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What was that??? Sth. caught me by surprise.

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What was that??? Sth. caught me by surprise.
joyful experience experience daily meditation practice
Answer
1/18/15 9:48 AM
Dear Dharmaovergroundists,

I'd like to share my experience to get an independent view on what that was, where I am and to learn how to move on.
My first meditative experience was about 3 years ago (without no conscious intention to meditate at all): I was very stressed and couldnt sleep as I felt I could not breathe and my heart was beating way too fast. I finally could calm myself by sitting on my pillow on my bed to slow down heartbeat and get enough air. I stayed like this for about an hour and I suddenly felt something strange in my head. It felt like the film of water (of a wave at the beach) that moves back to the sea, right under my skull. Almost like my brainwaves changed to a frequency that I never realised before, and everything became clearer more focused. I also realised a tingling in my nose a bit like before sneezing.

Didn't think about it further until I visited by chance a buddhist 8 day silent retreat half a year later, nothing was happening until the 3rd day, when my breathing got so regular and slow, that in front of my eyes closed I saw a flurry / swirl (kind of like the moving apple screensaver). And at one point i got goosebumps, my body got warm and I saw a strong light coming from me and into me like a beam, filled with love and something indescribable - happiness. I felt like myself became one with everything, bascially my self dissapearing into the background. It felt like I was balancing it with my breath to keep that state, sometimes falling out of it and sometimes coming back. The strongest feeling I ever had. Could anyone map or explain what this was? 

Since then i practiced irregularly - and I sometimes got to a similar state but not as intense as at that point. 2 years ago i was on a beach in winter and meditated and got to about a two hour long half kind of sleep state with high clarity of thoughts, also warm body and some kind of feeling in a really deep, blue coloured realm followed by universal feeling of love & light. Again me melting / disappearing into the surrounding. (the colourful flurry - swirl before the raptures? don't appear anymore) So again, what kind of state could this have been? 

I have not deeply engaged with theoretical, philosophical buddhism that much as I like to practice learn out of the experience.
The one thing from the retreat teachings that stuck is that this kind of happiness is just a stage, that will be overcome by the understanding of perishableness - to finally learn to (let) loose your ego. 

My rather pragmatic question is, how to approach further practice best? Right now, I just sit or lay on the back straight, close my eyes and try to breathe as regulary that i can, trying to thin of nothing or just observe thoughts.
I recently read more about meditation and the advantages for better focus, however I don't really feel any improvement in those terms - would that be a different practice to look at?

I know this might sound esoteric or strange but I feel that in this forum there are people with similar experiences.
 
Many thanks, luv and respect! 

kenzen1

RE: What was that??? Sth. caught me by surprise.
Answer
1/18/15 5:10 PM as a reply to Ken Zen.
Ken Zen:
I was very stressed and couldnt sleep as I felt I could not breathe and my heart was beating way too fast. I finally could calm myself by sitting on my pillow on my bed to slow down heartbeat and get enough air. I stayed like this for about an hour and I suddenly felt something strange in my head. It felt like the film of water (of a wave at the beach) that moves back to the sea, right under my skull. Almost like my brainwaves changed to a frequency that I never realised before, and everything became clearer more focused. I also realised a tingling in my nose a bit like before sneezing.

Didn't think about it further until I visited by chance a buddhist 8 day silent retreat half a year later, nothing was happening until the 3rd day, when my breathing got so regular and slow, that in front of my eyes closed I saw a flurry / swirl (kind of like the moving apple screensaver). And at one point i got goosebumps, my body got warm and I saw a strong light coming from me and into me like a beam, filled with love and something indescribable - happiness. I felt like myself became one with everything, bascially my self dissapearing into the background. It felt like I was balancing it with my breath to keep that state, sometimes falling out of it and sometimes coming back. The strongest feeling I ever had. Could anyone map or explain what this was? 

Since then i practiced irregularly - and I sometimes got to a similar state but not as intense as at that point. 2 years ago i was on a beach in winter and meditated and got to about a two hour long half kind of sleep state with high clarity of thoughts, also warm body and some kind of feeling in a really deep, blue coloured realm followed by universal feeling of love & light. Again me melting / disappearing into the surrounding. (the colourful flurry - swirl before the raptures? don't appear anymore) So again, what kind of state could this have been? 

