Jhana: Drinking Air through the Nose

This is my primary method for jhana.

Here are my poses in order of preference:

  1. Semi-reclined on a bed, with a couple of pillows under my upper body. This is the same pose you would have in a comfy armchair or sofa, so either of those are fine too.
  2. Standing.
  3. Sitting in traditional cross-legged pose. This induces discipline but is uncomfortable as hell. I will use it to force myself into good rhythms, then usually switch to semi-reclined pose.

Eyes will be closed while learning to develop the technique, but with practice you will be able to transition this to eyes open, while walking in public etc. — which I recommend because it purifies the soul and “detags” negative inputs as they come in from real life.

For the main practice, I recommend no less than 30 minutes a day, and certainly more if you want to develop serious skills (and the myriad of mental benefits which accompany strong concentration — such as siddhis).

Sitting Practice

So, let’s start with the sitting or reclining practice with eyes closed. I do not bother with timers or anything since I know when I’m “done”.

  1. Rest the tip of your tongue lightly against the back of your front teeth. This stops the tongue moving much (thus suppressing verbal thoughts) but also leaves the mouth loose so it can smile when the pleasure starts to be felt.
  2. Breath very slowly and delicately through your nose. Try and get the flow of air moving into your forehead. Imagine that you are drinking air through your nose, and it is collecting in the front of your head. Try and get an image of that flow of air as water passing up into your head.
  3. Just repeat this, with this regular, slow, happy breathing, collecting the air in the front of your head. If you begin to feel happy, let a smile appear and continue drinking in the air. Let pleasure grow with the practice, and give yourself to it.
  4. After a while it will start to feel like you are creating “space” in the front of your head. This space will, in time, get bigger. Your goal is simply to continue doing exactly what you are doing, and to make the space fill as much of your head as possible, especially reaching upward to the very top of the head. The goal is to, eventually, have the empty space fill your entire head then down into your entire body.

How long it takes you to advance and get very “spacious” states is the same question as, How long is a piece of string? It depends on who you are and how much time you put into it. I see no reason however why you can’t get some rather spectacular results on your first 30-minute session.

As a beginner I would find time to practise this whenever possible. Do it before bed for a deep, often dreamless sleep. Do it upon waking for a refreshing start to the day. Do it on breaks at work. Give up smoking and practise this instead — etc.

Walking Practice

After mastering the sitting practice (which can also be done lying down, etc.), give some time to practise it standing up, and see what it does to your posture and sense of balance etc.

The benefit of learning to “drink the air into the top of your head” while walking, going to the shops, etc. is simply that it is a mode switch to the neocortex and inhibits all the “lower brains”. It can be used to seriously decrease “lower brain” things like social anxiety, egoic thoughts, aggression and so forth quite rapidly. All you do is, leave the house, begin walking, and follow the exact same technique you practised at home: tip of tongue rests gently against back of front teeth. “Drink” air delicately through the nose into the front and top of the head. Let the smile begin to develop.

Now, any thought-emotion pattern that pulls you away from your smile and good state is exactly the sort of thing you want to be inhibiting. They are your formations. They are what you call “social anxiety” or “ego” or whatever. To cleanse them, you do nothing more than ignore them and return your attention to this sensation of drinking air through your nose into the space in the front of your head while letting this sense of space in the top of the head grow. When you can reliably create this sense of space in the front and top of your head at will, through practice, you can begin simply connecting to it as a space that’s always there whenever you need to and have “lower impulses” never bother you again. It is a way of simply getting above everything.

Holiness

When you create such space in the top of the head, you begin to gain a sense that all that is empty in that space is holy, and that the junk that goes on below that space — e.g. the from the eyes down to the toes — is the wrestled impulses of an animal. Saints are always depicted in religious iconography with a halo surrounding their head. This halo represents activation of the neocortex and mastery of their inner beast. The spaciousness created via meditation practice creates white light behind the eyes and is, I believe, the origin of the term “enlightenment”.

With time and practice, this state can start to become default, and permeate everything you do. That is why I recommend to practise such forms of concentration meditation literally as often as your schedule permits. There is no higher purpose than cultivation of the consciousness and such simple practices achieve this — with unforeseeable, grand results.

