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.

Method

Do this every day:

  1. Sit cross-legged with hands in lap and spine straight.
  2. Set timer for 30 minutes.
  3. Close your eyes.
  4. 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.
  5. Keep completely still. Any body sensation that wants you to move whatsoever is to be ignored.
  6. Breathe.

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.

Notes

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.
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46 Responses

  1. Naomi says:

    I love the brevity of this explanation. Two days in. After a month I’m aiming to work up to an hour.
    Have you ever experimented with BWE audio? I know there is a lot of rubbish aroumd! The website http://www.iawaketechnologies.com/ has many interesting articles on it’s blog. They do stress that just passively listening to the audio is not the way to get the best results. They give instructions on meditation techniques. One of the guys behind the site John Dupuy does a lot of work with addicts. One thing I find hard to believe are claims that the audio’s have a biofield effect! Have a great weekend and thanks for the help.

    • Illuminatus says:

      “Have you ever experimented with BWE audio?”

      Are we talking about binaural beats? Yes. They’re shit. Placebo effect at its most aggrandized, in my opinion (but the placebo effect is not to be scoffed at; if the tech works for you, it works, end of story).

      Re the man using binaural beats to help addicts, I think this is another case of having a caring, listening mentor figure around — which is going to account for 90% of the effectiveness of the work. Then we have the plausible(ish) sounding “science” of binaural beats to disengage addicts’ judgment faculties and have them begin to use the idea of the tech working as a vehicle to begin to imagine a better future — and change is all about stimulating the imagination. We’ve seen this same pattern with countless self-help programmes (most of which I’ve tried).

      I might be being overly dismissive in this case. I haven’t looked into it. It just seems familiar, is all.

      I tried binaural beats during a particularly nasty tramadol withdrawal a few years ago. I had rocks in my bowel and every dream was literally a nightmare. Furthermore, my head was so stimmed from the snapback effect that even falling asleep was effort. I did meditation while trying a few binaural beats programmes for sleep induction and cannot report that they were effective at all. In fact, with the strange New Age backing tracks on those CDs, I found them quite disturbing at times.

      I like a lot of “woo!” but binaurals have been quite useless for me. I relegate it to the realm of EFT (tapping), another crank method. I wrote a good article on the old blog covering these phenomena 🙂 https://www.personalpowermeditation.com/blog/2011/02/the-essence-of-circuit-v/

      • Naomi says:

        Yeah the placebo effect is very strange. I’m surprised by the dismissive attitude that people have towards it.

        • Illuminatus says:

          I like to consider it a “permission slip”. So you write yourself a permission slip to do or become “X”. Wearing your lucky shirt = permission slip to be confident.

          “Have I done my 30 taps on this meridian (EFT)? Yes, now I can be effective.”

          “Am I listening to the binaural frequency of Mother Earth? Yes, now I can feel deep peace and oneness with nature.”

          I like techs such as jhana because there is no gobbledegook explanation made up for it. You just absorb with an object and get positive effects.

  2. PsySeducer says:

    Keep completely still is a powerfull meditation form in itself. I would rather do it 5-3-4, makes more sense.

    Once you get it locked where do your eyes point? Mine go up and crossed ( i’m comunicating with aliens gaze) but this position is part of my tech/gateway for intense visualising. So because of this, just few flashes of the pleasure is all the fuel mind needs to steal all awearness from tip of nose into creating nice dreamy romantic not concentration states at all. Kinda tricky for me.

    • Illuminatus says:

      I swapped 4 and 5. Left 3 where it is as they need to set the pose (which sets the direction of one-pointed mind) before becoming completely still.

      “Once you get it locked where do your eyes point? Mine go up and crossed”

      Mine go up and crossed. However, the “awareness” (where the eyes think they’re looking) is pointed roughly towards the tip of the nose (more like the bridge, though). I also listen to this point as well with my ears, getting as many senses pointed at the same place as possible. Often my tongue ends up in the roof of my mouth pointed at that spot too. This is all about making the mind one-pointed by making all its inputs one-pointed too.

      “( i’m comunicating with aliens gaze)”

      Huh?

      “but this position is part of my tech/gateway for intense visualising.”

