure, so you can't get there by "feeling good" or trying to broaden out of a good feeling.  It's something unexpected and kind of out of left field.

There's a relationship to vipassana trainging, too, that isn't immediately clear.  If you try noting with the intention to be perfectly fine with whatever physical feelings come up, jhana can result from this.  Maybe even try noting while doing strong endurance sitting.  Ooh, or even noting while doing strong endurance sitting in particularly uncomfortable positions!  Not even kidding.

Anyway, the only reason I suggest this idea is because it pairs nicely with desperation.  If you want something dramatic, you can do something dramatic and it will actually give results, haha.

Hmm. I thought your samatha method was the complete opposite. 

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5666656

RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?
Answer
5/13/15 8:07 AM as a reply to johnson.
re: rich r a (5/11/15 11:09 PM as a reply to Richard Zen. )
"But perhaps the main thing I need to work on that is entirely within my control is the consistency of my practice."
There's something to be said for that. Whether it's rewarding, frustrating or whatever, if there's mindfulness of it, sticking with it, getting familiar with whatever happens will gradually pay off. Than-Goef (Thanissaro Bhikkhu) remarks that if one sits only when one feels like sitting, and doesn't when it's difficult, then one gets to know (gain insight into) only the mind 'that likes to sit'. But working with other sorts of mind is likely to be where useful change can happen.

"I have had pleasant experiences a couple times. I remember a bit about how my mind was shortly before reaching that state. My mind was continuously drifting, but I was almost instantly shifting it back to the object without any judgement. After around 5 or 10 minutes of that, I started feeling physical pleasure and mental peace."
Also re: Richard Zen: "Gentleness, relaxation, gratitude, relief from troubles."
Than-Geof* offers some good tricks in this direction: Be clever in fostering motivation – notice what moments, states are especially rewarding. Look back to see what might have led into them, what you were doing right before they arose. Look for aspects that feel so good you want to be able to get back there and follow where they lead. (You can't really force it, but desire and intention help open the way.) This noticing will help automatically. True there's a thin-line between this and distracting 'analysis', but some degree of active mindfulness is essential for concentration.

"I'll set a schedule so I just meditate one 1 hour session a day. From what you posted, it sounds like it's better to do one 1 hour session rather than two 30min sessions."
I would second that approach, from my own experience. (Not to deny that Richard Zen's advice to the contrary isn't valid for other people.) It's just to allow that extra time, not as strenuous effort, but just hanging out and noticing what begins to happen on its own. Mind has it's own schedule for winding-down from normal strivings. Once new, more quiet mental experiences begin to arise, you'll be able to remember them, and go back to them more easily, quickly. What may happen at first only after 40 or 50 minutes or more will later be found in 20 or 30 minutes, eventually even quicker.

Note ways of "moving in closer" to the object in such rewarding states; they will seem to grow larger and larger, helping crowd out distractions. (It's hard to forcefully quash distractions, easier to crowd them out with more rewarding states.) When you find something like this that works well, it might become a 'nimitta', or steady mental image which can eventually seem so close, so large that it can 'swallow' the mind, where 'you' (awareness) suddenly, unexpectedly, unintentionally 'fall into,' find yourself 'inside' the image. That's absorption. Whatever the 'object' was originally, eventually a mental 'counterpart' image of it forms, and the mind, in effect, absorbs into that, into itself, so to speak.

Than-Geof also recommends at the end of a sitting, take a moment and reflect on any times during the session when things seemed to be going well (pleasantly calm and steady). Again, see if you can recall what got you there. Doing this can make it easier to get back there in the future. Little things like thisbuild on each other and gradually accelerate progress.

This aspect of reflecting afterwards is small step towards, a premonition of what's called the 5th aspect of jhana mastery**, post-jhana reflection: coming out of absorption, the mind is capable of extraordinarily strong vipassana / insight. That's the real payoff. Having stilled, to whatever degree, the extraneous motions of normal consciousness, one can see more closely, exactly how the mind operates as it starts up again, launching-off into it's usual 'stuff'.