(If you want to know a serious reason I wrote this post, it’s because I just ripped off online casinos over the past two days to the tune of £4500 (about $6800) using an intention-manifestation siddhi cultivated through the exact concentration practice I have just shared with you. Falling asleep during semi-reclination is no problem either — so long as concentration is maintained, one can emerge directly into lucid dreams whereby one can continue meditating in that exact same spot in the new reality. In other words, you continue meditating in the dream as though it were exactly the same as the reality you just left. When you can do concentration meditation in any reality, you know you are a yogi.)

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30 Responses

  1. Koanic says:

    It’s fascinating to me that this is your path to actualization, whereas mine is that of the hunter.

    • Illuminatus says:

      Koanic, for some time it’s been becoming evident that you and I speak somewhat of a different language at times. So for the sake of clarity can you please indicate tone and/or intent when commenting, in ambiguous cases? E.g. I could quite easily interpret this as some sort of attack since it does not indicate what kind of fascination you are experiencing, etc. etc. Thanks.

  2. Gary says:

    Hello
    I’ve been doing concentration meditation for about 1-2 hours a day for a few months now and while my concentration is good I am nowhere near the first jhana level. After reading your posts I decided to engage more with the breath and developed a technique which I’ve only done a few times so far. I basically imagine the breath being very pleasurable and after every out breath I bring my focus to my body and imagine feeling really good. Eventually I try to merge the feeling good sensation with the breath and feel good while breathing. This technique makes me very relaxed and I have way less distracting thoughts than when I do my usual concentration meditation. However I have only been doing this recently and so still have to develop my concentration abilities. The only concern I have with this is that I am shifting my focus from breath to body during each breath cycle and I am wondering if this be an obstacle to attaining jhana because I have read that jhana is about one pointedness of mind and should therefore only be about focusing on the breath. Do you have any input on this method and if it would work for attaining jhana?

    • Illuminatus says:

      Your new way will get you very quickly to first jhana. You should cycle the pleasure and the breath as though they are one. You will have an explosion of white light and pleasurable neurochemicals after which your mind will become very one-pointed (if you want it to be).

      • Illuminatus says:

        P.S. People seem to respond differently to different techniques. Some are fine with the “concentrate on just one thing in the mind”; others work better by including the body in the initial stages, e.g. bringing the pleasure factor into the experience of the object. I am certainly in the latter group, and my website involves the body in most of my teachings to reflect that. Someone like Daniel Ingram on the other hand seems very mind-orientated, which is fine if one works better like that.

        Now, after my initial body-mind-explosion-euphoria, my mind becomes very one-pointed and easy to control, and I can use it to investigate sensations or to simply widen/deepen the jhana (or “climb up the jhanas” for those inclined toward defining levels, which is fine if that works for you).

        Rather than stressing over which way to get to jhana is “right”, I say we instead just look at the criteria of the jhanas — the jhana factors — and say: if we have these things present, then we’re at X jhana: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rupajhana#The_Stages_of_the_Four_Meditations_of_Form

        So look at that table. If you have “applied and sustained thought”, “rapture”, “bliss” and “one-pointedness”, then you are in first jhana. How you get there depends on what method you respond to best. That’s for your own experimentation to find out. Since I moved to body work / active exercises, I have been getting a LOT more comments/emails from people saying they are hitting jhana. Obviously people who like my writing also tend to respond well to my methods. We’re similar kinds of people.

        One last note. Please check the definition of “applied and sustained thought” which is written below that table:
        “vitakka means the noticing of the object of meditation, vicāra means the experiencing of the object” — so this is quite different from what we normally think of as “thought”, i.e. words and analysis. Many a debate still rages on in meditation circles about the definitions/translations of those words, and I think this is pointless gas. Those definitions I just pasted are perfect: “noticing” and “experiencing”. Simple.

        • Illuminatus says:

          And in reference to my latter paragraph, your sentence, “Eventually I try to merge the feeling good sensation with the breath and feel good while breathing” corresponds well to simultaneous noticing of and experiencing of the breath, does it not? 🙂 And your post reflects the other jhana factors as well. So, I would expect good things to arise in your practice in the near future.

