Jhana: Waves and Breathing

I have to overhaul the Basic Concentration Meditation guide — a lot of people aren’t getting it. Ultimately, that’s my fault as a teacher. Your feedback has been essential in this matter. Thank you. 🙂

I’m now going to provide two methods of doing concentration meditation, with the breath as the object, which I think will blow the whole thing wide open for many of you. These methods will come at things from a completely different angle to the one described in the guide.

Firstly, you have to understand that concentration meditation is an active process. It is not passive like insight meditation or “watching the breath”. You are as much involved in concentration meditation as it is in you.

So, on to how to get involved.


This meditation can be done literally anywhere following enough practice. To practise however, I recommend the following, to be done once per day (preferably in the morning):

  1. Set a timer for 35 minutes to give yourself 5 minutes to faff around getting comfortable etc.
  2. Sit down cross-legged with your back straight. Get as comfortable as possible, then make the formal resolution: “I will now practise concentration meditation with the breath as the object for the next 30 minutes.” After this resolution is made you are not allowed to adjust your pose or fidget (this is part of the training). That doesn’t mean stay perfectly still; obviously you will move gently while breathing. It does mean however that you are not to make serious changes to your posture, or scratch your nose, or otherwise let yourself become distracted by thoughts and sensations which will go away on their own.
  3. Close your eyes. They should point upwards slightly (looking upwards during meditation makes you feel happy). They are also NOT “staring” and you do NOT hold them in place using any muscle force (concentration is NOT “staring”). In fact, the eyes should be loose and able to move as they wish, entering rapid eye movement (REM) as they wish, and so forth.
  4. Begin one of the exercises below, and continue it uninterrupted for 30 minutes. Choose one beforehand and do not change halfway through. Stick with the one you have chosen.
  5. You are allowed to smile and change facial expressions as they come to you.

Provided you now just follow one of the below exercises, you won’t have time to worry about your posture or any of the “goals” of the practice (which unfold by themselves via the practice), e.g. a blissful, powerful mind. Those things will happen if you just stick to the exercise.

1. Find Waves and Synchronize Breathing with the Waves

There is a steady up/down wave pattern taking place within your body, from head to toe, at all times. Your breathing is supposed to be synchronized with that wave, but things like education have desynchronized them. For example, you are holding your breath while reading this sentence. Attention via verbal thought necessarily pauses the breath. If you are out socializing and feel “locked-up”, your breath will almost certainly be held – while your verbal thoughts analyse the hell out of the situation.

Forget all that. The whole point of jhana is just to whitewash all of that, and it’s completely learnable and trainable and can be used literally “in the field” to bring calmness even in the most chaotic situations.

Despite the desynchronization of “up/down wave” and breathing, the up/down wave is still there in your body, operating at all times. It’s just extremely subtle. You need to watch out for it. Just close your eyes right now and see if you can feel a gentle up/down movement within yourself.

Spend some time looking for this.

Even if, after an hour, you cannot find that up/down wave within yourself, simply imagine it is there. The mind-body link is extraordinary. As soon as you think of it, it will appear.

At this point, you need to begin synchronizing your breathing with this up/down wave.

So, if the wave is moving up, you need to force your breath to mirror it exactly. Is the wave going up? Then you should be breathing in with it. Is the wave going down? Then you’re breathing out in perfect synchrony with it. If the wave appears to stop, then just treat it as a “still point” and stay with it, stopped – it will start to move again in its own time.

If it changes chaotically — which it will, in line with your emotions and conditioning — that is no problem. If the wave suddenly starts going down, breathe out slowly to match it. Then you might find it suddenly stabilizes, at which point you stabilize your breathing. If it suddenly shoots up, breathe in with it. Just follow it diligently for 30 minutes, and focus on nothing else.

This is simply an active process of synchronizing your breathing with natural processes. It takes your time, your attention, and your concentration. It might be the most intensive (and enjoyable) mental training in which you have ever participated.

2. Notice Breathing Waves and Flatten Them Out

Sit and watch your breathing for a while.

You will notice that there are definite points where an in-breath ends and becomes an out-breath. And on the opposite end of the sequence, there is a definite moment when the out-breath becomes an in-breath again.

