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Jolt of Fear

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Jolt of Fear
Answer
12/23/18 7:44 PM
Hello,

I'm 29 years old and have been practising meditation on and off since the age of 14, but coming upto the same barrier that I am now trying to get more serious about overcoming and, was hoping for some advice. 

When practising shamatha on the breath, or a mantra, after around half an hour of practice, the mind will begin to calm down. I get to a stage which I believe is something like  the beginnings of access concentration. There comes a rush of exhilaration that my mind will do what I ask it to without internal obstruction, but accompanying this feeling is often a jolt of terror and fear, a physical jolt. 

This jolt is often so strong that I physically jump up out of my seat and shout out loud. I have typically avoided meditation retreats in a group setting as I would be embarassed about this happening, and wouldn't wish to disturb others as they meditate. At the same time, I am very curious to know what causes this intense fear, and how to get past it.

I sometimes concentrate on repetition of the Gayatri mantra, and with that mantra in particular, I get to a stage in meditation where the reality of the mantra feels more concrete and 'real' than the whole of the self observing the mantra being internally recited. I merge very slightly with the consciousness of the mantra, and get a small wave of bliss running through me, but as this begins, the same intense pullback occurs. It's difficult to sit with the feeling as it's so quick and disruptive - the jolt lasts for a split second, but is powerful enough for me to break posture, jump, shout out once. When I was younger, I would allow this to put me off meditation - it's almost like the mind has a powerfully repulsive mechanism to resist concentration. Now, I can resume meditation again within moments of it happening, and I just try to stick to concentration on the mantra or breath again.

Does this sound familiar to anyone else? And if so - how did you get past it?

RE: Jolt of Fear
Answer
12/24/18 9:29 AM as a reply to pleiades89.
Hi, Kugan.

This jolt of fear is very familiar to me. It was a theme in my practice very early on, and for quite some time. There is no quick fix that I ever found. I just kept practicing with my focus on the breath, or on some other sensation and slowly got used to the process that would roll out as the practice session went along. My guess about this is that this fear was a primal fear of losing what I'd always assumed was "me" - the ongoing stream of self-referential experiences. Mind was anticipating it, making the fear a theme of my practice. After a few months, patience and good technique won out. 

Hang in there and just keep plugging away!

RE: Jolt of Fear
Answer
12/28/18 1:49 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Hi Chris,

It's helpful to know that other people have experienced similar things and have  persisted through them to success. There's definitely a sense of that primal fear in the jolt I get. Patience and technique it is, then. 

Hope you had a good Christmas if you celebrate it. 

Thanks