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Are there sensations of meditation?

Discussion in 'Mind, Body & Spirit' started by Michael David, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. olmate

    olmate Member

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    Oh OK. I notice "heat" the length of my spine. I notice something above my head - hmmm... like a gentle kiss to the skin but not actually on the skin. I notice a warmth in my chest. Sometimes I notice the wetness of tears on my cheeks. I notice sensations on the souls of my feet - I guess a slight tingling. I notice warmth in the palms of my hands - but like I am holding a hand without the skin on skin sensation. I notice my forehead, the sensation a little bit like when my Mum used to place her hand on it to check my temperature when I felt ill - a gentle warmth but not tactile.

    On days when I struggle, I feel a sensation on my skin akin to a bitterness of the taste of a lemon. When that sensation arises I know heightened focus will be necessary that day.

    Some days are filled with distraction. It can be sensations of fear, sensuality and everything in between, but then these sensations are not bodily unless I choose to swim in it for a while.

    Is that what you were looking for?

    Olmate
     
  2. Michael David

    Michael David Member

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    That is it fantastic.

    You wrote about noticing a particular bitterness on days that you struggle. Is there some other sensation you notice which would be the opposite emotion? Perhaps the emotional sense of merging with the ocean and back?

    When you locate this sensation see if you can go backwards. That is think the sensation you associated with the merging of the ocean and allow it to be felt. See if that brings up the felt sense of the merging with the ocean you have during meditation. With practice going up and back with these two opposing sensations you may be able to bring forth the merging with the ocean felt sense at will.

    Its kind of tricky and takes some time. Let me know if this makes sense.

    Michael:)
     
  3. olmate

    olmate Member

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    Mmmm there is a sensation related to the merge. It is difficult to describe - like a "calm" that emerges. I recall reading one of Edwin's posts where he talks about "turning into". Kind of like that but not so much with the act of turning... if that makes sense. For me it is more like a "pause", a conscious breath or opening my eyes to see beyond.

    It is something that I ... well... "ask" to visit and feel free to ask at any moment but just the same I always ask for permission. There is a deep respect associated with this though ... a deep humility, a deep poverty (meaning coming as I am in a humble sense - not that guy we call Don). These requests though are in addition to my morning and evening intercessions.

    I haven't thought about the physical sensations as such before in a front of mind sense, but it is there now that I reflect. But the focus is one of mindfulness, the "Hi" at the start of the conversation, the knowing look across the room...

    Mmmm further reflection - not so much an opposite to the bitterness - just a different flavour on a continuum... but having said that I can't really identify what that flavour is...

    Olmate
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2011
  4. Michael David

    Michael David Member

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    You've got it. Different flavors, comparisons between one sensation and the other; noticing the sensational side of mindfulness (actually Life is sensational). Expanding awareness like Obi wan said to Luke Skywalker stretch out your feelings.

    Enjoy
    Michael:)
     
  5. Hazelkay

    Hazelkay Member

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    Hi Michael,

    On the path or diddling about in the bushes we are where we need to be - each of us contributing to the other. Thanks so much for the opportunity to think about these necessary layers.

    peace and joy:)
     
  6. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    Even tho I didn't react in this thread, I have enjoyed it very much, a good read from all participants.
    However when re-reading it tonight, I became curious. What system did you use to achieve samadhi ? I have not experienced it and am kind of curious.
     
  7. Hazelkay

    Hazelkay Member

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    Hi Edwin,

    On long retreats (45 days) I used awareness of the breath only for the first 15 days. The attention was just above the upper lip below the nostrils and no attempt made to control the breath, just maintaining awareness at this point.

    On shorter retreats (30, 20 and 10 days) this period would be 10, 7 and 3 days.

    The rest of the time I would switch to insight meditation using the samadhi I had developed.

    peace and joy
    Hazel
     
  8. Michael David

    Michael David Member

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    Hi Hazelkay

    Since this thread started with a question about sensations during meditation I just have to ask.

    With the breath awareness attention to the upper lip and below the nostril what was the attention focused on? Was it the sensation of the air passing over the lip and below the nostrils or just holding attention on that part of the body? When the air was suspended between the movement of air for the in and out breath (and therefore no sensation from the breath) was the attention held in that same place?

    Were there and other sensations that seemed related to each of the various stages of the meditation of the 8 jhanas?

    Within the period of insight meditation was there any focus on sensations of the body either forming, disolving or merging in and out of awareness?

