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  1. If he is hardcore Catholic, you could suggest some Catholic authors- Richard Rohr, Thomas Merton, Bernadette Roberts, Teresa of Avila. I'm not sure if they would help move him up but they might ease his mind. My mom, who is hardcore Catholic, just finished "Thank God Ahead of Time" and she enjoyed it.
  2. Hi, I'll try to help but I am not an expert. I've definitely been able to reach up to 1st jhana and I believe momentarily 2nd jhana. I've never heard about concentrating for only 5 mins. The first time I was able to reach jhana was on a 10 day buddhist retreat, given by a Pa Auk teacher. And it took probably 3 or 4 days of settling in and constant meditation. At home now, I can reach the 1st jhana but it is not as easy to replicate. I think that you begin with concentration, whether its 5 mins or 20 mins is not important. Some days, concentration is nearly impossible. Other days, concentration is fast. Really it depends on you and your mental state. Usually, people start with the breath and as you focus, you will begin to feel peaceful feelings arise. There are different ways to reach jhana, you can focus on a smile, if you see lights, you can focus on that, or any pleasant feeling. Or you can do metta / loving kindness practice. If you can reach jhana, then you decide how long you'd like to remain in it. Longer is better. On your question 2. You could use the abdomen as your object instead. When inhaling, you think, "rising", at the exhale, think "falling". This is Mahasi Sayadaw instruction. Then if a thought arises, you think "thinking, thinking." Question 3- 5 mins of concentration is great! When you start to stray away or lose concentration, refocus and start again. Thoughts will be there. Sensations come. You could try labeling as I said above. There are a few resources that I've found are good- leigh brasington or go to leighb.com/jhanas.htm YouTube- Ajahn Sona is having a six week talk about the jhanas right now. Every Sunday is a new video. Ajahn Sona is amazing. Dan Ingram's book, Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha is good too. Its online for free. If you like step by step, hardcore stuff, look up Pa Auk Sayadaw. His teachings focus a lot of jhana. His book knowing and seeing is available for free online. I'd go with Dan Ingram first though. The best is going on retreat and getting instruction from a teacher who can help you. That is how I was able to do it, as the teacher would ask me to describe my meditation and he gave me advise. Of course, at this time, this may not be an option. Just fyi, you will not find teachings of jhanas at many retreats. Check with the teacher or course info. Many people want to learn vipassana more than samadhi/ jhana.
  3. I haven't been here but I've known people who have gone and had very good retreats. Its located in Burma but retreat is free, they have medical doctors to care for yogis, and you can do long retreats here. https://www.paaukforestmonastery.org/ Right now I don't think they are accepting applicants due to coronavirus.
  4. I have read a few of your posts since I am on the vipassana path as well. I read your post about the continued state of samatha/joy and was wondering about that. Daniel Ingram writes about a friend of his who was practicing jhanas for like 30 years or something and was sort of stuck there. Dan Ingram also has a chapter on how to use unpleasant/ unwanted experiences to further the practice. After I had experienced the first jhana on retreat, I felt I was always striving for this state during meditation and peace feeling off mat. But I think that one has to realize that joy, happiness, bliss are still experiences of sensations and mentality. I assume this is where equanimity arises. My last retreat was with a teacher from Pa Auk method and he always emphasized looking to who/ what is experiencing these sensations, shifting from experiencing to observing. I think I'm rambling a bit but would like to say, I enjoy your posts and look forward to reading about your progress on the path.
  5. Hi, I've struggled with excessive sweating since I was a teenager. There are different deodorants that you can try but I've never had much success with those. I recently tried Carpe but it sort of irritated my skin. I've learned what clothes/ materials are most comfortable and won't show pit stains (nothing to tight, black, layering shirts). I'm female, so I don't wear anything without sleeves or tank tops. There are shirts that have underarm protection. I've also seen absorbent pads that you can put on your shirt to block sweat. I believe that mine is hereditary and also exacerbated by social anxiety. So when in public, I practice slowing down my breathing, being mindful, etc. Also, check your medications that you are on now. There are different meds that can cause excessive sweating as a side effect. As far as what can be done medically- botox injections in the underarm area or where you need it can stop sweating for a period of time. I envy those who don't have this problem. For me the worst is being interviewed, talking with someone I don't know, dating, being in humid/hot climates. If you discover a cure, let me know!
  6. Hi, I really love the Sedona Method and haven't found it to be cult like. If you are interested, I wanted to share that Dale Howskin does offer free calls monthly and, of course, free videos on youtube.... On the monthly live calls, he takes questions from the people on the calls. I've read most of the Sedona Method book but I've found the calls and recordings to be more effective for me.
  7. Hi, just wanted to add that you may be experiencing nimitta. If you look into Buddhist teachings, they speak of lights, sometimes quite brilliant and sometimes dull. Usually, they say to ignore, focus on the object of meditation/ breathe. When the light become stable, you would be able to focus on it and enter the first jhana. I don't know about hypnagogia but sounds like nimitta is just another name of this. I learned of nimitta via Pa Auk tradition of Buddhist meditation but I believe Caldusa and many other teachers may also cover this topic.
  8. Ah, you're right...I just checked where I read about the retreat and I had the wrong year. I must have seen it in an old post. Wow, I didnt know they were beefing!
