Basic Concentration Meditation

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108 Responses

  1. Dwayne says:

    Great article!

    I actually started doing basic breath meditation after finding it on your site way back in 2011. It took me about 8 months or so until I had a “breakthrough”. Around that point, it felt as if I could intuit people’s vibes based on talking to them and pretty much read them, gather their motivations etc. The next few months that followed were pretty awesome haha. It literally clicked after one meditation session. Like you said I was meditating around 30 min or so.

    Somewhere along the way all that subsided. I would note that I did LSD around this time – give or take a few months or so – and had a bad trip. I spent about the next 1-2 yrs pretty much fundamentally questioning my identity, trying to figure out what kind of a person I am, my characteristics/qualities. Pretty much questioning the meaning of in what’s the point of any of this? I’m pretty sure I’ve past the bottom of that, but I’m nowhere near as daring/impulsive/confident as I used to be. I’m curious to know whether this meshes with your experience of arising/passing and the dark night.

    Either way, I need to practice more often, so thanks for putting this up!

    • Illuminatus says:

      Yep that closely matches my experience. I took MDMA for the first time around the time I started meditating (2008-09). I crossed the Arising & Passing quite blatantly around that time. I had “seeing the Matrix” moments practically every day and had insane psychic/intention-manifestation experiences on a weekly basis during that year. Ingram’s description of the A&P is bang-on:

      The Dark Night that followed lasted years, and I’m only really just coming out of it now.

      Some drugs, particularly LSD, are well known for causing people to cross the A&P prematurely. I think there are lots of people out there who qualify for Dark Night having crossed A&P via drugs or some unguided meditation practice.

  2. Dwayne says:

    Are comments on working on this? Coulda sworn that I typed one up earlier..

    • Illuminatus says:

      Comments are moderated. If you attach your email address or Open ID, once one is approved they all automatically are approved. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Moranta says:

    I have a question : How do you make the difference between letting go of a thought and suppressing it ?

    I’ve been trying this meditation for 2 weeks now. But as for each time I tried meditation, I’ve been wondering if I was just letting go of the thought or suppressing it whenever I come back to my kasina.

    • Illuminatus says:

      Concentration is concentration. Both suppressing and letting go of thoughts are valid actions for concentrating. Concentrate!

      In reality you will mainly be suppressing thoughts to begin with until you create a “concentration pathway” at which point you will find thoughts falling away at the side.

      Good luck! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Moranta says:

        Thanks for the reply.

        I have another question. I do This meditation with a solid object. And I’ve been wondering about the role of my eyes. Maybe I’m Just sweating over the small stuffs. But should my eyes daty immobile, fixing one part of the object, then widening my field of attention on the object or should I let them scruting the object.
        I naturally let them move, and I’ve noticed That I keep seeing things with more and more details in it

        • Illuminatus says:

          The eyes will do various things depending upon what’s going on. Don’t sweat it.

          In fact, worrying about the eyes shows you are not concentrating. Simply return your attention to the object. ๐Ÿ™‚ You will find you go through annoying cycles of self-doubt and distraction while practising concentration, before finally arriving at absorption. And then you might realize you’re absorbed, and have distracting thoughts about that! It’s normal. Just keep returning your attention to the object.

          But I also have some more practical advice: get into a “rhythm” of concentration. So, imagine your concentration has a gentle flowing “back and forth” feel to it. I talked about that in this guide in the section “Things Which Help Rapture”. Your eyes will take care of themselves when done like that.

          Here is what MCTB (p139) says about getting into a flow:

          “Tune into the illusory smoothness of things by purposefully and
          calmly working with illusions of solidity or fluidity. There is a certain
          โ€œinto itโ€ quality which helps, sort of like really getting into a slow groove
          when playing an instrument, having sex, playing a sport, or just sinking
          into a well-deserved and warm bubble bath. Being in a silent and safe
          place is very helpful, as is giving yourself permission to relax, put the
          cares of the world behind you, and enjoy.
          If you are using the breath as an object, you might try purposefully
          visualizing it as sweet, smooth waves or circles that are peaceful and
          welcome. Try breathing as if you were in a garden of fragrant roses and
          you wish to experience the fullness of their fragrance. Perhaps these tips
          will help illustrate the kind of non-resistant and peaceful presence that
          can help one attain these states. Tune into sensations in and around the
          primary object that feel good.”

          I will also add that, when in deep absorption, things like worrying about the eyes (or anything else) simply doesn’t happen. There is no way to “deal with it” because it just doesn’t happen. An example from last night: I was practising my iPhone kasina ( I went through the usual worrying about my eyes, blah blah blah, when suddenly I noticed that the afterimage of the light looked like a little galaxy. Zooming in, I found it was made of millions of stars. Obviously I was not worrying about my eyes and so forth at that point.

          All in all, don’t sweat it. Just return your attention to the object.

          • Moranta says:

            I kinda knew that I was worrying for nothing, but I needed to got it confirm :p

            “You will find you go through annoying cycles of self-doubt and distraction while practising concentration, before finally arriving at absorption. And then you might realize youโ€™re absorbed, and have distracting thoughts about that! Itโ€™s normal. Just keep returning your attention to the object.”

            Yeah, I can totally relate to that, each time that I feel that I’m being absorbed, There is always a thought that say “yeah I did it” or else and I’m like “damn”. Haha

            I’ll try the flow thing, even if I’ve got trouble to really understand it.

            Thank you again. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Vick says:

    “Getting into a flow, or rhythm. Okay, this is difficult to explain. You will find that your attention wants to move off the object in an actual predictable rhythm”

    Thank you!
    I noticed that after I focus my attention my mind becomes foggy and it slowly starts to drift until an alluring thought pops up and next thing I know I’m lost in thought. Refocusing in a rhythm on the fogginess and drifting mind almost eliminates it completely.

  5. JPSartre says:

    “I would get a strong feeling of falling (I now believe this is just all muscles relaxing simultaneously).”

    I would begin to get this feeling too, get scared, and then stop. I couldn’t handle not being in story mode. Just go with the flow?

  6. Moranta says:

    I’ve been having headaches after some sessions. I was not sure if it was really correlated but I’ve just got out of a sitting and I’m starting to have an headache. What can I be doing wrong ? Am I trying to concentrate too hard ? Putting too much effort ?

    • Illuminatus says:

      Might be eye-strain. If you are using a physical object, try not to “stare” at it and instead “gaze”. Any time you feel tension in the eye muscles, consciously relax that tension. Try putting the object farther away if you have to tense your eye muscles to keep it in focus.

      If none of that works, try using the breath as your object with eyes closed, rather than a physical object.

      I have read many reports about concentration meditation by people on meditation forums, and some of them say they experience a “pressure” sensation in their forehead (third eye area) while concentrating. I do not experience this however, and do not believe pain should be involved in concentration meditation. Pain is almost always caused by a muscle being tensed for a long period, and you should train yourself to notice that tension and consciously relax it.