Simply sit and notice this for a while. Breathing makes a kind of sine wave in this respect:

Sine Wave

In this approach to jhana, your goal is simple:

By controlling your breathing, try and make the “turning points” of the breath as flat and unnoticeable as possible.

This means that when the in-breath is about to turn and become an out-breath, you instead control it with your muscles and drag out the turning point as much as possible so the wave is almost flat. You slow down the turn to an out-breath consciously, intentionally, to the point where you don’t even notice it turn. The breath will become an out-breath, but you have controlled it to the extent that you can no longer pinpoint when the turn took place.

Repeat for the out-breath becoming the in-breath. Simply do this for 30 minutes.

First Jhana is an Active Process

In both these approaches you are very much getting involved and controlling the jhana process. “You” are doing it. This is the whole point of jhana: It is something you intentionally do.

In the same way that, when you are hard at work typing on the computer, you are completely involved in the process of thinking and typing, in both these exercises you are completely involved in breathing.

You ARE your breathing.

You are absorbed in it.

Because in these exercises breathing is entirely a matter of interfacing with the body, relying on modulating the breath intentionally, there will be few if any verbal thoughts while you are attending to this breathing. You may only notice this afterwards. You might suddenly realize, “Hey – I didn’t think while controlling that breath!” And then suddenly a whole new world has opened up to you whereby you are no longer defined by your verbal thoughts, but can in fact create definite time periods without them.

In time, with practice, you will be able to maintain that body-engagement “no-thought” state for as long as you wish.

While attending to this process, neurotransmitter dumps are ensuring you feel ecstatic and amazing. However, I do not want you to think about that while actually doing it. All I want you to do is either synchronize the breath with the up/down body wave, or flatten out the in-out wave intentionally. All the magic of jhana happens when you’re not looking.

You can then literally do this while outside the house to eliminate anxiety entirely by attending to the breath in one of these two ways. It becomes a de facto way of coping with any situation.

Little Me: “I’m reacting emotionally to this situation!”

Big Me: “Attend to the breath and find an equanimous viewpoint.”

This is exactly the kind of verbal intercourse you want to be having with yourself. The jhana of attending to the breath cools the heat of any situation.

Meditation and the Frontal Lobes

All of meditation can be summed up, from a certain point of view, as dominance and victory of the frontal lobes over the “lower brains” (for example, the limbic system). The frontal lobes are the huge swathes of extra grey and white matter that make up the throbbing, oversized human brain. The limbic system is the “lower brains”, the reptilian and mammalian brains in the Triune Brain model – the ones that make you feel bad for no reason, are obsessed with self image and status, ego and greed, and so on and so forth.

The frontal lobes inject time (left brain) and distance (right brain) between you (the observer) and the situation (the observed). There is a reason most Buddhist schools instruct cultivation of compassion: Compassion is a product of the frontal lobes, a result of taking time and distance to place yourself in another’s shoes. Compassion is a strong trigger for the frontal lobes.

But jhana itself is another direct manifestation of the frontal lobes. By consciously attending to the breath in the ways instructed in this post, you are saying YES to time and distance and NO to the immediacy of the situation. You are literally bringing the power of the frontal lobes to bear against the aggressive self-serving “little me” that comprises your animal instincts. Jhana also facilitates compassion by introducing this time and space.

Trained as a habit, continuously through both private meditation and attending to the breath while in public and living your life “out there” in the real world, you can learn to inject time and distance into literally any situation you wish. The shamans called this “stopping time”, and it can be done even in the most chaotic situations following enough practice.

One of the strange benefits of using the frontal lobes is that they are inherently pleasurable. If you think of any time you have been in “flow” with work, a hobby or a sport, you will recognize that in that moment you are exploring time and space within the frontal lobes. Reality is literally infinite in this form of consciousness, giving a feeling of both timelessness and spaciousness. That is because both time and space are created by the frontal lobes.

Performing the breathing practices above injects time and space into your experience by suspending the immediacy of the survival habits of the organism. It is a literal saying of NO to urgency, and YES to space and time — and thus options. For some reason, which I don’t understand scientifically, there are certainly neurotransmitter events which lead to great pleasure within the exploration of this time and space. Jhana is inherently drenchingly pleasurable. When the Buddha spoke of a “bright, glowing disc” upon entering jhana, he was not talking about a literal visual phenomenon, in my opinion (although seeing brightness with eyes closed is common): he was describing the sense of vividness, glow, mindfulness and equanimity, pleasure and understanding, with which all objects, people and events are viewed through the frontal lobes. This is literally what public jhana is like: consciousness appears as a dome or “disc” in which vivid, hard-edged and totally realistic objects and events appear, attached to which are all the meanings you could ever hope to comprehend.

