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Zapped between the ears
11/23/12 3:18 AM
Yesterday, whilst lying in bed, getting settled for sleep, I experienced this jolt of energy zapping me between the ears in the back of my head just above where my spine attaches. It was accompanied by a really loud high-pitched whine and some old-school TV static "sound". Whole thing lasted a fraction of a second.

I've noticed this kind of thing on several occasions, years apart - only without the loud high-pitched sound.

Although I have been doing insight practices for a while, I'm not sure that this is insight-related due to it having occurred several times before I've started meditating. I hope I'm not breaking any posting rules by asking this question here.

Anyone a clue as to what this may be?

RE: Zapped between the ears
11/23/12 5:38 AM as a reply to Ryn dH.
Just to add that I was able to fall asleep just fine a short time afterwards, that before and after the zapping event there seemed to be no cognitive or motor impairment. I could move with the same fine control as before, there was no trouble remembering or using my sensory faculties.

The event didn't make me move in any outwardly visible way and it did not produce any changes in affect. I was basically calm and remember thinking "wow that was interesting".

As a context, me and a few friends had been doing insight practice for 30 minutes and samatha practice for 30 minutes a few hours beforehand. During the samatha practice I was able to attain a very soft 1st jhana.

RE: Zapped between the ears
1/1/13 2:40 AM as a reply to Ryn dH.
Ah, the zaps. Not sure how common it is, but I personally get zaps multiple times per day. I look forward to them. I don't know if they have any particular significance. Sometimes it seems they relate to my state of mind, but not always.

It's something I first experienced from a mushroom (well, 4-aco-dmt) trip, but then only really started happening regularly after I began meditating seriously, which was about 8 months ago.

High pitch, and it feels like it is dissolving "me" into emptiness/bliss. Sometimes lasts just a half second. Sometimes it's a weaker version that lasts for a whole minute.

Maybe someone else can diagnose us.

RE: Zapped between the ears
1/1/13 7:02 AM as a reply to Joel Rosenblum.
Hi guys. While I don't experience this as often as I used to, it did occur quite noticeably not that long ago. The morning after I tried to recreate the sound by tweaking a sample of static TV noise. Although I couldn't get it exactly how I wanted it did turn out somewhat similar. You can find it attached to this post. Does it sound familiar? (Listen with headphones on but start with low volume and gradually increase as this is not the most pleasant of sounds).

Since we're not likely to get anything resembling a scientific explanation of this I offer my wildly speculative interpretation. I noticed before this zap that the mind feels as if it's booting down, just like before a fruition. The fruition however is a surprise and the boot-down is only remembered after-the-fact. While with the zap it's like awareness is present in the boot-down which stops the fruition from happening. When the boot-down reaches a critical point this dim awareness halts the process and sparks the mind back to normal operation. (Imagine working late one day in your cubicle, you are the only one left in the office, suddenly the janitor, thinking everyone has gone for the day start shutting off the lights. When you notice the lights beginning to shut off you scream out: "hey! I'm still here!", causing the janitor to abruptly turn them back on). It's this sudden switch from boot-down to boot-up that causes a sudden surge of activity in the brain. There's very little activity before this switch so the sudden boot-up creates a small electric storm (from a relatively blue sky) the side-effect of this being the zap (sound) and a mind-cleanse

This will probably not make any sense, but it was so fun to write.

RE: Zapped between the ears
1/1/13 9:11 AM as a reply to Ryn dH.
Yep. I get this a lot, and it's definitely meditation-related. First time it happened was after a 10-day retreat and it was very strong - a little scary. Now it happens frequently.

RE: Zapped between the ears
jhana fruition heart arrhythmia heart skipping a beat zap
1/8/13 4:47 AM as a reply to Pål S..
Pål S.:
While with the zap it's like awareness is present in the boot-down which stops the fruition from happening. When the boot-down reaches a critical point this dim awareness halts the process and sparks the mind back to normal operation.

This is exactly how I experienced it after a really huge first zap. The huge zap was like being struck by lightening, and I nearly fell off my cushion. (Is there a name for this? I've always wondered.) That first big zap happened during the second day of a "determination", a period of 48 hours of meditation with no sleep, only eating, bathroom, and seeing my teacher. After the zap, there was only an intensely bright and alert state that didn't go away for a very long time. I wasn't able to sleep and didn't feel the need to.

Further into that same retreat, the function you described the zap having was replaced with something like my heart skipping a beat, like it was giving a big "chug".

When describing it to my teacher (Thai monk), he wanted to discuss it with me the following day. He indicated it was a "ceasing", but ceasing of what exactly... my life? I was able to move past that point, and it was not a problem for the rest of the retreat. Towards the end of the retreat, I was experiencing somewhat regular blackouts, some short, some up to an hour, always followed by a deeply peaceful feelings, giddiness and sometimes laughter for no reason I can describe.

Now that I'm back into meditating more intensely at home, I'm regularly encountering the first jhana, nearly every day, and the second jhana a few times each week. The heart chugging has returned, and it still happens mostly during meditations, or whenever mindfulness is dropping. I'm compelled to continue practicing, but struggling to integrate these into my everyday life. I find myself trying to avoid the jhana states as a result of all this :-/

I've been reading for a while, but am otherwise brand spanking new on DhO. Is there a particular forum or person you suggest I speak with about this?

RE: Zapped between the ears
1/8/13 4:13 AM as a reply to Mike L.
Hi Mike, and welcome!

When it comes to irregularities involving the heart you first need to consult a medical doctor. Don't chalk everything up as meditation symptoms; it's important to first rule out any medical conditions.

That being said I don't have any experience with regular occurring 'heart chugging' so I can't say much about it. Hopefully somebody else reading this can provide information.

RE: Zapped between the ears
1/8/13 4:44 AM as a reply to Pål S..
Thanks for the welcome!

I hear you on that, and I'm quite cautious and skeptical about meditation symptoms in general, including signs of "progress" etc. I give a lot of time to observation and have been actively searching for a non-meditative cause, including discussing heart health and this specific issue with two different doctors. There doesn't seem to be connections with food, exercise, sleep, time of day. It's been going on for years.

This "chug" almost only happens during or immediately after meditations, and is always associated with that specific mental state. Honestly, there are fewer and fewer places for me to find a connection, so I thought it might be worth checking to see if anyone else had encountered it via meditation. If not, the docs say to not worry about it, unless it turns into an arrhythmia or I start feeling faint.

Thanks for the quick reply. I'm grateful to have found this community of practitioners online emoticon