"I deal with a great deal of emotional anguish at this point in my life to be honest."
Aha. This sounds like a biggie; might help explain the difficulty you've experienced. The mind has to feel 'safe', have a sense of security, of refuge, before it can start to 'let go' into samadhi concentration, especially if the anguish is accompanied by a sense of "holding-on-for-dear-life," or desperate grasping for relief that subtly blocks the letting go. Perhaps some kind of fabrication (sanskara in the usefulsense, as provisional tool) can help, such as "for just this hour, I'm safe; the people or issues won't disappear back out there, but can be turned away from for just this time." It's like just "being in the present". For just this time, there's no threat banging down the door. Relish it. It's only temporary, but even the deepest jhana experience will also be just temporary.

Or maybe there's the possibility of seeing yourself a bit detached – look, here's a person beset with this anguish, but here's also the possibility of a vantage point separated from, released, even if just temporarally, from it. This may open a crack, a point of leverage to create some distance from that constrained mental situation.

Another teacher (Gil Fronsdal) expressed this well once in a retreat: here in this week of retreat (or for just this hour), the mind can feel safe, can let go of tightness (bodily and mental), let go and "fall into the heart", an immeasurable open space of peace. Just touching this space creates positive feedback into the sense of mental safety. Getting a glimpse of this might be the beginning of being able to cultivate it so thatit gradually becomes an ever-available place of refuge.

Than-Geof teaches something related: this refuge you can discover, secluded and safe, in the simple breath-object, here-and-now; can help create the sense where you can remember (be mindfull) that it's always there, here inside and untouchable by whatever hullabaloo goes on outside (the rest of life). The breath, he notes, is an especially good object for this cultivation, because the breath is a true friend; it's always been there for you, and will always be there (until the point where it won't matter any more anyway).

"I hope it won't hold me back from being able to overcome that part of myself."
That part of yourself may never befinally and totally "overcome", but there may be another part that can slowly grow and be present more and more of the time to experience things in a very different light.

* Nothing absolute about Than-Geof as teacher; many others have equally good or better advice; he just happens to be the one I've listened to the most and been able to glean a lot practical insight from.

** The '5 Masteries of Concentration' is a Visudhimagga model; they are mastery of 'adverting to', 'entering', 'sustaining', 'coming-out', and 'reflection / vipassana on the experience afterwards'.

RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?
Answer
5/13/15 9:26 AM as a reply to Connie Dobbs.
Connie,

If you are able to practice meditation without the idea of attainments or goals, that other method will bring you to jhana very nicely.  The method I suggest in this thread is a way to break the mind out of the persuit of pleasure.  If jhana is something to chase after, and you want to grab it quickly, the best way to do that is to ramp up your striving until there is just nothing left.  Then you will attain jhana (or, perhaps, collapse into jhana), and get insight into what created jhana, and then you can drop striving completely.  If, on the other hand, you can sit down with no goals and just allow yourself to exist, jhana will just be a part of that.

I think there's a correlation to the way people describe retreats.  Retreats are, essentially, a kind of mental torture, so people spend the first half breaking their minds, and the second half surrendering to the process after being broken.  You don't HAVE TO break your mind in order to let go, but maybe some people just have to learn this the hard way - which is to say, the hard way might just be easier than the easy way if you're bent on getting some reward for some effort.  See what I mean?  Jhana is actually very easy, but this, precisely, might be why it's so difficult for most of us at the beginning.  How can you really convince yourself that you don't need anything to be prefectly happy and content right now?  You don't need to meditate or concentrate or even have any insight to do jhana.  You just have to stop doing anything and expecting anything.  So maybe it's just easier to do as much as you possibly can until you wear all of that wanting out, then there will just be jhana and you'll laugh at how simple it is.

RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?
Answer
5/13/15 4:39 PM as a reply to Pål.
Pål:
Richard Zen:

  • Savour the breath like savouring something delicious to eat or savouring a sunset...


I'm in pretty much the same situtation as OP. From my inexperienced point of view, what you wrote above makes me doubt if your version of Jhana is the Jhana described in the suttas. The Buddha warns countless times about the dangers of sensuality and says that the pleasure of Jhana is beyond the senses and also that the way to Jhana is through letting go. (How) is what you're describing not sensuality? (Not a rethorical question.) Or isn't sensuality a hindrance?


I can't necessarily improve on Richard's response, I can just offer my own experience. I do often have a feeling of comfort or relief when turning back to the breath after noting a distraction. It can even make me smile.

RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?
Answer
5/14/15 12:23 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
There is plenty of good advice above.