          • Gary says:

            Thanks for the detailed response. I will definitely keep trying with the bodywork approach. The pleasure I feel is very mild and hardly noticeable but is there. I can say that it definitely feels better and I can meditate much longer than my older approach where I would feel restless after about 1 hour.
            Haha great job on the casino winnings! Have you tried this in real casinos?

            • Illuminatus says:

              You will be able to cycle that pleasure and get a positive feedback loop going. That is how you make states more powerful than drugs. Do not believe the hype that this takes years to learn; you could latch onto one of those cycles and just pump it literally next time you tried.

              “Haha great job on the casino winnings! Have you tried this in real casinos?”

              I’ve been to real casinos only twice in my life. Here in the UK they are real dives. I mean, gamblers are generally desperate people anyway. The first time I won about £150 on a few pound spins. That was back when I had just started Shinzen Young meditation. I already knew, even back then, that I had a siddhi for it.

              However, the most vulgar display of public magick I ever did was about two years ago. I walked into my local bar, walked straight up to the fruit machine (and this was back when the jackpot was £70 — it’s £100 now) and just picked the nearest guy at the bar and said, “Hey mate, watch this.” I put a pound in. Got on the board straight away. Didn’t even play the game, but just hit “Cash or Bust” (which, if you’re not familiar with fruit machines, is the kind of “last chance saloon” if you’re about to lose, and the options are either some pathetic win or nothing). It just landed straight on the jackpot. The machine spewed out £10 notes and I just walked off laughing.

              Now, I’m not saying I could do that if you demanded that I did so now. There is a kind of “resonance” one feels about an action. However, with these winnings lately, I’ve been able to look beyond even concepts of “resonance” or “ritual” (the usual way magick is done) and just intend to win, and get it. So far I’ve got a trip to New York planned and paid for and am going to keep the rest either for a holiday or a move to another city.

  3. Ray says:

    Hi mate, great post. I look forward to your updates…I like the fact you are always willing to change your mind and evolve if you find a better way. Keep it up.

    Question – when you say the space at the top and front of your head….do you mean in the head itself (behind the skull) or external to the head…the air around the head. Hope that makes sense. Off to try it now either way, look forward to your response.

    Cheers

    Ray

    • Illuminatus says:

      You can drink into the “third eye” area and that gives a different quality to if you drink into, say, the space behind your eyes. Pick which one feels better for you. What I then do is try and drink into the space which has not been filled yet. So, if somewhere “wants” to be drank into, I will make the air flow into that. This is actually a really good way to expand the jhana as fully as possible. So, you look for where has not been drank into yet, and drink into that place. That place could be anywhere in your body — but focus on the head at the start. Getting the crown filled for example is probably something you’re not used to. 🙂

      As for “beyond the body” — well, yes, you are into Infinite Consciousness territory at that point. Just play around. Start with the boundary of the physical body first, I recommend.

  4. Nick says:

    I find your posts really helpful. I used the mind centered approach to meditation for years, but never really stuck at it. This body centered approach is a lot more pleasurable. I feel like I’m going deeper,faster. I appreciate the way in which you are continually refining your approach.

  5. Sean says:

    I am always wary of focusing on areas above the neck such as the “third eye” due to stories of energies rising uncontrollably such as the “Kundalini syndrome”. I have read that the correct way is to develop the “chakras” if you will, from bottom to top. I may be completely misinformed in this regard but I just wanted clarification. Is it safe to concentrate on areas such as the forehead for extended periods of time?

    • Illuminatus says:

      As with everything in meditation, it depends it depends it depends.

      Yeah you can get spontaneous intense energy bursts. I had an email just recently where a student, practising my jhana technique, got bliss so powerful he spontaneously burst into laughter and had to stop. Absolutus covers such events extensively: https://www.reddit.com/r/Meditation/comments/1u9acp/ama_ive_been_doing_concentration_meditation/

      My system is to simply back off, take a few moments to relax the body parts that have become tense (for example my back will sometimes arch), then turn the flow back on. By relaxing, you widen the “pipe” and more energy can flow. One of the goals in concentration meditation is to make the “pipe” as wide as possible, so you can tolerate ever increasing energy flows. This is how your mind gets more and more powerful.

