Accelerated heart rate, anxiety, heavy stone like feeling

Andre V Calixto, modified 10 Years ago.

Accelerated heart rate, anxiety, heavy stone like feeling

Posts: 3 Join Date: 4/13/11 Recent Posts
Hi, I am very new this (just starting concentration practice). Had a scary experience today and could really use some advice. Session started fine, focusing on my breath, very relaxed and clear minded. Thne, moved into a state where focus started to expand around me, seeming to fill the entire room. So far, so good...had already experienced this pleasant feeling several times before. Problem started here: i started to imagine a white light coming in through the top of my head and filling my body. Then started to project this light out as a loving-kindness light to all family members and friends. Then, my hands, neck, whole body started to solidify and inflate and i felt everything three times as thick (particularly my hands and neck) and i felt EXTREMLY heavy. Also felt ridgid, as if i was literally made of solid stones. Then my heart rate started to speed up a lot, i became veyr anxious and broke out of the meditation. I got up and walked around to calm down and could still feel that heavy and swollen sensation for a few minutes.

Is this normal? Should i have powered through this feeling? Is this anxiety normal for beginners?

Thanks!

andre.
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Bruno Loff, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Accelerated heart rate, anxiety, heavy stone like feeling

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Andre V Calixto:
Hi, I am very new this (just starting concentration practice). Had a scary experience today and could really use some advice. Session started fine, focusing on my breath, very relaxed and clear minded. Thne, moved into a state where focus started to expand around me, seeming to fill the entire room. So far, so good...had already experienced this pleasant feeling several times before. Problem started here: i started to imagine a white light coming in through the top of my head and filling my body. Then started to project this light out as a loving-kindness light to all family members and friends. Then, my hands, neck, whole body started to solidify and inflate and i felt everything three times as thick (particularly my hands and neck) and i felt EXTREMLY heavy. Also felt ridgid, as if i was literally made of solid stones. Then my heart rate started to speed up a lot, i became veyr anxious and broke out of the meditation. I got up and walked around to calm down and could still feel that heavy and swollen sensation for a few minutes.

Is this normal? Should i have powered through this feeling? Is this anxiety normal for beginners?

Thanks!

andre.


What you do might depend on your goal. What is your purpose in doing meditation? Have you read Daniel Ingram's Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha?

I've had that with other similar imaginary phenomena (feeling very big, feeling very small, feeling like the black space behind my eyes expands a lot, etc). My usual procedure is returning to it again and again, deciding to be as little afraid as I can, until the banality of the imaginary event is obvious ("woo weee I feel very big, so what?"). When I stopped giving fear itself the credit it doesn't deserve, it too became banal (albeit still unpleasant).
Andre V Calixto, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Accelerated heart rate, anxiety, heavy stone like feeling

Posts: 3 Join Date: 4/13/11 Recent Posts
Bruno, thanks. Very conforting to know others have had strange experiences resulting in fear before. I had beeing thinking about this all day today and had decided exactly that: to face this again and realize there is nothing to be anxious about.

To your question, why I am meditating: I have been reading about buddhism for many years now -- lots of books, of Allan Watts' recording, etc... However, it was all very intelectual and rational. I read these books the same way one sees a Discovery Channel documentary about the Dharma: very detached, academic. I discovered Daniel Ingram's book about a week ago and have become fascinated to FINALLY start thinking about all this stuff from a practical and tangible point of view. I now see that all this stuff should and needs to be felt, put into practice, understood intrinsicly......understood thorugh meditation. So that is why I have started to meditate. I want to reach these levels of understanding, become a better, wiser person, engage more fully with the world and reach enlightenment.
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Ian And, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Accelerated heart rate, anxiety, heavy stone like feeling

Posts: 785 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Andre V Calixto:
Hi, I am very new this (just starting concentration practice). Had a scary experience today and could really use some advice.

Problem started here: i started to imagine a white light coming in through the top of my head and filling my body. Then started to project this light out as a loving-kindness light to all family members and friends. Then, my hands, neck, whole body started to solidify and inflate and i felt everything three times as thick (particularly my hands and neck) and i felt EXTREMLY heavy. Also felt ridgid, as if i was literally made of solid stones. Then my heart rate started to speed up a lot, i became veyr anxious and broke out of the meditation. I got up and walked around to calm down and could still feel that heavy and swollen sensation for a few minutes.

