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I've been attempting to follow Leigh Brasington's instructions about entering jhana. However, I never seem to be able to find a pleasant sensation. I mean I feel just kind of warm and comfortable in places and I feel occasional subtle vibration or tingle but not enough to maintain focus on. Anyone have any advice about this? And before you start to preach about how trying to enter jhanas will ensure you don't, I already know that. I'm just more looking for advise about why I can't seem to notice sensations much. Thanks

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  • You don't focus, search for sensation in jhanas. When get closer and closer to jhanas, the sensation just arises inside you. You don't search, try to find it, try to feel it; it just arises inside you and you just feel it. The moment you try to find it, it disappear. That's because, you lose concentration of your mind.
    – Pycm
    Commented Mar 16 at 5:13
  • Jhanas only about absolute concentration. Not feeling, trying to feel anything.
    – Pycm
    Commented Mar 16 at 5:17
  • So, it only about, how oneself achieve this concentration. So there are many standard ways to practice this.(40 kasina in Buddhism)
    – Pycm
    Commented Mar 16 at 5:19
  • cessation of stress is pleasant..
    – blue_ego
    Commented Mar 16 at 21:48

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I have to be honest, I've never understood that approach. I believe Brassington even states that the "jhana" experienced that way isn't even real jhana. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think they're called "pleasure" jhana and not true absorption.

When it comes to jhana, don't neglect the advice in the suttas. You want to find an object, any object will do (so breath, kasina, a candle, whatever. Breath is probably best since there's more written on it. First, you need to establish applied thought. Get your attention used to "hitting" the breath. All you're doing here is identifying a place where the breath passes - the tip of your nose, your belly, etc. Next comes sustained thought. When you've identified that place, observe the entire duration of the breath from that point. Closely follow the whole inhalation and exhalation. Do not let your mind waver, but don't use force either. Use the lightest touch you can to keep it in that place.

While all this is going on, be mindful of any hinderances as they arise. See them, identify them, let them go, and return to your meditation point. You will notice your sit deepen every time you do that.

After some time, you will begin to notice a feeling of solidity. Your mind will congregate in a single place. You may see a light (I never have, but people report it). For others there will be a palpable darkness like staring into an empty cave. This is the nimitta and evidence that you have entered access concentration. At this point, you should use that experience as your meditation object. When you first experience it, it will likely vanish. Just go back to the breath. It will emerge again. Just be patient and it will stabilize.

As you maintain attention on the nimitta, piti will arise. This is translated as rapture, but that's a garbage translation. Its better described as energy. This energy may cause your body to shake, your hands to clench, your jaw to flutter, etc. Just give into it. Let it do to your body what it wants. Eventually you will merge into that experience. At that point, hooray! First jhana.

One addendum - it will take about 6-12 months to strongly establish access concentration. First jhana is probably more like 1-4 years and that's assuming you're getting regular feedback from a teacher. As far as how long it takes in a single sit to get there - I've been doing this for almost 20 years and it takes me about 30-45 minutes to get to strong access concentration. First jhana takes about 75 minutes. If I sit for 2-2.5 hours straight, I can usually get to mature 2nd jhana. Third and fourth jhana are only reachable after 3-4 days of retreat where we sit for 12+ hours a day. So...I guess manage expectations accordingly?

How many downvotes can I get with that one? I'm guessing three in under 24 hours!

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  • Thank you for the advise. I've noticed in the last few days I'm getting this pleasant tingling sensation in my middle back area but not during meditation. Like I'm having it now reading this. Not sure why. Maybe some piti. I meditated 2.5 hours this morning.
    – Saddhā
    Commented Mar 15 at 1:16
  • You can safely ignore that. Piti will be quite obvious when it arises. When it first shows up, it usually appears in short burst of energy turning then into oppressive feelings like being under 50 feet of water or having your body wrung out like a towel.
    – user25833
    Commented Mar 15 at 1:46
  • Yes thanks i've experienced it many times before
    – Saddhā
    Commented Mar 15 at 2:55
  • Great practical advise but the timing frames you mention in the last paragraph, well I would omit them. I am not gonna edit it but that is subjective opinions.
    – Remyla
    Commented Apr 19 at 20:25
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What holds you back is likely doubt about the method but moreso lack of contemplation.

Even I myself, before my Awakening, when I was still an unawakened Bodhisatta, thought: 'Renunciation is good. Seclusion is good.' But my heart didn't leap up at renunciation, didn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace. The thought occurred to me: 'What is the cause, what is the reason, why my heart doesn't leap up at renunciation, doesn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace?' Then the thought occurred to me: 'I haven't seen the drawback of sensual pleasures; I haven't pursued [that theme]. I haven't understood the reward of renunciation; I haven't familiarized myself with it. That's why my heart doesn't leap up at renunciation, doesn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace.'

[1] "Then the thought occurred to me: 'If, having seen the drawback of sensual pleasures, I were to pursue that theme; and if, having understood the reward of renunciation, I were to familiarize myself with it, there's the possibility that my heart would leap up at renunciation, grow confident, steadfast, & firm, seeing it as peace.'

"So at a later time, having seen the drawback of sensual pleasures, I pursued that theme; having understood the reward of renunciation, I familiarized myself with it. My heart leaped up at renunciation, grew confident, steadfast, & firm, seeing it as peace. Then, quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful qualities, I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an09/an09.041.than.html

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Jhana is a superhuman state, resulting in freedom from sensuality. Leigh Brasington's instructions appear not related to the jhana described in the Pali Suttas. If jhana could be attained so easily, why are monks engaged in years of discipline, austerity & training?

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  • I already attained once before plus had psychic premonition
    – Saddhā
    Commented Mar 15 at 2:54
  • yes but was the mind free from inclination towards sensuality? Commented Mar 15 at 3:05
  • Yes. It was not something I had experienced before and haven't since. I had no idea at the time what jhana was. It happened quite by accident and changed my life forever.
    – Saddhā
    Commented Mar 15 at 5:00
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Even with a legitimate first, second, third, fourth jhāna, the body conditions are always changing and the sensations (vedana) are not going to feel the same all the time. Let alone, if you're not even sure you can do a first or second jhāna yet.

For some good general advice, read Thanissaro's article: Jhāna Not by the Numbers

https://lucid24.org/tped/s/samadhi/book/than-breath/index.html#10.2

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