Meditation Questions

Michael, modified 5 Years ago.

Meditation Questions

Posts: 8 Join Date: 6/1/16 Recent Posts
Sorry, new user on the forum, but was referred to here from another forum.  I have a few questions that I hope you guys will be able to answer.  I am currently and will be going on a sevenish month retreat to practice meditation, so most of my questions arise because I do not have a teacher.  Any help you can offer is much appreciated.

1) I am curious do you believe that your brain's default network after meditation - natural emotional state has improved? How has it if so - genuinely happier?

2) How long does it take for you to enter the first Jhana and then subsequent Jhana after that... all the way to fourth or higher. How long to learn how to access all eight Jhanas?

3) Recently, when I have been meditating about 1 to 2 minutes in I get an intense pressure at my forhead.  About 4 minutes in this changes to a more localized pressure that evovles into a "falling" and "rising" experience around this pressure.  After about 8 to 10 minutes, I can diagonose that this pressure is actually a spherical object on the inside of my head that I can "rotate around", but not enter.  It is very distracting and occurs way before access concentration and the first Jhana.  If I want to get into access concentration, I have to let go and stop focusing on my forhead.

4) Sometimes I feel like I can speed up Access Concentration by applying "pressure" or tension to certain parts of my brain. Real or fake?
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Il Matto, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Questions

Posts: 1532 Join Date: 7/6/13 Recent Posts
Michael:

1) I am curious do you believe that your brain's default network after meditation - natural emotional state has improved?


Yes.

How has it if so - genuinely happier?


Yes.  Plus more equanimity.  General nervous system programming seems to have improved.  Less stress reaction, etc.

2) How long does it take for you to enter the first Jhana and then subsequent Jhana after that... all the way to fourth or higher.


I can enter the soft version of any jhana immediately.  If I tried I could probably get into a medium strength version of jhanas 1 to 3 for a short time.  Hard jhana happens only rarely for me, and out of my control.

How long to learn how to access all eight Jhanas?


After a series of shifts in insight meditation which took 2 years, I had access to soft versions of all 8.

After about 8 to 10 minutes, I can diagonose that this pressure is actually a spherical object on the inside of my head that I can "rotate around", but not enter.


Try approaching it in two ways: 1) as a knot to be untied, 2) as a pocket to be 'popped.'  But please be very careful with this.  

Or, try inhaling joyful energy into this area, and exhaling relaxation throughout your whole body. IME, this technique only works if it is repeated hundreds of times a day. 

4) Sometimes I feel like I can speed up Access Concentration by applying "pressure" or tension to certain parts of my brain. Real or fake?


Real, but on the level of consciousness/energy, not your physical brain.


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tom moylan, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Questions

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
howdy michael and welcome,
definite improvement for me.  i've been at this for about ten years with different traditions and techniques.  it can be a long haul with challenging territory so the expectation of a linear climb to ecstasy will invariably leaad to dissapointment.  that said, long term you will almost definitely notice improvement in your base state of being.  for more on this read daniel's book "mastering the core teachings of the buddha".  its full of details of both technique and philosophical basis for all of this stuff.

focusing on time (how long until i reach jhana, how much time to get into jhana etc.)  really isn't helpful.  i say this because the expectation it creates add just another layer of business to ones  mind and that is what you don't want.  there is also HUGE variabilty between yogis so speculation doesn't help here IMO.

for my part, though, the sensations of the lower jhanas are lurking behind every experience and require just a slight move of attention to feel 1-4 and perhaps 8 minutes to get relatively strongly absorbed.  like il matto, getting into really hard jhanas especially the more subtle (5+) takes determination ahead of time and more time 20 minutes plus ~

about your meditation experiences, especially around the energy sensations in your head, its important to know what you are trying to do: shamata or vipassana.  that these sensations are interesting makes them a good object of focus for jhana.  if they are too slippery to remain exclusively focused on however then intentionally broading your focus or directing your attention lower in your body, or following your breath in a cycle around your body may help.  for instance on the in breath visualize a path starting at your perineum moving up your spine and culminating at your crown as your in breath finishes while the out breath continues down the front of your face, into your throat, down through your heart to end the outbreath at the perineum again...rinse and repeat.  this will spread the energy / focus away from your head centered energy.

that said, many people focus on this energy in the head and have breakthroughs.  some people report more than distractions though up to painfully distracting energy.  as il matto advised, don't push it too hard.
Michael, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Questions

Posts: 8 Join Date: 6/1/16 Recent Posts
Thanks for the comments... definitely some insights I will try... probably a long time before I can report back with anything.