      I would like to hear more about this and what you are doing with it. 🙂 Is there a forum post about it, or can you start one please?

      I used to get visions often doing this — many times precognitive visions of the future, accurate enough to leave me with no doubt of the existence of The Powers. Other times it would be like looking at a scene through my eyelids, but the scene was nowhere from my life. It is hard to stop such visions taking on a life of their own. This was before I found Ingram or any Buddhist sources so wasn’t aware these were fairly common “things”.

      “So because of this, just few flashes of the pleasure is all the fuel mind needs to steal all awearness from tip of nose into creating nice dreamy romantic not concentration states at all. Kinda tricky for me.”

      Yes. This is a bastard when it happens. It’s usually enjoyable, but the concentration is gone. It reminds me quite a lot of when I used to lie in bed intentionally hallucinating on tramadol. When I am well-practised however I can hold things together and get back to whatever jhana I was in before the interruption (usually segueing into Infinite Space at that point).

      Now, to avoid such things, here is what I do. The sensations at tip of nose are the object. Eyes are also looking at that area. There are a lot of things trying to disrupt the concentration field, e.g. verbal thoughts. There are also “holistic thought bubbles” trying to get in — images, nonsense, irrelevant emotions etc. I can squeeze some mental “muscle” (cultivated from lots of practice) which correlates with some nerves in the face; one of many reasons I have been exploring the nerve current connection to jhana. Squeezing this “muscle” pushes forcefully away intrusive thoughts and makes the horizontal band of awareness in the visual field extremely thin — as though it is an extremely narrow horizon I must continue to perceive as it will soon open up. At some point, when enough intrusions have been repelled, and when my awareness has been stuck like glue to that ultra-thin horizontal band of visual awareness it suddenly opens up and becomes a horizon. It’s a bit like someone opened a vice. What is now in this gap is Infinite Space. This wonderful at this point. As the horizon (infinite, might I say) grows, I find myself free in that infinite space. In my ears, I perceive infinite quiet. Following on through this (I am ignoring monitoring “which jhana I’m at”) I will arrive at a place where reality is vibrations. So, a sound I hear from outside will get waves and vibrations in the visual field.

      Weirdly, I now have such waves right in the middle of my visual field with eyes closed almost all the time — meaning if I close my eyes right now and look carefully I can see small vibrations in the centre of my visual field. This is something that developed over the last few months after doing lots of jhana following reading Absolutus. So, I can sit for jhana now, find the vibrations right in the centre of my visual field, make them the “object”, and they will grow and become more distinct, and flows within them will become more obvious. Now, if I move my awareness onto sensations outside my body, e.g. onto a bird singing or something, the waves/vibrations will pulse in accord with the sound. I pulled my groin at the gym the other day. When I put my awareness into that searing pain, lots and lots of these vibrations dance and flood the visual field.

      If I then get really stuck into strictly examining the vibrations as my “object”, then they begin to matte together into coloured “strings”. I don’t know what to make of it all at this point. It’s a brilliant experience in any case, particularly since it often requires very little effort.

      I find it strange that I am getting such access to what sound like formless realms without moving through the other jhanas. Then again I have taken a very bizarre path through all this and may have trained something inadvertently.

      PsySeducer do you have a post about your meditation history anywhere and your current goals and current practice? I would like to better understand where you’re coming from with all this.

  3. James says:

    I feel like I was once in the 4th jhana for like, 2 weeks… without the other jhanas… like I just sorta of hit it and stayed it.

    It was such an odd experience, it felt like I was just walking through a dream the whole time.

    after that, I always doubted the necceicty to do jhanas in order.

    When I was a kid, I remember contemplating god, and how he could create the universe while at the same time never having been created… I remember reality phasing out and things getting kinda creepy so I snapped out of it.

    • Illuminatus says:

      “I feel like I was once in the 4th jhana for like, 2 weeks… without the other jhanas… like I just sorta of hit it and stayed it.”

      Check out chapter 25 of MCTB, “25. The Vipassana Jhanas”. He roughly aligns the samatha jhanas with the vipassana (stages of insight) jhanas. So yes it is possible to stay in Equanimity (4th samatha jhana, 11th vipassana jhana) for an extended period of time. When I was doing hardcore insight meditation a year ago I stayed in Equanimity for over a week. Yes, it’s kind of like a dream. I also found it very “smooth”. There was a flowingness to everything. I felt at times like I could throw a pebble at the picture in front of me and it would ripple.

