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Made of Stone
Answer
12/17/10 2:12 PM
I've had an experience on two separate occasions recently during my vipassana sits where I felt as if I was made of stone. My posture during my these sits was a kneeling one with my hands on my knees and I actually felt as if I'd been turned into a statue and was stuck there. I had the impression that even if I'd tried to move I would have been unable. I noted stone, stuck and statue throughout.

Has anyone experienced anything similar to this? Is it related to a particular nana?

The first time this happened the sensations gave way to an immense fear, uneasiness and dread, not of anything in particular but it felt as if something really bad was about to happen. The background and periphery seemed very intense, unfamiliar and spooky, it was unlike 'normal' fear somehow. It felt as if my world was wound so tight that it could shatter into a million pieces at any second. This was really unsettling at the time to say the least. Noted fear, dread, intense etc.

The second time it happened the meditation timer went off during the 'made of stone' phase so I didnt get to see what came next.

I'm guessing it's dark night somewhere, but coudn't tell you where specificallly. Any thoughts?

RE: Made of Stone
Answer
12/17/10 4:37 PM as a reply to John H.
John H:
I've had an experience on two separate occasions recently during my vipassana sits where I felt as if I was made of stone. My posture during my these sits was a kneeling one with my hands on my knees and I actually felt as if I'd been turned into a statue and was stuck there. I had the impression that even if I'd tried to move I would have been unable. I noted stone, stuck and statue throughout.

Has anyone experienced anything similar to this? Is it related to a particular nana?

yes; no (not that i have ever noticed or heard).


John H:

Any thoughts?

how was your concentration leading up to, and during, the occurrence of this experience (save for the time you spent reflecting on it)? my guess is that it was an effect of good concentration and the mind quieting down.

tarin

RE: Made of Stone
Answer
12/17/10 11:44 PM as a reply to John H.
John H:

The first time this happened the sensations gave way to an immense fear, uneasiness and dread, not of anything in particular but it felt as if something really bad was about to happen. The background and periphery seemed very intense, unfamiliar and spooky, it was unlike 'normal' fear somehow. It felt as if my world was wound so tight that it could shatter into a million pieces at any second. This was really unsettling at the time to say the least. Noted fear, dread, intense etc.

The second time it happened the meditation timer went off during the 'made of stone' phase so I didn't get to see what came next.

Any thoughts?

Papañca, pure and simple. What is papañca, you ask?

papanca (papa~nca): Complication, proliferation. The tendency of the mind to proliferate issues from the sense of "self." This term can also be translated as self-reflexive thinking, reification, falsification, distortion, elaboration, or exaggeration. In the discourses, it is frequently used in analyses of the psychology of conflict.

Papañca is the mind's conditioned susceptibility to proliferate thought (in many cases negative distortion and exaggeration) about the arising of any phenomenon. When you are able to reach that point in the path of your progress where this kind of conditioned thinking ceases, you have reached a measure of nibbana.

FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real.

Next time it occurs, just realize the FEAR factor and note its occurrence. Don't let this false evidence affect your calm and composure. Break it up by realizing it is just the mind's struggle to maintain control over your thought process and hence your affective reactions. When you are able to dispel these delusive thoughts with wisdom (insight) into this process, you are reaching toward nibbana. Dispel ignorance (avijja) with wisdom (panna).

An excellent book on this process of the mind has been made available by Bhikkhu Nanananda entitled Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought]Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought. Well worth reading at some point in your training.

RE: Made of Stone
Answer
12/18/10 8:29 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
tarin greco:

how was your concentration leading up to, and during, the occurrence of this experience (save for the time you spent reflecting on it)? my guess is that it was an effect of good concentration and the mind quieting down.
tarin


My memory of the time leading up the the experience is rather vague but my concentration during the experience was very strong. I can't recall any thoughts entering my mind (except from the intial reaction 'oh this is strange'). I hadn't considered that it might purely be an effect of concentration, I have a tendancy to attribute every experience to one of the nanas, or try to fit things into one. It's fairly common for me to find myself in one of the samatha jhanas whilst doing insight meditation, so it can be difficult what's what. For example, I probably couldn't tell the difference between the equanimity nana and 3rd samatha jhana.

