There are three types of concentration that come with Samatha Bavana or Tranquility Meditation, they are:
- parikamma samadhi – preliminary concentration
- upacara samadhi – access concentration/ Proximate concentration
- appana samadhi – fixed concentration/ Ecstatic Concentration
- PARIKAMMA SAMADHI
Parikamma bhavana is the stage of doing the preliminary exercises. Some degree of one-pointedness or calmness is reached when focusing on the meditation object or Parikamma Nimitta (Initial or preliminary object).
- UPACARA SAMADHI
When it comes very close as if about to sink or merge with the object we may consider it as access concentration. By then one has overcome the hindrances as it is close to fixed absorption. but the Nivaranas or Five hinderances are not fully suppressed. The mind has reached a very subtle and sleeplike serene state. One has to be mindful to maintain the flow of meditational thoughts and yet not too energetic that it stirs it up to a restless state. At this state visions or images (Uggaha Nimitta) may creep in but one has to be mindful enough to not to deviate from the meditation. In this stage, a meditator visualize the Parikamma Nimitta more clearly than in the earlier state when eyes are closed and this is called Uggaha Nimitta (Visualized Image). The Visuddhimagga describes this state as a state when the barriers are broken. For an example: in metta meditation, that is, at that time one’s metta is developed to the state that one is as if one with the person. One cannot be said to have any less or more metta one has for oneself than another or a close one from a hostile one. As concentration develops, the object of mind likewise becomes more refined and steady. It may be very gross ideas of the person at preliminary concentration to fine, transparent-like visualisations at access concentration.
- APPANA SAMADHI
When the mind becomes fixed onto the object it sinks and merges into it to become as if one. This samadhi is developed by concentrating on the Uggaha Nimitta. The result is the development of a different form of consciousness called ( jhana citta ) absorption. Very often people say this is like falling into a state deeper than sleep. Yet on emerging one is aware that, at that period one is in bliss and clamness/ serenity. It has been claimed that the state is so sleep-like that one may not be aware that one has entered into it, especially when it first occurs in only very short moments. However with frequency it should become obvious. How long one takes to reach up to this level is very much of an individual capability. If we go into intensive meditation, it should not take too long. There are 4 types of these absorptions in Samatha bhavana. They are called the 1st jhana , 2nd jhana , 3rd jhana , and 4th jhana. In this Appana Samadi state five hindrances are supressed by five Jhana Angas (factors), they are:
- Kamacchanda (sense desires) – its inhibited by Ekaggata (one pointedness) Jhana Anga.
- Vyapada (hatred) – its inhibited by Piti (zest) Jhana Anga.
- Thina Middha (Sloth & Torpor) – its inhibited by Vitakka (initial application) Jhana Anga.
- Uddhacca Kukkucca (restlessness & worry) – its inhibited by Sukha (pleasant mental feelings) Jhana Anga.
- Vicikiccha (Doubts) – its inhibited by Vicara (Sustained application) Jhana Anga.
May all beings be well and happy and attain the fruits of Nibbana.