Focus on pleasant sensation?

Keep Calm, modified 5 Years ago at 4/11/17 9:35 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 4/11/17 7:13 AM

Focus on pleasant sensation?

Posts: 15 Join Date: 4/11/17 Recent Posts
Hello all,

I've been practicing Leigh Brasington's version of  the Jhana's. I follow the breath until breathing becomes very subtle or seems to disappear completely and I have sufficient concentration. I then turn my attention to a pleasant physical sensation which is strongest in the hands. Here is where I am getting confused/stuck...

I can focus on the sensation of piti in the  hands and often mild piti will begin to arise in the  arms and chest. However, when focused on the breath (before I had moved to focus on hands), mild showers of piti occur in the head/shoulders and is much more pleasurable (though dificult to focus on).

I've experimented with focusing on both the breath and the piti with either breath in the forground or piti in the forground of awareness, but I find this affects my concentration.

Should I continue to focus on the  subtle breath instead of moving on to the pleasant sensation, or should I move to the pleasant sensation? Or perhaps I should continue focusing on both breath and piti?

Your thoughts much appreciated!
dharmaguy, modified 5 Years ago at 4/11/17 8:54 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 4/11/17 8:54 AM

RE: Focus on pleasant sensation?

Posts: 4 Join Date: 3/13/17 Recent Posts
I would say it's a fair rule of thumb that: if in doubt, try watching the breath longer before switching to the pleasant sensation.  You'll build up more focus, and a stronger pleasant sensation to switch your focus onto.

Trying to focus on both the breath and the pleasantness is probably going to water down your concentration, better to just watch the breath and then just watch the pleasantness than to try to do both at once.

So your concern is that when you switch to watching the pleasantness, you aren't getting the 'mild showers of piti occur in the head/shoulders and is much more pleasurable' that happened while you were watching the breath?

Perhaps what's going on here is that when you're just watching the breath you aren't trying to make rapture happen, so you have better samadhi which results in better rapture; whereas once you switch to watching the pleasantness you go in with an ulterior motive, ok pleasantness increase please which actually holds you back.

You need to watch the pleasantness without any grasping to make it be more pleasant. Only then will it really swell into rapture. I find it helpful to try to see the pleasantness of the experience as just a sign of the level of samadhi, samdhi being the real goal, so that as the rapture starts to increase my mind says 'cool, rapture implies samadhi, keep focusing on rapture to get more samadhi' instead of 'cool, rapture, grab onto that to get more rapture'. 

Best wishes. emoticon
Keep Calm, modified 5 Years ago at 4/11/17 9:30 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 4/11/17 9:24 AM

RE: Focus on pleasant sensation?

Posts: 15 Join Date: 4/11/17 Recent Posts
Dharma guy, this is really helpful

Watching the breath for a longer period of time seems to be the best route and as you said this will build more focus and create a stronger pleasant sensation. 

And I've realised the 'ok pleasantness increase please' is definitely something I'm doing instead of just watching the sensation and focusing on the samadhi rather than trying to increase the rapture.

Thankyou for the advice! emoticon
Ed Ge, modified 5 Years ago at 7/20/17 9:16 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 7/20/17 9:16 AM

RE: Focus on pleasant sensation?

Posts: 7 Join Date: 7/20/17 Recent Posts
Beginner here, having difficulty with focusing on pleasant sensation.

The best thing I got as a pleasant object for focusing is the calm-joyful feeling (that often arises by itself while I'm doing breath concentration) or the smile. I tried focusing on the "pleasantness" of my resting hands, but there's not much there.

While focusing on the joyful-calmness or the smile, I can get a slight increase, but it's not going much further than that.

Should I try to find some actual physical sensation that is pleasant, or it's fine to keep practicing on what seems to work for me right now (the joyful-calmness feeling)?

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