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meditation making me feel spaced out

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meditation making me feel spaced out
Answer
10/18/14 1:08 AM
Brief practice history: Crossed the A&P about two years ago on retreat. Been keeping my practice light since then. Over the last year I've been gradually increasing my practice and focusing more on concentration than insight.

The Experience:

About two weeks ago, I did an hour sit of concentration, and when I finished I felt really spaced out. Now I usually feel a little bit "high" after meditation, but it only lasts a half hour or so. This was a different. I felt out of it. Almost like the place from which I observe the world was pushed to the side or just not in the right place. I know that sounds odd. It's tough to put the experience to words. It was somewhat akin to feeling slightly drunk. My functioning was pretty normal, but it somehow felt like more work.

For the next week I laid off mediation, and I had off and on headaches and spaciness with a little pressure on top of my head sometimes(not too much). Eventually it subsided. A few days after it ended, I tried a 5 minute sit and the spaciness returned, only to last about a day. Tried it again today and there it was for a few hours, albeit not quite as intense.

Has anyone else ever come across this? I wasn't even really straining during my sit. I generally try to have a light touch.

Thanks,
Jeff

RE: meditation making me feel spaced out
Answer
10/16/14 10:28 PM as a reply to Jeffrey Thomas Nieves.
I tended to feel spaced out in the fact that concentration blocks thinking. Trying to think after continued and conditioned concentration practices can create a conflict with thinking. Insight up to equanimity (vipassana jhana) could also leave you spaced out with memory problems that are temporary. Expanding my equanimity to more objects, than only infront of me, helped to reduce brain fog, but that's because some forms of thinking are allowed in vipassana. You want thoughts to be not considered separate from other experiences. It's all interdependent Consciousness-objects.

I would look into more descriptions of proper concentration practice to make sure you really are paying attention and not just drifting. There should be strong knowing of the experiences up until the 4th jhana. After that then it should start getting more strange but a sense of knowing is still there.

http://www.leighb.com/jhanas.htm

I would read about Csikszentmihalyi and Flow to develop the type of concentration that most people get when absorbed in work. It's healthy and you can do plenty of thinking. It involves doing tasks that aren't too easy (bored) or too hard (stress).

RE: meditation making me feel spaced out
Answer
10/17/14 3:04 AM as a reply to Jeffrey Thomas Nieves.
Jeffrey Thomas Nieves:
Brief practice history: Crossed the A&P about two years ago on retreat. Been keeping my practice light since then. Over the last year I've been gradually increasing my practice and focusing more on concentration than insight.

The Experience:

About two weeks ago, I did an hour sit of concentration, and when I finished I felt really spaced out. Now I usually feel a little bit "high" after meditation it only lasts a half hour or so. This was a different. I felt out of it. Almost like the place from which I observe the world was pushed to the side or just not in the right place. I know that sounds odd. It's tough to put the experience to words. It was somewhat akin to feeling slightly drunk. My functioning was pretty normal, but it somehow felt like more work.

For the next week I laid off mediation, and I had off and on headaches and spaciness with a little pressure on top of my head sometimes(not too much). Eventually it subsided. A few days after it ended, I tried a 5 minute sit and the spaciness returned, only to last about a day. Tried it again today and there it was for a few hours, albeit not quite as intense.

Has anyone else ever come across this? I wasn't even really straining during my sit. I generally try to have a light touch.

Thanks,
Jeff
Hi Jeff,

Sure, this is not anything new under the Sun emoticon What you describe sounds rather common to me. Many people I know, including myself, have had these. Your situation seems not serious. The spaceyness/ungroundedness unto ones phys body can be a lot worse to the extent that ordinary daily activities become a problem.

