Discussion Forum Discussion Forum

Dharma Diagnostic Clinic, aka "What was that?"

Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved)

Toggle
Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved) Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/14/18 12:00 PM
RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved) Andromeda 12/14/18 1:53 PM
RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved) Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/14/18 2:18 PM
RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved) Andromeda 12/14/18 3:10 PM
RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved) Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/14/18 3:29 PM
RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved) Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/14/18 3:31 PM
RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved) Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/14/18 3:57 PM
RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved) Andromeda 12/14/18 3:57 PM
RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved) Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/14/18 4:41 PM
RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved) Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/15/18 1:13 AM
RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved) Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/15/18 3:55 AM
RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved) Andromeda 12/16/18 2:17 AM
RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved) Andromeda 12/16/18 6:35 AM
RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved) Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/16/18 7:25 AM
RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved) Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/16/18 7:29 AM
RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved) Andromeda 12/16/18 9:05 AM
RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved) Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/16/18 12:11 PM
RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved) Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/19/18 3:04 PM
A couple of years ago, or maybe three, I went to this experimental dance show that was quite suggestive. They used sounds at a high volume and very low frequency, and sometimes they turned off the light so it was dark. I felt that I was drawn into an altered state, or maybe different states. First I was just very focused on the dance and the sounds, the way you are when something is really suggestive. Like a light hypnosis, maybe, and then deepening. Then my body was as relaxed as boiled spaghetti for a moment, before it started to shake out of my control. I surrendered to it. It was very... forceful... and kind of enjoyable in a strange way. That happened especially at certain very low frequencies of the sound, over and over again (both the spaghetty thing and the shaking). Then (no longer shaking, relaxed but not like spaghetti anymore, if I remember correctly) I started seeing psychedelic color formations and lights, simultaneously in different parts of the room, including among the audience. I thought it was part of the show first and was impressed. Then I realized that there was no way that they could have accomplished that kind of effect, especially when my partner next to me started to shine brightly. I don’t know how long this lasted, but it was quite a while. If I remember correctly, I managed to ask my partner if he could see the light formations and colors among us. He didn’t. Speaking didn’t make it go away. I kept seeing it. 

What would you say that this was? I don’t do drugs and I have never had a psychosis. I felt okay afterwards, albeit a bit shaky. 

I have had similar experiences from touch, but without the light and color formations. One of these events took place after a short cuddle party, while I was lying on the floor and a friend gave me different kinds of touch to which I completely surrendered. I was in lala land for an hour. Afterwards people were talking about a painting in the ceiling of that room and I thought it was a pity that I hadn’t seen it. Somebody posted a picture of it, and then I realized that I had seen it. I had stared at it for an hour, without realizing that it was a painting or even a ceiling. Still, I was aware of things going on in the periphery. Really weird, and absolutely wonderful. Maybe I should add that my eye lids kept twitching rapidly part of the time, and according to people around me my irises were turned upwards so that the whites of my eyes were visible.

RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved)
Answer
12/14/18 1:53 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Most blissful, colorful, bright lights type experiences probably map to the A&P but mapping events that only occur once (especially off retreat) is sketchy at best. Personally, I tend to just dump stuff like that into a mental box of "interesting spiritual experiences" and not think too much about them unless they knocked me off kilter enough to troubleshoot. If you haven't seen these graphs of the insight stages yet you might check them out.

IMO dance as a spiritual practice is a fascinating subject. Like chanting and drumming, it can allow us to reach altered states with other people in a group setting, which is really a cool thing. I read a book about so-called "dancing plagues" such the dancing plague of 1518 where around 400 people danced for days, some of them until their deaths. Without any MDMA or light shows or even music! If I remember correctly, the book suggested it was some sort of multifactorial stress-induced psychosis.

RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved)
Answer
12/14/18 2:18 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Oh yeah, apparently people can get into really weird states just by dancing. Maybe I should clarify that I did not take part in the dancing. I was just sitting in the audience.

A&P-like qualities is something that I experience regularly. This was different. I’m not worried about it, just curious. I haven’t even been sure that it would qualify as something spiritual. First I thought it was some kind of dissociation, but that doesn’t seem to fit.

I haven’t seen those graphs. This framework is so new to me. I’ll have a look now. Thanks!

RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved)
Answer
12/14/18 3:10 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

A&P-like qualities is something that I experience regularly. This was different. I’m not worried about it, just curious. I haven’t even been sure that it would qualify as something spiritual. First I thought it was some kind of dissociation, but that doesn’t seem to fit.


