To clear the mind of past programming requires practice. It can't be done by wishing it to happen. The fastest and most trusted way is meditation, and the type of meditation that gets results quickly and surely is breath meditation.

As one concentrates on his or her breath for some time, the mind becomes calm and absorbs into the breath. While concentration is like hitting the outside of the breath, absorption is like becoming one with the breath.

Absorption is entering, what is called in Buddhism, the Bhavanga, or pure, unrestricted mind. Initially, it might be only a quick body jerk or movement, or the sensation of falling asleep although your head doesn't nod. Or losing time where an hour may go by yet the mind registers only a second or two. Or more normally, a sensation of the mind dropping from the head into the heart area.

As the meditator gets used to dwelling in the Bhavanga, things deepen. This is sometimes precluded by the sensation of a bright light "A thousand suns."

And in the more refined stages of the Bhavanga, no outside environment can be detected, no thought, no internal environment until one becomes used to dwelling in the Bhavanga. Within this Bhavanga can be nimitta and psychic powers. And within this Bhavanga is Appana Samadhi, and within Appana Samadhi is Jhana.

Jhana is the meditation that the Buddha insisted for all his monks as a preliminary practice leading to wisdom and insight. This concentration meditation leads to absorptions that sharpens the mind like a finely honed knife which when applied to outside circumstances not only sees everything anew, but penetrates into the truth of them. This is called insight or wisdom. This is the normal circumstances for sages and prophets, and can be attained by anyone who devots their life to mind development.

Many people naturally experience various factors of Jhana, or meditation in life, and it usually changes their lives. Without understanding what happened however, rarely is the experience deepened to the threshold of sainthood. Actually, many people have been "put away" as a result of a spiritual experience because neither medical or mental health care professionals have a clue about the inner spiritual life. It is sad.

If you want to embark upon Jhana practice, the first steps are easy to understand, but difficult to do consistently every day. But if you want to try, here is the first step. For subsequent steps, you would need to contact a teacher as your meditation deepens so that you would stay on track. Self teaching of Jhanas is not recommended.

Step 1. Sit quietly and clear your mind of thoughts. Bring your attention to where you can feel the incoming breath touch either the outside of the nostrils, the inside of the nostrils, or the upper lip.

Notice where the incoming air hits, for example, the inside of the nostrils. Concentrate on that spot where the breath is felt. Then begin counting with each inhale.

As you feel the sensation of the in breath at the nostrils, count "one." At the next in breath count "two." And so on up to "five." Then count again from "one" to "six." Then "one" to "seven, etc., all the way up to "ten.

After you can do this without losing count and getting lost in thoughts, then do it again, except now do it on the out breath. Beginning from one to five, and then up to ten as before. If you can do an entire cycle of counting in breaths and out breaths without getting lost in thoughts to the point that you lose count, you are ready for the next step. If you do happen to lose count, always begin again counting from the beginning (one to five).

Email me if you are successful in counting, and we will discuss your next step. This practice is not religious. It is mind development to the point of mind transcending itself, which then enters the spiritual realm which is non-denominational. It is the realm of transcendent insight, wisdom, peace and true happiness.

Here are a few details of how subsequent steps of Jhana should be practiced according to the Buddha, but without a teacher handy, it is very easy to get off track:

Jhana is made up of five Rupa (form) Jhanas and four Arupa (formless) Jahnas. These are all mental states in the Bhavanga.

Rupa Jhanas consist of Vitacca (focusing), Vichara (maintaining focus), *Piti (joy), Vedana (feeling, which is broken down into two - Sukkha (pleasant feeling), and Uppekha (neutral feeling of equanimity), and Ekaggata (one-pointedness, concentration, Samadhi)

*Piti can be physical feelings of rapture, manifesting as many different things. From weak rapture which only causes the hairs to raise on the body, to short rapture which causes occasional shaking or jerking of the body, or "thunder" from time to time, to rapture that explodes inside the body like waves, to rapture that makes the body jump to the sky or float, to fulfilling rapture that seems to be a huge flood of an ocean.

The first Rupa Jhana has all five factors present. As practice deepens, the mind automatically falls into the second Jhana, which only has four factors, eliminating Vitacca (Focusing). The mind falls into this new Jhana when it discovers that the first Jhana is too susceptible to the five hindrances and therefore seeks refuge in a higher Jhana. The mind does this repeatedly through the Jhanas as it discovers the previous Jhana's weaknesses or dangers.

The third Jhana eliminates Vichara ((maintaining focus). The fourth Jhana eliminates Piti (joy), leaving the fifth Jhana of . The fifth Jhana eliminates Vedana Sukkha (pleasant feeling), which is replaced by Uppekha (neutral feeling of equanimity). And the fifth Jhana of Uppekha (neutral feeling of equanimity), and Ekaggata (one-pointed ness, concentration, Samadhi).

The Arupa (formless) Jhanas all have the fifth Rupa Jhana factors (equanimity and concentration) as a base. The Four Arupa Jhanas are: Dimension of Infinite Space, Dimension of Infinite Consciousness, Dimension of Infinite Nothingness, and Dimension of Neither Perception nor Non-Perception.

Author's Bio: 

E. Raymond Rock (anagarika addie) is a meditation teacher at: and author of “A Year to Enlightenment:

His 30 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk.

He lived at Wat Pah Nanachat under Ajahn Chah, at Wat Pah Baan Taad under Ajahn Maha Boowa, and at Wat Pah Daan Wi Weg under Ajahn Tui. He had been a postulant at Shasta Abbey, a Zen Buddhist monastery in northern California under Roshi Kennett; and a Theravada Buddhist anagarika at both Amaravati Monastery in the UK and Bodhinyanarama Monastery in New Zealand, both under Ajahn Sumedho. The author has meditated with the Korean Master Sueng Sahn Sunim; with Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society in West Virginia; and with the Tibetan Master Trungpa Rinpoche in Boulder, Colorado. He has also practiced at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the Zen Center in San Francisco.