Jhana: Drinking Air through the Nose
This is my primary method for jhana.
Here are my poses in order of preference:
- 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.
- 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).
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”.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.)