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With mental pliancy, you can effortlessly sustain exclusive attention and mindfulness, but physical pain and discomfort still limit how long you can sit. The bizarre sensations and involuntary movements that began in Stage Seven not only continue, but may intensify. With continuing unification of mind and complete pacification of the senses, physical pliancy arises, and these problems disappear.

It just means that the five physical senses, as well as the mind sense, temporarily grow quiet while you meditate. Obstacles: The primary challenge is not to be distracted or distressed by the variety of extraordinary experiences during this Stage of meditation: unusual, and often unpleasant, sensations, involuntary movements, feelings of strong energy currents in the body, and intense joy.

Simply let them be. Method: Practicing effortless attention and introspective awareness will naturally lead to continued unification, pacification of the senses, and the arising of meditative joy. With this mental and physical pliancy, you can sit for hours without dullness, distraction, or physical discomfort. With mental and physical pliancy comes meditative joy, a unique state of mind that brings great happiness and physical pleasure.

Obstacles: The intensity of meditative joy can perturb the mind, becoming a distraction and disrupting your practice. Method: Becoming familiar with meditative joy through continued practice until the excitement fades, replaced by tranquility and equanimity. Mastery: Consistently evoking mental and physical pliancy, accompanied by profound tranquility and equanimity. You enter Stage Ten with all the qualities of samatha: effortlessly stable attention, mindfulness, joy, tranquility, and equanimity.

At first these qualities immediately fade after the meditation has ended. But as you continue to practice, they persist longer and longer between meditation sessions. Eventually they become the normal condition of the mind. Because the characteristics of samatha never disappear entirely, whenever you sit on the cushion, you quickly regain a fully developed meditative state.

Once Stage Ten is mastered, the mind is described as unsurpassable. When you have mastered the final Stage of meditation, the many positive mental qualities you experience during meditation are strongly present even between meditation sessions, so your daily life is imbued with effortlessly stable attention, mindfulness, joy, tranquility, and equanimity.

We naturally tend to think of ourselves as the agent responsible for producing results through will and effort. We often believe we should be in control, the masters of our own minds. But that belief only creates problems for your practice. It will lead you to try to willfully force the mind into submission.

The 10 Stages of Meditation, according to Culadasa

When that inevitably fails, you will tend to get discouraged and blame yourself. In fact, while it may not be obvious, all our achievements originate from intentions. Consider learning to play catch. However, by sustaining the intention to catch the ball, after much practice, your arm and hand eventually performed the task whenever you wanted.

Instead, you just intend to catch the ball, and the rest follows. In exactly the same way, we can use intention to profoundly transform how the mind behaves. Intention, provided it is correctly formulated and sustained, is what creates the causes and conditions for stable attention and mindfulness.

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Intentions repeatedly sustained over the course of many meditation sessions give rise to frequently repeated mental acts, which eventually become habits of the mind. If your intention is strong, the appropriate responses will occur, and the practice will unfold in a very natural and predictable way. Once again, repeatedly sustained intentions lead to repeated mental actions, which become mental habits—the habits of mind that lead to joy, equanimity, and Insight.

However, by the time you reach Stage Eight and your meditations become completely effortless, it will be clear. While useful, the lists of goals, obstacles, skills, and mastery provided above can obscure just how simple the underlying process really is: intentions lead to mental actions, and repeated mental actions become mental habits.

Stage Five – Pleasant Mindfulness of Breathing

Refer to the earlier outline when you need to orient yourself within the context of the Stages as a whole, but look at the outline below whenever working through the individual Stages begins to feel like a struggle. Stage One Put all your effort into forming and holding a conscious intention to sit down and meditate for a set period every day, and to practice diligently for the duration of the sit. Nor can you force yourself to become aware that the mind is wandering.

Then, intend to engage with the breath as fully as possible without losing peripheral awareness. In time, the simple actions flowing from these three intentions will become mental habits. Also, intend to sustain peripheral awareness while engaging with the breath as fully as possible.


These three intentions and the actions they produce are simply elaborations of those from the previous Stage of medtiation. Stages Four through Six Set and hold the intention to be vigilant so that introspective awareness becomes continuous, and notice and immediately correct for dullness and distraction. These intentions will mature into the highly developed skills of stable attention and mindfulness as you move through later stages of meditation.