My rather pragmatic question is, how to approach further practice best? Right now, I just sit or lay on the back straight, close my eyes and try to breathe as regulary that i can, trying to thin of nothing or just observe thoughts.
I recently read more about meditation and the advantages for better focus, however I don't really feel any improvement in those terms - would that be a different practice to look at?


I think you are a lucky guy. It sounds like you have stumbled into the sutta jhana’s - the kind of tranquility meditation that is taught in the early suttas or Buddhist teachings.

The practice is basically to focus on the breath with the intention of  relaxing both mind and body until the minds preoccupation with thoughts quiets down and awareness remains fairly steady and calm. At that point, a sense of pleasure arises in the body and the practice is to switch over to the pleasurable feeling and attend to that and cultivate it until it fills up the body - then there is kind of  shift that takes you to a calmer more still and kind of steady experience that is characterized by a feeling of happiness. As this further deepens the sense of the body will begin to disappear into sort of a cloud of mist.

The experiences you describe seem to be various elements of this - like you are sort of randomly dropping into these. The swirling lights and such are more side effects - if there is a general sense of light then I think the directions are to attend to that and deepen that - but I don’t have that experience myself. Also the half sleep state - no, not useful. Sitting up may help with staying more clearly aware - which is what you want.

Personally, I would avoid trying to study or analyze this stuff too much as doing so will probably cause you to start making too much effort to achieve this or that state. You already have some natural ability so why mess it up? Still, this is a really useful skill and you need some context to see how to work with it. I think focus on improving your skill so it becomes more accessible to you - pay attention to how it develops - what you are doing - how you attend to the aspects of your experience that deepen it. The more time you spend exploring this experience and playing around with it - the more you will learn about your mind and the world.

Here is an experiential walk-through of this territory by a jhana teacher using one of the suttas and adding some very good commentary:

http://talks.dhammasukha.org/uploads/1/2/8/6/12865490/mn-118-breath-u.pdf

RE: What was that??? Sth. caught me by surprise.
Answer
1/20/15 11:04 AM as a reply to Ken Zen.
Ken Zen:

Didn't think about it further until I visited by chance a buddhist 8 day silent retreat half a year later, nothing was happening until the 3rd day, when my breathing got so regular and slow, that in front of my eyes closed I saw a flurry / swirl (kind of like the moving apple screensaver). And at one point i got goosebumps, my body got warm and I saw a strong light coming from me and into me like a beam, filled with love and something indescribable - happiness. I felt like myself became one with everything, bascially my self dissapearing into the background. It felt like I was balancing it with my breath to keep that state, sometimes falling out of it and sometimes coming back. The strongest feeling I ever had. Could anyone map or explain what this was?
I don't know if you have read : Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, an Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book, by Daniel Ingram
But here are the relevent selections you might wish to read.

MCTB 4. The Arising and Passing Away

Good luck,
~D

RE: What was that??? Sth. caught me by surprise.
Answer
2/8/15 4:55 PM as a reply to Chuck Kasmire.
Hi Chuck, many thanks for your reply - yes, it's a bit of a two-fold thing: on the one hand I want my experiences to happen as un-preconditioned to any religion, philosophy, school of thought, meaning as intuititvely as possible. And on the other I would like to know in how far this is an individual experience vs. something that happens in a similar way to other people as well. (And I don't believe that 'modern science' is the only way to explain or understand such experiences. So thank you very much for the advice and that is actually the way, to go and follow simply the breath and see what develops...

Peace & respect!

kenzen 

RE: What was that??? Sth. caught me by surprise.
Answer
2/8/15 5:05 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Hello Dreamwalker,

thank you for the interesting hint! It is really amazing that these kind of experiences/ mind states are being systemized and usually only revealed to those who practice the most basic and common thing for every living being - our breath (at least for humans but who knows...)

Thanks again and I'll keep it up!

Best,

kenzen