      • Moranta says:

        ” and some of them say they experience a โ€œpressureโ€ sensation in their forehead (third eye area) while concentrating.”

        That’s exactly it !

        I think you might have spot the right problem.

        Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Nick says:

    Thank you so much for writing this article. I’ve only been practicing for three weeks, and I’ve already experienced the benefits. I’m calmer,less anxious and I seem to be working faster! Looking forward to more of your writings.

    • Illuminatus says:

      That’s awesome, Nick. Nice work, and thanks for the feedback. ๐Ÿ™‚

      It just struck me that one of the reasons we’re seeing so many newcomers make rapid positive progress might be that we are working directly against some of the scatter-brain conditioning of social media, TV, and other recent phenomena. In this sense, concentration meditation is helping us come back up from quite a significant negative — by restoring one’s ability to simply focus on one thing at a time, and also to be alone without constant intrusion upon one’s experience. No wonder people are feeling better since starting to practise.

      I won’t go ultra-conservative and declare such technology and social change to be evil — they are simply causal. But they bring a whole host of maladies, and rising interest in “antidotes” like this method is to be expected.

  8. Daniel says:

    Hey Illuminatus, how long would you say I have to be able to concentrate on my object before I’ve “achieved access concentration”? I can easily concentrate on anything for several seconds but then I can find myself off daydreaming, where I totally forget that I’m meditating again! (I’m just taking up meditation again after a few years off, if that helps.) Thanks a lot for your excellent work.

    • Illuminatus says:

      Hi Daniel,

      As a very general rule I would say you need two factors present for it to qualify as access concentration: 1) A sense of “lock” on the objrect. 2) A pleasant sensation.

      For example, at my level I can glance at an object, hold it in “lock” for just a second, and feel a pleasant sensation. Then I concentrate on both the object and the pleasant sensation simultaneously, and this is how you build “absorption” — so it literally feels like you are “feeling” the object inside you, hence the name absorption.

      At your level, I would recommend mainly looking out for this pleasant sensation, or even just some subtle change in perception or awareness. Start to notice these things and let them grow and develop, and that’s going to be the key to developing concentration/absorption. You can develop it quite quickly if you know to look for these things, which is a main reason I wrote this guide as its aim is to teach this fantastic skill in the most straightforward way possible.

      Hope this helps.


  9. Pat says:

    Hey, last night when practicing concentration meditation my ability to become absorbed in the breath seemed to increase suddenly. After I stopped meditating, I was in this remarkable bliss state where I was totally relaxed, to the point where I was too relaxed to do anything. Is this a bliss state?

    • Illuminatus says:

      After your posture work, which frees up muscles, your ability to create spaciousness in the jhana will suddenly increase. Did your meditation seem more spacious? I don’t want to put words in your mouth; this is just my experience.

      And yes that’s a kind of bliss state. If you are blissful, it’s a bliss state. You can also get bliss while walking around and doing things following such deep jhanas as they leave their mark for some time afterwards.

      • Pat says:

        I really didnt do all that much posture work, yet it seems to have made a difference. I was gonna comment on the posture article that I only really tried the arm one and then tried the hip flexors like you suggested in the comments, and feel a change. To be honest, I was skeptical about the posture method before I tried it, as it seemed way too simple. I thought I had simply been concentrating better last night, but the fact that it was such a sudden change makes me think it had something to do with the posture work.

  10. James says:

    Will you always go through the Jhana states in order?

    • Illuminatus says:

      I haven’t been able to “skip” jhanas — but I haven’t tried that hard. I can get to 4th jhana extremely quickly, but I clearly go through 1st, 2nd and 3rd in rapid succession.

      Also, they are stacked fractally. So, in getting to a deep 1st jhana, a progression through 1 to 4 can be witnessed in that, if one pays attention carefully. My description of “what happens”, visually, is as follows:

      “Lock” (1st)
      “With” (2nd)
      “Periphery” (3rd)
      “Fill” (4th)

      I use a combination of the dark stuff I see when I close my eyes, and the breath, as my object. Perceptually it’s like using “nothing” as the object (I matured past having to use actual objects some time ago). So, I will lock onto the dark stuff in sync with my breath (pleasure wave). Stay with the wave and the dark stuff kind of “blooms” and becomes steady. That’s second. Then the periphery of my visual field becomes the focus, automatically, which is 3rd (though I can move focus there intentionally to “hack” into 3rd, but the quality of the jhana is compromised). Then the middle fills in, and that’s 4th. Jhanas 5-8 can be found within the “tail end” of 4th — you can find the “space” between yourself and the dark stuff, kind of like a “hidden layer” which you can “step into” and progress from there up till “Neither perception nor yet non-perception” or whatever it’s called — which is like being totally tuned out. It’s useful for hangovers when the alternative would be feeling miserable. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I was thinking back over this very old post:

      “The first time I reached this “void” state, where I literally had nothing in my mind, it was like trying to maintain a bubble. In the bubble was nothing, and that’s where I wanted to stay. However, thoughts were pushing in from the outside, trying to burst the bubble. The first time I experienced this, I was able to maintain the bubble for several seconds, using the “muscle” of concentration built by all my previous meditation experience. It really is like flexing a muscle. I am amazed by the brain’s ability to develop such things. Anyway, I stayed in the bubble for several seconds, and staying there caused what I can only describe as an EXPLOSION of pleasure in my brain. Honestly, it was more intense than any drug. It was more like an orgasm, but even more intense. It was as though someone had run up and injected me with heroin or something. I could not maintain this intense state. All the thoughts came flooding back into my head, and my ego went giddy with joy at the new “toy” it had found.”

      I am pretty certain that “bang” was Nirodha-Samapatti. There was pseudo-cessation during it. I’ve tried to get it back today but didn’t get there. Beginner’s luck does count for something in meditation.

      A fairly good assumption to make in concentration meditation is that you’re about to achieve something. I’ve always proceeded under the belief that these things are waiting to be found and could happen at any time, and that the mind will just kind of find its way there if you let it. I’ve never had any doubts, because as far as concentration meditation is concerned, doubts are just background noise and wasted cycles you could devote to absorption. My advice to anyone is just to stop having any doubts about your abilities at all because they’re a total waste of your time.

      • Illuminatus says:

        Correction! I just found I could skip straight into 5th jhana (Infinite space). This was after practising concentration meditation for about an hour, so that jhana was already well-practised and “worn in”. Just assume there is a layer of space in your consciousness that you can “step into” — it’s between “you” and your field of vision. Step into it, and it expands.

  11. James says:

    Thank you for the reply.

    I’m confused about where I’m at basically.

