Jumpstart your Jhana

David Charles Greeson, modified 13 Years ago at 10/27/08 6:14 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 10/27/08 6:14 AM

Jumpstart your Jhana

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Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

This method is not really novel, but I've never seen it discussed in the occult literature and it happens to be one of the most convenient methods of inhibitory gnosis (trance), and confers the additional benefit that it offers rapid and deep trance induction with practice. By rapid I mean less than 5 minutes, by deep, I mean full on virtual environments the quality of a good lucid dream (4th jhana). It would work best for reclining or seated positions.

The method is progressive muscular relaxation, which involves a technique of progressively tensing muscle groups and then relaxing them - the tension exhausts the muscles forcing them to relax. We always carry some tension in our body, and with a little practice, say a week or more, one learns the sensation of when a muscle group is relaxed or not. After that, the muscle relaxation can be paired with a visual anchor rather than progressively tensing and relaxing.

This is a good link for the technique: http://www.twilightbridge.com/stress/complete/16pmr.htm

One should be careful to work through all the muscle groups. Many people make a tape for themselves the first week or so. When one is finished then one should feel rather the way one does right when they wake up in the morning, right before they have moved. At this point one is in a light trance, and various things can be tried (such as astral travel). My own preference is to go further with deepening techniques and enter a deeper self-hypnotic trance, and I will discuss that further below.

Once one has a good idea of what it feels like to be deeply relaxed, one can use a visualization technique to induce the state, as is mentioned before. My personal technique is to visualize a golden liquid light form at the bottoms of my feet, begin to work it's way into my feet, relaxing all the muscles that it enters, and slowly flow into my entire body, relaxing everything until I am entirely immersed in the light.
David Charles Greeson, modified 13 Years ago at 10/27/08 6:18 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 10/27/08 6:18 AM

RE: Jumpstart your Jhana

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To Continue, This is properly understood as a hypnotic induction, and at this point I will use a "deepening technique" of which many are available. My method is to visualize a staircase of seven flights of stairs, each of seven steps (the number actually matters little) extending out into space. At the bottom of the steps is a doorway that leads wherever I want (with new people I'm doing this with I tell them to make the place where they've felt the most relaxed. For me I have a private island with a magickal temple complex and laboratory with a lagoon. So I go down the steps open the door and go through. Then I will progressively notice what I see, hear, smell, feel, etc. At that point I'll do whatever I came to do. Again, one can have an astral temple here, mentors, go to the past or future, re-enter dreams one has had, simulate if not really experience astral travel, etc.

Again, I think that this is most helpful for those working on developing concentration states, and I haven't tried it with insight practice yet.

Mike L, modified 13 Years ago at 10/27/08 3:12 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 10/27/08 3:12 PM

RE: Jumpstart your Jhana

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Gosh, who needs WoW? :^)

Reminds me of yoga nidra, aka 61-points. http://swamij.com/online61.htm and many other sources online. Your post explains a bit why so many of the guided yoga nidra recordings I've heard have a visualization element, which seemed out of place to me. How useful is visualization practice on its own, on the order you describe, for increasing concentration? Obviously one would be better at creating and focusing on imagined scenes, but is that concentration of the same kind as what one aims at in meditation?
David Charles Greeson, modified 13 Years ago at 10/28/08 3:48 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 10/28/08 3:48 AM

