Basic instructions for entering first jana?

Discussion of Samatha bhavana and Jhana bhavana.

Basic instructions for entering first jana?

Postby philosopher » Wed Jun 18, 2014 3:13 am

Hi all,

At this point in my meditation practice I've achieved some degree of concentration and ability to calm the mind, even during very turbulent and distressing life circumstances. My techniques so far have been eclectic (combining and refining both insight and concentration) and I am now very interested in deepening the concentration ability and attempting to achieve the first jhana. Are there some basic instructions someone could point me to that will get me started?

Also, I meditate while in restorative yoga poses used for pranayama and meditation due to chronic pain. Does chronic pain interfere with achieving the jhanas? Are there instructions for how to deal with pain while attempting to achieve the jhanas?

Metta!

-philo
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Re: Basic instructions for entering first jana?

Postby culaavuso » Wed Jun 18, 2014 3:26 am

philosopher wrote:My techniques so far have been eclectic (combining and refining both insight and concentration) and I am now very interested in deepening the concentration ability and attempting to achieve the first jhana. Are there some basic instructions someone could point me to that will get me started?


Jhana Not by the Numbers by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Keeping the Breath in Mind by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo has a chapter on Jhana
Each and Every Breath by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu discusses Jhana in Part Four of the text
Instruction for Entering Jhana by Leigh Brasington

philosopher wrote:Also, I meditate while in restorative yoga poses used for pranayama and meditation due to chronic pain. Does chronic pain interfere with achieving the jhanas? Are there instructions for how to deal with pain while attempting to achieve the jhanas?

A Good Dose of Dhamma: For Meditators When They Are Ill by Upasika Kee Nanayon may be helpful towards developing a meditation practice while dealing with chronic pain or other illness.
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Re: Basic instructions for entering first jana?

Postby SarathW » Wed Jun 18, 2014 3:36 am

Hope this may some help.

Seven days without painkillers.
viewtopic.php?f=22&t=16532
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Re: Basic instructions for entering first jana?

Postby philosopher » Wed Jun 18, 2014 3:58 am

culaavuso wrote:
Jhana Not by the Numbers by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Keeping the Breath in Mind by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo has a chapter on Jhana
Each and Every Breath by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu discusses Jhana in Part Four of the text
Instruction for Entering Jhana by Leigh Brasington

A Good Dose of Dhamma: For Meditators When They Are Ill by Upasika Kee Nanayon may be helpful towards developing a meditation practice while dealing with chronic pain or other illness.


Thanks very much for those recommendations. I have Thanissaro Bhikkhu's _Each and Every Breath_ but didn't feel like there was enough information about the jhanas for me to move forward at this point. I am also familiar with that essay of Nanayon's as well as her other works but she's always a delight to review; thanks for the reminder!

Your other suggestions look wonderful; thank you SO much!

Metta!

-philo
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Re: Basic instructions for entering first jana?

Postby philosopher » Wed Jun 18, 2014 4:01 am

SarathW wrote:Hope this may some help.

Seven days without painkillers.
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=16532


Interesting! I am fortunate to not need painkillers though I've been prescribed some very heavy duty ones. Like you, I take pain as the object when it becomes intense and find this to be a very helpful practice.

However, rather than thinking of the repulsiveness of the body I try to adopt a stance of lovingkindness and acceptance towards it. The two are not mutually exclusive, I know, but sometimes I have noticed in myself that underlying contemplation of the repulsive, temporal nature of the body is a subtle aversive, judgmental attitude which I personally do not find helpful in my own practice.

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Re: Basic instructions for entering first jana?

Postby Mkoll » Wed Jun 18, 2014 4:16 am

Ajahn Brahm's book Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond is popular. There are also Shaila Catherine's books.
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Re: Basic instructions for entering first jana?

Postby SarathW » Wed Jun 18, 2014 4:18 am

Body is our best friend.Without it, we will not be able to attain Arahantship.
Even Buddha has to come to human world to attain it.
:)
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Re: Basic instructions for entering first jana?