    I am asking as my nature is to share with my self and others a practical understanding of experience. I find that as I can separate the pieces of experience into smaller and smaller parts they can be more readily reabsorbed by myself and others.

    My focus on sensation comes from my experience that sensation is a foundation for thoughts. I find that sense contacts (sensation) occur first and then thoughts are developed as a response to the sense contacts (although sometimes it seems the other way around).

    With meditation (when a one pointed focus is maintained as opposed to a general noticing) the more my body settles down like the fading ripples on a lake the more my mind seems to follow and a deeper meditation. When I focus more on the mind settling without the body I have a different outcome.

    Michael:)

    PS Edwin jump in the water is fine:D
     
  9. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    Ok, so if I understand correctly in a nutshell: if you use a singlepointed meditation, where the focus is on one part of the body, like your upper lip as it is very mildly stimulated by your breath, for a longer period of time ( how many hours a day ? ) the Samadhi will come automatically ?
     
  10. Karmoh

    Karmoh Member

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    Hi Edwin,

    HazelKay uses the Vipassana technique as taught by SN Goenka. Vipassana meditation is also known as Insight meditation, Samatha meditation is referred to as Concentration meditation.
    There are some (or many) Buddhist traditions that believe that Vipassana and Samatha meditation practices although separate practices are but one and you cannot have one without the other. Both leading to Samadhi (Sanskrit) Also known as jhana (Pail)

    Travelogue to the four jhanas

    If you have time read this short discourse on the 4 jhanas by Ajahn Brahmavamso, it might shed some light on the subject of Samadhi.


    Peace :)
     
  11. Hazelkay

    Hazelkay Member

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  12. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    Thanks guys, that was an interesting read.

    on a side note, I have to say it really is quite nice to be able to be completely ignorant of something and ask questions :p

    It sounds like something I would like to do, are there any precautions that I have to take into account ? Do I have to warn my wife that waking me up won't work :p ?
     
  13. Karmoh

    Karmoh Member

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    Hi Edwin,

    I haven't been on retreat to practice Vipassana, but I do model my practice on the technique. I do have a friend, he and his wife are regular “old students” and it has changed their lives for the better.



    There are some pros & cons, but the complaints are normally from people who attended a 10 day retreat full of expectations but came away with indifference (high expectations) my friend said the true benefit came a few weeks after the retreat, while continuing to practice.


    Vipassana Meditation Centre
     
  14. Karmoh

    Karmoh Member

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    Hi hazelkay,
    Nothing like a good "Whew" ;)

    Ajahn Brahm has updated this discourse and created a book called Mindfullness, bliss and beyond. In this book he takes away the mystery surrounding the Jhanas and has created a good handbook for anyone interested in following this path.

    He also has some interesting talks on youtube
    YouTube - ‪How To Be Positive‬‏

    Peace :)
     
  15. Michael David

    Michael David Member

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    Hi all
    Another worderful book on Jhanas is Beyond Mindfulness in plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana (The author of Mindfulness in Plain english)

    Also Who Is My Self by Ayya Khema

    In both books there is are sections on reducing hindrances to meditation.

    I sometimes think of it as a farmer who has the intention harvesting a particular vegetable. He starts with preparing the soil and planting the seed for the vegetable he wants. He cannot cause it to grow but he can effect the conditions that allow the growth to occur. He waters the soil and watches for tiny sprouts to come up. He adds fertilizer and pulls out weeds. He prunes as needed and eraticates bugs and insects that would hamper growth.

    For meditaion the intention might be on experiencing samadhi and start with the seed of meditation. The preparation is a proper posture and then watering with concentration on the breath and fertilize with the belief of achieving samadhi. The bugs, insects and weeds are the hindrances to meditaion which when dealt with allow a faster progression.

    As the body and mind settle left over mind ripples and body ripples spring forth. These are the hindrances and are noted in five categories.

    1. Desire or wanting more of somethin or wanting less of something
    2. Ill will
    3. Restlessness
    4. Sloth and torpor or sleepiness
    5. Doubt about the whole process

    When any of the above hindrances come up during meditation the mind may get lost in the detour of those thoughts. That is fine just become aware and return to the breath. But a degree of continual settling is necessary to obtain access to the Jhanas.