RE: Jumpstart your Jhana

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I looked at the Yoga nidra stuff, and had not been familiar with it before, thanks! I think that the muscular relaxation is probably the most important element, and my own theory is that it mimics sleep paralysis, thus allowing a higher degree of visualization. Probably at the point of profound muscular relaxation, one is at least at the point of access concentration (and can therefore enter easily into 1st Jhana) without any visualization. As far as I can tell, given the criterion that Daniel provides in his book, the point at which one can interact with a virtual environment would correspond to a 4th (Samantha) Jhana - and from my experience it can be entered into directly, without passing through the preceding states. I'd be interested in the feedback of advanced Theravada practitioners here, as I am relatively new to the "Jhana system." What I can tell you is that a degree of physiological control is possible from this state that is not normally achievable, including the ability to block pain. This is straight up self-hypnosis and if it's not a jhana, I'd like to know what it is. The guy who taught me hypnosis was a surgeon, and he used it in burn victims. As it turns out, most of the tissue injury from a burn is due to secondary inflammation, and he claimed he could drastically reduce it with this technique - he showed me some amazing pictures of patients he worked with, including an aluminum worker who had dipped his leg in molten aluminum, and had not needed a skin graft.
At any rate, I think that this is definitely relevant to the concentration states (though as you point out, in some ways it's more difficult to visualize a stable image of a triangle than a moving environment), and has direct relevance to cultivation of the siddhis or powers (which by definition require the cultivation of concentration states). Insight meditation is indirectly related but interdependent on the ability to access these states.
Mark L, modified 13 Years ago at 11/22/08 7:06 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 11/22/08 7:06 AM

RE: Jumpstart your Jhana

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Is there a consciousness "break" or "gap" when you cut over to full 3D virtual experience? (In other words, do you black out momentarily with the chance of falling asleep or entering a non-lucid dream when using this technique?) Do you need to have any sleep pressure (be tired) or do you need to time it near when you'd be sleeping anyway? Will this work sitting up, either with back support or not? Could you do this well-rested, in the middle of a busy day if you set aside a quiet hour alone? What's the quality of lucidity? Is it easy to accidentally slip into a non-lucid state?

In lieu of actually setting aside time to experiment (for now...), I'm curious as to how closely these states need to be aligned with natural sleep. (Ditto for the jhanas if anyone wants to chime in.)
David Charles Greeson, modified 13 Years ago at 11/22/08 8:36 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 11/22/08 8:36 AM

RE: Jumpstart your Jhana

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I'll try to take these one by one: 1. I experience a gap, but I think this is more a feature of the particular deepening technique I use than the experience per se. I don't think there's any danger of losing consciousness during this part - it's more an interruption of the sensory simulation than a break in consciousness itself. 2. It's better to do it when you are fully awake rather than when tired, because it is easier to fall asleep during the experience if you are tired That's the main "danger" - losing focus and drifting off, though one may intentionally do this if one has difficulty falling asleep. 3. It works sitting up, though some muscle groups must remain active to maintain the position, so complete and profound muscular relaxation is not possible. I find the deepest trances (virtually identical to a lucid dream experience) for me are when reclining - but that position also has the greatest risk of losing focus and possibly drifting off as I said before. With practice that is not an issue, but if one finds that happening, one should sit. I would think this would be very difficult to perform standing without extensive practice, but I can imagine transitioning between positions. Hmnnn - might try that, and then walking meditation... 3. Yes you could do this during a busy day, and with practice the actual induction takes very little time - 5-10 minutes. One could do it with as little as 15-20 minutes, and significantly reduce one's tension. One can also use it for self-programming, etc. 4. Different levels of lucidity - but with a little practice, extremely good. It's a skill though, and must be maintained. 5. Slipping into non-lucidity depends on level of skill and degree of fatigue. It's generally not a problem for me.
Mark L, modified 13 Years ago at 11/23/08 7:31 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 11/23/08 7:31 AM

RE: Jumpstart your Jhana

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Not much to add, just thanks for replying with such detail. I was fascinated with so-called astral projection for years. When I finally managed my first couple out-of-body experiences, it was pretty underwhelming and the effort to benefit ratio just didn't seem worth it. Still, lucid dreaming is always in the back of my mind, as is Ken Wilber's plug for witnessing all states.

Incidentally, I became interested in meditation after I realized that the tiny fraction of people I knew (online) who claimed to be able to have regular, effortless obe's were all diligent meditators. And so began my exploration of meditation...
David Charles Greeson, modified 13 Years ago at 11/23/08 9:02 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 11/23/08 9:02 AM

RE: Jumpstart your Jhana

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Hmnn.. that's not surprising (about the meditators)... (Very good questions by the way!)

I greatly suspect that astral projection is a form of lucid dreaming as my own experiments have failed to find any way to differentiate the two states. The primary way to reality test for dreaming is to attempt to read something, and then then turn away and read it again. If the writing changes then you are dreaming - and it will change 75% of the time if you are dreaming according to Stephen LaBorge (see lucidity.com) - he advocates doing this a few times a day so that you will do it when dreaming. At any rate, the same thing happens with astral travel.