In my experience at least, the A&P can present in pretty variable ways depending on a lot of factors, from barely noticeable to profoundly altered states of consciousness. There's a lot of gray area between "spiritual" and "mental illness" and a lot boils down to being able to take unusual experiences in stride and not freak out about them or take them too seriously. So curious and not worried is good! Whatever it was, cool that it happened.

RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved)
Answer
12/14/18 3:31 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
How weird... The nana graph video pretty much explains my life for the last seven years. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or me selectively noticing everything that fits or if my various ups and downs in different respects have actually been a bumpy spiritual ride. I had forgotten that I had a period when I felt I was practically burning up (I remember now that I thought I was maybe going into menopause early or had a thyroid problem) - which happened to overlap with many other attributes of A&P, such as vibrations, waves, fast thinking, ability to transfer energy to others (specifically two persons who are very perceptive). Before that I had a period of severe pain in my body and several other attributes of the three charachteristics. And after the A&P peak I had a period of brain fog and poor health that fits very well with how dissolution is described. Then I felt more clear but was in distress about the condition of the world for quite some time, which peaked into some seizures that looked the same way as the ones I had during the A&P phase (which was when I saw those color and light formations) but had a very different quality to them. Could that be... what was it called? Energetic phenomena? Or is it when your mood seems to affect or coincides with technical stuff flipping out? I had that too. My attention was really bad at that time and had been for a while. I procrastinated constantly and spent hours binge watching netflix, facebooking and playing meaningless games most days, or debating the world problems in discussion groups instead of doing ehat I was supposed to do. And then I suddenly felt better and started to take care of myself really well, which is where I am now. I feel more stable than... ever before, I guess. At the same time I’m kind of expecting things to go up and down. Bumps on the road seem to be practically the only ”stable” thing there is. But I have gone through so many bumps in my life that I’m getting used to it. They usually end. Somehow I manage.

But I don’t know... I have so much to learn, so much that I don’t master. Maybe there is a junior or light-weight path just to give the taste of the whole thing before you get into the real stuff?

Or maybe I’m just nuts, haha. But in that case, I kind of enjoy it, so it doesn’t matter.

RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved)
Answer
12/14/18 3:29 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

A&P-like qualities is something that I experience regularly. This was different. I’m not worried about it, just curious. I haven’t even been sure that it would qualify as something spiritual. First I thought it was some kind of dissociation, but that doesn’t seem to fit.


In my experience at least, the A&P can present in pretty variable ways depending on a lot of factors, from barely noticeable to profoundly altered states of consciousness. There's a lot of gray area between "spiritual" and "mental illness" and a lot boils down to being able to take unusual experiences in stride and not freak out about them or take them too seriously. So curious and not worried is good! Whatever it was, cool that it happened.


Yeah, it was pretty cool, actually. :-) And you are probably right about it being part of A&P. It does seem to fit.

RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved)
Answer
12/14/18 3:57 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
But I don’t know... I have so much to learn, so much that I don’t master. Maybe there is a junior or light-weight path just to give the taste of the whole thing before you get into the real stuff?


Oh, there’s another video showing a whole set of more complex stages later! Cool!

RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved)
Answer
12/14/18 3:57 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
 I feel more stable than... ever before, I guess. At the same time I’m kind of expecting things to go up and down. Bumps on the road seem to be practically the only ”stable” thing there is. But I have gone through so many bumps in my life that I’m getting used to it. They usually end. Somehow I manage.

Yep, it's pretty much guaranteed that things will continue to go up and down emoticon

As for the nanas, off retreat it's often really tough to accurately diagnose which one you're in even with a lot of skill and years of experience. They become much, much clearer while on retreat, which is one of the many good reasons to do retreats. Your concentration really starts to get rolling after a few days of 12-16+ hours/day of practice and it makes a huge difference.

RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved)
Answer
12/14/18 4:41 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
That makes sense, but I have never been to a retreat. I want to, though. But for now I’m only meditating daily on my own.

RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved)
Answer
12/15/18 1:13 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I’m searching for a teacher or mentor or something like that, someone to whom I kind ask these kinds of questions, without them freaking out, and getting some perspective and useful advice. Someone who can tell me when I should back down a bit or intensify my practice a knotch, and what kind of practice I need to take on in order to balance things up and progress in a stable way.

RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved)
Answer
12/15/18 3:55 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
In my second example, I remember breathing extremely slowly and even stopping breathing for some time. I can rather easily get down to one and a half breath per minute when I relax, so when I say slow, it’s in relation to that.

RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved)
Answer
12/16/18 2:17 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I’m searching for a teacher or mentor or something like that, someone to whom I kind ask these kinds of questions, without them freaking out, and getting some perspective and useful advice. Someone who can tell me when I should back down a bit or intensify my practice a knotch, and what kind of practice I need to take on in order to balance things up and progress in a stable way.

Yeah "get a teacher/mentor," that's the standard advice and it makes a lot of sense on the surface. I've given it. The trouble is, good mentors are in short supply and the bad ones can be outright harmful. Heck, even the mediocre ones can do some damage. What level of connection are you looking for? I might have ideas if you PM me.

In lieu of (or in addition to) formal relationships, some people choose to keep forum practice logs and various mentor-y types periodically chime in with suggestions or words of encouragement. It's more of an independent study with occasional help from friends kind of thing though.

RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved)
Answer
12/16/18 6:35 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
In fact, this would be a great time to give a general warning about cults, dysfunctional groups, and predatory teachers since there are plenty of them out there in the spiritual marketplace. No reason to freak out about it or anything, but caveat emptor.

I know quite a few people--sane, intelligent people--who have gotten involved up with the wrong groups/teachers and suffered a lot because of it. Cults always offer at least a little bit of something real and truthful, some kind of genuinely effective practice, and the "bad stuff" usually doesn't become apparent until later when people are deep into it. Members in the early honeymoon phase are usually extremely happy to be participants and they can be very good at convincing other people to join. Especially if they joined during a difficult or transitional period, they may be thrilled and very grateful because they feel empowered and their lives have been improved. There can be a lot of temporary meditation-induced euphoria/bliss states as well that can be mistaken for more significant spiritual progress. These states may last for weeks, months, even years, but inevitably they end.

Any kind of "get enlightened quick" claim is a big red flag for a cult, as is disparaging respected traditions. If it really were possible to develop a method to get enlightened in a quick and easy way, Buddhists would have figured it out thousands of years ago and everybody would be awake. "Why not try it? What do I have to lose? These seem like decent people and I would never join a cult even if it is one," has probably been the mindset to got most cult members in the door. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

This is a good graph by a man named Steve Hassan, an ex-cult member who became an anti-cult counselor/activist, on some of the differences between health/unhealthy groups and individuals, and here is another on his BITE model. His Freedom of Mind website is a great resource as are his books. 

RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved)
Answer
12/16/18 7:29 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Hm, what am I thinking? Well, as I live in Sweden, it will probably need to be an online connection, unless you have contacts in Sweden. I don’t know what time interval would be reasonable, since I have never done this. No more than once a week, preferably no less than once a month, I guess. I’m not a very technically skilled person. I have never used skype, but I can probably learn. I have messenger, if video or audio calls there is an option. Facetime too. Even chatting would be better than nothing, I suppose. How do people do this?

Although I’m very new to systematic meditative practice, I’m certain that I have been in A&P. I may have gone through the dukka nanas or just had a fall back to the three charachteristics. At the moment I have access to A&P experiences but I don’t experience that ”high” that I did before. Psychologically, I feel stable, and I would say that I enjoy my life as it is with all its flaws, efter a long period of lacking energy and struggling with my faith in humanity. I’m certain that I haven’t reached above low equanimity. I’m not qualified to diagnose whether I have reached that, either, but that would be my very unqualified guess. I could certainly be wrong, especially since I haven’t put in the work that so many others have done, at least not in any systematic way until recently. I want to learn applying techniques, ones that suit me, in a systematic way, and I want to be stable and consistent in my practice without rushing things (accelerating is okay, stress and competition are not). Yet, I would appreciate qualified guidance in case things get weird, you know... because it seems to me that they tend to do that on their own volition. Sometimes, meditative states just happen to me. At least I think that’s what they are. I guess I surrender to them, though, so it probably is a choice, but an ad hoc one, if that makes any sense. I guess I need to learn to take control, in a way, which sounds kind of backwards since I’m heading for the realization that there is no self. I can reach meditative states (I’m very vague here, I know, but I’m not sure about the terminology) through efforts too, more and more reliably, but it doesn’t happen every time.

I have never been on a retreat. I will probably join Shinzen Young’s home practice program some time. I like the way he teaches. However, I have a problem with him being so oriented to mental images and mental talk as hearing. For me, somatic and chemical senses are much more involved in my thinking. Visual imagery and hearing seem to be secondary.