Postby philosopher » Wed Jun 18, 2014 4:22 am

Mkoll wrote:Ajahn Brahm's book Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond is popular. There are also Shaila Catherine's books.


How funny; I was just doing a search on Amazon and came across Ajahn Brahm's as well as Shaila Catherine's books. I immediately put on hold Ajahn Brahm's book at my local library. :smile:

Such great information! Thank you, all, again.

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Re: Basic instructions for entering first jana?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jun 18, 2014 5:29 am

Mkoll wrote:Ajahn Brahm's book Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond is popular. There are also Shaila Catherine's books.

The first five or so chapters are available online at www.dhammatalks.net
Specifically:
www.dhammatalks.net/Books11/Ajahn_Brahm ... ers1-5.pdf

His guided meditations are also helpful, and can be found in these directories (along with guided meditation by others, such as Ajahn Brahmali, who is a different person...):
http://dhammaloka.org.au/downloads/item ... -hour.html
http://dhammaloka.org.au/downloads/item ... -hour.html

:anjali:
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Re: Basic instructions for entering first jana?

Postby philosopher » Wed Jun 18, 2014 4:01 pm

mikenz66 wrote:His guided meditations are also helpful, and can be found in these directories (along with guided meditation by others, such as Ajahn Brahmali, who is a different person...):
http://dhammaloka.org.au/downloads/item ... -hour.html
http://dhammaloka.org.au/downloads/item ... -hour.html

:anjali:
Mike


Mike,

Thanks for that wonderful resource. Is there a way to search and find just Ajahn Brahm's talks from that long archive, or do I need to simply check each page? Thank you!

:anjali:

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Re: Basic instructions for entering first jana?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:19 pm

Hi, I don't think so. I recall thaat older version of the web site had a more compact way of listing the talks... :sage:

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Re: Basic instructions for entering first jana?

Postby philosopher » Thu Jun 19, 2014 4:04 am

philosopher wrote:
culaavuso wrote:
Jhana Not by the Numbers by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Keeping the Breath in Mind by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo has a chapter on Jhana
Each and Every Breath by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu discusses Jhana in Part Four of the text
Instruction for Entering Jhana by Leigh Brasington



So, from a preliminary reading of the above links, it seems that the basic instructions for entering the first jhana are as follows:

1. Develop sufficient concentration on an object (i.e. breath sensations) until the mind has reached a subtle and steady level of quietness and the mind naturally wants to persist in this state (rather than follow thoughts)
2. Identify a sensation of pleasure (preferably in the physical body); shift awareness to the pleasantness of the pleasant physical sensation.
3. Continue to focus awareness on the pleasantness of the pleasant physical sensation until a sense of bliss or euphoria arises.

Does this sound about right?

Thanks much, everyone!

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Re: Basic instructions for entering first jana?

Postby IanAnd » Thu Jun 19, 2014 5:25 am

philosopher wrote:
philosopher wrote:
culaavuso wrote:
Jhana Not by the Numbers by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Keeping the Breath in Mind by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo has a chapter on Jhana
Each and Every Breath by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu discusses Jhana in Part Four of the text
Instruction for Entering Jhana by Leigh Brasington



So, from a preliminary reading of the above links, it seems that the basic instructions for entering the first jhana are as follows:

1. Develop sufficient concentration on an object (i.e. breath sensations) until the mind has reached a subtle and steady level of quietness and the mind naturally wants to persist in this state (rather than follow thoughts)
2. Identify a sensation of pleasure (preferably in the physical body); shift awareness to the pleasantness of the pleasant physical sensation.
3. Continue to focus awareness on the pleasantness of the pleasant physical sensation until a sense of bliss or euphoria arises.

Does this sound about right?

Thanks much, everyone!