    I’ve been trying to be consistantly aware/present . Could I be in a jhana and not left it? I feel kinda like I’m on a cloud. Last night when I was alseep I felt like I went through rapture, waves of pleasure each more intense than the last all coming from my naval – where I’ve always had lots of tension/energy blocks.

    earlier that day, I think I had symptoms of the dark night – some of my intentions started coming through, and I thought about what happens after I get what I asked for? This was followed by panick/fright/worry that even after I got something I wanted, nothing would change and I would not be satisfied, and the mere power to have control over reality was in that fashion was scary and daunting.

    Today, when I breath and go into the subtle breath, I feel vibrations/discomfort. Not pleasure that I can absorb into.

    My body feels very light and any thoughts very faint. Pain/discomfort is labeled as such but there is no suffering, likewise I feel no pleasure really, sort of a disassociated apathy.

    I feel like everything is fluffy.

    • Illuminatus says:

      “Iโ€™ve been trying to be consistantly aware/present . Could I be in a jhana and not left it? I feel kinda like Iโ€™m on a cloud. Last night when I was alseep I felt like I went through rapture, waves of pleasure each more intense than the last all coming from my naval โ€“ where Iโ€™ve always had lots of tension/energy blocks.”

      I would say that’s first jhana and you can just cycle the waves (make them the object, or a combination of that and, say, your breath) and let the rapture build up like that. There is an orgasmic element to it. I am sure we are hacking both the dopamine and opioid systems.

      “earlier that day, I think I had symptoms of the dark night โ€“ some of my intentions started coming through, and I thought about what happens after I get what I asked for? This was followed by panick/fright/worry that even after I got something I wanted, nothing would change and I would not be satisfied, and the mere power to have control over reality was in that fashion was scary and daunting.”

      I would say these are little fractal reflections of the Dark Night, but full-blown Dark Night is really rather obvious (well, it was for me, once I knew that’s what it was). Mine lasted for 6 years! So my advice would be not to sweat these little instances of negative mind states. Don’t “script” yourself into a Dark Night, haha.

      “Today, when I breath and go into the subtle breath, I feel vibrations/discomfort. Not pleasure that I can absorb into.”

      I would advise you to go back to the pleasurable focus if you want to cultivate deep jhana. So go back to your belly one. Listen up, everyone. You need to pick objects that work FOR YOU. Pick them based on which ones make you feel the best and/or are quickest to get into. E.g. I am very visual — that’s my dominant representational system. So I almost always use the dark stuff behind my eyes (in combination with my breath). I can use, say, an audio tone as an object, but it takes a little longer to “lock onto” and there’s more a “forced” feeling regarding the pleasure. The pleasure wave can be learned as a habit to transplant jhana onto objects not in your preferred representational system. Learning how to get to rapture should therefore be your #1 priority. My message here is that if an object is not working for you, try another one, in a different representational system (feeling? Visual? Audio? What?)

      “My body feels very light and any thoughts very faint. Pain/discomfort is labeled as such but there is no suffering, likewise I feel no pleasure really, sort of a disassociated apathy.

      I feel like everything is fluffy.”

      This is tough to label. I know what you mean because I can settle into that apathetic state if I stay in a “soft” jhana for a long time. I believe it comes from maxing out the opioid system (you get a similar “numb” feeling if you take a load of codeine or tramadol). My advice is to ramp up the rapture. So build those pleasure waves up. I used to “dump” all the pleasure in one go, which would then lead to that numbed, fluffy state you’re describing. Now I let the rapture build up in its own time, in phase with the breath, and in phase with the fascination I am experiencing with the object/state (object and state begin to become one, hence “absorption”).

      Since I began taking this more “organic” approach to jhana, my jhanas are always extremely pleasurable (and addictive). The amount of dopamine I pump into my own brain leaves a metallic taste in my mouth sometimes. My morning wake-up ritual is now to do some tai chi–style exercises to unstiff my muscles from the various sleeping positions (and these moves all come from the right brain; I’m going to film it soon and put it up here, and explain how to access that state). Then I get back in bed in a semi-reclined position (pillows behind my back) and rise through the jhanas. It is nice to know, for a fact, that I am going to feel good immediately that day.

  12. James says:

    Thanks for the indepth reply – I always looked forward to your new content.

    I’ve been through the dark night already, I “boosted” myself through it with DMX and DMT, which was brutal and not recommended.

    I have found doing the posture exercises you’ve recommend so far (tense and release) has really, really been of great help.

    • Illuminatus says:

      “Iโ€™ve been through the dark night already, I โ€œboostedโ€ myself through it with DMX and DMT, which was brutal and not recommended.”

      You can’t hack through the Dark Night with drugs. Been there, tried that, got the t-shirt. I even got a fake “Fruition” while on a combination of methoxphenidine and LSA. That cycled me back to Arising & Passing as though it were a real fruition — but the curtain of duality did not stay lifted! I had to go through the entire Dark Night again, without drugs, and get fruitions, without drugs, before I could finally feel like I had achieved what I set out to achieve and got my life back.

      I think it’s actually a pretty good idea to master all the territories of the various emotions you feel from day to day as though they were one of the Stages of Insight, and that’s what my next big post is about. It’s pretty remarkable what you can achieve when, say, you have mastered Fear — because, well, can you think of any life situation where mastery of Fear wouldn’t come in handy?!

      • Illuminatus says:

        And, of course, mastering jhana is always cool if you’ve had enough and want to suppress the shit out of a negative emotional state. ๐Ÿ™‚

        It’s nice to have options. ๐Ÿ™‚

        If everyone could learn to get hard jhana at will the antidepressant companies would go out of business overnight.

  13. Illuminatus says:

    I need to add something to this.

    “My body feels very light and any thoughts very faint. Pain/discomfort is labeled as such but there is no suffering,”

    Why are you labelling anything? Beginning to label sensations means you have departed from concentration into insight meditation. If you made the choice to do that, fine. If you assumed that you were still doing concentration meditation at that point, you’re dead wrong.

    I’ve got the feeling from having done a few Skype sessions and answering plenty of emails/comments that a lot of you have way too much mental (mainly verbal) activity going on while doing concentration. Suppress the hell out of that shit! This isn’t insight, or watching thoughts, or “noting”, or any variant of that. This is pure concentration. Don’t tolerate any mental activity from yourself that is not being pointed at absorption in the object.

    Especially when you are starting out, most of concentration meditation is actually suppression.

    Once you have worn in that pathway, you can start to feel more like you are pointing your concentration at an object and thoughts “fall away”. But if you aren’t there, you aren’t there. Suppress! ๐Ÿ™‚

    “Return your attention ruthlessly to the object” is good advice I gave a student once which really helped him.

  14. James says:

    “This isnโ€™t insight, or watching thoughts, or โ€œnotingโ€, or any variant of that. This is pure concentration. Donโ€™t tolerate any mental activity from yourself that is not being pointed at absorption in the object.”

    Well, that settles it quite nicely ๐Ÿ˜€

    I think I found my confusion:

    “And, of course, mastering jhana is always cool if youโ€™ve had enough and want to suppress the shit out of a negative emotional state. ”

    I always thought there was no such thing as suppressing, if you did that you would just make it worse and that the only way through negative emotions is acceptance.