I am curious can your body support multiple entries into access concentration in a short time frame?  Are you able to enter access concentration, say then fail to enter first Jhana.  Get up, walk around, and three minutes later sit back down to attempt to gain access concentration again? 

Not sure if hard on the body... slight headache after meditating... hard dopamine or seratonin pull? No excess left until rebuilding of levels?
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Dream Walker, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Questions

Posts: 1335 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Michael:
I am curious can your body support multiple entries into access concentration in a short time frame?  Are you able to enter access concentration, say then fail to enter first Jhana.  Get up, walk around, and three minutes later sit back down to attempt to gain access concentration again?
 sure
Michael:
Not sure if hard on the body... slight headache after meditating... hard dopamine or seratonin pull? No excess left until rebuilding of levels?

your assuming that you are "doing" something.....making something that is not there....Think of it more as tuning into more subtle vibrations that are all already there. The big vibrations drown out the smaller ones but if you can just calm it all down, the big ones mellow out and you can tune into the next subtle one....
Think of it as undoing....
~D
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Stirling Campbell, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Questions

Posts: 602 Join Date: 3/13/16 Recent Posts
Dream Walker:

your assuming that you are "doing" something.....making something that is not there....Think of it more as tuning into more subtle vibrations that are all already there. The big vibrations drown out the smaller ones but if you can just calm it all down, the big ones mellow out and you can tune into the next subtle one....
Think of it as undoing....
~D

This is good advice.

You will have many experiences in meditation, good and band. It is good to observe them, but be careful not to become attached to them, grasp at achieving them or, on the opposite side, to have aversion to them or label them as "bad". Remember that much hard work gets done when perserving through diffiicult sittings with detachment. 
Michael, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Questions

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Can one achieve the fifth Jhana before the first Jhana?  I think the first Jhana is easier to get too, but two different methods of approaching the meditation... different things to focus on.
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tom moylan, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Questions

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i think anything is possible but...read Stirlings post again..this applies.  as one progresses through the numbers of jhana 1,2...you are moving from gross to subtle.  so the progression is a successive quieting and calming which allows the more subtle to become apparent.
Michael, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Questions

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I have not been meditating for too long, so I am not sure how many opinon will change over time.  I am not sure you can say that meditation is seeing what is already there.  You could say that you are creating the specific conditions necessary for these phenomenon to arise.  These Jhana are arising because we are focusing on specific components or objects in our psyche.  If you focus on pleasure or focus on the gap between space you are more than certain to get the results you are searching for or the results we all see.  I try to take a scientific approach to this - with each action you are opening different brain regions and closing others.  Jhana just like enlightment are a specific combination of brain communication.

If I focus on angry, adrenaline, or another experience who says you cannot experience a different Jhana?  I use my arms as a point of contact to enter the first Jhana... does using the legs for example change the style of first Jhana you have?  I know you are absorbing the entire body essentially - minus the core,  so all points becomes one. But still.

I do not see the first Jhana as being more subtle than the fifth Jhana - if that is what I am experiencing.  You are just moving concentration across a flat plane that holds different points which you might stop at.
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Stirling Campbell, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Questions

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Michael:
I have not been meditating for too long, so I am not sure how many opinon will change over time.  I am not sure you can say that meditation is seeing what is already there.  You could say that you are creating the specific conditions necessary for these phenomenon to arise.  These Jhana are arising because we are focusing on specific components or objects in our psyche.  If you focus on pleasure or focus on the gap between space you are more than certain to get the results you are searching for or the results we all see.  I try to take a scientific approach to this - with each action you are opening different brain regions and closing others.  Jhana just like enlightment are a specific combination of brain communication.

