Advice on tactile "nimittas", and how best to use them?

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
Kenshou
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Advice on tactile "nimittas", and how best to use them?

Postby Kenshou » Tue Jan 26, 2010 1:48 am

Here I am posting in this section again. I'll try and keep this succinct. I've had the opportunity to practice quite often these days, and it seems to be paying off. I do believe (not -know-) I've been able to reach the stage of so-called access concentration. However, there is this issue of nimittas.

I've had experiences of these nimittas which seem in accordance with what I've learned of them. Rarely, I've had the orb-like visual signs as described by Ajahn Brahm, however, these are uncommon to the appearance of the tactile ones. I believe that these are not simply idiosyncratic happenings, since they consistently only occur after a fairly long time of sitting, when everything is calm, quiet, and focused.

This bit from the Vimuttimagga describes it well enough:

I'm fairly confident this is not simply the arising of normal aspects of life that I've been previously unaware of, since quite a bit of that sort of expansive body-awareness increasing type stuff occurs far before this point and levels off. Only after dwelling in that calm state of awareness for awhile does this "nimitta" show up, and this breezy soft feeling which beings at and grows around the original breath-point is accompanied by a particular sort of pressure. It's subtle yet distinct from any normal experience.

However, all the literature on samatha I have only mentions these sort of experiences shortly, but tends to continue to describe the progression of the practice in terms of more visually-oriented nimittas. So, I'm asking for the experience or advice of anyone who has similar experiences and how to take advantage of them, since I'm finding that at this point, despite how well everything seems to go up until then, every time it seems to fall apart. It's as if at the threshold of a jhana, every time I screw up the transition point.

Is it best to continue to watch the breath at this point, or rather, is this the proper time to let go allow the focus to fall naturally where it will? Whatever you do, I seem to botch this transition every time so far. Enough times that I've given up and made a thread about it.

And if I'm clearly chasing in a direction I shouldn't, of course let me know.

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Re: Advice on tactile "nimittas", and how best to use them?

Postby Reductor » Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:28 am

That sounds familiar.

You need to bring the sensation and the breathing together, so to speak, allowing the sensation to grow stronger with each in-out-cycle... be aware of both, and try and sense the feeling getting stronger and weaker with each in and out of the breath, respectively.

That might do it.

A time will come when the sensation is very strong and you will not need to cultivate it as actively. Then allow that strong sensation to stay independent of the breath, and take it as you're main focus (but not you're only focus. Remain mindful of the breath). Understand that will fall apart if you loose the breath. This is because the breath is the break for discursive thinking, and discursive thinking will pick that pleasure apart.

These are pointers. The most important thing I've found from experience is that each session is different, even if they seem to be unfolding in a similar way. This is why you must be intelligent and experimental with you're effort and always watchful.

The best thing to do is train yourself to reach this point with regularity, and so you will get more than one opportunity to experiment. With more than one opportunity you will know what works and what does not.

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Ben
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Re: Advice on tactile "nimittas", and how best to use them?

Postby Ben » Tue Jan 26, 2010 4:37 am

Hi Kenshou

Since you seem to be following Ajahn Brahm's instructions, what are his advice regarding the apprehension of nimittas?
metta

Ben
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Re: Advice on tactile "nimittas", and how best to use them?

Postby IanAnd » Tue Jan 26, 2010 4:43 pm

"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV

Kenshou
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Re: Advice on tactile "nimittas", and how best to use them?

Postby Kenshou » Tue Jan 26, 2010 7:47 pm

Thank you all for reading and replying.

So, it seems clear that I simply need to make what I have stronger and learn to maintain it, and not lose my hold on the breath when this occurs, I feel that that may have been what I've been doing. I think I'll be a little more anal about sila too, just in case. Always room for improvement...

