Random voices while meditating

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N A, modified 9 Years ago.

Random voices while meditating

Posts: 157 Join Date: 7/10/11 Recent Posts
My technique is noticing / panoramic awareness / choiceless awareness, so there's no need for verbal thoughts of any kind. Lately a lot of the time I'm getting mental chatter consisting of completely random words and short, ungrammatical sentence fragments. None of them make any sense. They seem more like voices in my head than thoughts, i.e. there's a strong auditory component. Is this normal? I have two theories for what these are; one is that it's what the verbal mind does when it's idle and I just got more sensitive to that; the other, more prosaic, is that I'm sleepy all the time. I tend to think it's the second, since nobody else reports this as a normal effect. Anyone experienced this kind of stuff?

Note that this is definitely not the usual mental chatter; this only arises once I'm fairly quiet and not actively thinking about stuff.
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Andrew Jones, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Random voices while meditating

Posts: 336 Join Date: 5/23/11 Recent Posts
Definitely had it before, can be quite disturbing and real. Also, had it when I was sick with chickenpox about 4 years ago. No idea really, I just ignore it and try to relax, though I get a bit excited by it. There are warnings out there not to get involved in it, or pay attention. It hasn't been for a while that it happened, a few months, and I think I was pushing myself as well.

It is quite amazing how real it sounds.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Random voices while meditating

Posts: 3166 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
aside from the perennial concerns about schizophrenia... ;)

that layer is definitely down there and shows itself at times

so long as it stays a "just on the cushion thing", no worries

d
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katy steger, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Random voices while meditating

Posts: 1745 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
The monk in this video (well-known teacher of vipassana) notes that such voices are as like the voices heard "off the cushion" (from other speakers), and any response to voices in the head and voices from the exterior is the same: impartiality in order to see clearly.

To be persuaded into partiality by such a voice (internal or another person's) is akin to being persuaded by a person one does not know well, and the effect of being partial to the voices is to be exposed to the five maaras, defilements, and to bring trouble to oneself as a result.

On cushion (in vipassana) or off cushion (mindfulness), the voices are equivalent and heard with impartiality.

[edit: consider starting at 28:20 if you just want the voices bit...or earlier, if you want another example of heeding such voices with partiality]
Aman A., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Random voices while meditating

Posts: 797 Join Date: 5/24/10 Recent Posts
N A:
My technique is noticing / panoramic awareness / choiceless awareness, so there's no need for verbal thoughts of any kind.


Is noticing technique compatible with panoramic awareness/choiceless awareness? Aren't they 180 degree opposite?

I see thoughts as notes. Mind is taking notice of certain events which appear in the awareness as thoughts. I reckon that if you can 'be the noticing' rather than 'doing the noticing', that will lead to panoramic awareness/choiceless awareness.

Gaining some experience in energy practices can help in 'be the noticing' than 'doing the noticing'. 'Energy' is connection between mind and body, how the two communicate, channel of communication.

I also see some value in using noticing/panoramic awareness/choiceless awareness as it can give some idea as to what work needs to be done and where. But if it bothers you, then maybe dropping either noticing or panoramic awareness would help.

Just my 2 cents. I need to gain more understanding to say for sure but at this point, it appears to me as such.
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N A, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Random voices while meditating

Posts: 157 Join Date: 7/10/11 Recent Posts
I'm doing panoramic awareness because I have a very strong intuition that it's what I should be doing. 'Noticing' (as opposed to noting) is just a consciously directed process of looking for more things to include in the panoramic field, and holding them there.

Re katy's post - I'm not sure what you mean by "heeding voices". These aren't voices telling me to do something; they're just random words. They're still more thoughtlike than full-blown auditory hallucinations. My guess is still that it's the verbal mind running on idle and that I should try to be less sleepy somehow.
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katy steger, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Random voices while meditating

Posts: 1745 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Hi N A,

I could only respond to your initial take:

They seem more like voices in my head than thoughts, i.e. there's a strong auditory component. Is this normal?


Now, that you express these mentations as "still more thoughtlike than full-blown auditory hallucinations" is not so different, but I see that you make the difference now.

Heeding is "to pay attention to; listen to and consider" - this is clearly vipassana. So you're action is heeding the thought-like forms.

I am just drawing your attention to a teaching monk's view that internal voices such as heard "on the cushion" and external voices - such as speech from another person, are not different in vipassana reception: clearly attending with impartiality.