Jhana is literally what separates us from the animals. Practise well! 🙂


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33 Responses

  1. Koanic says:

    I’ll read more of your stuff if you enable full rss feed

  2. Pat says:

    Hey guys, I have been learning concentration meditation from Illuminatus over the past year or so, but I’ve only started to get jhana consistently in the past three days. I sent this email to him theorizing why, and he asked me to post it as a comment here:

    “I did a concentration meditation session last night and this morning. Both times I reached a jhana state. After messing around with the second method from your post yesterday, I used the same method I did on Friday. I honestly can’t tell you why, it just seemed like the think to do. I have come to the realization that the key element to getting a jhana state is determination.

    I believe I actually reached a jhana state in May of 2014, back when you told me about the full breath meditation for releasing muscle tension in the abdomen to restore posture. Even though I had no idea what jhana was at the time, I think I was able to reach a jhana state because I was focusing so hard on making sure to take full breaths. I only got a jhana state from it the first time. Every time afterwards that I tried it, I expected to reach the same state, yet did not supply the effort I did the first time I tried it, and did not get anywhere near the same results. I think that this intangible combination of determination and focus is the key element that was missing for me in my efforts to reach jhana states regularly. Without it, my meditation practice had more in common with the basic breath meditation than with concentration meditation. “

  3. OB says:

    I’m having trouble with jhana. I can sometimes feel a sort of pulse on my hands, but nothing like a full body wave 🙁
    I guess I need more practice.

  4. Diogo says:

    I really like the 1st method, the 2nd one makes me feel “starved” for oxygen, so I’m going to stick with the 1st one.

    I can fell the wave quite easily, can even feel it and sync it with the breath while reading if I really want, it also makes me feel HUGE amounts of energy on my hands and feet on the in breath, and puts a wonderful smile on my face to during the in breath, but I still struggle with keeping at it for 30 mins straight, the energy feels like it is going to “explode” my torso, but in a totally good and pleasurable way, however the whole over stimulation I get from the energy makes me break the practice even if I try to hold on to it for dear life. Moar practice needed to get used to the ENEEEEEEEEERGYYYYYYYYY! lol

    Illumi, do you think it is a good idea to practice concentration meditation has much has possible? I’ve picked up a video gaming habit again which I intend to kick to the curb again ASAP and would rather make extra mental “reps” and train my mind with concentration meditation instead of entertaining myself with video games, but this whole over-stimulation thing makes me wonder if it could be wiser to take it slower (to just practice 30 mins per day instead of making has many 30 min sessions has I can during the day ).

    Thanks in advance, wish you a great weekend present Absolutus!

    • Illuminatus says:

      Hi Diogo,

      I’m really glad you are getting results — I don’t get a lot of feedback for my tech so it is good to see one of these working perfectly for you.

      Regarding your question about how much to practise, it’s really up to you. You will be able to expand your comfort zone for how much energy you can tolerate. I also advise you cultivate the depth of the state. So, what you’re describing here is symptomatic of the early jhanas, 1-3. Try and see if your mind can “latch on” to a deeper, yet flatter state (jhana 4, equanimity) then stay there — that should deal with the “too much energy” problem. I advise you don’t try to force this but rather just pay attention to what your mind “wants” to do while practising concentration meditation. You should find that it wants to “bottom out” of the energy at some point and move to a more stable, equanimous state. In those deeper states the outline of your body will also be very indistinct — so you will feel merged with everything. Get there, stay there, see how it is and what you can do with it. These are just some clues as to what to watch out for.

  5. Diogo says:

    Also, still related to the tech, I find it more comfortable to practice standing up, do you think I can get the same benefit has doing it sitting or should I just train myself to practice sitting?


