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Dharma Diagnostic Clinic, aka "What was that?"

new guy, some fear about what is happening

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Background first, then the current problem below: I'm 54, retired, married, 2 year old baby boy. in my teens, 20's, 30's, 40's I tried a short meditation class about once per decade, was unable to focus well, couldn't imagine what value the practice was.

I had a productive mid-life crisis, a fair bit of therapy, divorce, a lot of 'getting out there' with singing, improv, acting, dancing.

In my mid 40's I started doing improvisational acting, sucked at it, dug in like crazy trying to figure out how to thrive on stage doing improv. I developed a practice based on improv exercises (call it PEP for short), a sort of an on-your-feet social mediation, we practice non-judgmental non-reactive awareness of distracting events in the context of goal-oriented social interactions. For the last 3 years (since 2010) I did several hours of PEP per week of this, noticed more and more an improved life experience: stupid people tricks emoticon just don't bother me much at all any more, I found I can enjoy myself in just about any ordinary circumstance. I'm not really *sure* how my life experience got upgraded like this, could have had to do with all my settling in with a gentler life, marriage, etc. However, I did credit my improved circumstances to the PEP practice. I started trying to figure out what the heck this PEP thing I'm doing is, I decided it was a meditation practice and that I should look into mediation again.

So, without any preparation I did a Goenka 10-day over xmas and New Years at the end of 2013. Around day 7, I was having pretty trippy tingling sensations ( a couple of times for a number of minutes), a few seconds of getting freaked out by hearing/feeling my heart squiggle and wriggle around in it's pericardial sack. Also, suddenly I was able to sit motionless for over an hour without discomfort, I was taking cushions away thinking I was too comfortable. To my surprise, during the 'strong determination' sits, the knuckle cracking guys, nose blowers, general noisy people were driving me crazy by day 7, I had thought that would be no problem but it was really bugging me. Around day 7 I just kind of 'gave up', showed up for everything and put in the time but allowed my mind to wander. It was actually during those last few days I had the weird sensory stuff. (On the day 11 sit, last half hour of the whole retreat, I had some kind of break-through in that suddenly I let go of the annoyance of the knuckle-crackers, what a relief!)

At home now I've settled into a pattern of one or two sits per day, each 1 hour long, still easy as can be. I don't feel my concentration is very good, I can only follow my breathing for 5 or 10 breaths before noticing I've been distracted. I practice concentration on breath, then Goenka'esq body scans. I have had a number of interesting tingling sensations on the surface of my skin, like an itch that, when put my awareness on it, it kind of splats all over my head an leaves my whole head tingling and feeling sensitive.

Here's the fear: I was driving home to Albuquerque with my wife and son in the back seat. I remember hitting the north side of the city, eating a cookie and listening to the back-seat conversations. Then I remember looking up at open-desert and saying "did I just drive through Albuquerque? What the heck just happened" My wife in the back, preoccupied, had not noticed any funny driving, said "Yes, we are now south of the city".

I got home, bought Daniels Hardcore Dharma book, am working my way through it. But I felt I should ask this expert community about the blank-out period I had, and the general question, where am I?

I also have had this experience: after an evening sit, laying in bed I'm amused to feel tingling creep over the upper-right half of my body. Amused until it starts to bother me, and I toss/turn a little to shake it off.

I tried to read the forums for answers but found too much to wade through.

RE: new guy, some fear about what is happening
Answer
1/30/14 2:33 PM as a reply to Matt.
matthew sexton:
Here's the fear: I was driving home to Albuquerque with my wife and son in the back seat. I remember hitting the north side of the city, eating a cookie and listening to the back-seat conversations. Then I remember looking up at open-desert and saying "did I just drive through Albuquerque? What the heck just happened" My wife in the back, preoccupied, had not noticed any funny driving, said "Yes, we are now south of the city".

I got home, bought Daniels Hardcore Dharma book, am working my way through it. But I felt I should ask this expert community about the blank-out period I had, and the general question, where am I?

Read the book and get the vocabulary and concepts down. With your new information I think you will be able to evaluate your experiences much better and possibly your question will clarify/change/get more detailed. Your description is very brief to evaluate with accuracy. What did you notice immediately after "looking up at open-desert and saying "did I just drive through Albuquerque? What the heck just happened".... anything additional happen? Any feelings, thoughts or mind states?
~D

RE: new guy, some fear about what is happening
Answer
1/30/14 3:00 PM as a reply to Matt.
matthew sexton:
Background first, then the current problem below: I'm 54, retired, married, 2 year old baby boy. in my teens, 20's, 30's, 40's I tried a short meditation class about once per decade, was unable to focus well, couldn't imagine what value the practice was.