      I don’t know much about kundalini or the chakras so cannot advise in that language. I personally feel fascia has a lot to do with “energy blocks” and ongoing fascia work is probably the most powerful way to keep the body supple and feeling naturally free so such energy can flow unimpeded and not cause things like spasms, shaking, back arching etc. I have a complete fascia reset method and I am going to type it up at some point soon. I believe the exercises in yoga were primarily developed to prepare the body for such energy flows.

      I think your outlook has much to do with whether you will experience these sorts of events negatively, positively, or neutrally. E.g. if you have a lot of fear, a victim mentality, and feel things “happen to you” then you will probably give such events negative labels like “kundalini syndrome”. As someone who has spent years refining the labels he uses to describe things, and moulding his mindset to see things in terms of progress, these terms are ridiculous to me.

      Another example is the natural shift in body state that occurs around the Autumnal Equinox — which was just last Wednesday. The body of all animals, and we are no exception, is tightly linked to the cycles of the planet. The Autumnal Equinox is a downward shift in gear, to a more sombre, reflective state, symbolizing the start of “nesting” behaviours. Since modern man is a stimulation junkie, he perceives this downward gear shift negatively and calls it “Seasonal Affective Disorder” and other negative labels. So, the perspective is controlling the experience. I personally know how to shift gear with the seasons and invoke a deep sense of balance and appreciation. That took me many years of meditation however to undo all the stimulation-junkie conditioning modern man has received from birth.

      I received a LOT of emails and comments here on the blog around the equinox last week, with everybody experiencing this downward gear shift and many people not knowing what to do about it. I want to write a post on that as well but I have SO MUCH to write about, all extremely important, that choosing priorities is quite overwhelming currently.

      My point in this comparison to your original question is that one’s perspective combined with receiving the right guidance from someone who has themselves mastered the territory determines the quality of the experience of such events.

      Someone who follows my guide might get so much energy, bliss and mental power, that they may activate a “manic episode” if they have been conditioned into that kind of terminology, and especially if they have a diagnosis of bipolar or that cluster of conditions. Ultimately I cannot control everybody’s experience and I believe putting the tech up here is more important for humanity overall even if some people get a negative experience.

      Really, though, jhana is generally an extremely blissful, happy, positive and life-affirming state, so I do not want people to worry much about it. The practice is worth doing.

  6. Ichigo says:

    I noticed that when mentally you grab the bridge of the nose in a straight line (and then your eyes kinda cross and induce a pressure at the forehead… with that following the breath sensations at the nostril, kicks access concentration and piti and all other crap in very fast, I always believed the eyes position have something to do with the jhana states

    • Illuminatus says:

      Agreed — eye position can be used for MANY things. You can change entire emotional states just by keeping eyes in some particular location. It’s on my list to write about. 🙂

      Funny thing is, if you tell a guy to keep their eyes in X position to induce Y change, they will get it for a sec then lose it — keeping eyes in one specific place literally requires concentration meditation. 😛 But the things you can do with it… When you realize your thoughts all correlate with specific eye movements, then you realize that keeping them in X place is literally one of many ways to completely decondition certain thoughts.

      So much can be done with such simple things.

    • Illuminatus says:

      “I noticed that when mentally you grab the bridge of the nose in a straight line (and then your eyes kinda cross and induce a pressure at the forehead… with that following the breath sensations at the nostril, kicks access concentration and piti and all other crap in very fast”

      Just wanted to add — what you just described is basically exactly how I do jhana. Have you tried it in public with eyes open? It’s like you’re suddenly surveying the scene rather than being pulled around by it. Then you can absorb into the scene — the elements you want to experience — by choice, and by “latching onto” those thought streams you want to experience.

  7. Ram says:

    Great post, something I’m going to try the second I have time. Quick question, though — do you recommend this kind of dhyana for beginners, or for people who already have good concentration skills, or what? Will it yield good results even for someone who can’t reliably produce the “classic” jhanic states?

    • Illuminatus says:

      This is designed for absolute beginners. It’s just a way to get them engaged with the breath. It will produce the classic jhana states with the breath as the object.