    • Illuminatus says:

      I do most of my insight practice either standing, walking, or lying down flat. I do concentration practice semi-reclined. The reason for this is that in the hard jhanas (which I just started to describe in my reply above) the outline of the body becomes blurred as consciousness spreads everywhere in the universe simultaneously. I cannot see most people being able to do this standing. I purposefully use a “paralysing wave” at times to send me deeper into the jhana state, as it abandons the body. This isn’t necessary however; the body will begin to be abandoned by the mind naturally the deeper into jhana you go. If you are falling asleep during this, sit up more. You can also train yourself with practice to stay conscious even if you do fall asleep. At times I pass straight through the “dream barrier” and emerge in a lucid dream, usually in my childhood home. At this point I am still fully conscious and will sit and do concentration meditation in the dream. That is professional escapism. 😛

      • PsySeducer says:

        Illuminatus, how would you describe the “flow state” or “beeing in the zone ” from concentration – jhana perspective or do you think it’s an effect resulted from an active type insight ? I ask this to figure out what’s the right meditation techs for getting into flow without waiting for context and conditions to add up.Because i believe if one can trigger flow with a small task it can apply it to everything no matter difficulty.

        • Illuminatus says:

          Hi. I was going to answer this but decided to spend a day figuring it out — then forgot to reply. You’ve asked for flow in either jhana or insight terms. Well my answer is that it’s a bit of both. The “object” (the intention; the thing playing out that you are controlling) manifests as a jhana in your central sensory and mental field. At the sides however, the rest of the “field” is impermanence — so is left as uncalculated infinite potential “field energy” (I literally see it as snow or particles; I can “see the air”) — so that’s more of an insight state. The whole of conscious experience seems to be plucking objects out of this infinite field and solidifying them via jhana (will; intention) into the object one wants to create. The flow state is just a highly efficient, directed form of this (efficient for a human).

          As for your follow-up question, the quickest way to get into flow state, I’ll need more time to look into that. My initial thoughts are that you want to do some concentration meditation before the event to get into a stable state — hopefully 4th Jhana, Equanimity, then envision the win or result including emotional states caused leading up to, including, and after the win (this is just basic magick/intention-manifestation). When starting the activity, some emotional acceptance is required else frustration kicks in and you start floundering. For this, I like to remember the rule of 50% free-will, 50% determinism. So you keep a loose grip on the reins. You let the universe/activity play out “as it wants” in equal measure to your own control of it. This element of acceptance lets the “river run around you” while you direct your course. I was going to do a post on this 50-50 control/acceptance formula at some point, and it was basically going to say that.

          • PsySeducer says:

            So if I get it right you say one must be mindfull of his objective/ porpose while doing concentrantion meditation on his active intent?Or the other way around?
            The 50/50 rule is a very powerfull mind frame to create mental space in the left brain plus engagement and openess towards any mental concept you apply it to. Works like a mindfullness key trigger and I think you should insist on it for those who find it hard to meditate.

            • Illuminatus says:

              Prepare before the event using concentration meditation and magick. Then behave as if that objective has been handed over to an old friend who is going to take care of everything for you, and forget about it completely. During the event, focus completely upon the processes of the event, using concentration meditation to make those processes flow. When things don’t go right remember that your old friend is taking care of things for you and relax back into the flow state — that’s how the acceptance side gets handled.

              If you are playing football, in the moment you are playing you don’t want to be thinking about the abstract goal of winning, but rather the processes involved in playing the game correctly. So you have different objects during 1) Preparation and 2) Participation.

              • PsySeducer says:

                Agree with first part complety , strongly disagree with last part . Thinking in the moment about correct processes involved is exactly the posite, worst counterintuitive frame for flow.Actually can’t think of a better definition for out of flow than this.
                “In the moment” as a general rule time stops and critical thinking vanish from your awearness field .
                It’s just pure decision after decision with a sense of a higher power backing you up.

                • Illuminatus says:

                  This purely a semantic issue on the word “thinking”. No I did not mean critical, verbal thinking. In flow there is very little or none of that.

                  For simplicity, just make a jhana on the processes of the game. Jhana makes a flow out of sensations.

                  • PsySeducer says:

                    You said also to not be thinking about abstract goals wich i disagree,i alwas do it even if is not related to actions i take.Example I use my smartphone for the fun of it cause im psycho like that and continuosly  throw it in the air about 2 meters high, every time catching it with the other hand.When doing this thinking of what’s best method to catch it or that will break it’s fail guaranteed.But when flow kicks in I might even think “hell im awesome ima show this to my girfriend ” or anything else no matter what and still succede without even beeing conscious of my perfect moves.Same in sports and racing computergames.So I want to add that abstract thinking might help if it’s mindfully framed.