I haven't been following Ajahn Brahm's instructions only at all, since his method is quite focused on his perspective dealing with those orb-nimittas. Though I notice that the method is the same as what has been suggested here, watch the breath and absorption will arise spontaneously. In his brief mention of the feeling-nimitta, he does mention that it's the more difficult one. I think I understand why that is for myself now. The method is the same regardless of what sort of nimitta you've got, but the feeling one is more subtle and similar to the initial object, and so it's easier to mess up, which I've been doing. And for some reason I came to the assumption that different nimittas required different approaches.

IanAnd- Thank you once again for another thorough explanation. So you are saying that actual "absorption" does not occur till the second jhana, but is induced by the increasing unification of the mind through vitakka & vicara during the first jhana? This seems to make sense in regard to the suttas, and I understand your reply in that thread more completely in light of this.

Then, though the second jhana has a more obvious transition, the border between the 1st jhana and what comes before it is rather undefined, isn't it. But all that really matters is the cultivating of concentration, eh?

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Re: Advice on tactile "nimittas", and how best to use them?

Postby Reductor » Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:37 pm


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Re: Advice on tactile "nimittas", and how best to use them?

Postby IanAnd » Tue Jan 26, 2010 10:31 pm

"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV

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Re: Advice on tactile "nimittas", and how best to use them?

Postby Reductor » Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:25 am


Kenshou
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Re: Advice on tactile "nimittas", and how best to use them?

Postby Kenshou » Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:43 am


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Re: Advice on tactile "nimittas", and how best to use them?

Postby IanAnd » Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:27 am

"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV

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Re: Advice on tactile "nimittas", and how best to use them?

Postby IanAnd » Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:41 am

Last edited by IanAnd on Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV

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Re: Advice on tactile "nimittas", and how best to use them?

Postby Reductor » Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:20 am


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Re: Advice on tactile "nimittas", and how best to use them?

Postby Kenshou » Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:59 am


vitellius
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Re: Advice on tactile "nimittas", and how best to use them?

Postby vitellius » Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:59 pm

Hello Kenshou,

As far as I understand anapanasati instructions in Vimuttimagga are basically the same with Thanissaro bhikkhu / Ajan Lee Dhammadharo teachings. So, ven. Thanissaro's explanations may be useful for mastering this. For example, see this guided meditation:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... uided.html

So, they "grab" a feeling of air, keep attention on it and let it spread to fill the whole body.

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Re: Advice on tactile "nimittas", and how best to use them?

Postby Kenshou » Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:01 pm


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Re: Advice on tactile "nimittas", and how best to use them?

Postby Freawaru » Sun Jan 31, 2010 5:48 pm


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Re: Advice on tactile "nimittas", and how best to use them?

Postby AdvaitaJ » Sun Jan 31, 2010 8:57 pm

Kenshou,

I see you've already received a number of excellent replies. Please let me add two suggestions. First, I highly recommend Shaila Catherine's book, Focused and Fearless. It's a great counter-point to Ajahn Brahm's despite a bit of overlap.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, don't forget that sukkha (happiness) is an essential component. A key bit of advice from a Leigh Brasington was to smile during your meditation. The thought being that despite, or perhaps because of, the humorousness of smiling needlessly, sukkha would arise. My readings indicate that if there's no sukkha, there's no jhana and it's oh so easy to be so focused on "what to do" that sukkha is easily forgotten.

Another key bit of advice I picked up somewhere was to focus on the "pleasant sensation". Keep your focus on the breath until a wave of rapturous pleasantness spontaneously arises, then let go of the breath to focus on the feeling of that sensation without adding verbalization.

Regards: AdvaitaJ
The birds have vanished down the sky. Now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains.
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Kenshou
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Re: Advice on tactile "nimittas", and how best to use them?

Postby Kenshou » Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:34 am


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Re: Advice on tactile "nimittas", and how best to use them?

Postby Freawaru » Mon Feb 01, 2010 11:29 am


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Re: Advice on tactile "nimittas", and how best to use them?

Postby Dmytro » Mon Feb 01, 2010 8:47 pm




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