Author Topic: Weird Energy Problem Preventing Meditation  (Read 5463 times)

ommanipadmehum

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Weird Energy Problem Preventing Meditation
« on: August 16, 2013, 02:11:39 AM »
Forgive me for jumping straight in but has anyone ever heard of this or know of a teacher who might have a solution?

I started sitting regularly doing what I thought was following the breath a year ago but I now understand I was focusing concentration on my hands.  I gradually started to feel a magnetic pulling sensation between the hands and at the time believed it was a sign of progress.  A few months down the road, I received proper Anapanasati instructions and switched from focusing attention on my hands to right under the nose.  After a few moments of doing this, it was like a ball of energy moved into my head. 

I could feel the exact same ball of magnetic energy moving around.  It would go into my eye sockets, in the middle of my head, my teeth, move all around on its own but not go away.  Sometimes it moved to my abdomen and then reappeared later at the head.  I would meditate again if I could figure out how to make it not appear. 

No one I have spoken to in the Theravada tradition knows what I'm talking about so they couldn't advise me.  I consulted a Qi Gong instructor who gave me a few grounding techniques to release excess energy that work a little but only for a few minutes.   

In the long term, sticking with one technique and staying grounded appears to be the way to go.  I was freaking out for a few weeks but finally realized if I don't "feed it" it doesn't reappear very much.

The only problem is it still makes it impossible for me to meditate so I had to quit.  Every now and again when I try, i get the same thing in my head firing up again.   
« Last Edit: August 16, 2013, 02:54:15 AM by ommanipadmehum »
"A little bit of insight brings a little bit of calm, and a little bit of calm brings a little bit of insight."
 --Ayya Khema

redalert

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Re: Weird Energy Problem Preventing Meditation
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2013, 09:01:19 PM »
Why exactly does this energy prevent you from meditating?

If you focus your attention on the breath and this energy arises, why can you not let it be and remain focused on the breath?


ommanipadmehum

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Re: Weird Energy Problem Preventing Meditation
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2013, 02:13:33 AM »
That's a great question.  It's overwhelming, a lot of energy wells up and just when I think i'm going to get a piti surge it funnels into my head and starts to fee like i'm going to pop an eye out.  When I come out I'm dizzy and fuzzy. 

Unfortunately none of the meditation manuals I have mention anything remotely similar.  I'm taking a peek into some books I wouldn't normally delve into, getting advice like "surround yourself with white light", etc.  None of it works but I'll keep trying.
"A little bit of insight brings a little bit of calm, and a little bit of calm brings a little bit of insight."
 --Ayya Khema

Matthew

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Re: Weird Energy Problem Preventing Meditation
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2013, 08:28:19 AM »
Hi Jason,

The first meditation I undertook was untrained and came from Sogyal Rinpoche's 'The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying'. It was a practice called Tonglen or 'Sending and Receiving'which consisted of breathing in and out, on the in-breath taking in the suffering of the world and on the out-breath sending out peace to all who suffer.

The results, within 20 minutes, were surprising: I experienced an energy coursing through my body and especially in my spine. It felt very overwhelming. I stopped and then tried the practice again to see if the result could be reproduced (born scientist :D). It could but it was not an outcome described in the book so I stopped it there. It was not unpleasant but my guess was that on some level my approach to the practice was faulted, probably due to a lack of grounding in meditation. I am not a new-age type but for want of a better word I would say this was a manifestation of kundalini or life-force, magnified or concentrated by the way I did that practice.

It's easy and seductive to get drawn to reproducing such manifestations or be put off practice by them.

You mention being taught Anapana at the nostrils. This is probably something that comes from a mistranslation of the Pali word Paramukham, which could be read as 'around the face', literally in the sense of physically around the face, or could be read as 'to fully face', as in to be fully mindful of. The second makes better sense of the meditation sutras. It's also in line with what the Buddha actually taught:

Quote

Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.' Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.' He trains himself, I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.' Just as a skilled turner or his apprentice, when making a long turn, discerns, 'I am making a long turn,' or when making a short turn discerns, 'I am making a short turn'; in the same way the monk, when breathing in long, discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long' ... He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.'

Maybe rather than trying to learn about this particular manifestation of energy you are experiencing, which I note you find troublesome, you could experiment with practising the way the Buddha taught to gain the proper grounding.

The instruction above includes two specifics: 'breathing .. sensitive to the entire body', not your nose, toes or belly, but the whole body, not any conceptualised idea of the body, but the actual physical sensations; and 'calming bodily fabrications' which invites you to be indifferent to the phenomena you've experienced and let it go, calm it.

Many people have discovered that trying this works better for them as a starting point for mindfulness meditation. It might be something you would benefit from. It grounds you in the experience of the body, calms body and mind and develops concentration without being too tight.