Ian And:


Papañca, pure and simple. What is papañca, you ask?

papanca (papa~nca): Complication, proliferation. The tendency of the mind to proliferate issues from the sense of "self." This term can also be translated as self-reflexive thinking, reification, falsification, distortion, elaboration, or exaggeration. In the discourses, it is frequently used in analyses of the psychology of conflict.

Papañca is the mind's conditioned susceptibility to proliferate thought (in many cases negative distortion and exaggeration) about the arising of any phenomenon. When you are able to reach that point in the path of your progress where this kind of conditioned thinking ceases, you have reached a measure of nibbana.

FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real.

Next time it occurs, just realize the FEAR factor and note its occurrence. Don't let this false evidence affect your calm and composure. Break it up by realizing it is just the mind's struggle to maintain control over your thought process and hence your affective reactions. When you are able to dispel these delusive thoughts with wisdom (insight) into this process, you are reaching toward nibbana. Dispel ignorance (avijja) with wisdom (panna).

An excellent book on this process of the mind has been made available by Bhikkhu Nanananda entitled Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought]Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought. Well worth reading at some point in your training.


There was a definite aversion to this experience, so you're F.E.A.R advice will be very useful. Despite the uncomfortable nature of the experience, I wished to continue meditating to see where it would lead but alas, my meditation timer sounded (i think I may need to increase the length of my sits!). I will check out the book you suggested to gain better understanding.

Many thanks to you both for replying,

John

RE: Made of Stone
Answer
12/18/10 12:37 PM as a reply to John H.
John H:

Despite the uncomfortable nature of the experience, I wished to continue meditating to see where it would lead but alas, my meditation timer sounded (i think I may need to increase the length of my sits!).

Yes. Hindsight is often twenty-twenty. You probably should have continued (in spite of the timer going off) to observe the phenomenon in order to explore the process more deeply. Sharpening discernment is what brings liberation. And to pick up on Tarin's point, better discernment (insight) is what develops from the achievement of good concentration and quieting the mind.

RE: Made of Stone
Answer
12/18/10 4:04 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Hello John.

When I read your post I came to think of an experience I had on day three of my first Goenka retreat.
Before going to that retreat I had only one months experience of meditation practice so I had absolutely no idea what happened to me or how to deal with it and I also wrote the experience down then and I post it below.
What is not so clear from reading the description of this experience again is how visual it was, as well as physical - I could sort of see all of this happen in front of me and also sort of from behind and above me.
Many months later when reading MCTB I concluded that this must have been an A&P event but that is just my guess.

The experience:

It began with a sort of creeping sensation slowly, slowly moving down my nose to the area between the nose and the upper lip. Then following the contour of the upper lip down to the corner of the mouth of the right side (my right side) only. There it stopped and sort of send out a little 'hook' that attatched somewhere under the right eye and making the nerves/muscles  there twitch. Now the whole right side of my body became numb or rather very solid, as if petrified. This sensation spread throughout the whole body an now I felt like toltally encapsuled in solid rock. This was a very physical experience but at the same time I could watch it happen as if mirrored in front of me. When totally encapsuled in this black rock the entire interior of my body melted and turned into lava, fluid fire, and it was extremly hot. After sitting like this for a while totally amazed, feeling rock solid and that I could sit like this for hours a big transparant, shiny bubble started shaping at the bottom of my body, in the fire. It was still for a while but then very slowly started to rise upwards.When it started to rise this very intense white light appeared in front, and above me and instantly I felt this extremely intense energy in my head sort of erasing my mind, erasing everything. The intensity was indescribeble but increased so rapidly it totaly freaked me out. I got very scared at this moment because the bubble hade just started moving upwards and already the intensity was so strong. I had to 'abort' the experience, snap out of it but the sensation of being rock solid and very very hot remained for almost an hour, only the raising bubble disappeared.
Up until this bubble started moving upwards it was a great feeling of power and control. The same thing with this feeling of sitting in rock, very very nice feeling of control over everything.
After I had stopped the experience of the rising bubble and the 'erasing of everything' a feeling remained in my spine of a steele pole sitting there, reaching as far up as the bubble had risen before I stopped it.