:anjali:

That sounds about right. :)

If you have a talent for being able to learn through the use of your intuition (which it seems that you do, judging from your first post), then you may have success digging deeper into Leigh Brasington's methodology. When I was first learning about (to use Thanissaro's terminology) "fabricating" a dhyana experience, it was using Leigh's instruction that I had my first success. Especially his instruction to watch and become absorbed in the breath as it becomes finer and finer until it virtually disappears. Following that instruction took me right where I wanted to be: fourth dhyana! This, of course, presumes one is able to attain to the second dhyana wherein you contact the feedback loop, making the exercise effortless. If you are able to dynamically imagine these two states, you should be able to achieve them in reality.

Good luck.

In peace,
Ian
Last edited by IanAnd on Thu Jun 19, 2014 3:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Basic instructions for entering first jana?

Postby manas » Thu Jun 19, 2014 11:10 am

philosopher wrote:Hi all,

At this point in my meditation practice I've achieved some degree of concentration and ability to calm the mind, even during very turbulent and distressing life circumstances. My techniques so far have been eclectic (combining and refining both insight and concentration) and I am now very interested in deepening the concentration ability and attempting to achieve the first jhana. Are there some basic instructions someone could point me to that will get me started?

Also, I meditate while in restorative yoga poses used for pranayama and meditation due to chronic pain. Does chronic pain interfere with achieving the jhanas? Are there instructions for how to deal with pain while attempting to achieve the jhanas?

Metta!

-philo


Hi philo

are you familiar with this passage from the samannaphala sutta?:

"Endowed with this noble aggregate of virtue, this noble restraint over the sense faculties, this noble mindfulness and alertness, and this noble contentment, he seeks out a secluded dwelling: a forest, the shade of a tree, a mountain, a glen, a hillside cave, a charnel ground, a jungle grove, the open air, a heap of straw. After his meal, returning from his alms round, he sits down, crosses his legs, holds his body erect, and brings mindfulness to the fore.

"Abandoning covetousness with regard to the world, he dwells with an awareness devoid of covetousness. He cleanses his mind of covetousness. Abandoning ill will and anger, he dwells with an awareness devoid of ill will, sympathetic with the welfare of all living beings. He cleanses his mind of ill will and anger. Abandoning sloth and drowsiness, he dwells with an awareness devoid of sloth and drowsiness, mindful, alert, percipient of light. He cleanses his mind of sloth and drowsiness. Abandoning restlessness and anxiety, he dwells undisturbed, his mind inwardly stilled. He cleanses his mind of restlessness and anxiety. Abandoning uncertainty, he dwells having crossed over uncertainty, with no perplexity with regard to skillful mental qualities. He cleanses his mind of uncertainty.

"Suppose that a man, taking a loan, invests it in his business affairs. His business affairs succeed. He repays his old debts and there is extra left over for maintaining his wife. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, taking a loan, I invested it in my business affairs. Now my business affairs have succeeded. I have repaid my old debts and there is extra left over for maintaining my wife.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"Now suppose that a man falls sick — in pain and seriously ill. He does not enjoy his meals, and there is no strength in his body. As time passes, he eventually recovers from that sickness. He enjoys his meals and there is strength in his body. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, I was sick... Now I am recovered from that sickness. I enjoy my meals and there is strength in my body.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"Now suppose that a man is bound in prison. As time passes, he eventually is released from that bondage, safe and sound, with no loss of property. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, I was bound in prison. Now I am released from that bondage, safe and sound, with no loss of my property.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"Now suppose that a man is a slave, subject to others, not subject to himself, unable to go where he likes. As time passes, he eventually is released from that slavery, subject to himself, not subject to others, freed, able to go where he likes. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, I was a slave... Now I am released from that slavery, subject to myself, not subject to others, freed, able to go where I like.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"Now suppose that a man, carrying money and goods, is traveling by a road through desolate country. As time passes, he eventually emerges from that desolate country, safe and sound, with no loss of property. The thought would occur to him, 'Before, carrying money and goods, I was traveling by a road through desolate country. Now I have emerged from that desolate country, safe and sound, with no loss of my property.' Because of that he would experience joy and happiness.

