Author Topic: What am I experiencing?  (Read 3237 times)

westhead

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What am I experiencing?
« on: December 06, 2010, 12:52:54 PM »
Hi folks

I'm new here so hi, and fairly new to meditation too - I've been practising about a year now, so I suppose it's early days...

I've been having some strange experiences lately, not while I'm meditating - it usually happens the next day. It's happened four times now, and I was hoping anyone familiar with this experience could shed some light on it?

Basically I'll be going about my daily business when I feel a sudden shift in my perspective. It's hard to describe but here goes: something happens in my mind, like I remember a fragment of a dream, then suddenly I feel heat around my heart - the room I'm in seems suddenly unfamiliar, like I'm seeing it for the first time. It's kind of scary but I go along with it. My senses seem heightened, then it subsides. Afterwards I feel calm, and I feel like I'm really inside my body. It happened on the way to work the other day and instead of worrying about the morning's meeting I sat fascinated with the other passengers, and marvelled about trains - goofy I know but it was a nice feeling :)

I'm pretty sure this is connected to my meditation practice. With each episode it feels sort of like my brain is being rewired.

Has anyone else experienced this? It'd be reassuring to know I'm not just going crazy!

Vivek

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    • Advaita & U Ba Khin's tradition
Re: What am I experiencing?
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2010, 01:08:20 PM »
Relax. You are not going crazy or anything. Just observe whenever this happens. This will pass.
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

westhead

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Re: What am I experiencing?
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2010, 01:30:24 PM »
That's reassuring, thanks - but I would like to understand more about it, does this happen to everyone?

Quardamon

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    • Teachers were: P.K.K. Mettavihari, Frits Koster, Nel Kliphuis. (In the line of Mahasi Sayadaw)
Re: What am I experiencing?
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2010, 01:43:59 PM »
Hello Westhead,

I do not know the experience you had, but I would say, it is a valid experience and you are handling it O.K. I've meditated daily the last four years - the last year twice a day. I do know from my own practice, that one can have experiences that are out of the ordinary.
As long as you deal with that fact in a sane way, there is no risk of going crazy, in my opinion. It is healthy to be interested, to ask yourself and others what has happend, and not to bother too much. From what you write, I understand that that is what you are doing.

Do you have a class that you attend? Do you read a bit now and then about the method that you follow?

I guess that friends that I had long ago would regard this as a past life experience knocking at your door. That could feel like remembering a fragment of a dream. (But investigating past lives is a path I never persued myself.)
Fascination with other passsengers, marvelling at the trains, would then be incarnating more. That is: it would be a sing, that the person that you were in a past live is connecting to the live that you have now. And connecting to the live that you have now is a good thing. Being in the heart is also a good thing, so that would be the gift to the person that you are now.
I hope I did not scare you. I would have done you wrong then. I am just trying to sketch in what a mind I myself would recieve such an experience. Like: 'Oh, that could be such and such. O.K. Nothing wrong with that. Interesting, in fact.'

Be well,

Quardamon

westhead

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Re: What am I experiencing?
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2010, 02:02:49 PM »
Hi Quardamon

Thanks for your reply - it's an interesting idea, past lives and such. Don't worry you haven't frightened me :) I'd like to learn more about it though...

I haven't read much about about meditation, I've been compelled to explore it after an experience I had when I was really ill a few years back. I was in constant stomach pain for about a month due to a chromic bowel disease, so I was basically shut away in my room, trying to empty my mind and focus on my breathing so i could fall asleep to escape the pain. I realise now I was meditating without realising it. Not long afterwards I had a life changing experience which I believe was a direct result of that.

I'm trying to get back to how I was after that experience, unburdened with everyday trivial concerns, and I believe meditation can help me to achieve that. I started by listening to Echart Tolle's audio books, which led me to Jon Kabat-Zinn and then eventually Gil Fronsdal. I'm at a point now where I'd like to discuss my experiences, so I joined this board :)

Quardamon

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    • Teachers were: P.K.K. Mettavihari, Frits Koster, Nel Kliphuis. (In the line of Mahasi Sayadaw)
Re: What am I experiencing?
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2010, 06:32:39 PM »
Hello Westhead,

Sounds like you are at a good place to be, here at the forum. Welcome.
In reaction to what you write now, I'll give my own two cents, in a tone as if I know:
You should please keep in mind, that your life changing experience came in some connection with constant pain and with you focussing.
So to speak: there are two sides to the coin, and there is you handling the coin.
There is the beautiful side, the side that one wants; and there is the awful side, the side that one does not want. In my view of life, they come together.
It is more attractive to go for the beautiful side (first), and then find out about the ugly side later. In a sense, it is easier to be confronted with the ugly side first: you are rewarded for digging deeper and for keeping your interest alive by finding the beautiful side.
Again: this is my view of life. I cannot claim it is an objective truth.