      “When I was a kid, I remember contemplating god, and how he could create the universe while at the same time never having been created… I remember reality phasing out and things getting kinda creepy so I snapped out of it.”

      This is the same process I went through when I made the following post: The Three Inverse Characteristics

      The creepiness is a result of trying to apply linear causality (chicken-and-egg stuff) to something that cannot be pigeonholed into such a structure. The trick there is to keep trying anyway till the circuit overloads and you suddenly pop into fractal causality (or something else wholeness-based). This is also one of the purposes of Zen koans.

      • Illuminatus says:

        Also: Don’t separate God and “you”! The assumption that duality is prime is the root of all failure in science, philosophy and religion.

        Make subject and object the same thing next time you are doing this sort of exploration. In fact make all subjects and objects the same thing, 🙂

        Enter: Heavy right-brain trip. Don’t expect to be able to convey most of what you figure out in words; it can’t really be done (though we can get clues).

  4. Naomi says:

    Could you write more about releasing muscle memories using concentration tech. I’ve been reading your blog thoroughly during the evenings. One of your answers in the Basic Concentration guide mentioned using imagination to initiate the undesired muscle memory and then using the physical sensations as the object for your concentration. I’d like to use this on panic attacks.

    Thanks

    Naomi

    • Illuminatus says:

      It’s been a while since I read that post so not sure what you’re referring to.

      I am making a clean sheet with it all for the next iteration of the Basic Concentration guide.

      The “keep perfectly still” tech above achieves all of that anyway. So, the mind runs its program and sends some contract/movement signals to the body — but the body has been “cut out” of the loop by keeping it perfectly still. The mind “loses” the body rather quickly in this fashion with the signals eventually going nowhere. In this sense you are conditioning thought/emotional events with no body output. This really can be alchemy for the soul.

      “One of your answers in the Basic Concentration guide mentioned using imagination to initiate the undesired muscle memory and then using the physical sensations as the object for your concentration. I’d like to use this on panic attacks.”

      I don’t remember this and quotes would be helpful.

      Re panic attacks, I suffered them regularly for about a year (2005 perhaps) and was on meds for them. One day I was struck by the idea to ditch the meds and, when a panic attack arose, to decide to have the BEST panic attack possible — to really get into it, to really go nuts with it. I looked up panic attacks prior to this and found there were no negative health aspects, so felt free to try to achieve the “archetypal panic attack experience”. Hyperventilating, running around the park with almost limitless energy (panic attacks are largely adrenal and escapive), throwing up if there was a spare toilet etc.

      The body is a learning machine and if it learns that panic attacks are followed by calming endorphins then it stops minding them so much since it has a pay-off in mind.

      There are cognitive elements as well which I have avoided because they are not my speciality. The best and most successful guys I know take the first semblance of panic and immediately reframe it into excitement and anticipation for how they are going to use this energy to create what they want.

      We can therefore split panic attacks into two scripts:

      1) “Too much is expected of me!”
      2) “Here is where I shine. :)”

    • Jos says:

      I’ve read panick attacks create a “polarized” brain activity, in which the left hemisphere is on fire and the right turned off. EMDR is good for this I suppose, you may try moving your eyes from side to side, or get some sessions done and make it a part of your life probably for real results. Another trick I read was the butterfly hug, which consists of tapping our right elbow with your left hand and viseversa, alternatively. My trick for panick attacks is to just run around and maybe explode or something (people doesn’t get panick attacks, and I used to just yell and have some emotional outburst and then fast-walking around completely oblivious of the world around me), the other trick is to just squat, heels to ground, maybe its more like the foetal position, if alone I lie down on bed, that makes me sleepy enough that I may fall asleep and wake up feeling better, probably sedates me even without falling very deep asleep, but maybe it doesn’t have that effect on you, I fall asleep too easily and quickly.

      Hope you get better.

    • Naomi says:

      Sorry I should have included quotes. There is two responses which caught my attention in the answers to your article Basic Concentration Guide.

