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Separation of mind during sleep

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Separation of mind during sleep
Answer
9/3/13 12:34 AM
While I was deep in the DN, having lucid dreams and sometimes not being able to wake up from them was a common theme.
However, what happened last night was a pretty disturbing experience.


A little background: I have been in low eq for some weeks and in this time my defilement's have reduced considerably. I am able to wake up at 5-6 am without feeling lazy or sleepy and also meditation feels good/effortless and I usually get into calm states of absorption.

Last night I did an hour of body scanning before going to sleep. It started like a normal dream with more awareness, but I was not aware that it's a dream. I saw/interacted with people I respect as good dharma teachers, but soon after I automatically started body scanning. It was then that I lost "consciousness" of my body. There was nothing to hold on to, no sensations, not even the breath. I could only experience the mind/emotions and became incredibly worried about what is going on with the body. The only other time I have had a similar experience was during the first time I took LSD around 3 years ago. It felt like death but the mind was still functioning, without anything physical to relate to, completely unsure of what's going on with the body.

This lasted for a very long time and I was in deep despair, clueless about what's happening. I tried to feel the body, to feel the breath, but it didn't work. I finally began chanting some basic chants like "I take refuge in buddha/dharma/sangha, etc" and I started to feel the body again, and the scanning was going on. However, I was in a different location now with nobody around me, much relieved just to know the body again and that everything is alright. The scanning was still going on automatic, and as attention surfed around the body it began to disappear once again. Same paranoia and despair all over again. I was having very negative thoughts such as "What are they doing with my body. Will I wake up in the hospital/ What will my parents think/ What's the body doing right now.."

All in all, this cycle happened 3 or 4 times which felt like a very long time and grew in intensity each time before I finally woke up and realized it was a dream. It felt amazing just to breathe and feel the touch of my body against the bed and blanket. At the same time I was disturbed because of the stressful experience.

I want to know if any of you have any similar experiences and what to make of this/whether I can do something that will help deal with this better should it re occur.

RE: Separation of mind during sleep
Answer
9/3/13 4:23 PM as a reply to Sweet Nothing.
It sounds like an experience of sleep paralysis. It's usually something that happen when they "wake up" in the morning". Only the mind/consciousness part of the brain get activated but the one in charge of being aware of everything else doesn't. It can be scary when it happens the first time. It's a bit like the opposite of sleep walking. It's interesting that you had a similar experience while falling asleep.

RE: Separation of mind during sleep
Answer
9/3/13 6:28 PM as a reply to Sweet Nothing.
I had a somewhat similar experience before. I wouldn’t worry about it.

ps. that's funny you ran to refuge in buddha/dhamma, I have done exactly the same thing when some scary events have occured lol

RE: Separation of mind during sleep
Answer
9/3/13 11:18 PM as a reply to Sweet Nothing.
In order to avoid sleep paralysis or related energy phenomena, please remember to sleep on your right side, or if facing the ceiling with enough pillows so that your head is above the chest.

RE: Separation of mind during sleep
Answer
9/3/13 11:22 PM as a reply to Sweet Nothing.
This happened to me during a 10 day Goenka retreat. I went from sleep to the 7th Jhana of nothingness....scared me....popped out to unconsciousness and then went back in....recognized it as the same thing as last time and was much less fearful...then popped awake.
Not that that happened to you necessarily...just a thought.
Good luck
~D

RE: Separation of mind during sleep
Answer
9/4/13 12:18 AM as a reply to Sweet Nothing.
I have had so much weird dream stuff I hardly know where to begin, and have had some similar experiences to yours, though not exact.

Sleep paralysis is interesting and creepy, but I am not sure it totally fits with your descriptions.

Practice in dreams is so A&P, I wonder if you are in the stage you think you are in, and out of body stuff is very A&P also, and so sleep paralysis, if that is what you had, is also very A&P related. Low need for sleep: also very A&P.

I have definitely gotten into some very strange states in hypnogogic land. I have also had dreams that I thought I woke up in but was still dreaming, and layers upon layers of that, up to about 4 or 5, not sure exactly, and some of the realms I thought I woke up in were very creepy.

