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Jhanic Like "Lock-in" Experience

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Jhanic Like "Lock-in" Experience
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11/28/11 10:05 AM
Not for the first time, but not for a while...

I was lying in bed paying gentle attention to the breath at the start of some involuntary meditation last night and all of a sudden there was a zzzzzing....... (like when it's all quiet in the kitchen late at night and the fridge motor suddenly kicks in, weird, but that's the best analogy i can come up with!) and I was locked-in to an experience.

There was a lot of heart fluttering and general mind chatter as it was wholly unexpected but i managed to keep the chatter down enough, and try to stay focused on the breath at the nostrils. It lasted for a few minutes i guess. I could feel the vibration of the "jhana" through my body as a semi-pleasant, but also kind of unsettling solid sensation but oddly found it hard to concentrate on the breath much (or more precisely, hard to feel the breath).

I had a lot of body sensation before this came on. I generally do.

I almost put this in End in Sight's "letting go" thread but we've got enough interesting tangents there already! As a point of interest I'd love to hear what any of you make of this experience.

RE: Jhanic Like "Lock-in" Experience
Answer
11/28/11 10:23 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Doesn't sound like jhana to me.

When the mind relaxes on its way to sleep, it passes through hypnagogic states (see the Hypnagogia Wikipedia page). This "borderland between wakefulness and sleep" is sometimes full of disorganized thoughts, images, lights, and other "phantasmata." Usually, one just passes through this territory and falls asleep, not remembering much of it, if any at all.

Sometimes, though, when the hypnagogic space is passed through, we can find ourselves in a very calm state of consiousness that is brightly aware. And yes, it can feel quite "locked-in." The same process can happen in sitting meditation if you allow yourself to drift off. Sitting often prevents you from falling asleep, so the possibility of recalling the hypnagogic state is higher, and the likelihood of passing through it to the calm state just beyond it is also more likely.

In my experience, this is not jhana. It's qualitatively more similar to access concentration, which can then be used to cultivate jhana or to jumpstart the progress of insight.

This isn't something to dismiss by any means. It's something you can use to your advantage.

That's what is seems like to me, at least. Lots of samadhi states arise in practice, intentionally or otherwise. Not all samadhi is jhana.

-Jackson

RE: Jhanic Like "Lock-in" Experience
Answer
11/28/11 10:37 AM as a reply to Jackson Wilshire.
Hi Jackson. I completely agree it's not Jhana - I just don't know how else to describe it.

The thing re sleep may be a red herring though, as I was far from sleep (i think!) - i was trying, but my mind was set on meditation. As often happens if I don't listen to an audio book or something before trying to sleep my mind just starts cycling up through the nanas without any input or direction from me at all!

It seemed related to the "angry white buzz" i get in similar circumstances sometimes. like a massive dip, a flash and an angry buzz -- only this time it's like I sank into the buzz, rather than startled out of it.

Thanks god for the DhO - Mrs Bagpuss' eyes glaze over when I start talking about this stuff... lol

RE: Jhanic Like "Lock-in" Experience
Answer
11/28/11 10:50 AM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Might be an A&P (which has qualities similar to 2nd samatha jhana). I have had those happen pretty often when nodding off to sleep (or in dreams sometimes).

RE: Jhanic Like "Lock-in" Experience
Answer
11/28/11 11:05 AM as a reply to Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem.
>A&P

Well bearing in mind that shortly afterward i cycled up through the dukkha nanas to low equanimity I think you're probably right Beoman. If you put that together with Jacksons description of the Hypnogogic state then it may explain why i don't get this in A&P during regular meditation but often get these things before sleep - a kind of A&P/Hypnogogic hybrid state..

RE: Jhanic Like "Lock-in" Experience
Answer
11/28/11 4:28 PM as a reply to Jackson Wilshire.
Jackson Wilshire:

When the mind relaxes on its way to sleep, it passes through hypnagogic states (see the Hypnagogia Wikipedia page). This "borderland between wakefulness and sleep" is sometimes full of disorganized thoughts, images, lights, and other "phantasmata." Usually, one just passes through this territory and falls asleep, not remembering much of it, if any at all.


If you learn to linger in this state before falling asleep at night, it is an excellent place to do insight practice. Mindfulness also tends to be stronger at days end.

I was quite surprised when I read about AF-Richards' experience with this state as I thought I was alone in actively using it as something of a makeshift access concentration. [link]

RE: Jhanic Like "Lock-in" Experience
Answer
11/28/11 11:40 PM as a reply to Pål S..
Pål S.:
I was quite surprised when I read about AF-Richards' experience with this state as I thought I was alone in actively using it as something of a makeshift access concentration.


Richard:

In that crystal-clear fully-lucid hypnopompic state ‘I’ was able to penetrate deeply into ‘myself’ at the core of ‘my’ being (which is ‘being’ itself) – or, rather, the penetration took place via ‘my’ full acquiescence – and there, in the centre of all the feelings swirling around, the essence of who ‘I’ am lay gorgeously exposed ... not all that unlike a beautiful rosy pearl, nestled coyly amidst the delicate fleshy tissue of its host, in its shimmering nacreous shell.