      “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.”

      There was another

      “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.”

      Both very interesting, my obviously mistaken instinct (probably influenced by the law of attraction stuff) is that focusing on something would perpetuate it. I can imagine many New Age gurus being surprised at using concentration to suppress. You really do have a different take on things.

      • Illuminatus says:

        I have moved off of muscles now and onto nerves since they are more fundamental. In a stammer you have Nerve A shaping the vocal apparatus to create the desired sound but Nerve B opposing that shaping to create a “G-G-G-G-” or “D-D-D-D-” or “B-B-B-B-” effect. I am not a speech therapist but it seems to me from a logical standpoint that opposing nerves are the problem. Why does Nerve B fire and get in the way? Well all those nerves serve a variety of different functions. Some cause you to cry in pain. Some hum to create self-soothing. Some clench the jaw in determination. Nerves have medleys of different functions in the body.

        Now, the purpose of my quote regarding making the tight muscles the object of jhana is that, I have found, after some length of time inspecting clenched muscles in this way, they will eventually spontaneously release. They cannot hold on forever. And once they release, and you can talk normally, you can practise talking normally without the (exhausted) nerves firing and creating the block.

        This is all very keyboard-jockey. I’ve never treated anyone for such conditions. I did however cure someone of tinnitus based on one of my mad theories so at the least I think I could make headway with someone with a speech impediment. I have lots of weird nerve-firing techs I developed from my posture studies.

        “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.”

        Both very interesting, my obviously mistaken instinct (probably influenced by the law of attraction stuff) is that focusing on something would perpetuate it. I can imagine many New Age gurus being surprised at using concentration to suppress. You really do have a different take on things.

        Consider it like this. You have nonsense monkey-brain thoughts coming in left, right and centre. You squeeze a mental muscle to push them away. (I don’t consider that “focusing” on them.) You hit jhana, a mental place of unparalleled spaciousness, devoid of such intrusion. You now, in that huge free space, can create strong visualizations of the things you want to experience “out there” in real life.

        Suppression is hugely important because what you are suppressing is, frankly, drivel. 🙂

  5. Naomi says:

    Oh I forgot to mention. I came across this book. The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science.

    It’s been praised by Shinzen Young and Daniel Ingram both of whom you have mentioned. I’ll buy it when funds allow. Here’s the authors website. http://themindilluminated.com/. He writes from a scientific angle as well.

  6. Jos says:

    I get waves behing my eyelids too while it is relatively quiet, but they come from wherever the sound comes, left, right, usually from above too, but it is a purely physical things like seeing specks in the open sky, not like imagery.

    Also, that thing you posted about the thin horizon, was pretty useful, I would appreciate more info like that, I’ve done it before, and now I may train it to strengthen my “focus muscle”. What I’ve noticed I do to focus back on something is to hold breath at the full inhalation point and exhale after I put my attention wherever I want, but that’s how it works when I want to refocus, I have to breathe fully and kind of tense, with whole body not just sight, and then release my attention along with the breath into the object. It happens automatically, if I try to refocus, by doing it all consciously it doesn’t work, probably because my attention is on so many things rather than trying to force it to the object, or the present, because I do it to get present mainly.

    I recently read a mystic asking his students to focus on a point around something until they see the afterimage, as this will trick their subconscious into seeing true auras with time. The same day I read another mystic talking about the “in-between state”, you got there by looking at the edge of objects and listening very intently until you saw and heard weird things, that would even take you to another dimension and awaken great powers if taken deep enough, you should perceive everything as vibrations. So basically the first guy was right. What the latter guy was asking was to look for weird things, so of course you get weird things, and this makes you believe in weird things which allows you to experience more weird things.

    I think if you asked people to look for weird phenomena happening in their noses, this meditation will automate pretty quickly. But I appreciate your efforts toward truth. The thing is suggesting stuff will happen without specifying if bliss or imagery or whatever will get people having experiences faster simply because they are looking for something. It gives people something to do, and because they can’t analyze if they are “looking for” enough, or in the right way or whatever, they can only look harder and so focus more.

    But again, your honesty and style is very much appreciated, so thank you for your work man.