    If supression is the key, well I was raised in a religious household, supression is a talent of mine ๐Ÿ˜€


    • Illuminatus says:

      “I always thought there was no such thing as suppressing, if you did that you would just make it worse and that the only way through negative emotions is acceptance.”

      There is suppression by “pushing emotions down”. In that instance, you are learning a habit — of pushing emotions down. And this is the very definition of being passive/non-assertive. It goes very much with the “head down” posture. In reality a lot of such suppression is actually required due to this whole thing called “having to get along with other people.” ๐Ÿ˜‰ So that’s where social savvy comes in, in being able to express emotions in ways that don’t wreck your relationships. There is definitely a lot of truth that suppressing emotions in that respect will make them worse down the line (luckily, a few assertive expressions of those emotions quickly “corrects the timeline” ๐Ÿ™‚ ). One of my major guides, coming up, will focus on how to experience emotions as they arise without “acting out on them”. So, not suppression — you can actually choose to fully feel the emotions then not do anything. They don’t get suppressed, they don’t “build up”. It’s all conscious choice. That requires some leaps of faith and work on becoming detached from the “self” that suffers, and hopefully my guide will bring people to that place quicker than if they just followed, say, current insight meditation technology. What I practise is very similar to Actualism. I consider it a kind of “right-brain enlightenment” technology — working with sensations as opposed to deconstructing them.

      In the context of concentration meditation, there are two ways I have used the word “suppress” in these replies. The first is suppression of thoughts during concentration meditation. This is absolutely the way to go, especially when first starting out. You are “carving out a space” in your consciousness for the object to sit in. I do not push thoughts down for this. I mainly push “on” them, or “through” them. That’s really hard to explain, but just give it a go. The end result is that it feels like I’m “pushing” on the object on the out breath and slightly “pulling” on the object on the in breath. That’s how you sync the “lock” (beginning of absorption with the object) with the breath. I will have to add that to guide; it’s an important point and will probably unlock this for some people who just needed a “key”.

      Again: Try this. Imaging you are “pushing” on the object with your mind during the out breath, and “pulling” on the object on the in breath. You are aiming to get the pushes and pulls flowing smoothly like a sine wave. That is one way you can achieve rhythm in your concentration meditation, and begin to get regular pleasure waves in synchronization with everything else that is going on. That’s how you build up to rapture, and utter fascination with the object. It is literally like you are merging with it. Because you are “feeling” the object (the emotional responses in your body are synchronized with your focus on the object), you begin to literally FEEL the object. This is how one becomes “absorbed” in an object.

      Suppressing thoughts in concentration meditation is fine. If they are that important, you’ll just think them again later while not meditating. 99% of your daily thoughts are completely useless anyway. Aren’t they. Think about that for a moment.

      Furthermore, thoughts are really fickle beasts. For me, and most people I suspect, they are largely at the mercy of the underlying emotional currents. I had far too much to drink last night and the hangover had my thoughts turn, apparently arbitrarily, to self-hating thoughts. I am an extremely happy, positive person in my life now, so when I detect this happening I KNOW this is my body talking. The thoughts in this context are nonsense attachment of false meaning to painful body sensations (Invalid Attribution). It is vital that thoughts are not “thunk” while in this state! That’s one of the problems with depressive people: they THINK while in the depressed state (when they actually should be asleep) and write themselves a new character story/history from that body state and become self-hating due to that new story. Break that feedback loop! Concentration meditation is by far the best way to do this. STOP THINKING! Pick an object and get absorbed. Concentration meditation makes nerves release opioids (it might be a kind of intentional “overloading”). It took about 45 minutes of concentration but I beat the hangover. I just killed off the pain with the meditation then the thoughts fixed themselves. Miracle, eh.

      My second usage of “suppress” pertains to intentionally suppressing negative emotional states using concentration meditation. This is as I just described. I am not suggesting people slack off all their troubles and just stay in jhana all the time and never think about or manage their problems (even though, for most people, that would probably actually HELP them solve their problems since they would be a lot happier in general). I am suggesting however that concentration meditation be used as a magic pill whenever you feel bad seemingly for no reason. Why suffer so much in this life? The really good thing about being able to do this is that, when you do get round to looking at your problems, you will be able to do so from the position of KNOWING you can feel good immediately after dealing with them. The fear of the fear of the fear is what keeps most people behind.

      So, I hope that clears up why to suppress, when to suppress, and how to suppress. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Nick says:

    I’m continuing to enjoy the benefits of this practise. My focus is unbelievable. I zip through books much faster and seem to retain more information. I’m also happier for no good reason (does there have to be a reason?) One funny thing that I’ve noticed, I stammer in my speech enough for it to be a social and business problem. I’ve noticed that when my energy and focus is high, I can temporarily overide the tendency to stammer, but when I do this I experience an increase in anxiety and fear. I’ve started to journal this to enhance my awareness of this. I’ve long suspected that symptoms like stammering,social anxiety are like a shield which was erected via the nervous system to protect the individual. Probably dating back to a time when the individual was powerless in early childhood.
    Have you had any experience with the Sedona Method or Release technique (named depending on whose teaching). It makes sense but I found it difficult to make work. The teachings reminded me of self enquiry with a Buddhist slant. I like their take on goal setting. They set goals to bring up negativity and then work on releasing or allowing those feelings.
    I enjoy reading and practising your work and look forward to future writings.

    • Illuminatus says:

      Hi Nick,

      Sedona, “Release”, NLP, EFT — all these lower-level techs are shit. They use jhana elements but in bizarre frameworks with insane rationalizations.

      Just go straight for deeper jhanas. You’re already seeing the benefits.

      The stammer is a muscle contraction habit learned by having your voice “cut off” by others during childhood. You go to talk, someone cuts you off (to tell you off, bully you, or otherwise dominate you) and you get stuck with this habit. It’s muscles, and if there is one thing the human mind can actually control, it is muscles. Pull up an anxious situation in your mind you know causes you to stammer. Find the muscles tense up in various parts of your speaking apparatus, e.g. chest, lungs, throat, etc. Make those tensed muscles the object. Do jhana on them until you relax. It might take you 2 hours, or 20 seconds. I’ve used this to recondition a million muscle tension related issues. Sorry, I can’t tell you it any more clearly than that. Just play around.


  16. Nick says:

    Thanks for the advice. In a crazy way I’m glad I have this current problem. It’s pushed me into this fascinating area of study. I’ll take on board your suggestions. The warning about the low level techs is appreciated. I’ll be making a contribution, I’ve learnt a lot from you.

  17. James says:

    I found I get to deeper states quicker laying down.

    Also, I had like… Arm rapture the other day? I WAS my right arm, and it thrashes about for a few seconds englufed in white light. Then I felt like I kinda, like fell asleep/blinked out for a second and was just laying down again awake.

