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Strange visuals-New to Dharma O

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Strange visuals-New to Dharma O
Answer
4/28/15 4:58 PM
Hi all,
Before describing my recent experiences I'd like to thank Dan (as most people on here have done!). I've had an inconsistent meditation practice for several years, but really settled into a regular daily practice of 1hr a day about 18 months ago. Discovering MCTB this year has completely transformed my practice! I was quickly able to access 1st 2nd and 3rd jhana (shamata), and can access 1st and 2nd quickly and reliably. This has given me so much motivation to meditate, I look forward to practice, and the end of each session is like putting down a good back book that I can't wait to come back too. Around the time I read MCTB I simulataneously started doing deep somatic meditations (lengthy bodyscans, sensing energy channels etc) and I really feel that this helped deepen my practice too.
After spending some time enjoying and 'mastering' these jhanas, I started to investigate them with insight noting practice. I haven't kept this up as it left me feeling really 'strung out' with migraine-like symptoms, and also feeling a bit low and 'disconnected'. Does anyone know why this might be? I also developed a black dot in my vision during the noting pracitces (eyes closed) that has stayed with me. It's not always there but will appear often in meditation and occasionally at times during the day. I've also had some experiences off the cushion, where I've intentionally tried to notice phenomena as 'bare sensations' and the field of vison has become almost pixelated?? In addition, my dreams have become VERY intense and quite terrifying. I've had out of body experiences in sleep since I was a child, but recently these have been most nights and are always associated with terror. I've become quite skilled at relaxing into them at other times in my life, but at the moment this is impossible. Sometimes it's as if I'm dreaming that I'm having an out-of-body, then waking up into a (lucid) dream, then having to wake again. This is leaving me feeling a bit strange and foggy in the day.
I hope this is this is the relevant place to post this! I'm a huge fan of this 'hardcore' dharma movement, and I really hope to be able to share and gain some knowledge as my practice moves on from its infancy! I tried asking a senior member of my local sangha (Triratna) about the insight practice symptoms, and he firmly told me to 'stop the noting practice' as its only taught/recommended for experienced and ordained members (no insight allowed!!). I was advised by another member that the negative symptoms were probably unconscious 'issues' that were coming up in practice but I wasn't attending to them/dealing with them, so they were leaving me feeling low etc. I am almost positive that this is NOT what is going on! 

Debs

RE: Strange visuals-New to Dharma O
Answer
4/28/15 10:44 PM as a reply to Debs.
Debs:
Hi all,
Before describing my recent experiences I'd like to thank Dan (as most people on here have done!). I've had an inconsistent meditation practice for several years, but really settled into a regular daily practice of 1hr a day about 18 months ago. Discovering MCTB this year has completely transformed my practice! I was quickly able to access 1st 2nd and 3rd jhana (shamata), and can access 1st and 2nd quickly and reliably. This has given me so much motivation to meditate, I look forward to practice, and the end of each session is like putting down a good back book that I can't wait to come back too. Around the time I read MCTB I simulataneously started doing deep somatic meditations (lengthy bodyscans, sensing energy channels etc) and I really feel that this helped deepen my practice too.
After spending some time enjoying and 'mastering' these jhanas, I started to investigate them with insight noting practice. I haven't kept this up as it left me feeling really 'strung out' with migraine-like symptoms, and also feeling a bit low and 'disconnected'. Does anyone know why this might be? I also developed a black dot in my vision during the noting pracitces (eyes closed) that has stayed with me. It's not always there but will appear often in meditation and occasionally at times during the day. I've also had some experiences off the cushion, where I've intentionally tried to notice phenomena as 'bare sensations' and the field of vison has become almost pixelated??
-I've seen something like that, as if the visual world is a projection on a screen.  For seeing dots, often people see a blue dot.  (I don't think anyone knows why though..)  Really I don't think anyone knows for sure, at least I've never known of anyone who did, as to what exactly these weird phenomenon mean.  We just kind of observe there are some strange things a lot of people experience when on the path.

