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Previous Considerations

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Before starting to deal with the method of reaching the jhānas, it is necessary to include a section of previous considerations.

Although, in principle, any healthy, normal, and well-fed person can do jhānas, there are factors that will make it difficult or even impossible to do so. Without going any further, let us remember the same Buddha who had to resort to rice pudding to correct the deficit in tyrosine and tryptophan that he suffered due to his poor and poorly balanced diet. But it is not the only thing.

These factors can be divided into chemical impediments and psychological impediments. Chemicals, in turn, will be due to food deficiencies or pharmacological interference. The psychological ones will either be those that affect the smile or the ability to concentrate.

To begin with, it is essential to have reserves in the body of tryptophan and tyrosine. Although tryptophan is an essential amino acid, tyrosine in certain cases cannot be synthesized. The first is the precursor of serotonin and the second of dopamine. The rest of the neurotransmitters can be synthesized by the body without the need for external inputs. The way of uptake of both amino acids is food as we saw in the importance of rice pudding.

On the other hand, there are substances that interfere with the production of certain neurotransmitters. This is the case of angiotensin blockers that inhibit the release of norepinephrine. Each case should be studied, reviewing the literature in search of this type of side effects.

Drugs, in general, interfere in an uncontrolled way with this system, their effects being unpredictable and unpleasant. Alcohol interacts in a particularly repulsive way, so its use is excluded. So much so that expert meditators develop a strong sensitivity to alcohol.

Regarding psychological impediments, there are those that affect the production of a genuine smile, or what is the same, the spontaneous and natural release of serotonin. This can be due to a multitude of previous traumas that must be treated individually by specialists.

The other type of impediment is that which affects concentration. Exercises such as the so-called "vipassana meditation" designed to destroy concentration make the aspirant unable to hold an object in mind for the time required by his compulsive desire to "let go." For these cases, therapies based on the repetition of complex mantras that force the mind to focus could be tried.

There are pathologies and bad habits that deviate from concentration. The casuistry is extensive but the diagnosis is very simple, if they cannot focus on an object for four or five minutes without getting lost, they have a problem.

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