There must have been an energetic opening in your energetic body (which in other words is your mental and emotional body) which now is not perfectly in alignment with your physical body and the surrounding phys world. As you have felt sensations in the crown it is probable that this condition has most to do with the crown center. This can even out with time but there is also some things that can help you to become aligned again sooner. These are simple tools, there are also tools for much worse conditions.
  1. Keep your eyes open and feel your body, whether still or in action. Really go in-to your body. Be not just aware of your body but in your body like a martial artists are. You don't have start swinging kicks and punches for this emoticon
  2. Exercise to break a sweat and to warm up your phys body.
  3. Go outdoors, preferably in nature. Feel the Earth and it's connection with your body.
  4. Eat root vegetables like potatoes and carrots that are well cooked. If you are not vegetarian also fish and eggs are good.
I think your condition will normalise with these guidelines in a week or few weeks time. During this time as you try out your concentration practice you probably will notice the spaceyness evening out to normal. Hope this helps.

Baba

RE: meditation making me feel spaced out
Answer
10/17/14 3:28 PM as a reply to Jeffrey Thomas Nieves.
Jeff - i've had a fair amount of experience with meditation making me feel 'spaced out', so I was compelled to post a response here.  Take it with a grain of salt, of course.  I am just trying to be helpful.

You might be dealing with the stage of 'dissolution'.  See the descriptions of this stage in MCTB.  I'm not saying that for sure though, and you can never be 100% certain where you are anyways.

Otherwise, you might be in another stage of insight, but you are starting to see some significant aspects of not-self in your mind and body.  Or you could just be getting more mindful and seeing the arisings of intentions, thoughts, and actions in real time.  This can be hard to integrate in my experience.  You start feeling out of whack and dissociated.

I think that this is a complex issue so there isn't any easy advice.  Personally, I am a materialist so I stray away from anything 'energetic' or any explanations like that.  I probably wouldn't see a headache as related, unless it was some sort of tension in the head from concentrating.   I just try to see it as ''my insight is progressing and this is just a bit weird and hard to adjust to at the moment.''  So long as it isn't causing you a lot of distress, I'd just try to ride it out.  After all, if you want to realize that there is no permanent, separate self, it is going to be a bit of a head-trip to get there! 

You could modify your practice a bit and see if that decreases the feelings of spaciness.  You could try a more whole-body field of attention and focus on calming the body and breath (as Than. Bhikkhhu would advise).  That might help.  You could narrow the focus to just the breath, just the body, or try a different focus point for your concentration (the belly, the nose, whatever).   You could experiment and see if you can change something to bring yourself some relief. 

If you could give some extra detail about your practice and your symptoms, that could help with the discussion.  Otherwise, best of luck with your practice.

RE: meditation making me feel spaced out
Answer
10/18/14 2:25 AM as a reply to Mike H..
Hey Mike,

Thanks for the response. I will try every suggestion you made. I really appreciate that advice.

Seeing the experience as insight into not self is an interesting way to view things. I can definitely see what you mean. 

It did cross my mind that it could be disolution or some aspect of three characteristics. I looked at the descrpitions in MCTB and two passages connected to what I felt. The first is from the section on dissolution. It reads:

“For instance, you might be going to lift your hand to turn off your alarm clock, but your hand just doesn’t move. You could move your hand, but somehow things just tend to stop with the intention and get nowhere. Eventually you move your hand, but it might have been just a bit tiring to do so.”

I definitely experienced that. Just moving felt odd and took real work. Especially in terms of mental operations, like when trying to make a plan. It was real effort to get my brain straight enough to consider the future and then go back to the present. 

I also related to this passage describing Three Characteristics:

Occasionally, the early part of this stage can cause people to feel vulnerable, raw, and irritable to a small or large degree in the ways that a migraine headache or a bad case of PMS can. I have occasionally been laid out on a couch for hours by this aspect holding my head and just..."

I was literally laid out on the couch after I stopped mediating for about a week and had an intense headache.

More detailed practice history:

I had a pretty classic A&P(waves of energy, brain vibrating, seeing objects arise and pass in what feels like real time, pressure on the forehead and the top of the head, body moving own its own, my body feeling weightless, etc...

Since then I did generally lighter sits(mostly 10 to 30 minutues) of vipassana. During those sits I experienced crazy breathing, weird movements, some pretty uncomfortable "energy" welling up in diff parts of the body.