                    • Illuminatus says:

                      Put it like this. When playing football, is your awareness going to be “kick it into net” or “”lift trophy”? The latter would be ridiculous. Your awareness should be merged with the processes unfolding in the moment.

                      If you are heavily stuck in verbal thoughts I understand where you’re coming from — you’re distracting yourself from that which paralyses you. Thinking verbally of catching a phone would interfere with the process of catching it. I do not identify heavily with verbal thought though because I have trained concentration meditation for so many years that verbal thought is a side-event. If you want to negate the interfering effects of verbal thought you should just train concentration meditation on an object mercilessly every day.

                      What you are left with with verbal thoughts sidelined is a visuo-kinaesthetic impression of, say, catching the phone. So my “process” would be slightly in the future, imagining the phone touching and being cradled in my hand. It takes a long time to train that kind of awareness into everyday actions however. Martial artists particularly train this kind of awareness. “Thought” in this sense is not slow verbal thought but is rather holistic visuo-kinaesthetic thought. Much disagreement has been had over the years about the translation of the two kinds of “thought” in the jhana factors and what I have just described is the source of those disagreements. Unfortunately most people are so locked into verbal thought that they identify that solely as “thought”. I can say “awareness” but they get puzzled.

  6. Diogo says:

    Just sharing 2 interesting things about my progress:

    1- trying to lightly induce euphoria on the end of the out breath, but still no consistent powerful pleasure factor (neural pathways take time to build, expect this to be a temporary thing has neuroplastic adaptation does it’s magic). I find that I can pretty much regulate the potency of the energy I can feel during the in breath, and that makes the energy levels manageable has it is easier to keep going for longer, has well has making it easier to trigger that still very weak pleasure feedback loop on the end of the out breath (think this is equanimity, its a much more stable and calm state of energy).

    2- when I started to try and watch/become the breath in that more managed state of perhaps-equanimity has many times per second has I could, a novel and interesting visual-tactil (perhaps synesthetic?) effect occurred, it’s hard to explain because it was like the darkness one sees when one has its eyes closed would become thinner and taller during the in-breath (it felt/looked more like something like a light post if you will, but without really “looking” like anything at all because it was all black anyway, has in there were no lines anywhere, like a black object against the same the hue of black background, hope that makes any sense), and during the out breath that tactic feeling/visual “phantom shape” would become more like a pancake or a pizza, a flat structure. It’s weird because all I see is black, but that tactil phenomena makes it self present just behind the eyes, and it’s like I can see those structures without really seeing them because all I see is black anyway 😛 .

    Have a great day everyone!

    • Illuminatus says:

      I have no comment on #2 — you will just have to investigate it more yourself. But for #1 I will tell you how to directly, quickly induce pleasure (full post coming soon):

      Mentally “grab” the bridge of your nose while breathing in. Hold the grab while letting yourself exhale. (Credit: Ichigo for putting it into these words.)

      You could even just make your object the air sensations in the bridge of the nose if it helps the explanation. You should also let the pleasure become a smile. Let your whole body respond as it normally would to please — smile and relaxation. Then “cycle” the pleasure by continuing to make the object the bridge of your nose.

      Master the above. Then there are some other tips. Where you imagine the air hitting the back of your head controls certain emotional/insight states. So, if when breathing in you imagine the stream of air entering your head and hitting the crown of your head, inside, then this will trigger a rushing, euphoric Arising & Passing Away. Alternatively, for Equanimity, smile like you understand the world and imagine air from the breathing filling a sphere in the back of the head, where the occipital lobe is.

      • PsySeducer says:

        Sorry for insisting on this but could you please reply to my question above?Let’s say you are about to enter a competition, what method of meditation would you apply to get yourself into a strong flow state quickly ?

    • Illuminatus says:

      I just re-read #2 above and what you’re describing is what I get literally all the time. You are probably seeing the nerves. The lamppost/pancake thing is probably the diaphragm expanding and contracting, or the nerves in the rest of the body responding to the breath (all nerves in the body respond to the breath — there are either “up” nerves” or “down” nerves, hence why the breath gets such importance in all these schools). The book The Holographic Universe talks of Hawaiian shamans who call this black moving stuff “dark body stuff” or something and they believe it is what thoughts are (I think thoughts just have a manifestation in the nerves, and that’s what they are seeing).

