Peter’s Jhana Retreat Report

After a significant retreat experience, participants have the opportunity to review what they learned during one of our meetings.  Peter describes the retreat he just completed as one of the most significant of the more than 40 residential retreats he has attended.  Shaila Catherine, the teacher, is internationally known and respected for her knowledge regarding jhana practice and her outstanding ability to describe the “craft” involved in developing very high degrees of concentration.  Traditional Buddhist vipassana, or insight meditation, emphasizes the practical benefits of this level of concentration as a way to prepare the mind for deep and subtle insights into the nature of subjective experience.  Peter’s review includes detailed descriptions of various markers of concentrated attention that must be developed in order to realize a jhana level of focused awareness.  Prior to this retreat, Peter gave a talk on October 19 describing the various levels of jhana experience, and the recording and notes from that talk are posted in the archives.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Peter’s Jhana Retreat Report


Mindfulness Of Breathing Guided Meditation with Question and Answer Dialogues

During this meeting, Peter provided a guided meditation regarding breath awareness that tracks the progression of focus on the sensations of breathing from the simple awareness “this is the in-breath…this is the out-breath” to cultivate continuity of breath awareness, then “looking closer” to note carefully the textural quality of each breath cycle to increase interest and investigation in awareness.  Finally, the meditation students are invited to hone in on one specific touch sensation exclusively in order to cultivate the quality of awareness preparatory to practicing jhana, or alternatively, to maximize the practice of vipassana.  A separate file is associated with this notation that reflects the question and answer period following the guided meditation, during which particular points of meditation practice were explored.

Jhana Or Vipassana On Retreat 2011

During this talk, Peter describes controversies and agreements about the role jhana practice has is cultivating vipassana practice.  He explains the progression from “acquiring the nimitta” (a noticeable sensation of touch or light arising from one-pointed concentration on the touch sensation at the nostrils) to the extraordinary state of mind called jhana.  The value of the increased mental acuity from jhana practice to the onset of vipassana practice was explained, compared to the advantages of beginning vipassana practice without first entering jhana (called “dry vipassana).