    • Illuminatus says:

      Hi Jos,

      You seem to have absorbed a lot of different information from various sources. If you are struggling I recommend you unlearn all of that and just do the method in this post. By keeping absolutely still you will “lose” the body very quickly. The quality of the breath is unimportant, and neither are body sensations.

      The jhana method above is for pure mental states.

      With a good bedrock of practice (say, 6 months minimum) then you can start fucking around with the other stuff you just listed and see what interests you. 🙂

      • Jos says:

        I am somehow struggling,, but not that much, I’m just frustrated because of all these expectations I’ve built that aren’t being met, so I definitely would do good to unlearn all this “noise”. I’ve also had megalomaniac fantasies since forever, some advice on that would be nice 😛 (it is nice to imagine that you find the cure for all illnesses, but when your mind tries to apply that to reality I get extremely frustrated…similar fantasies happen with meditation, thinking I will develop superpowers right away, and specific ones, not just any natural talent that I may have). I have a regular practice already that is somewhat measurable, so if the results allow I will probably try this method, and keep it if they improve :P. Again, I appreciate very much your work. Thank you for everything you do.

  7. Nick says:

    Fascinating to hear your move from focusing on muscle memory to nerves. It feels like you are on the cusp of something big. Through my reading I know that the vagus nerve plays a major role in both physical and mental health. Some of the yogic breathing techniques, stimulate the nerve. One of the better articles I’ve read on this is here. http://selfhacked.com/2015/07/30/28-ways-to-stimulate-your-vagus-nerve-and-all-you-need-to-know-about-it/

    • Illuminatus says:

      Looks interesting; will read in spare time. “Ommm” does indeed tangibly innervate the vagus. However I’m more interested in cultivating ongoing mindsets that would have it turned on all the time.

      I have a post on jaw work coming soon, hopefully tomorrow, which I believe will help free the vagus nerve in chronic worriers. It was a game-changer for me!

      • Nick says:

        That would help me big time. You can tell yourself that worrying is a useless counter productive behaviour but it still happens. The Reichians did a lot with jaw work. They had one exercise called the “Mussolini Jaw” . I can’t find a video for it, bit if you have seen photographs of the charmless Italian you can probably work it out.:)

  8. Pat says:

    I’m curious, when did you find Daniel Ingram?

  9. Chris says:

    what about 2 30m sessions, i take that is not as good as a 60m session, but its still better than one 30m one yes?
    i just seem to naturally get too bored at the 30m mark and stop

    • Illuminatus says:

      If you get bored it’s not jhana and you will have to persist till you get it. Sorry, not much else to say about it. Yes, it can be boring as hell just sitting there with nothing happening, but that’s why it’s called training.

  10. Chris says:

    after trying this having tried your object meditation guide a couple of times this just feels horrible, i feel i cant breath properly and feel very bad and cant focus on the nose and have to stop, whereas when i tried the object thing with a sticker i put on the wall i felt amazing after a while, i could concentrate and my vision slowly started to become like how you see when you close your eyes. the only problem was blinking sorta took me back to seeing the room and my eyes got sore. Should i stick with the old meditation or would you say that just keeping going with this new guide will pay off at some point?

    • Illuminatus says:

      If you sit through the “stuck breathing” without moving at all eventually all the focus on that will pass and your concentration will move to just the sensations at the tip of your nose (and breathing just resumes normally by itself in the background). In other words, that stuff is just more barriers to be blasted through in training concentration.

      Re your sticker on the wall meditation, it’s up to you if you want to stick with it and see how far it can take you. A lot of these seems things to end up at the same place. I haven’t done that one myself so can’t comment more.

  11. Chris says:

    ah thanks man i was feeling kinda upset thinking it was wasnt going to work for just me but im gonna have another go at it now

  12. Laser says:

    Hi Illuminatus,

    Decided to post here rather than on forums because I felt like this would get your ( and the readers’) attention.

    I’ve been practicing concentration meditation for about month ( ~25min a session), using mostly the technique you’ve described here ( awareness on the tip of the nose)
    But.. tend to get wild energetic phenomena each time, and it’s extremely distracting. It’s very hard to keep your awareness at the tip of your nose when your body and your head starts swaying ~ 6 inches within a minute or two into meditation. It’s gotten to the point that now I stop meditating after 15 minutes because this “swaying” becomes unbearable.