Something about the way you are practising now is unbalanced leading to this experience and difficulty meditating. Time to ride another way, I'd suggest.

Kindly,

Matthew

PS from the homepage there is a link to an article on Shamatha/calm abiding mediation that starts from this and gives more detail, how to deal with thoughts, etc.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

redalert

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Re: Weird Energy Problem Preventing Meditation
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2013, 12:37:40 PM »
  It's overwhelming, a lot of energy wells up and just when I think i'm going to get a piti surge it funnels into my head and starts to fee like i'm going to pop an eye out.  When I come out I'm dizzy and fuzzy. 


The tradition that I practice teaches us to observe this energy with a calm balanced mind.  Through this we see that this energy is impermanent(annica), it is always in a flux and flow, there is no stability to it, it is constantly changing.

Because this energy is constantly changing it is ultimately unsatisfactory(dukka).

Through constant observation of the changing nature of this phenomenon we see that this is not "I" there is no permanent self to cling to(anatta).

Jason, it is natural for us to become overwhelmed by this energy during practice. When we begin to practice and first begin to experience this energy at a deeper level we are naturally drawn to this(clinging). The clinging or desire for things to remain as we would like them to be, and not as they are is the cause of our suffering.

If you wish to further develop concentration then work with the breath at subtler and subtler levels and ignore this energy(don't give it any importance). The nasal area is an excellent area for this. If you wish to develop wisdom then you must observe this flow of energy within the framework of your body.

I practice vipassana as taught by S.N. Goenka and can highly recommend this tradition to teach you to do this. This tradition is however not for everyone, perhaps check it out and see if it resonates with you.

There can be many difficulties and traps that one can encounter while walking this path and one does not want to get into the habit of mixing different techniques.

Kind regards,
Red

Quardamon

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Re: Weird Energy Problem Preventing Meditation
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2013, 09:02:25 PM »
Hello Jason,

Feeling a ball of energy between my hands (with the palms facing each other) is something that that I have experienced. It was part of a basic exercise to do energy healing. I can still do it. With training one can feel this stronger, and with a greater distance between the hands. The idea was, that it helps to bring good energy into the body of someone else, by laying-on of hands. (One could do it on one's own body also.)

A few months down the road, I received proper Anapanasati instructions and switched from focusing attention on my hands to right under the nose.  After a few moments of doing this, it was like a ball of energy moved into my head. 
    And it is obvious that you do not like that effect and that you cannot handle it while meditating.
To put it blunt, but clear: If instructions bring you into a situation that you cannot handle, then the instructions are not proper for you, in your situation. Even if they helped thousands of others. (Maybe it would be OK if you had a teacher at your side that would be able to handle you, but that is not the case on this forum.)

I was freaking out for a few weeks but finally realized if I don't "feed it" it doesn't reappear very much.
To be honest, to me that sounds reassuring. You learned something about the coming and going of this energy.

On a retreat in the vipassana style of Mahasi Sayadaw, there were two or three days that I felt a subtle but strong energy go through my body that I could not steer or stop. My teacher taught me to keep my attention away from that energy. (Focus on the whole body, or sitting and resting, for instance.) That way, I could go on meditating. The energy subsided.

In the long term, sticking with one technique and staying grounded appears to be the way to go.
Why do you say that? To me it seems that you are explaining clearly why you should not stick to this technique.

I'll go back to where you started:
I started sitting regularly doing what I thought was following the breath a year ago but I now understand I was focusing concentration on my hands. 
I cannot help but wonder: Why did you - involuntarily - focus on the hands. You did that for one year. So there must be something important about the hands.
What are hands to you? What happens when you put your hands on your belly? What happens when you take one foot of yours in two hands?

If the Qi Gong helps a few minutes, then it is at any rate better than sitting meditation. But maybe Qi Gong will not give you what you expect from meditation.

Why would you want to meditate in the first place? (For some, at some time in their lives, it is not the proper thing to do.)

Stay relaxed!

ommanipadmehum

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Re: Weird Energy Problem Preventing Meditation
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2013, 08:12:27 PM »
Thanks for all the advice.  I have asthma and trying to focus on the breath at the nose activated my asthma when i first started.  Then I began to notice the magnetic feeling at the hands early on and switched to it instead of the breath nimitta.  That was a huge mistake.  Over a year later I finally realized I can breath so as not to cause asthma.  But now I have this self-induced kung fu psychic attack thing to deal with... 

I definitely see now a benefit to having a human instructor present to answer basic questions regarding what sensations are normal and what should be avoided.  I'm in it for the long haul. 

But in the interim, do you think QiGong would help cure my immediate issue?