  9. I have the original and have found it to be most valuable. I plan on picking up the second addition too. I think I read that he expands on Buddhist Magick in the new one. If you are interested in Vipassana and Buddhist Theravada, I think you can't go wrong with either edition. I don't know what the first edition is priced at but I bought it for around 35 a few years ago. His forum is really good too- dharma overground and his blog has some interesting posts. I think he is doing a month long teacher residency at Caldusa's retreat center in September.
  10. Love the meme annica...duhhka....anata!
  11. Hi all, Recently, I went to a 10 day silent, samatha & vipassana retreat at Big Bear Meditation Center in California. The course was taught by Sayadaw U Agganna, who is a teacher in the Pa Auk tradition. My previous experience with vipassana was at two Goenka centers in California. In the Pa Auk method, it is taught to first develop your concentration and later to start vipassana. They do give a separate method if you want to go straight to vipassana. For the majority of the retreat, I ended up focusing on concentration- anapanasati, which is mindfulness/concentration on the breath. As one develops focused attention to the breath, the body becomes pain free, calm, bliss like and a “nimitta” will appear. With closed eyes, nimitta are lights that appear around the nose and face. As it develops it becomes more stable, brighter, and usually white. After one achieves this and is able to stabilize the nimitta, one will then proceed to the jhana states. They teach that after the jhanas are mastered, the meditator has the choice to further develop concentration with other meditation objects (10 kasinas, skeleton meditation, etc) or go on to vipassana. My experience: The first few days were difficult because I was accustomed to the Goenka method of watching sensations. Here, you are taught to have one pointed concentration. So the meditator picks one spot in the nose or upper lip area and focus solely on the in and out breathe right at that point. It doesn’t matter the type of sensation nor how intense it is. After day 3, I started to get the peaceful feeling throughout my body and I started seeing lights. It was kinda cool and felt like I was getting it. During day 4-7, I was able to further develop my concentration. The bliss, peaceful feeling that I experienced was incredible. It almost felt orgasmic in a way. At times, I would get so sweaty and my breathing would become fast, then the breath would slow down to barely perceptible. The lights I saw were blue, purple, and moving. When I was in this state, sometimes thoughts would cease and at times thoughts would appear but would be softer somehow. Maybe I was in the jhana at this time because I was totally absorbed. With all these good feelings, I realized that I was reaching and trying to recreate this peaceful bodily feeling constantly during my sits, making it into a craving. I developed a very bad constant headache too. After I recognizing that craving for bliss sits, I decided to back off on forcing anything and solely focus on awareness of the breath and ignore the bodily sensations (which is what I should have been doing anyway but the bodily sensations were so pleasant). The last few days were easier going and not as intense, however, my concentration/ focus continued to improve. The nimitta lights became more stable. In between sits, I felt more present to whatever I was doing. The most distracting thing I experienced was, is, and maybe ever will be - thoughts. At first, I was just trying to ignore, squash, and redirect them back to breath. Later, I realized that ignoring was making it worse, so I just tried doing metta meditation for myself and/or would acknowledge thoughts and try not to follow them, then gently redirect attention back to the breath. We also experienced the earthquakes as we were located about 2hours30 mins from the epicenter. This had the effect of worrying about outside concerns- worrying about families, our safety, etc… so last few days were odd. Overall, I enjoyed my experience and a few things to note: Pa Auk method- this method lays out what to expect along the journey. It gives a map to enlightenment or arahatship. If you are more analytical or appreciate the roadmap ahead, then you might like this method versus the Goenka style retreat. I don’t know about the longer Goenka retreats, maybe they give you this information. But I really liked learning that about the path. I found it immensely helpful to have a teacher that you can talk to. At Goenka, I haven’t found that the assistant teachers were very open about the path. You can also find about these maps/paths in Dan Ingram’s book and many other sources. When difficulties arise or thoughts become too much, metta meditation is the best. Learning to accept where we are at is so key and that takes love of oneself. Not to beat oneself up or judge oneself is hard, metta can truly help. I wouldn't even do metta for anyone else, just myself. I enjoyed working on my concentration in a way that I hadn’t before. I see now the value in doing anapana meditation in order to prep oneself for vipassana. For those having difficulty with sitting due to pain, it might be worth it to learn this method. Truly, once my concentration developed, the pain would disappear. I have a lot of knee pain and right leg pain due to a pinched nerve. I was able to do strong determination sits without trying to. Since I’ve returned home, I haven’t reached the high level that I did while there. Maybe that is expected. I have noticed that during retreat and since, my dreams have become so real that I find myself moving a lot at night. Like I woke myself up two nights ago and I had my arm up in the air, swiping at something. While on retreat, I would have these like energy jolts that would also wake me up. For those looking for a long, free retreat, there are several Pa Auk centers in Burma that do not charge. Our teacher said you could even go for a year. They offer private kutis, washer/dryer, doctors that visit… all free. If you want to read about this method, the book Knowing and Seeing by Pa Auk is great. Its available as a free download.
  12. I've struggled with a similar situation and to be honest, I had to drop my belief that the other person has to help out. I can't force someone to do anything, it really makes me mad but I had to accept it. And I'm a neat freak, perfectionist. Two things that helped me deal with this was The Work by Byron Katie ( to help with the mental stuff) and flylady.net. fly lady breaks down cleaning in small chunks. She is kinda quirky but the routines have changed my house. If you don't like her style, you can check out other websites that break cleaning down into small manageable habits daily. Its best to try to do only 15 mins or so of cleaning. Set a timer and only focus on one thing. Its helpful to combine tasks, like while showering, clean the shower walls. Also, in doing cleaning routines, my family has started to help without me forcing anything. Best wishes.