    Help/ suggestions?

    • Illuminatus says:

      Hi Laser,

      The head swaying, in my opinion, is the fascia unwinding from where it is wound around the nerves in the neck entering the head (which also descend down into arms, legs etc.). You don’t need to know about fascia; it’s just my theory for explaining this stage.

      Back in the day they used to call this stage the The Knowledge of the Three Characteristics:

      “There may be odd bodily twistings, obsession with posture, and painful tensions or strange other sensations, particularly in the back, neck, jaw and shoulders. These tensions may persist when not meditating and be quite irritating and even debilitating. The rhomboid and trapezius muscles are the most common offenders. It is common to try to sit with good posture and then find one’s body twisting into some odd and painful position. You straighten out, and soon enough it does it again. That’s a very Three Characteristics sort of pattern. People sometimes describe these feelings as some powerful energy that is blocked and seems wants to get out or move through.”

      Depending upon the person, concentration meditation leads into insight meditation very early on in the practice. It did for me. To learn more about these things check out: https://www.personalpowermeditation.com/mastering-the-core-teachings-of-the-buddha/

      The bottom line is this. This is the stage where if you want to pursue pure concentration states you must completely ignore the swaying, stay totally still via applied effort, and eventually it WILL pass and you will enter jhana (or go to a higher jhana if you’re already in one). To pursue the stages of insight however you will tend to let such swayings happen while maintaining awareness on their sensations.

      If you ignore the swayings completely and sit perfectly still you may get “drop” sensations in your belly area. This tends to be a precursor for strong jhanas for me personally.

  13. Yason says:

    It’s my first time posting here after reading your blog for months, the reading I did here was what got me back to meditating daily back in September of 2015.
    And for nearly 5 months I couldn’t concetrate at all, I meditated for 40 minutes or even 60 minutes per day and yet I couldn’t get it, I think I managed it once for a few minutes in November but that was all.
    I read this post back in January but I didn’t really pay much attention to the “keep completely still” point, all the time I’ve been meditating I thought that “being completely still” meant “just don’t get up or move a lot” and so while meditating I repositioned my fingers a bit, extended my thoraric spine, contracted my glutes in order to tilt my pelvis e.t.c. thinking that all those tiny movements were ok.
    And 2 days ago I re-read this article and also I read all the comments here (something I usually don’t do) and I meditated while being completely still and all I have to say is that PsySeducer is right when he said “Keep completely still is a powerfull meditation form in itself” because I didn’t focused on my breath in the beginning, being completely still was my object and it was hard but I managed it and then I focused on the tip of my nose.
    My meditation session yesterday was the same.
    My meditation session today however was me finally clearing my mind! (I think you have named this “access concetration”) I nearly cried when all that was left in my mind was the feeling of my breath entering my body and leaving it…
    Something inside of me says that all those months went to waste but I don’t want to think that way, those months of false practicing is what brought me here and made me realize the mistake.
    Just for the record I did a little research on what the average “How to meditate” guide says and none of them emphasize how important it is to stayl completely still.
    Thank you very much.

    • Illuminatus says:

      That’s excellent, well done. Yes, I will need to rewrite the guide to emphasize sitting still.

      • Yason says:

        I just finished another session minutes ago, I felt tons of pain, unbearable pain in back and neck, I stood still and focused on the painful spots, it was hard.
        You have mentioned pain in your guides before but be sure to emphasize on pain too on the next one! Ouch.

        • Illuminatus says:

          Try dropping your jaw slightly. This changes the pattern of breathing so that those lower back muscles are engaged and able to tense and relax in a wave. You are looking for a good “all round” face configuration that allows both nose and mouth breathing so the various muscles in the body used for each don’t get tensed. Jaw dropped very slightly (making the mouth open ever so slightly), tongue resting lightly in mouth with tip ever so lightly touching the palate, is good for me. Once you have your face set up you should keep it like that as part of the stillness and forget about it.

          If you still have pain throughout the meditation then, in my experience, there are two things to consider. The first is posture/sitting pose. However, I feel this is a bad focus. It will never be “perfect”. If how you sit is comfortable(ish) at the start, then it should be fine to continue.

