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Dharma Diagnostic Clinic, aka "What was that?"

Drawn up out of blackness, mind buzzing for days afterward...

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Hi folks,

Many years ago, I took up Transcendental Meditation.  Although I didn't really interact with the community afterward, I kept up with the meditation on and off for years, as I found it very beneficial.  Using the simple, mantra-based TM technique, I had a variety of intriguing experiences, but one overshadowed them all.  Recently, I have begun studying Buddhism and Buddhist meditation, partly in the hopes of putting that experience (and others) within a framework of some kind.  Daniel Ingram's book led me here, so here I am!

To describe the experience: this happened many years ago, during a period of very regular practice (twice a day for 20 minutes, like clockwork). Basically, I was gone for a short time (maybe 20 minutes?) with no awareness to speak of, and I think my breathing had slowed down to the point of stopping.  My first recollection, adjacent to this "gap" was...as if I were being slowly drawn up out of the blackest depths of an ocean (this experience not being unpleasant in the least) into light/consciousness and watching the component elements (ie. - concepts and individual memories) of my mind reintegrate one at a time, much like small rocks floating in space, being drawn into a gravity well, and forming the planet that was my mind...if that imagery makes sense. Specific examples of these "components" that I can recall (and I hope this doesn't sound too odd) include a toy I had as a child, and the general idea of a toaster (as opposed to a specific toaster from memory).  In the aftermath, For two or three days afterward,I was mentally super-charged, my mind buzzed, experiences were very intense, to the point that I didn't feel 100% safe to drive, because the colour of objects beside the road were so bright and absorbing.  In spite of periods of regular practice since, I have never had a similar experience of that depth.

In reading Buddhist texts and commentary, I see descriptions that sound accurate...partly, and I would like to think that I experienced some corner of the formless realms, but I don't want to jump to any grandiose conclusions, which is why I would appreciate some objective feedback.

Your considered opinions would be much appreciated.

many thanks,
Patrick

RE: Drawn up out of blackness, mind buzzing for days afterward...
Answer
10/7/10 1:07 PM as a reply to patrick kenny.
Hi again folks,

Further to something I read in one of the other posts, to provide some context, I wanted to share a bit more about the state of my practice around the time that the above experience occurred.

My mental state at the time was fairly even-keeled, as I recall. But that period of my life/meditation saw some of my most consistently deep experiences ever, but as I said in the first post above, none as deep as that main one. Other things that happened multiple times during my meditations then included:

- being able to see what was in front of me, even through closed eyelids
- the feeling that I had just been reading a book that had been in my lap
- spontaneous verbalizations, although never more than a grunt or syllable, nothing in the way of speech
- an occassional stopping, or near-stopping of the breath
- an awareness of the room, very much like sight, but as if in one colour (generally red), and in all directions simultaneously

I don’t know if these details will help, but any help in ascribing meaning to the experience in my original post will be much appreciated.

Thanks again,
Patrick

RE: Drawn up out of blackness, mind buzzing for days afterward...
Answer
10/7/10 12:12 AM as a reply to patrick kenny.
hi patrick,

the above reads to me like a strong first taste of 2nd jhana (the stage of arising and passing in the progress of insight). while it appears to be uncommon for such things to happen twice on one path, it is far from unheard of, and if what you're after is a repeat of the experience, i recommend ramping up the practice or going on a serious retreat of at least one week but preferably two.

tarin

RE: Drawn up out of blackness, mind buzzing for days afterward...
Answer
10/7/10 1:06 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
Hello Tarin,

Thank-you for the feedback. It's helpful to have someone else's objective assessment. I've spent much of the day reviewing the last twenty years of my on-again, off-again practice, and making happy discoveries. With your guidance as a reference point, I was able to look back at later experiences and see further parallels with the insight map.

Of course, in re-reading the section in Daniel's book about the A&P, it does make sense now. As it says, 99% of people will attach undue importance to it, for lack of further knowledge. Comforting to know that I was in the majority ;)

Later meditation experiences included a very unhappy period in my life, which at the time seemed work-related, although looking back on it now, it may have been exacerbated by passage through Dark Night territory. Also, following that phase of my life, during meditation I did experience joy/bliss (3'rd Jhana) and what I know to be Equanimity (4'th Jhana). All that I failed to pursue in these cases, was mastery of the state.

Again, your suggestion has helped to put my initial experience into a proper context, making it all a clearer now. But I suppose it's my own damn fault for practicing in isolation (until recently) for so many years.

Thanks again Tarin, and I'd still welcome comments from others who may wish to chime in...
Patrick

RE: Drawn up out of blackness, mind buzzing for days afterward...
Answer
10/7/10 5:22 PM as a reply to tarin greco.
Hello again Tarin (and everyone else),

After posting my first response, I did some further reading/reviewing in Daniel's book, and am a bit confused now. If I'm understanding things correctly, the A&P occurs during the course of practicing insight meditation, presumably/typically after having achieved some mastery of concentration meditation.. Does it make sense then, that I should have experienced the A&P so early, as a relative novice practicing a mantra-based version of concentration meditation...?

Puzzled, but hopeful,
Patrick

RE: Drawn up out of blackness, mind buzzing for days afterward...
Answer
10/8/10 7:42 AM as a reply to patrick kenny.
A-ha! I've been reading the thread on spontaneous A&P experiences, which I interpret to mean that they can sometimes occur in various other, non-traditional, non-linear circumstances, which could explain why I had such an experience in the early days of my concentration practice.

This site is fantastic! Thanks to all who participate and share.
Patrick

RE: Drawn up out of blackness, mind buzzing for days afterward...
Answer
10/10/10 5:17 AM as a reply to patrick kenny.
Glad you like it.

If you haven't found this link http://www.interactivebuddha.com/theAandP.shtml

that's my take on a few of my early events, most of which were spontaneous early on, and I have met a very large number of people who crossed the A&P spontaneously or in some context which involved concentration or some such thing but not formal mediation (such as breath-control workshops for actors and singers, etc.).

RE: Drawn up out of blackness, mind buzzing for days afterward...
Answer
10/13/10 10:18 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Thanks for the link Daniel,

One of the discoveries I have made here, much like your experiences as a child, relate to an episode I had when I was perhaps 9 or 10. I spent a lot of time thinking about space as a child, in the astronomical sense, constantly marveling at it's infinite expanses...and not a little bit terrified of the vastness. On one particular night, near sleep, I had the insight/realization that every particle in the universe is oscillating in and out of existence many, many times per second. in the days that followed, I tried to make sense of this knowledge, but it didn't integrate well with what my upbringing had taught me.

Part of me thought that it may have been a dream, but the greater part of me has always known that the experience was something more.

Only now, thanks to my readings in the last year, including your book and this site, do I have the proper understanding to assign meaning to that experience and learn from it. An incredible discovery, and closure on a decades-old mystery!

Thanks again,
Patrick