@Not Tao: I personally didn't find retreats to all be torture, particularly once I learned to practice well. Some hard points? Yes. Torture? No. You might check out my recent audio diary from my last retreat, to be found in the audio section here www.firekasina.org in the Audio section. Those are my reports as it happened, and I don't think it will sound like torture to you.

In that same vein, Kasinas (such as the candle flame we were using, with instructions and advice given on that site) are a quick ticket to jhana for many, though I agree with those who advocate for more time leading to deeper and deeper jhanas, and appreciate Richard Zen's point about the depths that may be attained with more time spent.

I hope some of this helps, and it is good to see threads like this getting such nice responses.

Daniel

RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?
Answer
5/14/15 1:39 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:

In that same vein, Kasinas (such as the candle flame we were using, with instructions and advice given on that site) are a quick ticket to jhana for many, though I agree with those who advocate for more time leading to deeper and deeper jhanas, and appreciate Richard Zen's point about the depths that may be attained with more time spent.

Daniel

Hi Daniel,

The book that Ian And mentioned in this thread, "Concentration: A guide to Mental Mastery" seems to focus a lot on Kasinas. I just read through it and the approach is very different from the more traditional breathe object that I am accustomed to.

I don't know. Perhaps I've been trying breathe meditation for too long and it's just not effective for me at all since it's too difficult. I've been to a 10-day retreat. I've tried forcing myself to do weekend home retreats where I have no plans except to meditate all day. I keep trying, but my willpower and discipline just isn't strong enough for that. I am a weak-willed person at the moment.

I think I want to give up on the breathe object. It feels wrong because I've been at it for so long, but it just hasn't been giving me anything... if that sounds bad to you guys and I shouldn't give up on it, please let me know and I will reconsider.

Here is the first couple practices that the book talks about:

1) focus only on the sight of the second hand of a watch. The goal is to reach 5 minutes of uninterrupted one pointed concentration on watching the second hand.

2) focus on the mental sound of a mantra. The goal is, again, 5 minutes of uninterrupted one pointed concentration.

Practice for about 30 minutes twice a day, and when you can reach 5 minutes of uninterrupted concentration, move on to the more advanced exercises which involve one pointed concentration on a visualization of an object.

When I am doing the first exercise of focusing on the watch, I feel like I can exercise my "concentration muscle" more clearly, since the object is much more tangible than something as abstract as the sensation of my breathe. But then, why would anyone choose the breathe to focus on over something more tangible? Perhaps using the breathe as an object is much more difficult, but also more rewarding somehow? I remember Goenka, at the 10-day retreat, saying that the key to enlightenment is to use bodily sensations as the object.

Regardless, it would probably make the most sense to focus on easier objects and return to the breathe when my concentration becomes stronger. Thank you everyone. I can't believe I never had this realization sooner! Well, I think I was just unaware that there were other objects to use than the breathe.

RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?
Answer
5/14/15 8:20 AM as a reply to johnson.
rich r a:
...
To those who have attained jhanas, I am wondering what was your schedule like shortly before you reached jhana for the first time, and what is it like now?
I did a Goenka 10 day, then an hour a day twice on most days.  I started reliably hitting a soft 3'rd jhana around 12 months after my first retreat.  What really helped was watching the video 'guided tour to 13 jhanas' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRdiOoTZC3A

The video gave a glimpse into how simple the practice is and lowered my expectation about it.  This helped me recognize the part of my experience that was jhana, and this helped me focus properly on jhanas.

I think the most important part of my practice was sitting for a whole hour each time.

RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?
Answer
5/14/15 6:38 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
@Daniel: Haha, I didn't mean to imply it's always torture.  I just meant to say that retreat is an artificial situation (unless you're a monk) and will be a full frontal assault on any mind that is spending a lot of time and energy chasing after life.  You can see this a lot in the reports people make around the internet.  Often, the first few days are a kind of grinding hellish experience, and then suddenly it's all okay and thats when the interesting things happen for people.  There's a reason for this, I think.  Specifically, people need to wear out their sense of "I need to do something" and get to the point of being okay with what's currently happening.  Someone who goes in with this mindset probably will be fine the whole way through.

A daily sitting practice might not be enough time to wear out this feeling, though, and in this case jhana may be hard to figure out...

