Weird Feeling of My Mind "Shrinking"??

Andrew Tyler Harrison, modified 1 Month ago.

Weird Feeling of My Mind "Shrinking"??

Posts: 2 Join Date: 8/25/21 Recent Posts
So, I'm not sure how else to describe this. The other day I was meditating, just my usual mindfulness routine noting my breathing and other sensations arising and passing away. 

Suddenly, it was almost like my mind had shrunk away from the inside of my skull. If that makes sense. My normal experience is that my mind takes up all of my head. After this it felt significantly different. Another property of this experience was that each part of my body (as well as every other physical object) felt further away from me than it actually was. My feet felt like they were 30 feet below me rather than 6 feet below me. 
This would happen to me as a kid when I would lay in bed and couldn't sleep, but it stopped when I wasa around 9 years old and this was the first time it came back and I remembered that it was once fairly common. For reference I'm now 27. Anyway, was that a normal experience or has anyone else had this type of experience?
Danny S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Weird Feeling of My Mind "Shrinking"??

Posts: 24 Join Date: 6/18/21 Recent Posts
Hi Andrew, welcome to DhO.

I'm a pretty new member myself, but I would suggest providing some more context about your practice (how long, how much per day, what tradition, what challenges you usually deal with, etc.) to help you get the best advice. Here is a page with some tips on how to get the best advice on an online forum that I've found very helpful: https://shargrolpostscompilation.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html

I did once get this sense that my body was somehow "bigger", with more space in which sensations could occur, but it sounds like it was a much more subtle experience than what you describe.

Maybe try investigating exactly where in space your "mind" is located: imagine building a 3D model of the space it occupies. Then ask yourself, how do you know your mind occupies that space? What physical sensations are you using to delineate its boundaries? 
Andrew Tyler Harrison, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Weird Feeling of My Mind "Shrinking"??

Posts: 2 Join Date: 8/25/21 Recent Posts
Great point.  I usually meditate roughly 25-30 minutes per day. And I'm not sure what tradition I'm in. I've pulled a lot from Shinzen Young's Unified Mindfulness program as well some other stuff, but it's mostly the Unified Mindfulness. Duration of practice has been about....2 years on and off? I started about 2 years ago, but it wasn't until maybe 4 or 5 months ago I establsihed my practice as a daily routine. 
Challenges would be wrestling with the issue of wanting "cool stuff" to happen, and then sort of waving that off. From there it's just a matter of accepting what is happening without my mind going bonkers. I think I'm ADHD (my wife is a mental health practioner and so we've unofficlaly diagnosed me as such) but with that my brain is always whooshing from one thing to the next. Meditation has taught me how to slow that down and something bring it to a standstill by being aware of my sensate expereinces and noting those. 

I don't know if that gives you any more clarity on where I'm at.

That last bit took me a couple of reads to really let it sink in, but I see what you mean. I'll work on that, thanks!
Danny S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Weird Feeling of My Mind "Shrinking"??

Posts: 24 Join Date: 6/18/21 Recent Posts
Yes, thank you for describing your practice. That really helps me see where you're at. I'm also a 27-year-old with ADHD who had a similar practice background until 2 months ago, so hopefully that increases the chances that I can offer you helpful advice. If you are interested, of course emoticon

Can I ask what the goals of your practice are? That is, is meditation simply an exercise routine for your mental health, or are you also interested in what Daniel Ingram calls "formal awakening"? Since you found this site, I'm guessing you have read at least part of MCTB and know a bit about the insight maps?

Ah yes, wanting "cool stuff" to happen, getting annoyed at a lack of "clarity", and otherwise trying to force experience is a big one for me as well. This is what the Buddha called greed. Here's a cool hack I've found that allows you to harness the power of this defilement and make it work in your favor: the second you get annoyed that your experience or meditation object lacks <interesting quality>, in the very next second, make it your goal to notice <lack of interesting quality> wherever you can find it. For example, say you are noting the rising and falling sensations of your breath and they just don't feel as satisfying as before. They feel vague, more "low resolution" than they have in the past. Try as you might, you can't get that sensory clarity you're looking for. So, now your goal is to notice unsatisfying vagueness wherever you can find it! You found it in your breath, so how about in your face? In your hands? The converse works for any unsatisfying quality you can notice: painful, irritating, distracting, kinda-interesting-but-still-mostly-meh, what-you're-going-for-but-not-as-intense-as-you-want. Choose a new unsatisfying quality to look for as soon as it presents itself as a challenge. Repeat as often as is helpful, potentially every second.
Whenever you notice something you were trying to find, your brain gives you a hit of dopamine. Cha-ching! +1! Bonus! And guess what dopamine does? It strengthens the neural connections supporting the activity that led to the reward, which in this case is attention to present experience. Sure, this isn't the ideal of "just being with experience as it is" because you, but until you build the brain circuitry that makes that sort of thing automatic, this strategy works a lot better than going "aw darn I'm being greedy instead of being present. I feel so guilty. Aw dangit, I'm supposed to just notice the greed, not guilt-trip myself. Aw man, I did it again. Dangit" emoticon

Also, my suggestion about the 3D mind boundaries is probably a bit advanced for your stage of practice. It's worth trying, but don't be discouraged if you find it difficult.
A. Dietrich Ringle, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Weird Feeling of My Mind "Shrinking"??

Posts: 882 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
I have noticed a subtle shift after my first sit where I crossed the A&P from what did the experience mean to how did my posture improve? 
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Dustin, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Weird Feeling of My Mind "Shrinking"??

Posts: 105 Join Date: 12/28/17 Recent Posts
 Anyway, was that a normal experience or has anyone else had this type of experience?


Sounds normal to me. I've had experiences where my consciousness or thinker or knower  or whatever in the middle of the head seemed to move in to my chest or shoulder or neck areas for a little while during a sit. Also had weird experiences where my whole being seemed to dissolve but I was still there after the experience. Meditation can induce all kinds of weirdness. Usually things like that are brought on by high concentration for me. 
A. Dietrich Ringle, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Weird Feeling of My Mind "Shrinking"??

Posts: 882 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
One thing I have noticed in myself is a tendency to try and empathize with people's sleep patterns. Some sleep frequencies are long and some are short. Doing this can bring up dukkha, and has launched many meditators careers. This might explain the (Freudian?) image of your mind shrinking.
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David Matte, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: Weird Feeling of My Mind "Shrinking"??

Posts: 90 Join Date: 8/3/19 Recent Posts
Dear Andrew, ​​​​​​​
Sensation of having a distorted body image or position is not uncommon while meditating. Sometimes I get the sensation that my whole upper torso is twisting 90°. It feels like quite a stretch.
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​​​​​​  What causes this? According to TMI this distortion in proprioception can happen in the stage of the pacification of the senses. As normal sensory information (including proprioception) is consistently ignored, it is attenuated and can also be  replaced with unusual made-up information. Peace

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