You overcome every type of dullness and distraction, achieving both exclusive, single-pointed attention and metacognitive introspective awareness.

21 Stages of Meditation | Ajai Alai Awakening

Stage Seven Everything becomes even simpler at this stage of meditation. Stages Eight through Ten Your intention is simply to keep practicing, using skills that are now completely effortless. In Stage Eight, effortlessly sustained exclusive attention produces mental and physical pliancy, pleasure, and joy.

In Stage Nine, simply abiding in the state of meditative joy causes profound tranquility and equanimity to arise. In Stage Ten, just by continuing to practice regularly, the profound joy and happiness, tranquility, and equanimity you experience in meditation persists between meditation sessions, infusing your daily life as well. As with planting seeds, at each Stage of meditation you sow the appropriate intentions in the soil of the mind.

Water these intentions with the diligence of regular practice, and protect them from the destructive pests of procrastination, doubt, desire, aversion, and agitation. These intentions will naturally flower into a specific series of mental events that mature to produce the fruits of our practice. Will a seed sprout more quickly if you keep digging it up and replanting it?

More detail on each of the stages

Getting annoyed with every instance of mind-wandering or sleepiness is like tearing up the garden to get rid of the weeds. Attempting to force attention to remain stable is like trying to make a sapling grow taller by stretching it.

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Chasing after physical pliancy and meditative joy is like prying open a bud so it will blossom more quickly. Be patient and trust in the process. Care for the mind like a skilled gardener, and everything will flower and fruit in due time. Posted July 1, Shan greatest post ever. Empty your head, fulfill your heart. Posted July 2, Leo Gura, gives the metaphor of finding a "gold nugget" when we start meditation and says eventually we will find a "gold mine". On that particular day, I reached the 4th level, I could see what he meant and wondered where he and others are on this scale are?

If anyone been to level 8, how much practice did you put in? I ask about time as I suspect unless we go for more than 60 minutes a day we may not progress beyond level 4 which helps me to be reals. Posted July 3, I am enlightened, being at stage 10 most of the time. I really don't see a difference between sitting meditation and the rest of the waking hours, it's the same, so I see every second as a meditation practice. I don't know how much practice I have put in hours but I have started meditating almost 4 years ago. That was the starting point, but the biggest gains were not gained trough that sitting period but by practicing being in awarness all of the time.

You think when you want to think otherwise you're just abiding in this eternal presence. If you want to be at stage 8 - 10, the best advice I could tell you is to be aware of your breath every second, don't even make a distinction between sitting meditation and the rest. Meditate for 40 minutes in the morning and after you finish the sitting, maintain the meditative state trough the day as long as possible by not even making a distinction between that sitting meditation and the rest of the day.

The mind has no answers and the heart has no questions. Posted July 3, edited. Wow, Shan. Okay, maybe stages in general. And now these two are combined. And I feel a stable bliss — with a certain texture to it. It's like how emotional ache feels similar to an actual physical ache. Bliss feels like silk — amazingly smooth, light and spacious. Often being cold is associated with being cruel but strangely, bliss feels cold. I think I'm in level 6 right now. And some birds chirping outside. And that's right now — where there are some parts of the day where I'm not as focused.

I can't seem to concretely remember a moment of what subtle dullness in stage 5 is — but it might be like how I practiced focusing on a book not just lightly but really trying to focus and understand in depth. Even drop to level 4 at times — hello, embarrassing memories. The funny thing about level 6 is that I can focus on things too deeply. When I switch to another object to focus on — it takes my mind a bit of time because it feels like I'm moving away from paradise that I've gotten from sustained attention.

Might be why I type long posts — I concentrate deeply and I'm not that good at turning it off at times. I almost got late to class because I gotten so absorbed in a book or even tell people to wait a bit as my mind loads to talk to them. I'm not sure I get this stage but metacognitve is another word for thinking about thinking.

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  • And I'm taking a guess that it means that I should be more aware at what my mind is focusing on rather than focusing without awareness. Also stage 7 says they gained the ability to focus to focus as broadly or deeply as they want. Which I don't right now. Shan, I haven't reached stage 8 but I did seem to surpass stage 4. Sometimes 40 minutes a day.

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    Sometimes 20 minutes. Sometimes an hour. Occasionally more than 2 hours.