I'll second using Kasinas as well.  In terms of concentration, it seems like it's much easier to focus on a visual object than other kinds of objects, and concentration is a good way to forget yourself.  Rich, you might have more success with a simple object to look at, rather than that clock method.  If you're trying to count how long you're concentrating on something, you're likely to be distracted by trying to watch yourself for distraction.  I actually had a lot of accidental success when I was younger and I was trying to learn telekinesis, haha.  I was watching psi wheels intently trying to move them.  There was a number of times I just forgot about telekinesis entierly because everything suddenly looked so beautful and, hey, it feels good just to sit here.  emoticon  This actually still works for me too! XD

RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?
Answer
5/15/15 12:14 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao,

Well, the exercise is not to focus on the time or the watch, but only on the tip of the second hand. I'm not supposed to actually count the time during the meditation until I find that I have completely drifted. Then, the book says to record how long I was able to maintain my concentration, then start over and see if I could beat that time.

This doesn't sound good to you? I admit that I do find myself being distracted because... well, I'm staring at a watch, and it's kind of hard to focus on only the second hand and not sneak a peak at the time. But the book has been really good so far and I'm a little hesitant to diverge from it.

Psi wheels actually sound kind of cool to focus on though.. that will be my next option if I find that the watch is too distracting. Thanks for that suggestion. The book also does talk, in the first chapter, about testing out telekinesis as proof of the power of concentration by focusing on a pin floating on water. So psi wheels are totally in line with the book!

RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?
Answer
5/15/15 4:19 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
Not Tao:
Haha, I didn't mean to imply it's always torture. I just meant to say that retreat is an artificial situation (unless you're a monk) and will be a full frontal assault on any mind that is spending a lot of time and energy chasing after life.

You can see this a lot in the reports people make around the internet. Often, the first few days are a kind of grinding hellish experience, and then suddenly it's all okay and thats when the interesting things happen for people.

There's a reason for this, I think. Specifically, people need to wear out their sense of "I need to do something" and get to the point of being okay with what's currently happening. Someone who goes in with this mindset probably will be fine the whole way through.

A daily sitting practice might not be enough time to wear out this feeling, though, and in this case jhana may be hard to figure out...


Not Tao, I like the way you view things.

Your description above of the difficulty encountered by first-time meditators in a restricted environment where they are placed in a circumstance where they have to learn to sink or swim in terms of becoming content with inactivity and to watch the movement of their own inner thought processes reminds me of the description I wrote in the first chapter of a book I have in mind to finish (when I can find the time to get to it). The working title for the book is The Lost Art of Contemplation. The first chapter is titled "Sitting Quietly Content. . . in an Empty Room." The first three paragraphs are reprised below:

     If you stop to think about it, what is more sublime and yet excruciatingly difficult to do than to be able to sit quietly content in an empty room? If you sit and contemplate that thought for a bit, you may come to appreciate its profound meaning.
      In today’s modern world, with its fast pace and hustle and bustle living, how many people can say with confidence that they would be perfectly content to sit in an empty room for an hour or two? After the first few minutes without stimulation, most people might be inclined to become stir crazy. Expecting something to happen, yet constantly being barraged with empty silence and non-activity. Faced with this predicated circumstance, there is nothing to do, nowhere to go, and no one to be. It could become the most exasperating experience in the world to attempt. And yet, it is this very ability that we as a modern society seem to have lost.
      The measure of one’s ability to endure an empty room is the measure of their capacity to be content with nothing more than their own bare conscious awareness. Can you be alone in the same room with yourself and remain content? This is the question one seeks to answer. This one ability is the origination, the wellspring of being able to practice the lost art of contemplation. If one is assailed by anxiety while sitting in an empty room, it fairly condenses for them, in stark reality, the extent to which they lack the ability for true contemplative activity.


RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?
Answer
5/15/15 2:00 PM as a reply to Ian And.
You should finish your book Ian.  That's some nice writing. emoticon

RE: What is your schedule like, to those who attained jhana?
Answer
5/28/15 3:34 PM as a reply to Not Tao.
<p>Sorry for answering this late, but it seems to me that Not Tao, Richard Zen and Chris J Macie describe different states when your talking Jhana. Correct me if I&#39;m wrong but NT seem to describe&nbsp;pleasant states that come from not giving a shit for a moment, RZ states that come from focusing on sensual pleasure but leads to mental pleasure and CJM the absorptions in inner light (like Vsm and Ajahn Brahm). I think what&nbsp;CJM calls Jhanas might be a stronger version of the the others&#39;s.&nbsp;</p>

<p>Am I completely confused?</p>