Since we are on the subject, I'll throw out some practical techniques, though this will not help at all towards enlightenment. Once in the 3-D environment one can offer oneself verbal suggestions - it's important to avoid the word "not" in these and to phrase these as positive actions as the subconscious tends to think in images. What happens when I tell you not to think of a white bear? The other is one can build an "astral temple" here or a laboratory as in Silva Mind control, and one can meet with an inner guide or advisor. One can do virtually any act of magick - evocation, invocation, enchantment, divination, or even meditate (some sort of scrying pool might work as well for insight). One could even do stuff with the HGA. Athletes like to rehearse moves (martial arts anyone? Apparently some Jeet Kun Do guys are really into this kind of practice) or one can practice speeches or oral presentations - this is generally done better in an associated state in full 3-D form.

Anyway if it improves anyone's life, I thought it would be good to have those tools.
Mark L, modified 13 Years ago at 11/23/08 10:28 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 11/23/08 10:28 AM

RE: Jumpstart your Jhana

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Some of this might be slightly off topic. I usually try to be pretty strict about the kinds of things I post on DO.

Currently, I believe that "astral projection" and OBEs are pretty much equivalent to lucid dreaming. I'm hoping for another lucid dreaming expert to surface. LaBerge and the dream yoga authors have never quite resonated with me.

I agree that lucid dreaming might be a fantastic tool, though there are considerable costs associated with acquiring this skill. (I'm hoping that my frequency of lucid dreaming will naturally increase with regular meditation, though.) It would be terrifying and utterly liberating to have 24-7 consciousness through deep dreamless sleep.

I've meditated briefly in a lucid dream. I also love to walk around inside vast, beautiful buildings which my subconscious presumably creates.

Have you pondered the parallels between hypnosis and lucid dreaming? In lucid dreaming one cultivates agency, authority, and "reality checking" in an altered state. In hypnosis, one cultivates relinquishment of agency, authority, and "reality checking". It's really sort of fascinating--I think of them as two sides of the same coin.

I hypothesize that there are two interesting brain regions:
1. The part of the brain that spots weirdness and inconsistency.
2. The part of the brain that makes sure to only take orders and suggestions from the self.

In regular dreaming region 1 shuts down, and if we can get it to light up, then we can recognize that we're dreaming and go lucid.

In hypnosis, I think the goal is to quiet down region 2 so that external suggestions are regarded as "self". Anyway, not a perfect parallel, but I think there are big connections between the two.

I love this blog post about hypnosis:
Mark L, modified 13 Years ago at 11/23/08 10:37 AM
Created 13 Years ago at 11/23/08 10:37 AM

RE: Jumpstart your Jhana

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>> I'm hoping for another lucid dreaming expert to surface. LaBerge and the dream yoga authors have never quite resonated with me.

Which reminds me, can anyone recommend anything about lucid dreaming, dream yoga, or 24-7 consciousness (perhaps integrated with meditation training) *not* written by Norbu, Wangyal, Bruce, LaBerge or Wilber?
David Charles Greeson, modified 13 Years ago at 11/23/08 1:08 PM
Created 13 Years ago at 11/23/08 1:08 PM

RE: Jumpstart your Jhana

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Well, I think the only difference between an astral projection and an OBE is that the first is intentional and the other involuntary, and they are both lucid dreaming. Self-hypnosis - which is what is being described here, is probably equivalent to what Stephen LaBerge calls a WILD. In regards to your quote I think that deal about region 2 shutting down applies more to standard hypnosis than self-hypnosis - the former does, however, sometimes lead to deeper states.

I liked the blog entry - I disagreed about 2 points though - I think a lot of what is possible involves social contracting and that accounts for the stage hypnosis experience. Also, if one is skilled, one can elicit memories without distorting them. If you like this stuff on hypnosis, particularly the parts in the blog that refer to rapport, pacing and leading and so forth, you should check out NLP. In a way, we are always going in and out of trance states...