I have wanted for a long time to go to a Vipassana retreat (Goenka). There is one regularly nearby. The biggest problem is my complicated food sensitivities. They do seem to be rather dogmatic, too, but since I’m autistic, the strict silence appeals to me. Baggy clothes don’t bother me, either. The strict policy of having no contact whatsoever with the outside world is a warning flag, though. But this is free. It’s the kind of retreat that I can afford.

I can understand the point of writing official practice logs and get feedback from people, and I admire those who have the discipline to maintain such logs. For me, it would probably at this stage take away from my practice. I don’t have the terminology, and putting my experiences into words is a struggle.

RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved)
Answer
12/16/18 7:25 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Yes, these warnings are important. I think I have a pretty good internal bullshit radar, luckily. I usually spot narcissists very early, and they tend to avoid me. Not everyone is so lucky.

RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved)
Answer
12/16/18 9:05 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

Although I’m very new to systematic meditative practice, I’m certain that I have been in A&P. I may have gone through the dukka nanas or just had a fall back to the three charachteristics. At the moment I have access to A&P experiences but I don’t experience that ”high” that I did before. Psychologically, I feel stable, and I would say that I enjoy my life as it is with all its flaws, efter a long period of lacking energy and struggling with my faith in humanity. I’m certain that I haven’t reached above low equanimity. 
I have wanted for a long time to go to a Vipassana retreat (Goenka). There is one regularly nearby. The biggest problem is my complicated food sensitivities. They do seem to be rather dogmatic, too, but since I’m autistic, the strict silence appeals to me. Baggy clothes don’t bother me, either. The strict policy of having no contact whatsoever with the outside world is a warning flag, though. But this is free. It’s the kind of retreat that I can afford.
I agree with your assessment that you've probably cross the A&P but are not getting past equanimity and that's pretty typical for newcomers to this forum. As the next step would be getting more systematic and disciplined about practice so you can deepen that equanimity, checking in with a mentor periodically to make sure you stay on track would be a good idea. This is a pretty good list of teachers who do Skype consultations, most for a fee or donation.

I know a number of people who have benefited greatly from Goenka retreats despite the fact that they don't provide great support. As you say, the price is right. The strict policy of no contact with the outside world is standard for traditional retreats and it is an important aid to concentration. This is a guide for how to get the most out of a Goenka retreat that may be helpful to you if the food issue isn't prohibitive.

RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved)
Answer
12/16/18 12:11 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Thank you so much! You are very helpful, and I trust your judgement. I have a good feeling about you, and I’m usually right. Systematic and disciplined practice to deepen equanimity feels very accurate. I was a bit worried that I was being overly optimistic, because there are lots of situations where I certainly would benefit from much more equanimity than I have now, but if it’s a spectrum, which makes sense, I can see myself being in the lower end of it. I’m working on it. This is probably why I have suddenly found a way to rather effortlessly refrain from ticcing, which I would never have imagined possible before.

So... next step is learning how to use Skype, then. It may take some time until I come around to doing that, but I will.

Yes, I have been checking out other’s experiences from Goenka Vipassana retreats and and come to the conclusion that they seem decent and pretty much down to earth, and focusing on the body sensations suits me. I didn’t mean to imply that they were cult-like. That was just something that had me do a checking up, just in case. If I can find a way to participate in spite of my dietary limitations, I will, and I will check out the link that you provided.

RE: Psychedelic show of lights and colors (no drugs involved)
Answer
12/19/18 3:04 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
It just so happens that I have run into a coach by chance. I had a question about a part of Shinzen Young’s sensory grid that doesn’t work with how I perceive and process things, and nobody seemed to understand the problem, except for this one person who had the same problem three years ago (and at that time nobody seemed to understand him). He has come to a solution to that problem, a slight modification that fixes the problem completely, yet remains true to the system. He seems really nice, is easy to talk to, very non-narcissistic and also very non-dogmatic. He is more experienced than me with regard to some of the techniques I want to learn, but probably not Awakened (or maybe he is, I don’t know; I didn’t ask and he didn’t tell, and it didn’t seem important, because my intuition tells me that I have something to learn from him and maybe vice versa, and I’m usually right about that). I don’t feel intimidated or starstruck, and I will probably dare to ask him my questions. It’s a good start. I have a good feeling about it. It turned out that the time difference between our locations is only one hour, so that’s convenient. I didn’t even know that.

I knew it. I’m in synch now. When I have the feeling of being in synch, the world tends to provide exactly what I need exactly when I need it. Maybe it does all the time, but I’m not always perceptive enough to notice the opportunities that enfold and embrace them.