I had a productive mid-life crisis, a fair bit of therapy, divorce, a lot of 'getting out there' with singing, improv, acting, dancing.

In my mid 40's I started doing improvisational acting, sucked at it, dug in like crazy trying to figure out how to thrive on stage doing improv. I developed a practice based on improv exercises (call it PEP for short), a sort of an on-your-feet social mediation, we practice non-judgmental non-reactive awareness of distracting events in the context of goal-oriented social interactions. For the last 3 years (since 2010) I did several hours of PEP per week of this, noticed more and more an improved life experience: stupid people tricks emoticon just don't bother me much at all any more, I found I can enjoy myself in just about any ordinary circumstance. I'm not really *sure* how my life experience got upgraded like this, could have had to do with all my settling in with a gentler life, marriage, etc. However, I did credit my improved circumstances to the PEP practice. I started trying to figure out what the heck this PEP thing I'm doing is, I decided it was a meditation practice and that I should look into mediation again.

So, without any preparation I did a Goenka 10-day over xmas and New Years at the end of 2013. Around day 7, I was having pretty trippy tingling sensations ( a couple of times for a number of minutes), a few seconds of getting freaked out by hearing/feeling my heart squiggle and wriggle around in it's pericardial sack. Also, suddenly I was able to sit motionless for over an hour without discomfort, I was taking cushions away thinking I was too comfortable. To my surprise, during the 'strong determination' sits, the knuckle cracking guys, nose blowers, general noisy people were driving me crazy by day 7, I had thought that would be no problem but it was really bugging me. Around day 7 I just kind of 'gave up', showed up for everything and put in the time but allowed my mind to wander. It was actually during those last few days I had the weird sensory stuff. (On the day 11 sit, last half hour of the whole retreat, I had some kind of break-through in that suddenly I let go of the annoyance of the knuckle-crackers, what a relief!)

At home now I've settled into a pattern of one or two sits per day, each 1 hour long, still easy as can be. I don't feel my concentration is very good, I can only follow my breathing for 5 or 10 breaths before noticing I've been distracted. I practice concentration on breath, then Goenka'esq body scans. I have had a number of interesting tingling sensations on the surface of my skin, like an itch that, when put my awareness on it, it kind of splats all over my head an leaves my whole head tingling and feeling sensitive.

Here's the fear: I was driving home to Albuquerque with my wife and son in the back seat. I remember hitting the north side of the city, eating a cookie and listening to the back-seat conversations. Then I remember looking up at open-desert and saying "did I just drive through Albuquerque? What the heck just happened" My wife in the back, preoccupied, had not noticed any funny driving, said "Yes, we are now south of the city".

I got home, bought Daniels Hardcore Dharma book, am working my way through it. But I felt I should ask this expert community about the blank-out period I had, and the general question, where am I?

I also have had this experience: after an evening sit, laying in bed I'm amused to feel tingling creep over the upper-right half of my body. Amused until it starts to bother me, and I toss/turn a little to shake it off.

I tried to read the forums for answers but found too much to wade through.


I'm really interested in this PEP... can you tell me about it?

"Driving hypnosis" is very common. It's not necessarily related to meditation or any of this stuff. People frequently drive and find themselves at their destination without really remembering the journey or being aware of it.

RE: new guy, some fear about what is happening
Answer
1/30/14 3:57 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Just after "did I just drive through Albuquerque? What the heck just happened" and my wife answered, I didn't notice anything accept a mild anxiety at the idea that I'd spaced out.

This was about 2 weeks after the end of the my 10-day. Since the 10-day there has been a general heightened state of curiosity and surprise about my state of mind post-10-day, I'm cool with it all but my wife feels I've been preoccupied with myself, generally more spacey than normal. emoticon

Thanks DW, I indeed will read the rest of the book.

RE: new guy, some fear about what is happening
Answer
1/30/14 4:06 PM as a reply to J C.
In PEP we (2-10 people) stand in a circle, hit a single ball around to each other. The person hitting the ball verbalizes, the receiver responds to the verbal 'transmission' using simple rules to make sure that we are actually listening to the sender. Levels of response: rote, repeat, react.

Then we let go of the real ball and use an imaginary ball. This way we can raise the cognitive demands for listening/responding. We add in awareness of emotive transmission and use our one emotional reaction to format the response.

There are other formats as well.

It's all just an intensification of the kind things improvisers/actors do as a warm-up before class, building in an awareness of 'Flow' principles and zen'ish emphasis on experiential learning.

Matt

RE: new guy, some fear about what is happening
Answer
1/30/14 7:51 PM as a reply to Matt.
I would check out this video. It talks about the side effects of meditation in good detail.

Leigh Brasington Interview