...what lay exposed (as in completely unprotected) was the essence of ‘me’ in all ‘my’ glory ... beautiful, radiant, resplendent and unquestionably worthy of the utmost adoration, worship and veneration.


This is really interesting to me; this reminds me of an experience I have had in the past, but can't remember when or in what context.

Anyhow, how do you do insight practice in the hypnagogic state (in particular: how do you keep from getting lost in weird thinking, or from falling asleep)?

RE: Jhanic Like "Lock-in" Experience
Answer
11/29/11 12:36 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:

Anyhow, how do you do insight practice in the hypnagogic state (in particular: how do you keep from getting lost in weird thinking, or from falling asleep)?

by having noted the three characteristics until their observation has become more automatic than getting lost in the content of the hypnagogic state, and by getting used to skimming/surfing the territory between the state's onset and sleep, which can draw its duration out considerably. going back to sleep in the morning, daytime naps, and isolation tanks are good opportunities for practice.

RE: Jhanic Like "Lock-in" Experience
Answer
11/29/11 1:05 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
How would you or Paul describe your experiences of the hypnagogic state?

I made a study of my experience of it in the past and found that it was filled with aberrant and bizarre cognitive processes, to such a degree that vipassana would seem impossible (as all standard reference points for what is going on are lost... perhaps it is a glimpse of what some form of psychosis are like). Perhaps that is common, but perhaps its severity is peculiar to me.

I have trouble advising people on what to do in case of severe sleepiness leading to these states in terms of meditation, mostly because I do not know how typical my own experience of them is.

RE: Jhanic Like "Lock-in" Experience
Answer
11/29/11 3:33 AM as a reply to End in Sight.
End in Sight:
How would you or Paul describe your experiences of the hypnagogic state?

I made a study of my experience of it in the past and found that it was filled with aberrant and bizarre cognitive processes, to such a degree that vipassana would seem impossible (as all standard reference points for what is going on are lost... perhaps it is a glimpse of what some form of psychosis are like). Perhaps that is common, but perhaps its severity is peculiar to me.

for the purpose of vipassana, the only required reference point is that the coming and/or going of phenomena be noticed, which is available in the hypnagogic state, no matter how bizarre the content gets or how interchanging that content and the fluid frameworks of the mindstates becomes. the three characteristics, sufficiently understood, can show up in myriad unexpected ways and places, and that strange world gleams with impermanence. the less else that is going on, or has recently gone on, mentally, the more likely the three characteristics will present.

i should note that hypnagogic/hypnopompic states were frequent occurrences for me while growing up - at some points, sleep paralysis, mostly from hypnogogia, happened almost-nightly, sometimes several times in one night - and that i had gotten used to retaining/re-gaining some measure of lucidity during them well before taking up insight practice. i should also note that one of my motivations for remaining/becoming lucid during these events was to deal with the discomfort of their dread and/or terror, and of being powerless to stop them. though they eventually ceased being so frequent and so unsettling (mostly), by then i had logged many hours of being as alert as possible during their occurrences, as i was wary of getting lost in the experiences lest they suddenly turned into a scary form of sleep paralysis or shifted me into time-bending multiple-lifetime alien environments yet again. i mention this because i can understand how not having to realistically consider the drawbacks of these states' very emergence can leave one to be (solely) fascinated or mesmerised by their content and without strong incentive to be awake to their happening.


End in Sight:

I have trouble advising people on what to do in case of severe sleepiness leading to these states in terms of meditation, mostly because I do not know how typical my own experience of them is.

the standard advice is good: strong effort, emphatic investigation; failing that, pay a lot of attention to light; failing that, (if sitting) stand up or walk. to this i would add: failing that, recline and practice as ardently as possible until asleep, and resume practice as normal when better-rested.

tarin

RE: Jhanic Like "Lock-in" Experience
Answer
11/29/11 4:05 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
Why pay attention to light? I've read that before in the old texts and never understood it. When I ask myself to pay attention to light what comes to focus is my visual field and/or a spacious presence that has qualities of light in it. The latter only occasionally or on accident.

RE: Jhanic Like "Lock-in" Experience
Answer
11/29/11 5:26 AM as a reply to Oliver Myth.
for the same reason that it's easier to sleep at night when it's dark than in the day when it's bright (light is a zeitgeber)

RE: Jhanic Like "Lock-in" Experience
Answer
11/29/11 9:03 AM as a reply to Oliver Myth.
Olyver Mith:
Why pay attention to light? I've read that before in the old texts and never understood it. When I ask myself to pay attention to light what comes to focus is my visual field and/or a spacious presence that has qualities of light in it. The latter only occasionally or on accident.


When you see a bright light, or are outside, try tuning into the intuitive perception you have of light. What does light 'feel' like?

Then try doing that when you are not around a bright light, i.e. in the dark. Look for that same intuitive feeling of light.

When I do it my mind feels 'bright' and it seems to reduce sleepiness.