      Anyway, if you want to “do” something with this state, simply keep paying attention to the movement of the darkness and keep letting it form into shapes as you have been doing. (Treat seeing that “thing” as a nimitta.) Sooner or later your mind will begin making it into some object that either continuously morphs, or may turn it into a vision. You can also choose to solidify that shape into a stable “thing”. So, I will perceive it as a kind of blob of light that I can keep pulsing in phase with the breath. With practice you can choose what to do with this “thought stuff”. By the time you are making it stable or having it become visions or whatever, you are so absorbed in it that you will get the rapture and other stuff — but because you are correctly absorbed in it, you won’t break attention to “check for rapture” and the other things people do which actually breaks the state and prevents rapture and things from fully forming. In other words, continuing to distract yourself from the “goals” of the concentration practice by absorbing yourself with these mind-made objects is one of many ways to enter hard jhana.

  7. Diogo says:

    Interesting and hugely useful replies Illumi (as always).

    This morning after waking up and lazily deciding to stay on the bed for a little while, I decided to do some Insight practice laying on my side, and interestingly, I got to experience something I had even forgotten I would get all the time when I was a teen, which is I started to see the hypnagogic visuals, and after that subsided, I started to get the “pull”, a tactile sensation that makes one feel like it’s body in being pulled by some invisible force, like feeling g forces while just laying there immobile like a sack of potatoes, and after that I woke up from a very clear dream which I can remember perfectly (I didn’t achieved lucidity thought, after the pull I lost consciousness and the next thing I remember is waking up again with the memory of this weird ass and clear dream).

    I think that because of the concentration practice, I was able to not get excited by those sensory events that happen when one is falling asleep, and so was able to not interrupt the process (also not getting analytical about them was key I think). It would be nice to get the experience of being able to stay conscious while passing the sleep and dream barrier and arriving at the REM state fully lucid, I guess it will happen when it happens. 🙂

    Have a great day people!

  8. Diogo says:

    Oh, another thing:

    when one is practicing the concentration tech, I can feel a lot of energy in the hands and feet during the in-breath, and it naturally tends to go away during the out-breath (), but I decided to experiment a little and found out that I could maintain the energy there during the out-breath if I wanted by “activating” “something” in the region of the perineum (sorry for the basic description but I really can’t describe it any better). If I let go of the energy during the out-breath (requires no extra concentration) it’s like the body is a balloon and the energy is the air, and during the out breath the balloon get’s all empty, and if I concentrate on keeping the energy inside is like the balloon never gets completely empty of air, some noticeable residue of air (energy) is kept inside the balloon and more energy gets inside during the in-breath.

    Thanks in advance for any comment, have a great day everybodymind!

    • Illuminatus says:

      If you want to do proper, powerful concentration meditation, you should keep awareness within the head the whole time. The body will go through its own processes and motions but you want to ignore them and assume it is taking care of itself. Some of those body processes might be mildly painful at times or just distracting, and you want to train to ignore them and return to your object which should always be in the head area. I’m going to rewrite the concentration meditation guide soon to instruct people to use the bridge of their nose as the object. So forget your perineum bit for now; yes it’s interesting from the perspective of seeing how all these things fit together and the various effects concentration meditation has on the body (largely to do with relaxing it and “disappearing” it eventually) but from the perspective of training pure concentration states you do not want the distractions. You want your mind on the object, continuing to build it.

      The bridge of the nose object I have found to be the most consistent in terms of having clear uninterrupted progress through the jhanas with all the jhana factors including pleasure and a nimitta light which one can bring into the meditation if one just assumes that light is taking place at the bridge of the nose (concentration merges everything into one seamless, flowing experience).