"In the same way, when these five hindrances are not abandoned in himself, the monk regards it as a debt, a sickness, a prison, slavery, a road through desolate country. But when these five hindrances are abandoned in himself, he regards it as unindebtedness, good health, release from prison, freedom, a place of security. Seeing that they have been abandoned within him, he becomes glad. Glad, he becomes enraptured. Enraptured, his body grows tranquil. His body tranquil, he is sensitive to pleasure. Feeling pleasure, his mind becomes concentrated.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


I think that perhaps too many folks focus on the 'concentration' aspect of jhana too much, at the expense of the 'emotional freedom' aspects that the Buddha enumerates here. Truly and sincerely letting go of greed, anger, sloth, restlessness and doubt (for the duration of a sitting, in any case) - I have touched upon this in a few past meditations when I was striving for the first jhana myself - seems to usher in a state of mind that feels quite different. Even without perfected concentration, overcoming the hindrances by applying their opposites until the mind is alert yet relaxed, bright, imbued with kindness, not hankering for anything outside, content just to be sitting there, doing the practice - is a beautiful place to be.

kind regards
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Re: Basic instructions for entering first jana?

Postby philosopher » Thu Jun 19, 2014 1:40 pm

manas wrote: Even without perfected concentration, overcoming the hindrances by applying their opposites until the mind is alert yet relaxed, bright, imbued with kindness, not hankering for anything outside, content just to be sitting there, doing the practice - is a beautiful place to be.



manas,

Thanks for sharing that passage. Indeed, most of my practice up until now has been devoted to what you call the "emotional" aspects of meditation, with such great results that I am interested, now, in exploration of other methods and applications of formal practice.

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Re: Basic instructions for entering first jana?

Postby philosopher » Thu Jun 19, 2014 3:02 pm

IanAnd wrote: it was using Leigh's instruction that I had my first success. Especially his instruction to watch and become absorbed in the breath as it becomes finer and finer until it virtually disappears. Following that instruction took me right where I wanted to be: fourth dhyana! This, of course, presumes one is able to attain to the second dhyana wherein you contact the feedback loop, making the exercise effortless. If you are able to dynamically imaging these two states, you should be able to achieve them in reality.


Thanks very much, Ian, for describing your personal experience. It's very useful. After reading the articles posted above, LB's instructions were the most appealing. He has some additional writings on his website (http://www.leighb.com/jhanas.htm); were there any you found particularly helpful when you were just starting out?

Thank you!

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Re: Basic instructions for entering first jana?

Postby IanAnd » Thu Jun 19, 2014 4:18 pm

philosopher wrote:Thanks very much, Ian, for describing your personal experience. It's very useful.

Happy to be of corroborative assistance.

philosopher wrote:After reading the articles posted above, LB's instructions were the most appealing.

He has some additional writings on his website (http://www.leighb.com/jhanas.htm); were there any you found particularly helpful when you were just starting out?

That web page which you referenced was put up long after I was able to succeed in my efforts. So, I'm not very familiar with most of the links there, and do not have time to go through reading them in order to get up to speed about them.

The best advice I can give is to keep things simple and easily understandable/reachable. Don't complicate matters unnecessarily. Follow simple instruction. I have found that simple instruction can many times be the most difficult to follow simply because people do not always have the amount of control they assume they have over their minds. Work on strengthening your concentration by being able to enter samadhi at will. This will help you to keep the mind focused on a single object for observation (and later for insight practice). Once you are able to recognize your ability to access samadhi at will, that is when your practice should take off to the stratosphere! Assuming, of course, your successful ability to practice insight meditation.

