Friday, October 30, 2020

A Quick Guide to Producing Bliss with Meditation

Here is a quick guide to producing bliss with meditation. For more complete instructions and information see my page on meditation on my web site. And please read this section on the dangers of meditation before you try the instructions below.

  • Sit comfortably the way you normally do.

  • Breath in a relaxing way, somewhat deeper and slower than normal. Relax and notice the pleasant feeling of relaxation as you inhale and exhale.

  • The feeling of relaxation is pleasant and if it makes you want to smile, go ahead and continue breathing with a half-smile. That's important because the nervous system is organized into networks of interconnected neurons that work together. Because they are interconnected, when some neurons in a network are activated, the other neurons in the same network become activated too. In this way, smiling triggers the "happy network". 

  • Be patient, let the feeling of wanting to smile come naturally from the pleasant feeling of relaxation, and let the bliss come naturally from the even more pleasant feeling that comes from relaxing and smiling. Be patient. Don't force it. If you feel the pleasant feeling of relaxation, that in itself is the seed of bliss and in a sense you already have bliss, so just let it grow naturally.

  • I find relaxation is more important than concentration. I think in terms of "access relaxation" not "access concentration". So doing relaxation exercises first is very helpful. I usually find bliss is immediately accessible using the above technique when I do these relaxation exercises first:

  • There are many things that can influence brain chemistry: stress, diet, etc. so if it doesn't work one day it might on another. Try it a few times and if it works sometimes don't be discouraged if it doesn't work every time.

  • One of the biggest obstacles is wanting to experience it too much, or trying too hard. So if you are sitting and feeling grumpy, stressed, or craving because it is not working, it is definitely not going to work under those conditions. Just meditate to relax, let go of your intention, desire, expectations. Tell yourself, "okay it's not working today I will just meditate and relax". If you feel the bad mood lift after that, it is a good sign, keep at it for a while longer. Once you have experience with this you know when you are doing it right and even if you don't feel bliss you know you are doing it right from the feel which is a big help in dispelling craving and attachment.

  • Another obstacle is the habit of suppressing or resisting emotions. There is a kind of a switch in the mind we use to turn off emotions. Most people are not conscious of when they do this. Usually it is because they want to suppress unpleasant emotions but it can also be used to suppress pleasant emotions for example if they don't want to appear to be gloating over a success.

    In order to produce pleasant emotions during meditation, you have to open the gate that allows emotions to flow. You may have to allow yourself to feel unpleasant emotions at the same time you produce pleasant emotions.

    In order to open your emotional gate, you have to stop resisting emotions. Let down any resistance or barriers you may have to emotions. Make sure there aren't any unpleasant emotions you are suppressing or resisting. It can also help if you think of something that causes you to feel an emotion such as love or happiness, but even allowing yourself to feel an unpleasant emotion without resistance or rejection can be used to open the gate.

    Once you feel some type of emotion, continue the relaxing meditation and notice the pleasant feeling of relaxation as you inhale and exhale, and smile if you feel like it.

A few of other suggestions: 

  • Try this when you are naturally happy. Meditate on the feeling of happiness. That should produce the feedback loop that produces intense bliss. Once you experience that, you understand what is involved and the rest will be easier. I don't think it is that good to routinely push the bliss to intense levels. I prefer to keep it at a constant low level - too much of anything, even bliss is tedious and might not be good for you.

  • Try after a meal because sometimes eating elevates your mood.

  • Try meditating lying down.

  • If you haven't eaten in a long time there is something called a "fasting high", where your mood is elevated from not eating. that can also help give you a boost.

  • Sleep deprivation can make you feel silly, that can give you a boost too (I am not  recommending intentional sleep deprivation).

  • Thinking of something you like can help make you want to smile.

  • Noticing the sensations in different parts of the body can also trigger bliss. Noticing the sensations in your lips might help. Or try turning your palms upward and imagining "energy" coming down into them from above.

  • Metta meditation is similar to the technique for producing bliss. Try thinking of someone you love and meditate on the feeling of love. If that feels nice, let yourself smile and focus on the feeling of pleasure and that can trigger bliss. Be patient.

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