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Where did my Jahna go?
Answer
3/24/08 8:45 PM
Forum: Practical Dharma

Dear all,

I just finished a 15 day retreat using the noting technique. In one occasion, I was noting my breath and suddenly I got into what it seems to fit the description of the first Jahna: this state was blissful and very calm (like being drunk and high without the mental lethargy), but the most important point is that I could notice the sensations of my breath with a tremendous clarity. Furthermore, after a while, watching the breath was boring (too slow) and I decided to watch the itchy sensation on my legs (caused by the numbness). This felt like watching a bullet bouncing against the walls of a maze with a high speed. There was no effort required to hold this state and it lasted until I decided to finish my sitting meditation.

Regarding this experience I have the following questions:

1) Is this a Jahna (shamata or vipassana)? or is still a "near Jahna experience" (sorry I don't remember the pali word for it)?

2) Is this supposed to be the "regular practice" as we go deeper on the path? or I just hit a state that I should not cultivate or pay too much attention?

Cheers,

mautelino

RE: Where did my Jahna go?
Answer
3/24/08 8:47 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
I forgot to say that I am looking forward to repeat this experience not because of the rapture or the bliss, but because the clarity of the investigation was tremendous and I think the benefits of doing the noting practice from this state are much higher than those of the usual mental states. Please, any comment of recommendation is welcomed.

RE: Where did my Jahna go?
Answer
3/25/08 10:26 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Mautelino,

Did you talk to the teachers at the retreat? What did they say?
Would you be willing to write up a page about the place you stayed under the "Places to Practice" heading?

Unless - this just occurred to me - your retreat was a solitary retreat? In that case, what advice do you have for those who would like to try that?

I hope it's not rude to reply by just posing questions - I have no experience with the experience you describe and so can't comment on it.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Where did my Jahna go?
Answer
3/25/08 2:36 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Author: sonamdolma

Mautelino:

I'm pretty much a total beginner and, to me, your experience sounds different than what I've experienced. This afternoon, I've been checking out the description of each level and then trying to consciously travel from 1st to the 2nd to the 3rd, in order to get more familiar with them. For me, the 1st has a sense of stability , is dark or cozy, and is not too difficult to get into. It always happens that I feel like I'm taking an elevator down - on the end of an outbreath. So then I was trying to get to the 2nd and it may be that it worked - went somewhere more open with more light. Haven't yet gotten to the 3rd.

The sense of clarity that you experienced sounds wonderful. I haven't had an experience like that and I almost wonder if it isn't 3rd level?!?

I hope more experienced members will add their experiences.

Ann

RE: Where did my Jahna go?
Answer
3/26/08 3:20 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Hi Monkeymind,

I was at the MBMC in Malaysia. I will enter all the details in the "Places to practice" as soon as I come back to germany (I am still in Malaysia). This place is for me a gold mine and I am very interested to share my experience with the community.

I discussed this experience with the meditation master, but I will share it with you later on.

Cheers,

mautelino

RE: Where did my Jahna go?
Answer
3/26/08 5:42 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
In my experience it's best to treat the labels one gives various samatha jhanas as sticky notes that you may have to move and place elsewhere, realizing that they're made of factors and those can each take the limelight at different moments without the state necessarily shifting... likewise the intensity of the jhana, at least from my experience, can vary so much that a "hard" or "deep" state can seem altogether different from a "soft" or weaker state though they are really made of the exact same things, just varying in energy and the other favorable conditions. The first jhana can be just pleasant, or it can feel like I am floating upside down and frozen.

That said, canonically, being able to investigage rapidly from object to object with "no effort" is the second vipassana jhana. In my experience since there is a lot of energy moving at that stage (generally I can reach it if I have more than a few minutes to sit but the stage is the limit of my current skill) samatha can arise quite spontaneously and strongly even if, e.g., I am going through nasty physical side-effects. Sometimes it can overwhelm my mindfulness but in those cases I either make an effort to back away from the state or to just ground out into physical objects, like subtle energy movements or some of the grosser physical side-effects, both of which I find to be very noticeable, and sometimes I just indulge in the state. Likewise, I find that the intensity of all these phenomena is subject to conditions: on the weekend if my apartment is quiet it can be quite strong; sitting for half an hour before work it's not nearly as intense. Obviously retreat would put all that into the pressure cooker.

RE: Where did my Jahna go?
Answer
3/26/08 1:14 PM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Nathan28's assessment of that being the second jhana sounds spot on to me, after which comes Dissolution, hence the "Where did my jhana go" phenomena, as the clarity drops off rapidly after the 2nd jhana's highs in most people, and then the meditator has to figure out how to navigate in the third jhana, in which the center is somewhat out of phase with phenomena and the periphery of attention predominates, thus making for wide attention being the way to go rather than narrow attention most of the time, though beginning to bring clarity back to the center helps round the thing out, and thus builds up part of what is needed to get to the fourth jhana.

It is so good to hear that people are going on retreats, and particularly at a place so good as MBMC.

RE: Where did my Jahna go?
Answer
3/27/08 2:09 AM as a reply to Guillermo Z.
Thank you very much for the diagnose. I hope to get more frequently such experiences as my practice deepends.

@Monkeymind: The response of the meditation master during the interview was something like this: "Did you make a note of this state (i.e. its calmness)? Experiences can be neutral, pleasent and unpleasant. The important thing is to keep on noting regardless of which type of experience you are having"... my translation: keep on practicing! Saydaw is simply cool!