  18. Lucifer says:

    I’m using my throat as the “object” when talking to other people to see if I can improve my tone of voice. Well, the results are pretty amazing. My voice is louder and deeper now. I didn’t know I had such a manly and sexy voice. It’s still not perfect, but II’m working on it. Being shy, I always struggled to make people hear what I was saying most times. I thought I couldn’t change my voice but now I understand that it was the result of previous conditioning and muscle tension which had been accumulated during years.

  19. Gary says:

    How has achieving Jhanas affected your ability to attract women?

    • Illuminatus says:

      At the start it was excellent. I would sit for 15-30 minutes in jhana, then go out and forget all about it. Due to the neurochemicals released (e.g. opioids, GABA, dopamine) it was a great mood and was the first time I felt present on nights out without drugs. I would not think about state or meditation or anything on those nights. I think that’s the best way to do it.

      I think doing jhana actually during nights out can be useful, but only in rare ultra-quick bursts to wipe away some anxiety or get out of your verbal mind for a moment or to do Sleazy-style “mind clearance”. As I got better at jhana, I started letting the line get really blurred, and ended up doing jhana all the time which made me very passive and zombie-like. Jhana is very comfortable, and comfort tends towards inaction.

      So this is all about knowing where to draw lines, and to stick to that. Personally I would recommend guys to steer away from jhana during socializing. Do a good sit before leaving the house, then completely forget about it.

      If you are looking for a relationship of the form “Learn jhana –> get girls” then I would say abandon that thought immediately. You still have to do everything you would have had to do anyway to meet women. A 15-30–minute sit beforehand however might just make you more open and sociable and improve your odds.

      • Gary says:

        Thank you.
        I am basically interested in using meditation to develop ‘Emotional Stability’ as you called it in one of your posts on the older forum. The ability to be completely present and unfazed while I am out interacting with women similar to what Sleazy does. I find myself in my head a lot and I am trying to get out of that.

  20. John says:

    Iv hit intense levels of bliss before when approaching jhana, There were times when it was so intense i would burst into laughter and i would be up all night because of the amount of energy i had felt, i also noticed a large increase in cognition afterwards. I find it quite hard to get there these days, I believe my lack of sleep makes it harder for me to hit Jhana. But anyway, Im just wondering, how much effort do i put into concentrating on the breath? Do i put alot of effort into concentrating on the breath trying to hold it there? or do i simply just relax and put very light gentle focus on the breath?

    • Illuminatus says:

      Hi John,

      It’s tough to answer because I now consider the breath to be a kind of crutch. That’s because I recently figured out that jhana is just a constant activation of certain nerves. I can turn on and “cycle” current through those nerves now without using an object.

      Using the breath gets you there with enough practice because the breath turns on all nerves throughout the body in sequence as it moves through the cycle of in-out; during that cycle you will spot which parts of the breath make you feel good — the pleasure aspect of jhana — and be able to isolate your awareness to just that part of the sequence. It has never been described like that before, probably because they didn’t know about nerves etc. when the language was made.

      Anyway, I can now just choose nerves and cycle current through them perpetually. I’m currently trying to map which nerves do what. There is one in the abdomen area which gives equanimity; the ones either side of the eyes which cause the face to smile create rapture. The ones in the bridge of the nose seem to create pleasure, and link into the chest — probably the vagus nerve. So, a few sets of nerves create all the glory of jhana.

      The breath is the most-used object because it turns on all nerves at some point in its sequence. So I recommend you do breathing but notice at which points in the breath a sense of pleasure or something else desirable is experienced, then try and create a breathing cycle which turns on those nerves the most. With practice you can get those certain nerves to have current passing through them constantly — and at that point you tend to “breathe around” those nerves (so you use other nerves to control the in-out, while keeping on those desired nerves which are, in my experience, mostly “in” nerves). At this point the breathing tends to be shallow because the nerves used for a regular breath are being co-opted for pleasure etc.

      I think you were doing this when you experienced the sudden bursting into laughter. I have certainly had “too much pleasure to take”. In my experience this is because the body needs to open up but is blocked. In real terms this is due to FASCIA (connective tissue) which has organized the body into a contracted pose due to people sitting all day. You can get up, breathe deeply and pull your head up and back gently and feel things move around to accommodate the expansion. (This is also one of the main purposes of yoga, which you might also want to look into.) When the body is opened up in this fashion you can accommodate more “energy” in the jhana without losing composure and then you can let yourself go into the trippier LSD-style aspects of jhana, e.g. infinite consciousness and the other formless realms which are spectacular.

      • Illuminatus says:

        P.S. When a nerve has a constant current flowing through it, there is a definite sense of “flow” in the whole conscious experience — hence why this flow aspect is emphasized in texts about jhana. For me this nerve input creates visual effects too, e.g. jewel tones, lights etc.

        • John says:

          Thanks for that :)! But i have 1 more question, Do you believe that diet and proper sleep is really important? I find that when i meditate and been eating constant junk food and having an unbalanced sleep routine i can never go deep into concentration, It feels like i barely make any progress at all.

          But when i start eating healthy and sleeping well I feel progress going up and up. Compared to when my diet and sleep was off and I would never get anywhere.

          • James says:

            John, for you – do you believe diet and proper sleep is important?

            • John says:

              Well im not sure now, When i actually think about it, diet and sleep is good for concentration but is it actually essential. For me meditation was so simple and just required consistency, i would sit down, focus on my breath and keep returning and then I would hit access concentration within a day or 2 practicing 20 minutes.
              Now for some reason I can’t, No matter how much i try, practicing for long lengths everyday for a whole week now and it looks like not much progress is going on.

              When i did meditate it wouldn’t be long to reach access, Even if i were to stop practicing for along time and get rusty and start all over again it would take only a day or so. But this is just ridiculous, Hours put forth and It looks like i can’t go deep at all. It would never take this long, Still trying to figure out what it could be that is stopping me from hitting access.

  21. James says:

    Are you absolutely still while meditating?

  22. PsySeducer says:

    I read both Absolutus amas and except keeping consistency with concentration practice there’s nothing to learn from him.
    I actually think he went thru a prolongued golden fluke period of meditative states and now he feels loosing it and just needs to brag a little on reddit to keep it going.
    The only thing I like is he tried to cultivate that “mdma state” as the guy from Limitless wich I am going for too in my daily practice, but that’s got more to do with a mindfull/full presence state than concentration meditation.

    • James says:

      That seems a bit dismissive.

      I think you do know a lot though and would be interested in what you have to share – if you ever feel like making a good write up on some of your knowledge, I’d be happy to help you clarify them (since English is my native language).