Does anyone know the sanskrit or pali word for the magnetic feeling?
"A little bit of insight brings a little bit of calm, and a little bit of calm brings a little bit of insight."
 --Ayya Khema

Quardamon

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Re: Weird Energy Problem Preventing Meditation
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2013, 09:21:59 PM »
OK. Do I understand well, that when the asthma was activated, you felt fear?
If so, did you acknowledge the fear before going back to the awareness of the breath?
My fantasy is, that you wanted to keep things well in hand. (If that is so, it should ring a bell right now.)
If I personally meet with fear, I like to go to a more bodily feeling, and to go lower in my body. I try to avoid being in my head and having much thoughts at the moments that fear knocks on the door.
(Maybe that is a personal thing, I do not know.)
I do not know QiGong from my own experience, but I do know Tai chi chuan, which seems to be comparable.
I agree that having a human instructor that can touch your body would be helpful.

A thing I would try with the magnetic feeling is giving it away - to a large natural stone, or to a tree, or to the earth. Not to get rid of it, but as a gift. (I suppose that this falls in the category of things that you would normally not delve into. ;) ) You called it "excess energy" and maybe that is a usable description.  And maybe it is not, but it is worth a try.

By the way, it is great that you realized you can breath so as not to cause asthma.

ommanipadmehum

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Re: Weird Energy Problem Preventing Meditation
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2013, 04:29:32 AM »
@Quardamon - giving the excess energy to the earth as a gift - that has been a great technique!  When I feel it build up, I'm able to dissipate it in this way.  Particularly by imagining the energy passing directly from my head to the ground, or even to a wooden desk and into the floorboards.  My mistake before was trying to let the energy pass through my body and then to the ground which was completely ineffective.  Directly from the localized place of energy out of the body and let it fall to the ground is what worked.  Thank you!

Also, the last few days I've had great success with grounding mindfulness in body awareness, specifically in the hands and legs - throughout the day.  Then I'm able to sit for ten minutes in the evening without any symptoms.  I've really been trying to not generate any excess energy of any kind and stay with the physical sensations of the legs and feet and that has helped too.  I think I had been training myself to be 'amped up' all the time, so I had to unlearn my own mumbo jumbo I created by trying too hard - striving.

With the asthma, yes, fear and overt symptoms of asthma were both problematic.  Hard to breathe, chest blocked up, using my meds a lot.  I didn't think about working with the fear several months ago because I physically locked up - so I immediately stopped trying.  I think you're right, when fear is present it's helpful to practice body awareness.  I must have gotten better at it because I finally realized I can just ignore the chest and that is the primary method to prevent asthma, for me at least.  Breath through the abdomen and pretend the chest isn't there - prevent it from moving and becoming involved.

@Matthew - Thanks for sharing!  I'm sure I was overdoing it and wasn't evaluating what was happening because I just assumed something "should" be happening.  Little did I consider, slightly boring is normal and perfectly ok.

I will continue practicing in this manner but I will post any follow up information I receive that is useful in case it helps anyone else.  If anyone has other suggestions or remedies/anecdotes you've heard please feel free to add them.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2013, 04:31:44 AM by ommanipadmehum »
"A little bit of insight brings a little bit of calm, and a little bit of calm brings a little bit of insight."
 --Ayya Khema

CameronJ

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Re: Weird Energy Problem Preventing Meditation
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2013, 06:43:29 AM »
I've really been trying to not generate any excess energy of any kind and stay with the physical sensations of the legs and feet and that has helped too.  I think I had been training myself to be 'amped up' all the time, so I had to unlearn my own mumbo jumbo I created by trying too hard - striving.
...
I just assumed something "should" be happening.  Little did I consider, slightly boring is normal and perfectly ok.

Here are some fun quotes in a characterization of the meditative path along the above lines:

I think Chogyam Trungpa described meditation as the most boring thing imaginable for the reason you've stated. And a popular quote of his: "Enlightenment is the ego’s ultimate disappointment." Meditation as not doing...shedding layer upon layer of excess energy, witnessing the grossest (least subtle) manifestations fall away with each layer shed until eventually nothing is happening. As Adyashanti says, the ultimate reward is a "big goose egg".

Or along the lines of both relational quantum mechanics (RQM) and Buddhist philosophy, phenomena don't just happen to us; it's a two-way street in that reality out there, if such a thing exists, must be met by willing consciousness for phenomena to occur. Hence the characterization of existence as a "cosmic joke". In this view, everything experienced is, in part, mumbo jumbo because everything experienced is inevitably shaped by the ego seeking out phenomena in a particular form...individual fantasy. When the ego is released, there is nothing.

ommanipadmehum

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Re: Weird Energy Problem Preventing Meditation
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2013, 06:33:48 PM »
Thanks Cameron, that makes good sense.  I've always liked Chogyam Trungpa.  There is a documentary on Netflix called Crazy Wisdom I recently watched and remembered how interesting he was. 

I received another instruction to help reduce the energy that I "think" is helping. 
 
1. Lay down
2. Imagine your body sinking into the earth, like memory foam


I'm still on the look out for a "cure" for my kung fu syndrome.  If anyone has heard of anything please feel free to post here or PM me. 

