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What just happened?
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2/14/19 9:21 PM
Thank you for reading this and for this forum's existence!

A bit of my history: I've been meditating on and off for about 5 years, daily for the last 2 years, and daily for 45 minutes a day for 5 months since discovering TMI. When I started TMI I was immediately at stage 4 and progressed to stages 6 and often 7. For the last month or so I've been experimenting with both jhana practice (per Leigh Brasington), as well as insight focusing on maintaining awareness of rapidly changing sensations and staying present to them, without noting.

Today, due to normal life suffering, I went into this meditation with a mild heaviness in my chest representing a bit of depression/anxiety. Due to the discomfort of this sensation I had a stronger than usual intention to practice effectively. At a certain point, while keeping my attention on the breath but maintaining decent awareness of the rapidly changing sensations (mostly visual, with some of the sensation in my chest), I decided to drop the effort of maintaining awareness on my breath and let it go wherever it wanted. For about a second my vision became fuzzy and unclear, and I had the sensation that this was poor technique, but decided to let it continue throughout that one second. Then my attention became refocused, and I was percieving in a new, clearer way, with much less mental and sensory noise. The discomfort in my chest decreased significantly, but was still there. Over the course of about 5 minutes, my mental state shifted back and forth between different degrees of intensity of this state of perceiving. At one point, I felt strong fear, which I decided to let myself feel fully, and then by heart began to beat rapidly and powerfully for about 30 seconds, the fear washing through me.

After the meditation I felt wide open, like a scab had been pulled off, leaving an open wound. Small sources of anxiety caused my body to shake, and mildly sad thoughts caused a rush of sadnes in my body. 2 hours later, I'm back to my ordinary self.

WHAT WAS THIS?!?

It sounds second jhana-ish to me, mostly due to the dropping of effort that led to it. It was sort of pleasureable, but not very, and pleasurable with a mix of anxiety, due to the raw openness and vulnerable feeling of the experience, like anything could happen. And there was no clear first jhana that preceded it. There was also the fear, which sounds like a hint of the fear dukka-nana, but obviously not, considering what came before and after. Was it more of a vipassana stage? Considering the closeness to second jhana, I'm thinking A&P, but it couldn't have been, because it wasn't THAT impressive, and there was no clear cause-and-effect stage or three characteristics stage that preceded it.

Thank you for your help!

RE: What just happened?
Answer
2/15/19 12:22 AM as a reply to David.
Hitting the territory of 3rd jhana can feel like this if you aren't familiar with it IMO. There's a thing that can happen where you go through essentially a death experience and it can cause intense panic and existential fear. 3rd jhana and DN are closely related. You can use this to learn about death, if that's what it is.

RE: What just happened?
Answer
2/17/19 5:12 PM as a reply to David.
It's hard to diagnose one off meditation experiences. If you want to find out if you are in a particular insight stage you need to look for a pattern over a period of time. Your experience looks more likely to have come from your concentration practice. Deep concentration will unleash subconscious emotions and psychological issues. The way you dealt with it is exactly the right approach. The section in stage 4 of TMI about purification has information on this.

RE: What just happened?
Answer
2/19/19 8:19 AM as a reply to Adam M.
Thank you, Milo and Adam.