  23. Dynisty44 says:

    why some days it can be alot harder to concentrate? I don’t find my meditation progress being very stable

    • Vick says:

      It’s the same for me, for a few days it looks like you’re stuck or even regressing but eventually you break through.
      Diet, sleep and even what happens daily all affects meditation (for me at least).
      I think that’s just the nature of things, only thing to do is to keep going, just make sure you’re practicing correctly.

    • PsySeducer says:

      Because first you have to quiet the mind and bring all awearness to the present moment. So it depends on what state your brain is when starting to meditate. It shouldn’ t be stable it should be better quality each time, if not you’re not doing it right.

  24. Dynisty44 says:

    When i focus on my breath, should i try to be aware of any incoming thoughts so i can catch them the moment they arise and return to the breath? or should i just focus on the breath and let the thoughts arise and then just wait until i realize then bring it back?

    • Illuminatus says:

      Mercilessly bring your attention back to the breath. Pull your attention away from any thoughts, back to the breath, immediately. You do not engage thoughts at all in concentration meditation.

      • John says:

        Hey Illuminatus did you ever find that you had to switch technique around alot? because i would find at times that sometimes my method would work and other days it wouldn’t so i had to keep changing my method around in order to concentrate. I remember Absolutus saying that he had to do this to, just wondering if you did.

      • Dynisty44 says:

        “Mercilessly bring your attention back to the breath. Pull your attention away from any thoughts, back to the breath, immediately. You do not engage thoughts at all in concentration meditation.”

        Iv been trying this but it strains my head just trying to be so aware of the moment my mind wanders, It feels quite hard trying to be aware of thoughts the instant I think while also maintaining focus on my breath. I guess its just always been difficult to do 2 things at once mentally. :/

  25. James says:

    whatever your object of concentration is, when you wayver from said object, you just bring your awareness back to it.

    Here is the newest concentration guide:

  26. Matt says:

    How intense was the bliss during the first few times you entered jhana Illuminatus? Most would say its to intense to even handle so it takes time getting used to the feeling.

    • Illuminatus says:

      It’s not the bliss so much as the rapture which is intense. I’m writing a new guide at the moment where I describe these
      “jhana factors” (one-pointedness, rapture, bliss and equanimity). In fact the new guide will look nothing like the above and will be far more specific and academic and will focus almost entirely on technique.

      Back to your question, the rapture is essentially a strong manifestation of the “up energy” (which is invoked directly in kundalini yoga but is present in basically all meditation to varying degrees). The tendency is for the energy to surge upwards and correct the spine, blasting through bad posture and negative mental formations —
      jhana is an energizing of the mind. People respond to this in a wide range of ways. Personally, I experience it as actual mental pain — UNTIL I let go of the need to control it, and let it pass through as it wishes, at which point there is a “dip” sensation, usually towards the end of the out-breath, and then there is the lights and bliss characteristic of first jhana. So, for me, actually entering jhana is more about letting go.

      Certainly, handling this much energy can be difficult for beginners but it should only take a few experiences of this to figure out how to just let it pass up into the mind and do its thing. Jhana really shows the “control freak” side of the ego in this respect, as the ego really has to let itself be destroyed by the energy. At this point one can feel blissful and completely at peace with a situation that, just moments ago, was bothering the hell out of you. This in itself has given me cause to just burst out laughing at times. The games the mind plays really get put on display. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Matt says:

        thanks and yeah that is what I was meaning. “Rapture”. But how important is the speed at which you come back to the breath? I find that If I try to be to quick it can cause tension so is it still possible to enter jhana not being so quick and just bring it back when ever I notice? or is it very important to try and be extremely quick?

        • Illuminatus says:

          Good question. This is an important issue.

          In concentration meditation, it is important to let your object “breathe”. That means giving it space to exist. If you focus too hard then you strangle the object and get tension. If you don’t focus enough then you lose the object and have to gather it up again.

          The solution is halfway between the two. You want to get a rhythm in your awareness where your attention is resting on the object (your breath in this case) but also backs off a little if tension arises. If you maintain this kind of medium grip on the breath then you will find you can keep your attention on it for FAR longer lengths of uninterrupted time. And it is this ability to stay with the object (the breath) for uninterrupted lengths of time that induces jhana. So, maintaining this steady awareness on the breath for 5 seconds uninterrupted will do a LOT more for you in terms of moving into jhana than, say, 30 minutes of sloppy focus.

          “I find that If I try to be to quick it can cause tension so is it still possible to enter jhana not being so quick and just bring it back when ever I notice?”

          If you use the medium grip I recommended then you should be able to hold the breath in awareness for many seconds uninterrupted which, with practice, will turn into many minutes. It is during these uninterrupted lengths of time with object in awareness that jhana arises. Jhana only arises during these uninterrupted lengths of time. Jhana can erupt very quickly during these uninterrupted periods. Jhana is also easier to get back once it has arisen, if you happen to lose it. So, if you get jhana then lose attention on your object, it is easier to get it back quickly by getting the object back in awareness than it would be if you were starting from scratch. I call this a “warm start”. If the mind is warm to concentration it is quicker to slip back into jhana than it is from a “cold start” (starting from scratch that day).

          • Matt says:

            Thanks man. I have experienced Jhana a few times and during those times I had a massive increase in my overall skills as well as higher cognition. I feel I was alot better at things I would do, a certain sport and even something like Art. Like I was just better at it in so many ways.

            I also saw somewhere that if you can hold your concentration perfectly still without any distraction jhana can arise within 1 – 2 minutes.

            • Illuminatus says:

              I timed it yesterday and got jhana within about 10 seconds. So it can be a lot quicker even than 1-2 minutes.

              An important point I want to add is that jhana arises off of concentration momentum, and when momentum has been built it does not go down to zero when concentration is lost — so it is possible to get jhana off of many small “good efforts”.

              Here’s an example. Imagine concentration as being like a “meter” which rises only while you are holding steady attention on an object. On this meter there is a red line marked “jhana”. When the meter hits the red line you enter jhana (characterized by the quite obvious bliss, rapture, lights etc. happening).
              Let’s say you hold steady access concentration on your object for 10 seconds — then lose it. During the concentration the meter is rising. When you lose concentration the meter begins to fall, but it falls quite slowly. This means that when you begin concentrating again the meter will start to rise from a point only slightly lower than when you lost concentration. So, much of the momentum is conserved. The higher the meter rises, the easier it is also to maintain concentration (with the exception of the “turbulence” on jhana entry, especially for beginners). Furthermore, when you have crossed the jhana line, it is FAR easier to concentrate.

              So, given that some momentum is conserved, a beginner could hold attention on an object for 5 seconds then lose it, another 5 seconds then lose it, then 10 seconds (as concentration becomes easier to hold the higher up the meter you climb), then another 10, then 15 seconds and they cross the line into jhana. That was a pretty typical pattern when I was starting out.

              Through practice, as you develop awareness of the modes of attention that constitute “steady concentration”, you can apply them more cleanly and precisely and the above pattern will tend to be replaced with something more like: “Hold attention steady on object for 30 seconds –> straight into jhana”. I still get false starts occasionally but that is more to do with my pre-existing mental state; it is quickly noticed and remedied.