      The pleasure will eventually give way to equanimity — a flat yet bright state without obvious pleasure (in terms of the “rushing”, drug sensations of Jhanas 1-3), and this is the point where my “stuff” starts to rise up, and the body will often try to get more involved because it is “storing” that “stuff” and you are causing it to release it. Here, I simply return to the bridge of my nose and that “stuff” starts to merge into the flow of the light and the breath and gets “detagged” and won’t bother me after the meditation. In neuroscience terms I think all these past memories and concepts are simply getting wired to the pleasure circuit (what fires together wires together) so they are no longer viewed as threatening. Concentration meditation, especially the equanimity state (4th Jhana) is perhaps the most consistent and powerful method of “detagging” your “stuff”. In any case, the good mood persists for a very long time afterwards, meaning you deal with situations much more elegantly and they get stored as “good; capable” anyway. 4th Jhana is the best general cure for what ails ye.

  9. PsySeducer says:

    Looks like the head area is becoming a sort of control panel with buttons where if you move you awearness on different points you get special effects. Untill now we got 4 switch state areas on wich I can confirm too :
    – the spot behind eyeballs and up bit from the basic anxiety guide wich i use to change my inner dialogue pattern
    – the back of the head wich I use to change emotional states actually to stop them coming to my head,and fade away
    – the crown of the head for insight “feel” wich i personally use to imagine/ remember a good feeling so i know exactly where to get, sometimes i use it to get horny on command
    – the bridge of the nose for strong jhana ,wich i wont use that much because im more of an active meditator accustomed to concentrate on live external visual and auditive objects, but for a hardcase begginer meditator it’s power tech.

  10. Diogo says:

    Thanks again Edd, your reply is very helpful (as always).

    I was also playing around with the proprioception sense of the body making the body feel like it was spinning faster and faster and shit like that just for the hell of it while always trying to stay with the object at the same time, now I’m going to stick to the object only and trying to get equanimity by “sending” in-breath to the occipital area.

    Have a nice one!

  11. Kautilya says:


    Considering: Breath, Body, Altered Consciousness, Absorption …..

    As well as the various other topics – Kriya, Do-Nothing, Pranayama etc.

    I was wondering if perhaps Holotropic Breathing was something you would ever cover.

    Due to its nature it may not lead to Jhana but may help the supporting elements such as Flow, Minimising distractions and Higher Consciousness.

  12. Leandro says:


    Thanks for your guide!, This is really helpful.

    I would like to be sure if I’m really in first Jhana or could be repeating something bad for the body or mind.

    I use the method 1). After some time being concentrated over the feeling of the wave, the breath get in sync by it self with the wave. and the concentration remain with no effort also, not thoughts. But what looks suspicious to me its the breaths per minutes, they are higher than usual: around 15 per minute. and the breath is not deep. and I could not say that I feel more Joy or pleasure, just I feel normal.

    Is this the first Jhana?

    Thanks in advance!


    • Illuminatus says:

      Hi Leandro,

      This is quite an old article and, while I no longer resonate with the exact methods in the post, they do still follow an underlying principle which is essential for concentration practice: Creating and maintaining the illusion of flow.

      Breath quality and speed is irrelevant when establishing the flow state, so please ignore those for now. Breath will naturally become slower and higher-quality as flow state is reached.

      Since you have noticed that distracting thoughts have been eliminated, and concentration is maintaining itself, this is a great sign and you should be pleased.

      My advice now is to turn your attention to ONE of the following things:

      1. See if you can find an area of SILENCE in the breath and begin following that. Cause the silence to flow continually. It may be small and fleeting at first, but will grow with continued attention.

      2. See if you can find a feeling of PLEASURE in the breath and begin following that. Cause the pleasure to flow continually. It may be small and fleeting at first, but will grow with continued attention.

      Only choose 1 or 2 (whichever one you most easily find). Silence will eventually lead to pleasure, and pleasure will eventually lead to silence — so it does not matter much which one you start with.

      The first jhana is noticeable by the arising of continuous pleasure, continuous silence — and other welcomed elements such as a cessation of pain, cessation of thoughts, a feeling of lightness and bliss, and (in some people) a brightening of the visual field, a smoothing of the visual field, and possibly overt lights. Awareness may seem “expanded” or somehow bigger and wider. Problems are also left behind — like taking a break from the world. It is a nice state you will want to stay in (so, any thoughts of getting up or ending the meditation will also disappear for a while).

  13. Leandro says:

    Hey Illuminatus!,

    Thanks for taking your time to answer. I will follow your advice!