          The most important thing regarding pain is this. For me, it reflects my “still holding onto tension”. So the pain is caused by persistent muscle tension, and this tension both comes from the mindset, the “sense of self”, and in fact causes the mindset and sense of self. It is difficult to separate the two. Anyway, I allow that pain/tension to become part of the meditation. So, by continuing to focus on the tip or bridge of the nose, the tension in the muscles in the back and neck can actually be perceived as sensations at the nose. And by letting those sensations continue to hit that spot, without moving at all, eventually the tension falls away (usually with a “rushing” sensation). Long story short, by keeping absolutely still, and seeing the tension as something “trying to move” (or trying to get your attention) and maintaining total stillness, it WILL eventually fall away (and you will figure out how to let it fall away with practice, but do not obsess over this). When that tension finally falls away, for me, it is like releasing something — like dropping a hot coal. I tend to experience a sensation of falling for a moment and I then “lose” the body, making the object (the breath) far easier to bring into the foreground.

          So, these things are good signs. When pain/tension falls away you will get the jhana.

          • Yason says:

            I will try everything you mentioned tonight. Thanks a lot for the info.

            • Illuminatus says:

              Also remember that hatha yoga (the movement/exercise part of yoga, what laymen think of as just “yoga”) was created to prepare the body for sitting concentration meditation (raja yoga). So perhaps learn a 5-minute routine to loosen yourself off before sitting.

              • Yason says:

                Yeah, my body is kinda tight, I will start foam rolling too.
                One last question: I just realized that saliva flowing has become a problem now, I don’t want to shallow because this is moving and breaking the concetration, I even drooled, how do I handle the saliva? Keeping the tongue on the top of my mouth didn’t help that much.

  14. Gman says:

    I came across your website today and did the above practice, I managed 22 minutes during which I saw shadows across my ceiling, (I often see closed eye visuals anyway), I have been meditating for around a month now but this style is new to me.
    I cut it short due to wondering about the time as I had to pick my son up from school, next time I’ll practise this at a different time of day .

  15. Yuki says:

    Hmm, was I wondering, from your experience where do you get faster and more powerful jhanas? while having the attention on the tip of the nose or inside the nostrils in the middle where the bridge nose is more or less?

    For me the bridge of the nose for some reason always worked for me better than any other place…

    Out of curiosity, on the inhale you feel air sensations, as well as on the outhale, but what is your mod of attention like on a pause? what’s your best way to describe what your attention is like on a pause?

    • Illuminatus says:

      I also use the bridge of the nose almost exclusively while doing the classical jhanas. For some reason it just gives the pleasurable feeling immediately which is easy to work with.

      For concentration meditation with energy work my locus of awareness will move around depending on what I am trying to do (e.g. crown chakra for intense rapturous spiritual experiences; third eye for pure bliss currents; etc. etc.), but that’s quite advanced.

      “Out of curiosity, on the inhale you feel air sensations, as well as on the outhale, but what is your mod of attention like on a pause? what’s your best way to describe what your attention is like on a pause?”

      I tend to have attention synced with the phase of the breath and the breath flows from in to out quite seamlessly, so there is no “pause” so to speak. I believe this is actually the best way of creating the flowing breath most conducive for jhana.

      • Yuki says:

        I totally agree! I had got dozens of very intense jhana experiences when I am concentrating on the breath while the pace of the inhale and exhale are pretty fast, (more or less in a controlled manner) what this does is my mind gets pretty much locked on the sensations of the breath since there also isnt a pause for my mind to wander on something else….

        When I let the breath do what it wants it gets very shallow, even though I had a very intense experienece from.it , many times it gave me the so called light jhana version, which is intended as well, but different from the jhanas I use to experienece.

        The downside with the fast paced controlling breath thing is that sometimes it becomes uncomfortable to keep it up, and might avoid your mind falling on jhana, then for a while you need to stop breathing so your body becomes comfortable again… when this happens sometimes rapture suddenly comes up (probably because the body and mind is getting less tensed up from the breath

        Also your energy practice reminds me of the 2 methods ajahn Lee introducts

  16. Tom says:

    Are you supposed to close your eyes?

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