              • Matt says:

                Sorry man I never saw this post about the meter. Very good way of putting it ๐Ÿ™‚
                I saw in the comments that you also know Absolutus. He explained something like this as well but he used the “2 steps forward 1 step backwards” example.

                Have you ever tried to replace sleep with jhana or even spend a day or more in it? I plan to go for days Once Iv got a very good grasp of it.

                • Illuminatus says:

                  I have intentionally “fallen asleep” in second jhana before, lying on my bed. I remained conscious the whole time but let the jhana do its own thing rather than fixing it upon an object. There were stunning jewel-tone visuals. Then I “woke up” 2 hours later completely refreshed and energized and ready to go, but it was 2am and pitch-black outside and I didn’t really fancy doing anything at that point so had to go to normal sleep just to kill the time. If someone was really driven and had lots of things they wanted to be working on all the time, I think they could probably replace much of their sleep with some sort of jhana for a couple of hours, but I haven’t tested it enough to say how it plays out in the long term.

                  • Matt says:

                    Yeah Im going to try this once I can enter jhana properly and more consistently, but actually stay remained on the object. I’ll just lay down and focus on the breath, get into jhana and try and spend the whole night in it..

  27. Matt says:

    Alot of the time I feel like the main power of concentration comes mostly from the “Returning” process more than the length of how long I focus. Its just from what I noticed, Seems like I can hold my attention for quite some time without any disraction but I don’t feel much of a build up but when I do get distracted and return it feels like its that “return” that gives it the power and strength. Just from my experience. Is this how its meant to be?

    • Illuminatus says:

      That’s right. So now you need to figure out what mode of attention is in action during “returning” — and begin to do that constantly. You will likely find it is a “push forward” of attention. You can then use that to rest your attention on your object with a constant light push.

      • Matt says:

        Im sorry but I do not understand what you mean by “mode of attention is in action during returning” and “Push forward” is :/

        • Illuminatus says:

          When you return your mind to your breath, attention is moving back towards the breath in a certain way. The way attention moves and operates in that moment is the “mode of attention”. There are many different kinds of modes of attention. Verbal thought is another mode of attention. Making pictures in your mind is another. Looking out at a meadow (wide field) is a different mode of attention to staring at a pin in your hand (narrow field). These are all different modes of attention. The mind is moving attention around in different ways.

          When you are returning your attention to your breath, and feel that power, that is a specific mode of attention: will power. You are willing your attention back to your breath. If you can isolate that feeling, that mode of attention, and keep applying just that one, you will be able to keep the object in focus for very long periods.

          • Illuminatus says:

            P.S. The amount of attention the mind can produce at any one moment is finite. This is a good thing: it means that if you pour that attention into just one mode (concentration) then it cannot go into other modes (e.g. verbal thoughts, mental pictures etc.). The way you stop verbal thoughts and other distractions is simply by continuing to pour your attention into the correct mode of practice, concentration. Then the verbal thoughts get starved and just die away.

            • Matt says:

              Ah yeah thanks. And there are times where when I do focus and return to my breath I get that feeling like my mind is becoming heavy or breath, im not sure how to describe it but yeah it feels like a force in a way. Not saying my breath changes but the feeling of it does, feels like that and my mind becomes more weighted.

              • Illuminatus says:

                That sounds like you are starting to become absorbed in the breath (which is good).

                Here you are doing your own studies into your own modes of attention. That is what practice is all about, and why meditation must be learned by the student himself (the materials are just the starting point).

                To begin to accelerate your training now, you should start writing ALL of this stuff down in a notepad. I keep a notepad in my room just for this, and write all my practice notes in by hand. So your note could be: “Returning to breath = power?” then explore that next time. In this way, you are never “starting again from scratch” and each session you can carry on where you left off. This is one of the keys to rapid progress.

  28. Matt says:

    yeah definitely thanks now haha but there is 1 last thing I would like to mention here.. I did use a certain method long ago which was extremely effective but it stopped working after some time. I would focus on the breath but instead of just trying to stay aware of each in-breath out-breath I would try and put more focus with each passing second as I were to breath. each breath I tried to increase the quality of focus and Didn’t worry to much about duration but I will surely stick to what you mentioned to do!

    But yeah man as you said about “Never starting again from scratch and can carry on” This is a huge issue Iv seen with many meditators over the year, even friends of mine but I don’t see it around on forums. mainly in chats and including my self in the past (Never got to figure out what it really was) but the issue was sticking with a method and each day concentrating getting stronger and stronger and then access concentration coming along and then bliss but then some day down the line their method just stops working altogether, their concentration doesn’t improve, they cant hit access concentration no matter how much they practice. So they have to spend another 2 – 3 days hunting for another method. They find a method that can produce the same results – bliss / access concentration but again, same thing happens. Days down the line they have to find a new one and if they stick to the method that was successful but no longer works, still nothing happens.

    Did you experience this? Where results were never consistent? Because usually you are only meant to progress further not stop and no longer work. Its as if the method altogether just cant produce access or even bliss. But days later down the line it will.

    • Illuminatus says:

      I have experienced that, yes. The following is all from personal experience; take from it what you will.

      Every time a method “stopped working” for me I found that it was actually caused by a change in baseline emotional state, usually caused by either 1) Something happening in my life which created emotional burdens or “blocks” or 2) The meditation has brought something up which needs to be worked through (this is functionally the same as #1). So my dad died recently and in the two weeks between his death and the funeral I could concentrate, get absorption and one-pointedness, but little to no bliss (mostly no bliss at all). Of course, with grief there is a weight in the stomach. This is an energetic block. I instead switched to a combination of insight and energy work and just tended to those emotions (the block) non-judgmentally, which had a lot of healing benefit. After the funeral (which is an intentional cultural act of closure) I could get full jhana again with bliss. So, the technique began working again. There was never anything “wrong” with it — the situation just changed.

      Concentration meditation brings up your “stuff”. By providing a huge amount of bliss, it can reveal how stupid, hurtful and damaging certain relationships have been to you. You could not see that before because there was no carefree bliss with which to compare that relationship to. Following bliss, that relationship seems stupid and harmful. You get pissed off at it. All of this manifests as conflict; as emotional blocks. This is just one way (one model) of how concentration meditation can bring up your “stuff”. The solution is to switch meditation type, even to just a non-judgmental mindfulness meditation, where you do NOT try to go for full bliss jhana but instead become attentive to the emotions. Eventually an equanimity happens which heals them. After that, full bliss jhana will work again.

      For this reason I have two very distinct meditations I do:
      1) Classical jhanas for a more powerful mind, bliss, better emotional baseline etc.
      2) An insight-energy combination for emotional work (dealing with blocks etc.)

      Both of these meditations will inevitably lead to profound equanimity.