Andre,

It's very easy when beginning to practice meditation (especially in situations where there is no one to supervise one's practice) to allow the mind's imagination to wander and project images and various other phenomena as you are still trying to figure out what all this is about. However, this is not what Buddhist meditation is about at all.

You would do well to find someone experienced in meditation to help guide your practice. That way they can keep you from going off on a wild tangent.

If you're not able to do that, then you need to slow things down and get back to the basics of what you're supposed to be doing while meditating. Meditation the way that Gotama taught it is used to quiet and calm the mind down. It is used to eventually be able to "see things as they are" once the quieted mind is no longer restless and has attained a stronger hold on mindfulness. Strengthening mindfulness (sati) is the goal here. With strong mindfulness, accomplishing almost anything with the mind is possible.

The whole point of using meditation to help and assist one with the realization of the Dhamma is based upon being able to get a grip on the mind, to stop its "monkey mind" wandering and restlessness and to begin being able to focus the attention on a single object or subject in order to examine and evaluate it more clearly. Such states necessarily entail having some semblance of control over the mind, not letting it wander and being able to direct it toward the observation of phenomena without it starting off in another direction.

Rather than using visualizations, Gotama taught the direct observation of the breath itself as the primary object of his observation. If you endeavor to accomplish that, you will find that it is not always as easy as it sounds. Following the breath can be very difficult, especially for a beginning student of meditation.

You would do well to drop whatever it is you think you should be doing and get back to basics. The following essay might help to direct you to do just that: Anapana Sati, Meditation on Breathing. Try doing this for a while and see how it goes.

In peace,
Ian
Andre V Calixto, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Accelerated heart rate, anxiety, heavy stone like feeling

Posts: 3 Join Date: 4/13/11 Recent Posts
Hi. Wanted to post another similar experience I've just had. During a one week long meditation retreat which ended yesterday, I had another terrible experience. After doing some physical exercises with the group, the teacher then had all of us lie down. He then directed us through a series of relaxation visualizations (i.e. Imagining energy entering the body, relaxing the muscles...etc.) Then at the end he directed us through some chakra visualizations. It all went well and I felt very relaxed and at peace. Then, about 5 minutes later I started to feel very dizzy, weak as if my blood preasure had dropped. So I walked around a bit drank some water and tried to relaxed. This only intensified and I then started to feel terrible chest pains. Freaked out I asked somebody to take me top the hospital, thinking I was having a heart attack. There I got checked, ekg, blood preasure and the works, all came out normal. So then I came back to the retreat center and spoke with my teacher and to several more advanced practitioners about the experience. The general consensus was that during the relaxation visualizations, I opened up the heart chakra which resulted in the chest pains which triggered some sort of anxiety attack. This all happened two days ago. While l am now much more relaxed and am not feeling my heart rate go crazy anymore, I am still experiencing light headedness and chest pains.

I Haven't been able to stop and meditate since due to a bit of fear. Any advise on what this could have been? Is this just a bad case of anxiety mixed with too much vegetarian food ( I'm not very used to it and usually gives me a lot of gas emoticon ) or have I stumbled into the side effects of some energy practice? Please advise. Thanks in advance.

P.s. I posted this on this original thread because that anxiety attack also involved visualization practices. Not sure if these incidents are related however.
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Bruno Loff, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Accelerated heart rate, anxiety, heavy stone like feeling

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Meditation really changes the autonomic nervous system, which has the ability to control metabolic rate. Stuff like faster or slower breath and heart beat, fear, adrenaline, sweating, bowel movements, etc, are to be expected.

And yet, as long as you don't push yourself too far too fast, you should be perfectly fine, as the occurrences of seriously harmful physiological effects due to meditation are, as far as I know, extremely rare. My previous comments with regards to fear still apply --- the sooner you stop being afraid of being afraid, the more easily you can deal with and eventually remove fear.

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