To my understanding, meditation helps to be at ease with a broader set of human experiences. More at ease with the attractive, and more at ease with the unattractive.

See you - or rather: read you,

Quardamon

rideforever

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Re: What am I experiencing?
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2010, 07:39:31 PM »
Hi westhead

I have similar experiences.  It often happens at night lying in my bed, suddenly there is a shift in my perception and every-thing is different.

Recently I started calling it 'separation', because I believe it is at that point that I become separated from my mind and perceive things without the filter of the mind.  The labels and qualities that the mind would 'paint' on the world disappear and I experience objects (and myself) directly. 

Things are bright and intense and empty of all descriptions. 

The sudden disappearance of the veil is the shift.

This started happening after an intensive satori retreat.  And now I can summon it at will be focussing closely on my perception.

Personally I find it terrifying, probably because some childhood trauma is caught in it.  So I think you are lucky to be able to receive it fully - also, your heart is involved (feels warm) so it seems to be quite an embodied experience for you, very good - how far can you allow the experience ?

My understanding is that all these experiences beautiful or ugly are transcended on the path.


westhead

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Re: What am I experiencing?
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2010, 10:43:11 PM »
"I become separated from my mind and perceive things without the filter of the mind."

Yes! That's exactly how it feels - and it is terrifying, like I'm being disconnected and i have to choose between letting go of my mind forever, or continuing to be myself.

It also happens to me now and then when waking from a dream - this is when it's scariest, like I'll never find my way home.

I'm not sure this is the way I wan to be heading though, if this is where my practice leads me - i don't know, it sort feels like tampering with something when i shouldn't be.

kidnovice

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    • Theravada: with nuts and bolts from Goenka-ji, and fine tuning from Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Re: What am I experiencing?
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2010, 11:23:31 PM »
Welcome to the fruits of practice. :) Personally, I don't think you will gain much by looking for the story for your experience.  I suspect that you already know that you are not going "crazy." It seems pretty obvious that you are experiencing something positive and skillful.  If you study your deeper intentions, you may find that you are simply excited about these shifts in consciousness, and out of your excitement you are looking for ways to see the experience and yourself as "special."

Perhaps you are not doing that, but I have done it more time than I can possibly count, so I decided to propose the possibility that you might be doing the same.  ;D As fun as it might be, it gets in the way. Trust me.

Instead, focus your energies on maintaining your meditation practice-- with emphasis on cultivating those qualities that you recognize as leading to happiness. (such as the experiences you've been having). 

Personally, experiences like yours were fairly common for me in the beginning of my practice. They still happen occasionally, but less frequently. I am not sure if I've simply habituated to the shifts, or simply mellowed with age. Or maybe its because its been so long since I used hallucinogens?  ;) (I'm only half kidding). But as the years go by, and my practice continues, I notice that I experience fewer emotional rollercoasters (even the exciting ones). Peace becomes more predominant. Of course, when I'm on retreat, all bets are off.

With metta,
KN
May we cultivate the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the compassion to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

kidnovice

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    • Theravada: with nuts and bolts from Goenka-ji, and fine tuning from Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Re: What am I experiencing?
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2010, 11:27:05 PM »
It is more attractive to go for the beautiful side (first), and then find out about the ugly side later. In a sense, it is easier to be confronted with the ugly side first: you are rewarded for digging deeper and for keeping your interest alive by finding the beautiful side.
Again: this is my view of life. I cannot claim it is an objective truth.

To my understanding, meditation helps to be at ease with a broader set of human experiences. More at ease with the attractive, and more at ease with the unattractive.


You are pointing to something really beautiful here, Q. Thanks
May we cultivate the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the compassion to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

westhead

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Re: What am I experiencing?
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2010, 09:56:21 AM »
Thanks for taking the time to respond kidnovice, that rings very true to me. I suppose I am getting a kick out of hoping it's something which marks me out as 'special' like you say, but it's not my aim :) what I really want is an unshakable sense of peace and contentment, and I do feel that I'm making small steps in that direction - I guess that hoping it'll happen in a flash is wishful thinking! I think the real areas of progress for me at this early stage are not recalling instructions on how to meditate, and letting go of any notions of what meditation is - now when I meditate I don't label it as such, I'm just resting and watching, that's enough for now :)