      I am writing the guides for them but they are quite nuanced; as you have found already it is quite difficult to put this stuff into words.

      • Matt says:

        Shit man sorry to hear, Hope you been alright / or feel better soon. And yeah Im quite hyped for a guide on that. I can even tell all my friends about this to who are having trouble with their meditation.

  29. James says:

    I did a shaman visualization technique not to long ago, which removed a huge energy block in the bottom of my stomach which had been there for ages. I’ve notice everything in my life has run much smoother since that occurrence.

    • Matt says:

      How did you do this?

      • James says:

        Well, I was with a group of 200+ people who all did it.

        It was basically a giant guided meditation. The actual process is called “soul retrieval”.

        It helped remove an energy block I had formed very early due to surgies I had before I was even a year old.

        Alberto Villoldo is the guy who ran the program I was in, He answered all the questions I had (I wasn’t exactly polite about them) in a very understand and cool way.

  30. Yuki says:

    I have had also luck getting very intense luck jhana while concentrating on breath + noting (non verbal) meaning

    I am concentrating on the breath sensations, and when something a thought or noise pulls my attention to it, I stay on the thought or sound for a second or so and return to the breath, even if I get pulled 10 in 10 seconds, this very fast makes rapture arise, it mostly gives me the light jhana versions, only one time it created for me a very bright nimitta which I was totaly absorbed in… and well, I have no words to describe the rapture and ecstatic bliss from it… so yeah, it’s a valid technique as well and works quite well…

    I don’t know if you tried it out before, but if you didn’t, please do, I wanna see how it affects other people that get regulary into jhanic states.

  31. Prowler says:

    Im going to go all out this week with meditation, practicing at least 6 – 7 hours a day of concentration meditation. How skillful do you think I’ll be at entering the jhanas within a week doing this? just wondering on your opinion before I start practicing lol.

    • James says:

      My opinion is you won’t do that.

      Do 45 minutes a day, for a week, and if you manage that up your time afterward.

      Quality > Quantity.

      • Prowler says:

        yeah my quality of meditation is pretty good already and im wanting to extend it upto that long. I don’t got much else in life to do on a day to day basis and really the feeling of the jhanas are the only thing that tend to bring me any joy now as most of the things that used to bring joy are gone. Usually when people say that I “wont” I try to beat them at it, so thats a good motivator as well.

      • Matt says:

        Hey James, how easily can you enter jhana?

      • Illuminatus says:

        “My opinion is you wonโ€™t do that.

        Do 45 minutes a day, for a week, and if you manage that up your time afterward.

        Quality > Quantity.”

        ^^^ What he said. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Else you could end up doing 6 hours of nonsense not-really-anything meditation which would just waste time (and you might fall asleep too).

        Instead you definitely want to get the quality to the level whereby, say, within 30 minutes you KNOW you will get jhana, and only THEN can you spend several hours in it (at which point the jhanas will almost certainly begin to follow the classical path, by themselves, i.e. 1st-4th and if you are lucky or especially talented you might even get formless realms 5-8). What is more likely however is, in these early stages, you will end up staying in 3rd for probably the whole first session (because it is THAT good) then a few sessions later you might up spending most of your time in 4th for the equanimity and emotional healing.

        So, get your quality down first. If you do not get jhana in the first hour, there is little point then spending another 5 hours doing the same thing (in my opinion). In such cases the mind’s tendency is to go towards elements of falling asleep. This is wasted time in meditation.

  32. Matt says:

    Illuminatus, Iv been gaining real good results lately and each day my concentration has been becoming much stronger but today when I woke up my concentration feels like utter shit and I can’t even focus. Is this normal to happen every now and then? And should I continue practicing for today or just relax and not do anything for today?

    • Illuminatus says:

      What were the environmental changes? Did you sleep well? Change in diet? Did you meditate before or after shower? You need to track all these things in a notepad. Hand-write it — it’s more intimate and your brain will pay more attention to it.

      Also, if some disturbing emotional event occurred that week then that can hinder concentration.

      • Matt says:

        ok thanks I’ll do that. But I was thinking it could be because im over using my brain. Because everyday I have been concentrating and improving it but last night I felt quite tired after my practices but I kept going and trying to practice ignoring it which did lead to quite some strain and dullness. Its why I was asking u if you believe this can affect concentration afterwards. Because for me its quite hard to tell what causes these issues as it always happens upon waking up. Its never something where I would do something wrong and then all of a sudden I find I cant concentrate, What ever is causing the issue it does not take affect until the next time I sleep.

  33. sentry says:

    usually its very simple for me. Just focus on the breath and then return my attention to it when ever it has wandered. But some days when I focus on the breath and return to it I feel like I cant really focus on the breath, The breath is there but I feel like my mind just can’t grip onto my breath so in this case it feels like Im returning to nothing. My mind just wont stick. What does this usually indicate?

    • Illuminatus says:

      In this case you could choose a physical point such as the bridge of the nose to be aware of as well as the breath.

      • sentry says:

        Yeah this is what I was meaning. The physical sensation feels to weak or I just cant feel it, thats why I have a hard time focusing on it. So one day I may be able to feel the “bride of the nose” and be able to return to it when ever my attention wanders but today I could not really feel anything so its much harder to return to that spot.

  34. sentry says:

    I try doing what you said – “When you first start out, you will probably find your attention wanders quickly and often โ€” maybe several times a second. You will just have to pull it back to the object each time (yes, even several times a second”.. I find this can lead to strain trying to will the mind back so fast and I feel as if my concentration got worse doing this :/

  35. Matt says:

    Illuminatus how long have you been able to enter 4th jhana? 1 year? 2 years??

    • Illuminatus says:

      I don’t know. I have been meditating since 2008. I got first jhana very quickly by fluke without knowing what it was. I then cultivated that state and began to get many of the insight territories before I knew what they were, either. I had some deep states and saw many wacky things but it is pretty hard to try to identify states from, say, 6 years ago, as any particular jhana. I would say I had fourth jhana a lot longer than 2 years ago, though.

      I was also constantly fucking around with different drugs, many of which artificially bring about elements of jhana (or, in LSD’s case, full-blown 6th jhana). So it is hard to separate all that stuff out from my regular meditation practice, as they were all feeding into each other and muddying up the “record”.

      Can I ask why you have used 4 different screen names on my site?

      • Matt says:

        meh Just depends on the mood Im in, I’ll have my name displayed at what ever I feel I want to be showed at the time. can never really stick with 1 name with anything. Other times I just don’t want people following along with me which trolls and other people have done so on countless other sites for some odd reason.

    • hee haa says:

      I’ve been practicing concentration exercises (Recently concentration meditation) for a year and I’m still having trouble balancing my relaxation and focus. If i focus too much I get stressed as shit as well as become maniacal and egotistical and if i relax I don’t really notice improvements. What should i be focusing on with my breath arggghhh

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