      The reason I’m taking different approaches in my descriptions of practice now is because this word “concentration” is throwing people off. Rigz’ comment at the following link sums it up nicely: https://www.personalpowermeditation.com/jhana-smell-the-air/

  8. Ram says:

    Thanks for that. One other thing I’d like to know is how much constitutes a fair try for a new technique. You’ve listed a whole lot of methods to achieve first jhana quickly, but how much should a student try one of them before deciding to try something else? Or, maybe more generally, at what point in a particular sadhana can someone be sure “This isn’t for me, I should go a different way?”

    • Illuminatus says:

      I can’t answer that for everyone. It’s up to the student, their response to each method and their temperament regarding how much time they are willing to dedicate to testing each one out.

      A methodical approach might be to try a method for 7 days in a row, 30 minutes both morning and night (as neurotransmitter levels fluctuate quite wildly between different people at different times of day) and track results. Then again, the early teachers tended to give one method and have the student repeat it daily for sometimes YEARS before they reach first jhana.

      Alternatively, a student could just try each method once and see if “something happens”. Then if something happens, explore that a bit more. One reason I’m writing so many approaches is to give people lots of chances to get lucky in that way. I find kasina meditation FAR harder than breath meditation for example, so if I had been given just a kasina meditation to start off with (which some schools do) I’d have been pretty annoyed if I then found out, 2 years later, that breath meditation was the one for me. And I’m giving lots of varieties of breath meditation here hoping people strike it lucky with one of them.

      My advice above everything would be, whatever method you are using, to always believe that you are capable of jhana and that it could happen at any moment.

  9. Ichigo says:

    I believe it takes years for some to reach First Jhana because they are not practicing the right way, if you practice the right way and the conditions are right, without doubt one would reach the Jhanas

  10. Lucifer says:

    I noticed I am able to create waves of pleasure while standing with eyes open but not when sitting with eyes closed. Why is that?

    • Illuminatus says:

      I would do steps in between the two poses to find out which step cancels your ability to create such waves. So, close eyes. Can you still create waves? Now sit a little. Is that what did it?

      This kind of trial and error is literally how I created ALL of my tech (and therefore this entire website).

  11. Vick says:

    Something that helped me immensely is keeping the energy in the head still.
    Before I just used to relaxed and on every out breath the energy in my head go wobbly and I kept losing focus.
    Now on every in and out breath I hold the energy in my head still, without contracting the muscles and meditation is much more productive even though I’ve been lazy lately and skipping sessions.

    I think I’m reaching jhana but it feels like I “fell” and sitting in a weird position, my breath becomes heavy and I lose it after a couple minutes. I guess it will become better with practice.

  12. Beatitudinous says:

    Careful with that casino-scamming-siddhi stuff. I’ve got no experience to back this on, but having read about many a power-hungry guru, shaman, or sorcerer — that’s starting to go down a path of power. In this case, the MEANS don’t justify the END. Using spiritual power to gain wordly power is totes not sattvic brah. Obviously I take your word for it, but I’m more concerned that next year I’ll be reading about your 7th jhana deep-void meditations for bringing down your enemies’ fractal avatars or something. 😉

    Especially because I’m reading your post about philosophy, psychology and non-dualism right now, and you yourself state that nondual perspectives don’t necessarily result in “moral perfection.” Watch it buddy! This is a playful warning but I’m kinda half serious too. Lots of great teachers have been ruined by the power/ambition that siddhis fuel.

    • Illuminatus says:

      The lesson has already been learned from that one. Long story short, I won, won, won, then LOST, LOST, LOST.

      I’m off the siddhis now, save for when they arise spontaneously e.g. via synchronicity (which is just pleasant and fun). Maybe at some point I’ll explore them again.

      • Illuminatus says:

        P.S. Reason for losing was turning up the stake from £2-4 (which I was comfortable with) to £10. I got super-greedy and wanted £20,000 so I could just chill out for a year. That stake was way more than my siddhi could handle. It was not pretty.

  13. Nick says:

    I love the simplicity of this practise. I took your advice of doing this while lying in bed. Not slept this well since childhood.

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