Official Concentration Meditation
Before finding Daniel Ingram a couple of years ago, for many years before that (since 2008, in fact) I did pure concentration meditation without knowing what it was, with the breath as my object. Finding MCTB had me segue into using other objects, such as the afterimage of a light, which can turn into amazing visuals and evoke strange and rapturous emotions and a sense that something truly remarkable has just happened. That is not an easy meditation to do and relied upon the years of training I had already put in with the breath as my object, which I often take for granted when writing on this blog.
I have also been working on posture, breathing and movement for the last several years which relies on becoming aware of the nerve firing patterns which are creating the undesirable forms and reprogramming them (usually through visualization methods, as in Alexander Technique) to a more efficient, natural form. As I became more aware of the ways in which nerves fire and how different nerves affect mental, emotional and physical states, I began to incorporate elements of this body work into my concentration practice. The result, as PsySeducer correctly identified in the comments section of the last Mailbag, is that the last several jhana techniques I have written up on this blog have actually been hybrids of concentration meditation and energy work. This however is not how I started out my concentration practice in 2008 and is also not how I was able to attain to the higher, purer jhanas (culminating in an unexpected Nirodha Samapatti in 2012, the only time I have achieved that attainment).
So, I am going to bring things back to basics. I will rewrite the Basic Concentration Meditation guide and flush out things like the movie references and other jazz, and at the centre of the guide will be the exact concentration meditation method I did for years and have now gone back to in order to refamiliarize myself with the reference points required to talk seriously about jhana.
Do this every day:
- Sit cross-legged with hands in lap and spine straight.
- Set timer for 30 minutes.
- Close your eyes.
- Your “object” is sensations at the tip of your nose. Keep awareness there. Tilt your head back slightly so all your awareness is pointed towards the tip of your nose.
- Keep completely still. Any body sensation that wants you to move whatsoever is to be ignored.
There are two main points. The first is keeping completely still — as still as is humanly possible. The second is keeping awareness at the tip of your nose with head tipped back slightly. All effort is to be directed at just these two things.
For the rest of the day, forget about meditation.
I will keep this brief as I do not want to distract from what is a simple method.
- I find this a lot easier after breakfast. After showering can also be helpful if I am particularly sleepy that morning, as showering is energizing.
- 30 minutes per session is a starting guideline. It is the minimum. The real gains in meditation are made when you do 30 minutes minimum per session. One month at 30 minutes a day is equal to about six months at 15 minutes a day.
- I am not giving you any goals other than the above. The method itself is the goal. I am not going to describe jhana or anything to look out for because those will just become more things for you to obsess over. The practice itself is good for you, so do it without goals.