About a year ago, I just started experiencing mostly Piti arise combined with sudden stomach movements. I would just get crazy happy while I sat to the point where it was hard to focus on anything else.

Recently I switched to a sutta influeced anapasati practice of observing the breath, but not at any particular location. This induced more piti. I did a 3 day retreat of this and it almost felt like my head would pop off from piti.

I was doing commentary influenced anapasati(using the nostrils as focus) when the spacness arose. 

Again, thanks so much for your advice.

Best,
Jeff

RE: meditation making me feel spaced out
Answer
10/18/14 1:00 PM as a reply to Jeffrey Thomas Nieves.
Hello Jeff,

Jeffrey Thomas Nieves:

About two weeks ago, I did an hour sit of concentration, and when I finished I felt really spaced out. Now I usually feel a little bit "high" after meditation, but it only lasts a half hour or so. This was a different. I felt out of it. Almost like the place from which I observe the world was pushed to the side or just not in the right place. ... It's tough to put the experience to words. It was somewhat akin to feeling slightly drunk. My functioning was pretty normal, but it somehow felt like more work.

I like the response given by Richard Zen. Especially his emphasis on "knowing" the state you are in when it is occurring. Your reference to "feeling slightly drunk" suggests a dull mind state (which may be akin to a trance-like state). You want to endeavor to avoid going into any kind of trance-like state, so that the mind remains sharp, resilient, focused, maleable, workable, and established on its object with clear comprehension of the object at all times. This prepares the mind for the practice of vipassana or insight contemplation.

Check out Thanissaro Bhikkhu's descriptions of dull mind states in his brief essay Jhana Not by the Numbers and see if it is similar to what you have experienced. If so, the application of sati (mindfulness) can help to alleviate the experience.

Take note of references such as the following in his essay:

Strong concentration is absolutely necessary for liberating insight.

To gain insight into a state of concentration, you have to stick with it for a long time. ...

The first was the state that comes when the breath gets so comfortable that your focus drifts from the breath to the sense of comfort itself, your mindfulness begins to blur, and your sense of the body and your surroundings gets lost in a pleasant haze. When you emerge, you find it hard to identify where exactly you were focused. Ajaan Fuang called this moha-samadhi, or delusion-concentration.

In both these states of wrong concentration, the limited range of awareness was what made them wrong. If whole areas of your awareness are blocked off, how can you gain all-around insight?...This is why Ajaan Fuang, following Ajaan Lee, taught a form of breath meditation that aimed at an all-around awareness of the breath energy throughout the body, playing with it to gain a sense of ease, and then calming it so that it wouldn't interfere with a clear vision of the subtle movements of the mind. This all-around awareness helped to eliminate the blind spots where ignorance likes to lurk.

Richard Zen:
Expanding my equanimity to more objects, than only infront of me, helped to reduce brain fog, but that's because some forms of thinking are allowed in vipassana. You want thoughts to be not considered separate from other experiences. It's all interdependent Consciousness-objects.

I would look into more descriptions of proper concentration practice to make sure you really are paying attention and not just drifting. There should be strong knowing of the experiences up until the 4th jhana. After that then it should start getting more strange but a sense of knowing is still there.

By suggesting the expansion of "equanimity to more objects," he is also implying an increase in mindfulness (sati). Mindfulness in this sense equates with "knowing awareness" of the moment as it is happening. Not just awareness, but actually knowing (with wisdom and insight) where you are and what you are doing in that moment with mental clarity. You don't want the mind to begin to become dull or trance-like during these moments. If you feel that dullness coming on, you need to increase mindfulness to combat it in order to avoid that "feeling slightly drunk" feeling.

As long as the headachy experience is not intense and throbbing, you are likely just experiencing what all meditators experience when their concentration becomes increased: a sense of pressure in the center of the cranium as though a balloon is expanding there, creating the sensation of pressure. The experience of such pressure can be used as a nimitta hearlding increased concentration when one is attempting to enter into dhyana or samadhi. It all depends on how one responds to such phenomena whether or not it can be used to deepen one's practice.

In peace,
Ian