    Once the body and mind have settled and the hindrances reduced or eliminated

    (or just place the thought of them on a silver tray you place next to you. You can leave the hindrances there for the time of your meditation. If you like you can pick them up again if you really feel the need to carry them around. Sometimes they are very sticky but you can decide to put them on the tray for now)

    watch for a little sprout coming out of the seed (like the farmer, that's why he is in the story). The sprout to look for is one of a pleasant sensation. Once the mind and body have settled these pleasant sensations can float into awareness. They can be felt as the edges of the samadhi experience. The instructions I have read and tried are to just allow the pleasant sensation to be there. Do not try to enhance it or do anything other that let it be. At this point allow the conscious focus on the breath to fade.

    After a while when everything settles even more allow the pleasant sensation to fade and place attention on the pleastantness of the sensation rather than its physical sensation. Just the pleasantness. It is a subtle shift.
    Again do not try to do anything else. Just notice.

    The settling continues and for each shift a letting go of the current one opens to the next.

    Once again the books noted above give a much better review than this beginning summary.

    Michael:)
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2011
  16. Karmoh

    Karmoh Member

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    Michael, Another great analogy, you have a fertile mind and a way with words :)


    I recently found this free booklet on the Jhanas by Ajahn Brahm
    Ajahn Brahmavamso - The Jhanas

    from the booklet

    SUMMARY OF THE LANDMARKS OF ALL JHANAS
    It is helpful to know, then, that within a Jhana:

    1. There is no possibility of thought;
    2. No decision making process is available;
    3. There is no perception of time;
    4. Consciousness is non-dual, making comprehension inaccessible;
    5. Yet one is very, very aware, but only of bliss that doesn't move; and
    6. The five senses are fully shut off, and only the sixth sense, mind, is in operation.

    These are the features of Jhana. So during a deep meditation, if one wonders whether it is Jhana or not, one can be certain it is not! No such thinking can exist within the stillness of Jhana. These features will only be recognized on emergence from a Jhana, using reviewing mindfulness once the mind can move again.


    ____



    Is this the same author Michael? Jahanas - Gunaratna


    An endless subject ;)


    Peace :)
     
  17. Michael David

    Michael David Member

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    Hi Karmoh
    Yes it is the same author I mispelled his name. It is Gunaratana as you noted.

    And yes an endless subject of the exploration of experience and as usual an interpretation and understanding of the original texts is filled with some (slight) differences.

    From Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English " When you enter the first jhana you are still in touch with your physical senses. Your eyes are closed but you can still hear, smell, feel, and taste. This is one definite indication of the first jhana as opposed to the others. You don't fully lose thought either. Thouhts come now and again. ... your thoughts do not disappear all of a sudden at the attainment of the first jhana... just ignore them ... they are one of the things that will pull you out of jhana."

    I can read and reread these books on jhana and each time it seems new and fresh and more insightful. I wish I had more time.

    The study of jhana is what got me started on my sense of sensation (and its pleasantness) and how it weaves through my experience and writing.

    I am glad you are okay and back to being "separate" again. And thank you for your kind words.

    Michael
     
  18. Hazelkay

    Hazelkay Member

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    entering the jhanas

    Entering Jhana

    I found this set of instructions for entering the jhanas which I thought were very good.

    For me this took days of meditating almost 24/7 to achieve.

    peace and joy:)
     
  19. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    The interesting thing about it, and why I would like to try it, is that in Buddhism, the jhana's are considered crucial steps towards enlightenment.

    Self-realization is also considered enlightenment, and I never experienced any jhana's. So, would it be easyer for me to reach them, or just as hard, will it "rock my world" or will it just be another experience...

    I'm curious :)
     
  20. Michael David

    Michael David Member

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    Hi Edwin

    I don't know.

    However, there is something in your questions that has captured my attention.

    It seems from your post that you are familiar with self realization so I would ask you to tell me more about that. Is a part of self realization outside or beyond awareness? In some ways once you go beyond the fourth jhana the writings describe refinements in experience that seem to be beyond experience. Maybe Hazelkay can add her experience of this.

    If enlightenment is the tip of the mountain there may be multiple paths to get to the top; self realization, jhana, etc like different languages that have different sounds but try to describe the same things and experiences.

    Maybe its like a carnival. You go in at the entrance and pass by many booths of different experiences. You are having a good time trying out each experience. When you get one right you get a coupon. At the other end of the carnival is the exit. If you have enough coupons you can choose enlightenment. (and maybe if you do you find that the whole trip was ???)

    If jhana is beyond experience (while you are in it) it might "rock your world" but like the Rabbi who slipped out of Temple on Yom Kippor to the golf course and got a hole in one, "you won't be able to tell anybody about it."

    Michael:)
     

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