Jhana FAQs

What is jhāna?

Jhānas are states of deep concentration and meditative absorption that develop when attention is focused on suitable meditative objects. Jhāna practices create conducive conditions for penetrative insight into the nature of mind-body experience, thus facilitating awakening. Four states of absorption, called the first jhāna, second jhāna, third jhāna, and fourth jhāna, are characterized by sequentially [...]

2019-01-04T21:37:51-08:00January 4th, 2019||

Is jhāna a necessary foundation for vipassanā practice, or for liberation?

Jhāna is tremendously useful, but not necessary for insight meditation practice. Jhāna offers many benefits, however. It produces a joyful, happy, stable mind; it strengthens focused attention, balances energy, and develops refined meditative skills. The early discourses of the Buddha tell us that concentration develops a mind that is malleable, wieldy, imperturbable, and "fit for [...]

2019-01-04T21:37:00-08:00January 4th, 2019||

Where can I learn to practice jhāna meditation to develop concentration?

Shaila Catherine leads meditation retreats throughout the year in various locations in the USA and internationally. However, she only introduces students to jhāna practice at retreats that are explicitly designated as jhāna or concentration retreats. At most other retreats, Shaila teaches a blend of concentration and insight without the particular instructions that would lead to [...]

2019-01-04T21:31:19-08:00January 4th, 2019||

What qualifies Shaila Catherine to teach jhāna and insight meditation?

Shaila Catherine is known for the depth of her practice, her sustained dedication to meditative development, and the clarity of her teaching style. She is adept at teaching the subtle nuances of jhāna practices and renowned for her skill at making the detailed traditional methods accessible to contemporary lay practitioners. Shaila began meditation practice in [...]

2019-01-04T21:27:54-08:00January 4th, 2019||

Are there any pre-requisites for attending Shaila’s jhāna retreats?

In general, attendance at the jhāna retreats requires prior silent retreat experience, substantial self-reliance and self-discipline, and some skill in working with the hindrances. Specific requirements will be provided in the registration information. Students who attend Shaila's local programs may be exempt from these pre-requisites and may approach these retreats as a first taste of [...]

2019-01-04T21:26:58-08:00January 4th, 2019||

What can I expect to experience at Shaila’s intensive concentration and jhāna retreat?

Although instruction in jhāna practices will be a vivid element of the retreat, no one should "expect" to enter jhāna, and jhāna is not always the best approach for everyone. At these retreats we cultivate conducive conditions and develop meditative skills—we don't judge our success by whether or not we actually entered jhāna. Most participants [...]

2019-01-04T21:24:51-08:00January 4th, 2019||

How quickly does jhāna develop?

Some students quickly develop concentration and jhāna; others develop gradually. Shaila teaches a rigorous and nuanced approach to jhāna concentration, but her teaching style is gentle, joyful, and patient. Shaila's emphasis is not merely on the attainment of jhāna, but on developing mental skills. While jhāna can produce highly concentrated states in which the mind [...]

2019-01-04T21:22:19-08:00January 4th, 2019||

What happens after one attains the four jhānas? How does Shaila develop the training post-jhāna?

After the fourth jhāna is well established, meditators may choose to deepen their concentration and refine their skills by establishing jhānas using other meditation subjects. Or they can explore formless and immaterial states based on the perception of infinite space, the perception of infinite consciousness, the perception of nothingness/emptiness, and an ultra-subtle perception that is [...]

2019-01-04T21:21:20-08:00January 4th, 2019||

If I register for Shaila’s intensive jhāna retreat, will I be expected to only practice jhāna or mindfulness with breathing?

Mindfulness with breathing represents the core of the group instructions. However, Shaila presents the jhāna instructions in the context of a wider and more flexible view of the liberating path. Many additional practices and teachings are offered through group and individual instructions in order to cultivate conducive conditions for concentration and insight. It is not [...]

2019-01-04T21:18:45-08:00January 4th, 2019||

Can I learn jhāna meditation at other retreats that Shaila teaches in the USA and abroad?

Shaila will usually respond to questions about concentration and jhāna during any retreat, but she only teaches the specifics of jhāna practice at retreats that are described and advertised to include jhāna instructions. It is understood that meditators may, at various times in their meditation history, experience absorptive states, even without intentionally doing jhāna practice. [...]

2019-01-04T21:17:55-08:00January 4th, 2019||

How does Shaila’s approach to jhāna meditation differ from that of other contemporary jhāna teachers?

A variety of meditation teachers now teach jhāna and concentration practice in the USA, Asia, and internationally. Different approaches, meditation objects, and teaching styles may be more or less suitable for different practitioners. Some teachers accept rather light states of heightened joy as a jhāna attainment; other teachers do not use the term jhāna until [...]

2019-01-04T21:17:03-08:00January 4th, 2019||

Is Shaila’s approach compatible with other approaches to jhāna?

Some methods that are promoted by other teachers are very compatible and students will find no conflict when working with both Shaila and another teacher. However, some approaches to jhāna promoted by other teachers are distinctly incompatible with Shaila's approach. If you are deeply engaged in another approach to jhāna, and are uncertain if her [...]

2019-01-04T21:16:22-08:00January 4th, 2019||

Does Shaila Catherine teach according to Pa-Auk Sayadaw’s method?

Shaila has undertaken extensive training in both samādhi and vipassanā practices guided by Pa-Auk Sayadaw. She has twice completed his vipassanā course. Her book Wisdom Wide and Deep introduces western practitioners to this methodical approach to jhāna and vipassanā. Shaila is therefore well versed in this method, her teaching is compatible with this training, and [...]

2019-01-04T21:15:18-08:00January 4th, 2019||

Does Shaila offer individual consultations outside of retreats?

Shaila works with a limited number of students between retreats through telephone consultations. To qualify for personal guidance, you must have attended a Bodhi Retreats retreat and have the intention to attend another in the future. Shaila does not offer personalized training for meditators who have not attended her intensive retreats. It is at those [...]

2022-12-31T09:07:38-08:00January 4th, 2019||


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