Keep practicing without attachment, aversion, or expectation and you will see how things are. Forming so many opinions early on is likely to create problems later. I would abandon them. 
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tom moylan, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Questions

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ditto DW...

sometimes, ok pretty often, my intention to sit will be stopped by outside circumstances / events / mininished resolve etc.  no problem getting back on track.
Michael, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Questions

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haha can anyone explain what access concentration feels like.  I just realized and believe that that my access concentration that I have been achieving was actually the Fifth Jhana and I have been using that to enter the first Jhana. 

My Access Concentration feels like you are pulling within yourself and all your boundaries fade away.  If you touch an object - you are the object. 

How can I tell when I have entered access concentration and attempt to move into the first Jhana? Can't you just push air downwards, decentralize focus on the core - essentially relaxing that area, push energy to the extremedies, and then continue to create a feedback loop in the arms until entering the first Jhana? I find that this is quite hard and you do need some sort of "Access Concentration".
Michael, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Questions

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I am hoping to get feedback from those that have been posting on this thread currently. I was hoping to get a review of how I view the events that occur during meditation. Let me know if the conclusions that I am deriving are accurate or need some adjustments.

During, most of my everyday life I feel a tiny vibration when I close my eyes and focus in on my body. I am never been able to explain this. As I began meditating, I noticed that these vibrations got stronger(more noticeable) as you got closer to the first Jhana. At this point, I had only reached the first Jhana by luck a few times. As I am starting to refine the process I am starting to come to the conclusion that the First Jhana has nothing to do with a dopamine release or body sensations, but just the mind perceiving these intensifying natural vibrations as pleasurable sensation that occur on the body. But the body itself is not actually experiencing anything.

I have spent sometime finding the link between masturbation and the reasoning behind not doing it. I know that it is a sensual pleasure, craving, and the perception of association. But naturally, I was curious because most of my life I have never felt anything at the point of climax and was wondering if meditation could make me become more in tune with the experience. I think on one point it does as body sensations do become more noticed, but I also noticed that as I got better at meditating - the feeling that comes from concentration quickly overshadowed any sensation that occurs for me during climax when I did both at the same time.

So this just reaffirmed the idea above. On one note, I want to say that the only thing I ever felt during masturbation was the increase in concentration that comes from the rise to climax that puts me more in tune with these natural vibrations. But I also feel like these were two different pleasures and each can be distinguished from one another.  Is this distinguishing of the pleasures because only one of them satisfies a craving, so I have greater attachment to it? It is only my thoughts and the craving that distinguishes them?  This would then infer that their are no natural pleasures and all pleasures stem from vibrations leading into the first Jhana? 

Ex: Is it the food you eat that releases the dopamine or the concentration that occurs during the act of eating that produces the dopamine.  The argument of Mindful Eating vs. Unmindful eating and how it is perceived as so much better.

I would characterise natural pleasures as the senses; taste, hearing(Music), sight(Craving), touch, etc.  When you choose an object for concentration in meditation is this not the same process the brain uses to decide your personality?  If you love Rubbiks Cubes and have never practiced meditation and you have a natural tendacy to move towards this object because it gives you pleasure - is it not the same?  It gives you happiness.  So with meditation are we not learning or teaching our brain to find all objects in this world as objects of concentration?  And if you get skilled enough, everything carries the same weight - no difference of attachment?

So is that the same for everyone? Are their actual natural pleasures? Am I unique in that I rarely feel natural pleasures? Maybe I am partial right and partial wrong. If anyone can feel in the missing gaps it would be much appreciated.
Jinxed P, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Meditation Questions

Posts: 346 Join Date: 8/29/11 Recent Posts
Michael,

You mentioned that you suffered from depression. The inability to feel pleasures is on one of the hallmark symptoms of depression.

It may take your body and brain a while to fully recover this ability, despite your meditation accomplishments.

Make sure you are also exercising (a lot!). Make sure you are getting sunlight. Make sure you are eating healthy. Whole, real foods, none of that processed crap. No sodas. And being social, all of those are very important. Do all those things as well as continue your meditation practice, and I'm sure you'll be feeling pleasures again soon.