Thanks,
"A little bit of insight brings a little bit of calm, and a little bit of calm brings a little bit of insight."
 --Ayya Khema

ommanipadmehum

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Re: Weird Energy Problem Preventing Meditation
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2013, 01:52:15 PM »
I also found the above instruction in a list in Robert Bruce's book Energy Work that recommends ways to reduce excess energy that has built up.  This is quoted from page 79:
Quote
  • Avoid focusing body awareness on your energy body.
  • Eat something substantial.
  • Perform physical exercise such as walking, jogging, swimming, et cetera.
  • Lie on the ground and feel and imagine energy draining away.
  • Take a nap or go to bed for the night.
  • Take a cool shower.
  • Avoid energy work until sensations cease.
He explains the lying down technique in more detail on page 118.  I think it's helping but I'm not sure. Going to the gym regularly has helped a lot.

It's an incredibly informative book about energy and he has other books on astral projection (out of body experience), among others.  I own them because he does an amazing job of explaining them in modern English with very little jargon.   

But it should be pointed out that energy work and samadhi / samatha are incompatible.  You really can't do both at the same time.  Practice one or the other.  I found this recommendation in a meditation training pamphlet our sangha's nun recommended I read.
"A little bit of insight brings a little bit of calm, and a little bit of calm brings a little bit of insight."
 --Ayya Khema

ommanipadmehum

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Re: Weird Energy Problem Preventing Meditation
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2013, 04:14:30 AM »
This has turned into somewhat of a monologue but I wanted to keep following up for anyone who has to deal with this as well. 

The lying down instructions did not benefit me.  Every time I tried it I felt the sensations I was trying to minimize increase.  But it's possible I was doing it wrong.

However an extremely kind and receptive person in the form of our local buddhist nun found instructions that have greatly helped reduce my symptoms. 

Excerpted and abbreviated from, "The Two Paths to Enlightenment" by Maha Prasert Jittasettho p.62.  If you do not have competency in vipassana:

Quote
Open your eyes and let your mind pleasantly follow your senses.  Don’t let your mind wander or be distracted by external stimuli.  Also don’t let your mind linger on the spot where the feeling of heaviness has developed, e.g., head or chest.  Try to distract your mind from the feeling of heaviness.  Lighten it, free it.  Get up and walk around or occupy yourself with chores.  The most important point is not to let your mind focus attention on the heaviness.  If it feels heavy, ignore it.  After some practice, the feeling of heaviness should gradually disappear. As the feeling of heaviness lessens, the feeling of lightness should take its place.  When lightness occurs, try to stay with it.  After a while you should experience Piti.

That's it!  These are the instructions for healing what he calls "mental power" or that heavy, magnetic, oppressive feeling that is the opposite of piti and sukha which are based solely on lightness of being.  I have only been doing this for a week and a half and it has helped a lot.  I hope this helps others who have also been trying to find a cure.
"A little bit of insight brings a little bit of calm, and a little bit of calm brings a little bit of insight."
 --Ayya Khema

vd007

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Re: Weird Energy Problem Preventing Meditation
« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2013, 07:52:49 PM »
I suffer from excess energy in my head. I have been suffering for years. The problem is in majority of occasions, the energy is so intense that you cannot take your mind completely out of it to involve yourself in chores. Its so overwhelming it practically impossible to take your mind off it.

In other circles they call it the kundalini energy. I have tried various medications and they seem to either not help or make it worse. I've read Robert bruce's book too. I found it useless.

There seems to be no way out of it. I got involved with tantirc sex and this energy overload started. I've stopped it for years now but once this energy is stirred, it just takes it own course and one cannot do anything about it. 


Dharmic Tui

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Re: Weird Energy Problem Preventing Meditation
« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2013, 08:05:56 PM »
I too have tension or energy in my head. Regular practice has helped reduce it, as did cutting dairy out from my diet. I feel a large part of it is somatic.

ommanipadmehum

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Re: Weird Energy Problem Preventing Meditation
« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2013, 03:52:28 AM »
Certain medications like prescription steroids (prednisone and others) make it worse.  But if you need them to get over an illness, finish the medicine first.  Then go back to curing the energy problem.

It's very important not to try to "push" it around or move it somewhere else.  Try to distract yourself from it.  Relax your face, neck and shoulders.  Feel your feet on the ground.  Physical exercise like walking or riding a bike can help a lot. 

Have compassion for yourself.  Sometimes you have to say "this is what suffering feels like".  But remember, you're either walking, standing, sitting or lying down.  Keep it simple and stay positive.  You can choose positive attitudes over negative ones.  That alone can work wonders. 
"A little bit of insight brings a little bit of calm, and a little bit of calm brings a little bit of insight."
 --Ayya Khema

 

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