Author Topic: Looking for some insight into something I'm experiencing during meditation  (Read 101 times)

Diogenes

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    • Mindfulness
Hi everyone,

I’m (relatively) new to meditation and am hoping to get some insight from some more experienced practitioners on something that I’m experiencing during my meditations (as well as during my everyday life since I've begun practicing in earnest).

More specifically, I’m experiencing vivid flashback-like visual memories/images of previous experiences during my meditations. They’re quite minimalistic memories which are extremely similar to the type of memories children form during the period of childhood amnesia (i.e., before 4 years of age). In other words, they’re pretty much just an impressionistic snapshot image of somewhere I've been to at some time in the past (usually from a holiday or some other such time when I was happy/relaxed/in the moment - though not always) with a vague emotion attached to them. They're mostly from a specific view point that I saw (almost like my mind took a snapshot of my point of view at a given moment in time) but they're not entirely static - almost like one of the 1-2 second videos an iphone takes when it takes a live photo. Sometimes, though, they're clearly from a place I've been to in the past but from a vantage point I wouldn't have seen (like from several metres in the air or from the top of a building, etc.).

They initially started happening towards the end of my meditations but as I’ve gone on they’ve started happening earlier in my meditations and have even begun to happen in my daily life when I’m not meditating. I was hoping someone may have some thoughts on what is occurring here and advice on how I should be responding to them. They’re pleasant memories and not at all a problem, but I’m wondering if I should be allowing myself to give them room in my mind or return to my anchor (breath, heart beat, etc.) like I would if I noticed thoughts occurring. My intuition is that it would be best to note them and resist the urge to analyse them etc., but push them out of my consciousness as I would with emerging thoughts - though, by their very nature, these 'memories' are quite good into tempting me into a chain of thoughts which does distract me from my anchor. In other words, the 'memories' themselves don't feel problematic but the secondary 'oh, I remember that. That was a nice time...' kind of thoughts that emerge afterwards do distract me from my meditation.

To give some background (in case it’s helpful): I’ve been doing mindfulness meditation for about a month now. I have meditated in the past but never really managed to make the habit stick as well as I have done this time. Getting back into it has been on my ‘to-do list’ for a number of years now and I finally made it happen because I reached the point where I needed to: to make a long story short, I’ve been very stressed over the past several years, and, in particular, over the last few months - so I’ve taken up mindfulness meditation with a real sense of purpose of restoring some balance to my life/mind because it got to the point where I absolutely needed to. It’s entirely possible that these sort of memories emerging like this is entirely normal and that they feel unfamiliar because I’m used to so much noise in my head. This would make sense as they are predominantly memories of my holidays (the rare times when I have felt happy/relaxed/in the moment), and something I've just not had the headspace to process...almost as if I have a backlog of these kind of memories that my brain wants to cycle through now that it has the space to do so. I want to be clear: they are not a problem, and, indeed, are quite nice feelings/sensations to dwell upon/within. However, I just wanted to seek the opinions of some more experienced practitioners to try and get some insight into what I’m experiencing and why, and maybe get some guidance on how to handle these when they emerge during my meditations, as well as during my normal day. Any thoughts/guidance would be appreciated. Thanks.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2021, 08:20:23 PM by Diogenes »

Thanisaro85

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  • When thoughts, sensations, feelings arise,know it
    • Reverend father Jaran, Pramote. Theravada
    • Still breathing.
In meditation, there are indeed a stage where nimitas( sign) arised.  I am not sure about yours.

The meditation school which i attended in thailand, the teacher told us to look at the "sign" that appears, continue to breathe in and out. If it keep disappearing, it is just a subconscious thought which we should dwell too much into it.
If it stay, it is a sign, a direction, there is a story, a cause, it's something one need to do to resolve.

My is like a projector, project a photo like into my mind.

That is all that i can shared. Hopefully someone can share more infos.
A Mind Unshaken, when touches by worldy matter, sorrowless, secure and dustless, this is the ultimate great blessing~ Mangala Sutta

Thanisaro85

  • Member
  • When thoughts, sensations, feelings arise,know it
    • Reverend father Jaran, Pramote. Theravada
    • Still breathing.
f it keep disappearing, it is just a subconscious thought which we should dwell too much into it.


Sorry, it should read as, we should not dwell too much into it. 🙏
A Mind Unshaken, when touches by worldy matter, sorrowless, secure and dustless, this is the ultimate great blessing~ Mangala Sutta

Alex

  • Member
Hi Diogenes

So, you have images popping up during meditation accompanied by vague emotions, thinking, and temptation to follow a thought train.

You ask the question how to deal with those. Well, it will depend on what kind of practice you’re doing.
If you’re doing samatha or concentration meditation, you want to return to the breath (or other obect/anchor) as soon as your mind is free or ready to do so.
If you’re doing insight practices, you will probably practice more open attention, curiously exploring whatever is at the forefront of experience. If memories/images pop up, then you are aware of images popping up, as well as associated emotions and thinking. This means being aware of the process, not going into the content. “Ah, there’s images. I notice this or that bodily response. There’s thinking. Thinking.” When you inevitably get caught up in the thought train, i.e. if mindfulness drops, then you return to the breath, stabilize attention, and then open up again and pay attention to whatever is at the forefront of experience.

A second question is about what it all means, or about why this is happening.
Maybe this is just “default mode network” doing it’s thing and you’re only noticing this now because of increased awareness and/or lower stress levels (both during meditation and daily life)? Maybe you’re getting more in touch with yourself (especially if there’s childhood content)? Maybe... Maybe it will become clearer. Maybe not. Maybe this question is less important than developing experiential awareness of how this body-mind functions? You can also simply be aware of the tendency to want to understand something every time hte tendency pops up. Maybe wanting to understand is about something else, like dealing with uncertainty? Maybe having research questions is more interesting than finding answers? ;)

On a side note, two things:
  • You stress the pleasant nature of the memories/images a few times. If you were to have unpleasant images popping up, that would actually not be a problem as well, not something to correct or fix. We cultivate the intention and ability to be equally aware of positive, neutral or unpleasant experiences, in a friendly open manner
  • Maybe it’s a choice of words, but meditation is not about “pushing something out of consciousness,” it’s about training mind in a natural, unforced way.

Also, good for you on finding stability in your practice!

Kindly
Alex


 

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