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Bart's road to samatha jhana

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Bart's road to samatha jhana
Answer
10/17/18 4:21 PM
My biggest hurdle on the spiritual path right now is that I have not mastered cultivating the first samatha jhana. I'm using the book Right Concentration - A Practical Guide to the Jhanas by Leigh Brasington as a guide on this journey.

Attending a retreat

In Brasington's book it is mentioned that the jhanas are best learned at a retreat, but I don't have the time nor the financial means to attend a retreat at this point in time. Somewhere late 2019 would be ideal for my next retreat. I plan to attend one of Brasington's retreats during this time [123]. I registered for the lottery of the first one, keeping a close eye on the other two. Also open-minded about joining other retreats that focus on the jhanas by competent teachers. If anyone has any suggestions I'll be happy to hear them.

Goal of this practice log

Right now I have to make do with daily practice amongst my busy life. Perhaps there will be time to do a three day self-retreat like I did a month ago. My practice has been very spasmodic the past couple of weeks. Keeping a log will:
  • Give me an overview of my ups and downs, with hopefully an upward trend, which would motivate me.
  • Force me to think about my own progress and potential issues and solutions to them.
  • Provide some accountability in the form of a¬†digital shanga.
  • May allow others from this digital shanga to share their ideas based on what I write (I am very grateful of this).
Practical considerations

Duration
What I've noticed is that it's completely unhelpful to force yourself to do concentration meditation for extended periods of time, when you are very scatterbrained to begin with or when you haven't meditated much the past week. So I'm going with a gradual buildup starting at 10 minutes today, adding 5 minutes for every day where I'd give my sit a passing grade for samadhi/undistractability. When I miss a day or when I have two days in a row where I'd give myself a failing grade, I'll drop 5 minutes (minimum time is always 10 minutes). Max time is 45 minutes for now.

Time
Afternoon or evening. I do some light metta meditation in the morning shortly after waking up and bolt on insight meditation whenever I have the time.

Access method
The breath. I was thinking about using 'sound of silence', but I'm just so much more used to using the breath. I want to master this method first.

Template for logging

I will use the template below to log my sits. It may evolve over time.

Duration: 

Quality of sit:
[ ] Complete lack of samadhi (lost the breath for 10 seconds or more multiple times)
[ ] No AC (access concentration), but I was able to bring the attention back to the breath swiftly and consistently
[ ] AC 1 minutes
[ ] AC 5 minutes
[ ] AC 10 minutes
[ ] AC 15 minutes
[ ] Switched attention to pleasant sensation

Comments:


I may choose to post my logs on DO periodically for multiple days at the same time.

RE: Bart's road to samatha jhana
Answer
10/17/18 4:23 PM as a reply to Bart.
Duration: 10 minutes

Quality of sit:
[ ] Complete lack of samadhi (lost the breath for 10 seconds or more multiple times)
[ ] No AC (access concentration), but I was able to bring the attention back to the breath swiftly and consistently
[ ] AC 1 minutes
[ ] AC 5 minutes
[ ] AC 10 minutes
[ ] AC 15 minutes
[ ] Switched attention to pleasant sensation

Comments:
Breath almost completely dissapeared without having developed enough concentration (that's why I wanted to use 'sound of silence', I remember now). But I'll stick with it for now.