Descending into blackness or voidness: could be formless stuff, could be heavy dissolution also, could just be a nightmare that you woke up into from another dream and that was its basic quality. There is the drop-down, deep aspect of the A&P that can be like being deep underwater in slow motion and nearly frozen in time. I would consider resolutions to either realize something about those dream events (such as what the true nature of a formless awareness is at a sensate level) or not to have them: resolutions are powerful in dream-land.

RE: Separation of mind during sleep
Answer
9/4/13 4:21 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
For the last year I have been cycling through the dukkha nanas ever since my first retreat where I had a very strong A&P followed by a stronger dissolution. The feeling of my body became hollow from inside and still feels that way.

I have had unintentional lucid dreams followed by sleep paralysis as well, but this is definitely something else as you rightfully feel. The lucid dreams frequently occurred during the strongest part of my DN cycles; and they were always related to my old habit patterns, repressed emotions, strong dislikes, etc. I think they were a natural consequence of the removal of knots in the subconscious mind.

Practice in dreams was a common theme. Sometimes it got very A&P like too, such as raptures, intuition about the future, or mystical experiences where body dissolves into elements such as wind etc. This was probably because during the waking state I was investing most of my energy into learning more about dharma.

When I practice 2 hours, I always sleep less. During retreats it's hard to sleep more than 3-4 hours and I spend most of the night watching the breath and trying to sleep. During what I feel was the DN, I had developed an ill will towards meditation and had to force myself to do it even 1 hour a day in hope of getting to "the other side". I still have not regained any of my lost interests but I now I'm no longer unhappy about it.

I think I am in Low Eq & not A&P because my attention span is slightly better than Re Observation but still poor. Prior to first A&P I was able to watch the breath for several minutes and could instantly catch the mind if it tried to wander. Now I'm lucky if I am attentive for 15-20 mins in a 1 hour sit, but I still feel calm rather than restlessness that I felt during DN.

Regardless, in a months time I am going for another retreat. I will get a better perspective of my progress there.

I feel making a resolution is the best way to proceed with this, and also train myself to recognize fear and not get paranoid so easily when stuff like this happens again.

Thanks for all your responses.

RE: Separation of mind during sleep
Answer
9/7/13 11:46 AM as a reply to Sweet Nothing.
Sweet Nothing:

I feel making a resolution is the best way to proceed with this, and also train myself to recognize fear and not get paranoid so easily when stuff like this happens again.

Lots of cool funky stuff happens. Unfortunately fear can mess it up. Think of it as a carnival ride that you may only get to ride once. You may never get another chance of that particular experience again. Enjoy it while it happens...even the scary stuff. Do it fearlessly with exhilaration and curiosity.
Hard to do lots of times...but fear is limiting in so many ways....love is expanding...
Don't make resolutions to stop your natural unfolding experiences...make resolutions on how you handle them...
good luck
~D

RE: Separation of mind during sleep
Answer
9/21/13 6:05 AM as a reply to Sweet Nothing.
Interesting post! I have been having some weird dream stuff as I have been getting deeper in meditation, I know that I am aware of things when I'm asleep, like feelings and sensations and it all get included in a dream with some amount of consciousness.

I have been just basically ignoring them as dreams up until now, a bit like having my head in the sand. I've noticed a general head in the sand aspect of myself recently, and perhaps this is another thing that a little exploration of might help, or at least acknowledged awareness of?

RE: Separation of mind during sleep
Answer
10/14/13 11:06 AM as a reply to Kenny Whitman.
Kenny Whitman:
Interesting post! I have been having some weird dream stuff as I have been getting deeper in meditation, I know that I am aware of things when I'm asleep, like feelings and sensations and it all get included in a dream with some amount of consciousness.

I have been just basically ignoring them as dreams up until now, a bit like having my head in the sand. I've noticed a general head in the sand aspect of myself recently, and perhaps this is another thing that a little exploration of might help, or at least acknowledged awareness of?


When the mind sleeps, it is only the conscious mind that sleeps. The subconscious does not adhere to the logic of waking life and manifests it's desires on the abstract side of life we call the dream world. The subconscious has a momentum of it's own that cannot be manipulated by will or understanding. It can be reached only through the bridges of breath and sensation and when we do this, our dreams portray the process more clearly than our waking states. They are so abstract that it is futile to make sense of them all and just stay in the moment.