Do you feel sleepy at the same time as the random words?
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N A, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Random voices while meditating

Posts: 157 Join Date: 7/10/11 Recent Posts
Right, sorry for the confusion. And I feel kinda sleepy most of the time, especially when sitting still with my eyes closed emoticon
It's a real problem. I feel like the only productive meditation time is after a daytime nap, at other times my concentration and mindfulness are worthless.
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katy steger, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Random voices while meditating

Posts: 1745 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Ah! That is a common event. I have this, too.

For me, for a while, while working on inner heat concentration, I was generating inner cold for about two months! Along with inner cold, I would get extremely fatigued. It got so that within less than a minute, even in group mediation where there is some bolstering effect of a group even, I would get very cold, start shaking and want to go to bed.

I did go to sleep on most occasions, then stopped meditating for a week.

Then, I thought, "This is nuts! You have to get through this", so I sat and stayed awake, tested a statement in my head (I was going to go through the knowledges of suffering by stating, "I am misery, I am averse...", but as soon as I mentally thought, "I am afraid" the cold and fatigue stopped and heat came up!)

I am not saying that the cause of your sleepiness has the same underlyer or resolution as mine, I am just sharing that I understand the challenge and the sense of having had an [apparently] worthless effect and a drowsy foe!

I think the general encouragement is to try again. In my case, taking a week off out of frustration (and some disgust) was useful. When I sat again, I was alert and determined, not beating myself up every day. It was useful to take a break and let intention re-build.

Good luck.

edit: brackets

edit 2: more from the same monk as above and on drowsiness now. Also, why is it a problem that productive meditation occurs after a nap? That sounds reasonable; a person has some needs for rest.
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katy steger, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Random voices while meditating

Posts: 1745 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
HI N A -

One thing I paid attention to this morning was how my visual field and drowsiness were related. For example, as my visual focus blurred (and the object of my gaze was a point in the broad landscape to take advantage of the full moon light) drowsiness came on very quickly.

At that point (the point of blurred vision-and-drowsiness), I put attention in the sound and body-sensation (not quite tactility) faculties. Thus the ticks form the heating pipes became significant in my senses (where were those senses before? This relates to mental bandwidth and perception...) and alertness was restored. I returned my gaze to the object and everytime drowsiness came on (with blurred vision) I moved attention to another sense-faculty to restore alertness. I repeated this often for a period.

One thing I notice happens just as concentration (jhana) starts to trigger and build is that sinuses open a touch. There's literally a little click. This may be a temporary event, but I have noticed it over several months (Bruno mentioned something about sinuses months ago and I related to his comment, but vaguely, so I have been looking at it for a while).

Another thing that benefits my practice, though it requires a commitment at the expense generally of other activities (aka: time commitment) is to sit for one hour (and this time may reflect my current aptitude/lack of consistent practice over recent years not any requisite inherent time commitment as far as I can tell). Then move about for a few minutes. Then sit again (maybe 20 minutes or as long as one can/wants). I find the second sit is much more dialed in to the concentration developed in the first sit. Thus, the second sit can be entirely concentration whereas the first was mostly attention-herding.

Good luck.

Edit: adverb replacement
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Tommy M, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Random voices while meditating

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Lately a lot of the time I'm getting mental chatter consisting of completely random words and short, ungrammatical sentence fragments. None of them make any sense. They seem more like voices in my head than thoughts, i.e. there's a strong auditory component. Is this normal?

Normal? Well, for meditation freaks n' geeks like us it is... emoticon

I was looking at this quite closely the other week, since your practice is mainly just being aware of things try seeing what happens if you just observe it as part of the whole sensate field without trying to change it. See how it breaks down into various components, each of them happening without any effort on your part to make it so and watch how it comes to be noticed in the first place. For me, it wasn't long after the chatter became more random and nonsensical that the entire thing stopped happening completely so try to stay with it, watch how it's not constantly there and see what causes it to arise in the first place.

Edit: With the feeling of sleepiness, there's a few things I've found which have been useful. The obvious one is drinking something with caffeine in it around 30 minutes before you sit, maybe a coffee or an energy drink of some sort, as this makes it much easier to catch when you're getting drowsy or drifting off. The drowsiness might still happen but this definitely makes it easier to deal. Something else to try is just giving yourself a kick in the arse when you notice you're drifting off or becoming sluggish, if you catch yourself getting sleepy focus yourself and get back into what's happening right now. I don't know how this would fit with your current practice but it's something I found useful in the past. Actively engage with your practice, be there 100% in the moment and pay attention while constantly coming back to what's going on as objects hit the sense doors.
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Yadid dee, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Random voices while meditating

Posts: 258 Join Date: 9/11/09 Recent Posts
Tommy M:
Something else to try is just giving yourself a kick in the arse when you notice you're drifting off or becoming sluggish,


When I get sleepy I stand up for a bit.

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