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Introduction to Jhana Meditation (Index)

Entering the Jhana levels during meditation is how Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) reached nibbana (Buddhist enlightenment). After becoming enlightened, Buddha continued to meditate in the Jhanas often. Buddha said that entering into Jhana was necessary for reaching the end of suffering (nibbana).

Below is an introduction to the topic of Jhana Meditation. Click a link to see our full article on each topic.

1. What Is Jhana Meditation?

Jhana meditation is a deep state of concentration and absorption achieved through a focused mental state.

It is possible to reach the Jhana states in less than a year with some people. In my own experience, Jhana came in far less than a year of a simple bare-bones practice of focusing on the breath for an average of 20 minutes per day.

Jhana Meditation begins by first focusing the mind on a sensory object. One can use any sense object, but the feeling of the breath at the nostrils is ideal for most people.

Please start with this introductory chapter What Is Jhana Meditation? to begin your journey into learning about this powerful, life-changing activity that anyone can do.

2. Origins of Jhana Meditation

Jhana practice was known in india before the Buddha was enlightened. However, none before him was known to have reached the end of suffering (nibbana) using the Jhanas as a tool to get there.

We explore the historical and cultural roots of Jhana meditation, tracing its origins to ancient Indian spiritual traditions, particularly within Buddhism and Hinduism in India.

Read more about the Origins of Jhana Meditation

3. Understanding Jhana States

In this chapter, we explain the concept of the Jhana states. We describe them as refined mental states characterized by specific factors we can be aware of as they occur.

Read more about Understanding the Jhana States

4. The Eight Jhanas

There are 4 initial “material” Jhanas – Jhana 1, 2, 3, 4. Beyond that are four more immaterial jhanas that don’t go by number, but which were described by Buddha by name/description. These are: 5 – The Realm of Infinite Space, 6 – The Realm of Infinite Consciousness, 7 – The Realm of Nothingness, and 8 – The Realm of Neither Perception or Non-Perception.

Initially, one moves through the Jhanas in order from the first to the eighth. It is easy to get stuck in one before you reach the eighth, and normal when it happens. Traversing the Jhanas in their entirety for the first time can take many weeks, months, or years of meditation sessions.

Perseverance is a trait that will serve you well if your goal is to attain Jhana and get through some or all of the levels.

Read a detailed description of each of The Eight Jhanas here.

5. Reaching Jhana Meditation by Different Traditions

The process to reach the Jhanas is a well-argued topic among practitioners, most of whom have never entered the first Jhana. Once you have gone through the Jhanas, you can explain to others how they can go through themselves and there is no doubt in your mind because you have done it.

People love to fall back on the Suttas or Visuddhimagga or this teacher or another, to tell other people how to reach the Jhanas and what is permitted and beneficial, and what is not.

It can be said that there are multiple traditions and paths and practices for reaching the stages of Jhana. Just because the Buddha found one way, does not exclude any other way for reaching them. The Jhanas themselves are remarkably well defined states that appear to be within each of us.

Read more about Jhana in Different Meditation Traditions for reaching Jhana here.

6. Benefits of Jhana Meditation

Why set a goal of reaching the Jhanas in the first place? The benefits of Jhana practice are vast.

Even before reaching the Jhanas, you begin changing in ways that help you deal with the stresses and trials of life easier, with more resilience, with less catastrophizing, and with a more balanced approach.

Jhana meditation helps to calm you in times of stress. You’ll have tools to see stress building in the mind, and you’ll be able to rationalize that the stress is self-created. The fear of future events is almost always entirely self-created and avoidable.

Your emotional states vary less after meditation, and far less after being in the Jhanas. The effect is subtle at first during meditation on the breath, but then as you reach the Jhana states, the effects are profound and mysterious and last for hours or even days after your Jhana meditation session.

Read more about the benefits of a regular meditation practice and in particular the almost magical effects in the Benefits of Jhana Meditation on your personality, your thinking process, your emotions, and your reactions.

7. Techniques for Entering Jhana

Though there are a few different ways to enter into the Jhanas, our experience is with one primary way that we believe to be the easiest method possible. We focus here on using the feeling of the breath at the nose as a focus point of our meditation until reaching 100% focused mind on the breath (Samadhi).

From that point, reaching Jhana is possible and even likely that Jhana 1 is just around the corner.

We don’t cover entering the Jhanas using visualization, audio prompting, using mobile apps, or loving-kindness meditation.

Read more about Techniques for Entering the Jhanas here.

8. Common Challenges in Jhana Practice

There are a multitude of problems that people encounter on the road to Jhana. Your practice may be wrong. You may be getting bad advice. Your mind may not be prepared. Your grasping at the goal may be too strong. You may not have developed your concentration on your object of meditation strongly enough.

There are so many things that can go wrong, and that can be changed to put you on a good path.

Read about “Common Challenges in Jhana Practice” and “10 Common Problems in Jhana.”

9. Preparing for the Jhanas

Reaching Jhana is rather difficult. That said, the process is easily outlined and isn’t complicated. The hard part is doing the work every meditation session so the mind gradually adapts and gives in to what you’re forcing it to do – slow down, and be silent. ‘Calming the monkey mind’ is essential in the first steps that will lead you to 100% concentration on the breath.

In addition to the simple steps I’ll outline in the link below, all Buddhist traditions insist that one needs to prepare through denial of the ‘hindrances’ for the Jhanas or you have no chance of reaching them. This is a hotly contested topic and we find ourselves on the other side of the argument.

Read more about Preparing for the Jhanas

10. Personal Experiences with Jhana

I’ve written pretty extensively about my own personal experiences with the 8 levels of Jhana. It’s best to go to my “About” page here and click the info you’d like to read about.

11. Jhana Meditation Retreats

Though there appear to be very few retreats focused specifically on this topic, there are plenty of meditation retreats that can lead to Jhana entry if you’re nearly there already with your practice.

Some people love meditation retreats of 7-10 days in length for their total immersion in the process and isolation from technology, family, and other distractions.

Read more about Jhana Meditation Retreats

12. Jhana Meditation Coaching

I recently began offering Jhana meditation coaching calls you can find out more about here.

Can a Jhana Meditation Coach Help You Reach it?

For years I got very few requests about helping someone reach Jhana in their meditative practice. Lately, post COVID really, there have been many people asking about whether I am also a Jhana coach.

Yes, a meditation coach can help you to reach Jhana by eliminating all of the extra activities you are probably doing in your practice, and by laser-focusing on the few things that are necessary to reach the subtle Jhana states.

I am now offering services as a Jhana coach via phone coaching calls to people across the globe. I have talked to some ex-monks and laypeople who spent time at Buddhist temples in the West and here in Asia. There is a greater demand for Jhana coaching now that more people are finding out about it.

Can you reach Jhana with a meditation coach?

I haven’t taught enough people yet to know what sort of success rate I’m getting after some meditation sessions about reaching Jhanas. It can take a year or more to reach the first Jhana. After the first, it shouldn’t take long to reach successive Jhana states 2 through 8.

Some people will get there. Others won’t. There is a dogged persistence that is necessary to win the game of Samadhi (100% focus on the breath) that not everyone will reach.

CAN everyone reach it if they persist?

I think so! I think it is an innate ability that is inside us… it just needs to be tapped. Once tapped, it flows freely and for anyone truly interested in it.

More Information About Jhana

Vern is a Jhana Meditation Coach who can help you get back on a good path or create a new path. All it takes is a 1-2 hour call. If you’d like more information, here’s a page about coaching we offer.

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