RE: Jhanic Like "Lock-in" Experience
Answer
11/29/11 11:48 AM as a reply to Oliver Myth.
Olyver Mith:
Why pay attention to light? I've read that before in the old texts and never understood it. When I ask myself to pay attention to light what comes to focus is my visual field and/or a spacious presence that has qualities of light in it. The latter only occasionally or on accident.


Well, in part because lights are interesting. One way to reduce the likelihood of zoning out (i.e. the mind becoming dull) is to stay with objects that interest you.

RE: Jhanic Like "Lock-in" Experience
Answer
12/19/11 7:38 PM as a reply to Bagpuss The Gnome.
Bagpuss The Gnome:
Not for the first time, but not for a while...

I was lying in bed paying gentle attention to the breath at the start of some involuntary meditation last night and all of a sudden there was a zzzzzing....... (like when it's all quiet in the kitchen late at night and the fridge motor suddenly kicks in, weird, but that's the best analogy i can come up with!) and I was locked-in to an experience.

There was a lot of heart fluttering and general mind chatter as it was wholly unexpected but i managed to keep the chatter down enough, and try to stay focused on the breath at the nostrils. It lasted for a few minutes i guess. I could feel the vibration of the "jhana" through my body as a semi-pleasant, but also kind of unsettling solid sensation but oddly found it hard to concentrate on the breath much (or more precisely, hard to feel the breath).

I had a lot of body sensation before this came on. I generally do.

I almost put this in End in Sight's "letting go" thread but we've got enough interesting tangents there already! As a point of interest I'd love to hear what any of you make of this experience.


Hey man, I think it was access concentration. Something very similar just happened to me this weekend. I was also in bed, but I wasn't "sleepy," as it was first thing in the morning.

I had waves of pleasure and heart palpitations, and a feeling of extreme focus. Mine laster longer than a few minutes, but after about five minutes or so I had to pull out because my girlfriend work up and started talking to me. I think the pleasure was one of the jhana factors, and, if you or I had been able to stay longer in this state longer, I believe we might have been possible to develop jhana (by focusing on the pleasureable breath).

Here is an account of what happened to me, which is over on another thread.

NOTE*

Something definitely happened during my practice today.

I was doing samadhi meditation. I decided to try counting, which , for some reason, I never liked the ideas before, but thought I'd give it a shot. Counting 1-10, then back down from 10-1, focusing on the breah just in front of the nostrils the whole time as well. I was surprised that I was often unable to make it through 10, let alone back down to 1. I did this for about half an hour, counting all the while, but also focusing on my breath. I also started the practice of "noting" the intrusive thoughts, labeling them, which I've never done before. It was the Ron Crouch page, which finally inspired me to try counting, and also, to "note" intrusive thoughts and sensations http://alohadharma.wordpress.com/how-to-meditate/

Anyway, around the half hour mark I suddenly started getting these flashing purple clouds in front of my eye (which were closed), and it felt like my head opened up into a cave (instead of being the usual block of stone -- solid feeling), then it felt like a vice was gently squeezing my temples and forehead, I got washes of tingles and pleasurable feelings in my body and head (brief though). It felt like my face got very tight -- that is the best way I can describe it -- like the skin got pulled tight. And my lips started trembling against my will, literally shaking, mostly the top lip. I noticed that particularly on the out breath, the breath felt nice, pleasurable. I was then able to quite easily count 1-10 and then back down from 10-1. At one point I got another wash of pleasurable feeling, and my heart started palipitating, again, against my will. I feel like the palpitations kind of chased the pleasurable feeling away. Then, I kind of stabilized into the tight faced, lip trembling, cavern headed, easy to count 1-10 and then 10-1 zone. I was actually doing this in bed next to my sleeping girlfriend. She woke up at this point and started talking to me, so I opened my eyes and responded. It wasn't like I "poofed" out of this head-space, though. It continued and lingered to a certain extent, even with my eyes open. I decided to continue meditating with a focus on the breath, counting, with my eyes open (which I don't usually do), and I was able to easily count up to 10 and then back down again to 1. No purple clouds, though, with the eyes open. After having stopped focusing on the breath and counting, I felt like I could have just sat there, focusing on nothing, for a while. After walking around and doing stuff, the feeling left after about ten minutes.

I should note that I've had similar kinds of experiences when I was doing this type of meditation a year or two back. This felt stronger, however, with the lip trembling and head vice-y stuff. I think the counting and noting helped, and I was surprised it happened in bed with my girlfriend sort of flopping around and the cat on my lap...

RE: Jhanic Like "Lock-in" Experience
Answer
12/20/11 1:56 AM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
No, what I posted here is more in line with the theories posited above by others. Since I posted this thread I've gained access to the jhanas (albeit a little unskilfully and erratically) and they are an entirely different thing and tend to line up a lot better with MCTB descriptions of them.

I think you'd be better off with more qualified help on diagnosing your experience than mine, but I'd hazzard a guess that it was more likely a vipassana effect than jhanic..