Of the authors mentioned on that page, Bhante Gunaratana was a trusted source for corroborating my meditative experience. I trusted only other monastics like myself for instruction in meditation. I understood what they were talking about, because they were speaking from their own first-hand experience as practitioners of the Dhamma, and so using them as a corroborative source was very handy and helpful.

Best of fortune to you.

In peace,
Ian
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Re: Basic instructions for entering first jana?

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Jun 21, 2014 8:16 am

philosopher wrote:2. Identify a sensation of pleasure (preferably in the physical body); shift awareness to the pleasantness of the pleasant physical sensation.


I've found that this approach can work with pleasurable mental feelings too, ie looking for sukha rather than piti. An approach I've used is to find a point of stillness and tranquillity, and then rest on it. I think this can be usefully considered in relation to steps 5 and 6 of the 4 tetrads of Anapanasati.
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Re: Basic instructions for entering first jana?

Postby Awakened_Angel » Sat Jun 28, 2014 9:48 am

philosopher wrote:Hi all,

At this point in my meditation practice I've achieved some degree of concentration and ability to calm the mind, even during very turbulent and distressing life circumstances. My techniques so far have been eclectic (combining and refining both insight and concentration) and I am now very interested in deepening the concentration ability and attempting to achieve the first jhana. Are there some basic instructions someone could point me to that will get me started?

Also, I meditate while in restorative yoga poses used for pranayama and meditation due to chronic pain. Does chronic pain interfere with achieving the jhanas? Are there instructions for how to deal with pain while attempting to achieve the jhanas?

Metta!

-philo


from my reading, there`s a sick guy once ask Ajahn Brahn, I am sick here, lying on the bed, how could I meditate? he taught him to aware of his palm opening n closing...

there`s a book by ajahn brahn... where he precisely describe when the mind is calm, the 5 sense door is shut, left the mind door, where you could sense "nimitta" the mind... where you continue the concentration onthe nimitta, enlarge it, when the nimitta is large enough, focus the centroid of the nimitta and focus... then one enters jhanna....

http://what-buddha-taught.net/Books/Aja ... Jhanas.htm

well, I aint there yet :D
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Re: Basic instructions for entering first jana?

Postby philosopher » Sat Jun 28, 2014 3:03 pm

IanAnd wrote:I have found that simple instruction can many times be the most difficult to follow simply because people do not always have the amount of control they assume they have over their minds. Work on strengthening your concentration by being able to enter samadhi at will.


Thank you again for all of the tips. I do see, after practicing for a few days, that most of the time the concentration is not sufficient to even hold the focus of the breath for a long enough period of time to proceed to step 2 in my above outline. Sometimes it is, and then even when I'm not able to enter the first jhana a deep sense of peace and centeredness arises and lasts for a day or two, even through my days as a very stressed and busy householder. I'm guessing that I need to start extending the length of my meditation; 30 minutes is just not enough of time to settle the mind sufficiently.

Spiny Norman wrote:I've found that this approach can work with pleasurable mental feelings too, ie looking for sukha rather than piti. An approach I've used is to find a point of stillness and tranquillity, and then rest on it.


Thanks; this has been very helpful for me, especially since when I attempt to focus on a pleasurable physical sensation (such as tingling or warmth somewhere in the body), the "pleasure" of it disappears (much like how pain disappears or shifts when focus is brought to it). There remains simply a constellation of sensations in which it's hard to identify a feeling of "pleasure" that I can latch on to. It's all too diffuse - at least at this point. I wonder if an external sense pleasure can be used, like a the pleasure of breath entering the nostrils, or even something grosser like a pleasant scent (like essential oil / incense) being diffused through the air.

Spiny Norman wrote: I think this can be usefully considered in relation to steps 5 and 6 of the 4 tetrads of Anapanasati.

I'm not familiar with this. Could you recommend an accessible introductory guide?

Again, thanks so much to all of you for your tips. Already the concentration/stillness has deepened greatly for me and has renewed my formal practice.

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