    In the other hand, I’ve started to practice the “relaxation responce”, It’s very interesting, I have the intuition that we need to practice deep relaxation thousands hours, to balance our bodymind,, to get to normal physiologically, but also, to make an habit the “lettin go” + open awareness. instead of the craving and narrow focus mode-on we really are most of our time.

    what is your experience on this?



    • Illuminatus says:

      Hi Leandro,

      I think you summed up the benefits of relaxation response via Do Nothing.

      There is no reason you can’t do both types of meditation. I practise Do Nothing lying in bed first thing in the morning, using a very open “choiceless awareness”. One phrase I say in my mind is, “Let the sensations of the world show themselves.” This then causes awareness to move around both internally (body sensations) and externally (distant sounds being my favourite for awareness to land on).

      Later in the day I will sit and do formal concentration practice, using the sense of silence as my primary object (method #2 in my last reply to you).

      Sometimes I will also do a third session of “just sitting” (Do Nothing while sitting and letting awareness open up as it wants). I think combining directive and nondirective (in completely separate sessions) has a reinforcing effect on both practices.

  14. Kprovost says:

    Thanks for the guide Illuminatus! It’s great, but there’s one thing I’m a bit confused on.

    I’m currently attempting to use the 2nd method in this post, however, when you say “control it with your muscles and drag out the turning point as much as possible so the wave is almost flat”, do you mean to hold your breath when the turning point comes, to keep breathing out/in until you can’t, or something else entirely? Thanks again.

    • Illuminatus says:


      I don’t use “directive meditations” like this any more because, while they gave me a good run, a wall is hit regarding progress sooner or later. I instead now use nondirective meditations almost exclusively since they are the key to abandoning control, which is what eventually sets you free.

      For example, my typical morning meditation now involves me sitting around 2 metres away from a blank wall, sitting very still with eyes open, and simply looking at that wall for anywhere between 30 minutes or two hours (as time allows). By refusing to control any aspect of the meditation, the thoughts that used to try to assert control over the process are revealed for what they are, and are let go of. Eventually awareness naturally settles down to a point where it is watching itself (awareness watching awareness). This is a naturally blissful, quiet, restful state, and is really what I suspect people are searching for when they decide to start practising meditation. What I just described is the simplest meditation I have ever practised, but also the most powerful in terms of noticeable compounding permanent results.

      So, I recommend you try those types of simple nondirective meditation as your main practice.


      That said, I will try to answer your question anyway. I did try the technique a couple of months ago and it still “works” (in terms of its limited capacity to produce blissful, energized states of awareness).

      >however, when you say “control it with your muscles and drag out the turning point as much as possible so the wave is almost flat”, do you mean to hold your breath when the turning point comes, to keep breathing out/in until you can’t, or something else entirely?

      I believe what I was getting at in this instruction is that there is an in-breath and an out-breath, and each one has both a physical and mental component.

      The physical component of the out-breath is the air being expelled from the lungs. The mental component of the out-breath is simply the judgment call that that is what is going on, i.e. the words in your mind, “out-breath”, or the non-verbal knowledge that you are in the out-breath phase of the breath. The physical and mental components are related, in that certain physical events are more likely to be labelled “out-breath” by the thinking mind. E.g. a sigh would never be labelled “in-breath”.

      Anyway, the point of the instruction is that, if you look really, REALLY carefully, the point where your mind starts labelling something as “end of out-breath, start of in-breath” is not fixed. It is arbitrary. There is no real physical “clue” that out-breath has ended and in-breath has begun. So, the turning point is something arbitrarily decided, in a non-exact way. The instruction is all about honing in on that point in a more and more exact way, like really putting it under the mental microscope. This can create a very strong mental focus which itself becomes blissful. This process will also tend to affect the physical component of the breath, in that the “turning point” between in- and out-breath will become longer.

      Now, a strange thing can happen at this point, which is that the mind stops seeing the breath in terms of “in” and “out”, so that mental labelling process stops, and instead the breath becomes this continuous flowing entity which seems to “do” itself. The physical body will exhibit signs of both in- and out-breath simultaneously with the result being a continuous stream of air circulating. This is what I mean by “flattening out the wave”.


      Looking back, these techniques were pretty complicated, and it’s no surprise hardly anyone could do them. They came naturally to me, though.

      Buddhist meditations do not typically assert control over the breath in this way — so this would be a more “yogic” technique.

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