In addition, my dreams have become VERY intense and quite terrifying.
-I suspect it's mroe a case of your conscious mind is remembering your dreams better and perhaps also adding to them.  Everyone dreams every night but remembers little of it, but as you become more aware, you may remember them more and more intensely. 

I've had out of body experiences in sleep since I was a child, but recently these have been most nights and are always associated with terror.
-There are some who feel out of body is your normal state and in body is the unusual experience.   I remember once I was out of body/dreaming and I was talking to this guy who wanted me to go do something and I said no and told him that I wanted to practice being out of body instead.  And he just laughed so hard like it was the silliest thing he had heard in a long while!  ;-P 

I've become quite skilled at relaxing into them at other times in my life, but at the moment this is impossible.
Well I would not say it is impossible, only that you have not managed it currently. 
Sometimes it's as if I'm dreaming that I'm having an out-of-body, then waking up into a (lucid) dream, then having to wake again. This is leaving me feeling a bit strange and foggy in the day.
Confusing isn't it!  I have had many times when I was spaced out, alas I don't know the cure, but eating heavy food, taking a walk out in nature, and taking a shower or swimming do seem to help (basically all that stuff a lot of people also suggest).

I hope this is this is the relevant place to post this! I'm a huge fan of this 'hardcore' dharma movement, and I really hope to be able to share and gain some knowledge as my practice moves on from its infancy!
I am not an expert at path diagnosis, but this sounds like you are maybe in arriving and passing away stage? 

I tried asking a senior member of my local sangha (Triratna) about the insight practice symptoms, and he firmly told me to 'stop the noting practice' as its only taught/recommended for experienced and ordained members (no insight allowed!!).
You may get wildly varying opinions on  when is right to do what, depending on who you talk with.  Some groups seem to favor the gung ho and go as fast as you can tactic, and others seem to favor a take it slow and careful tactic so you don't fry your brain too much and make it too hard on yourself.  In the end, I suspect a person's nature and inclination determine the pace. 

I was advised by another member that the negative symptoms were probably unconscious 'issues' that were coming up in practice but I wasn't attending to them/dealing with them, so they were leaving me feeling low etc. I am almost positive that this is NOT what is going on! 
Personally, I think everyone has unconscious issues to deal with, otherwise we would already be as good as we could get on this Earth.  So, yes, I am personally often suspicious that physical symptoms are manifestations of inner issues.  In fact I am personally often suspicous that everything in one's life is manifestations of inner self.  So I would probably agree with that person who said that to you.  I think some call it 'energy' and some call it 'issues' but it's probably two sides of the same coin.  The thing with saying it's 'energy' is you are more likely to kind of mentally divorce yourself from responsibility, as if you are a victim of some kind of forces and not in any way in control of them, as if they were separate from ourselves and somehow just happening to us.  But I think that way of thinking is likely a mistake and can lead to a victim complex way of thinking.  I think of myself as kind of an expert at victim complex thinking having practiced it for many years myself, so maybe I am just biased that way.  ;-P  
-Eva

Debs

RE: Strange visuals-New to Dharma O
Answer
4/28/15 10:51 PM as a reply to Debs.
Please check your private messages on the site. I left you my email address, as I prefer not to communicate on the DhO anymore.

You mention migraine. I lost my vision for 6 weeks when I started dry noting practice after reading MCTB. I ended up in the ER. It was noting-induced migraine aura (persistent).

Jenny

RE: Strange visuals-New to Dharma O
Answer
4/29/15 11:34 AM as a reply to Jenny.
Oh yeah, good point, migraine is often associated with aura.  Here's some descriptions of aura phenomenon: http://www.migraine-aura.com/content/e27891/e27265/e26585/e49268/e49269/index_en.html .  Unfortunately, although scientists have named it, they don't know much about migraine aura.  And some get the aura but no actual migraine or other symptoms.
-Eva 

RE: Strange visuals-New to Dharma O
Answer
4/29/15 5:17 PM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Thanks Eva, 
I think you may be right about dream phenomena- perhaps I'm just becoming increasingly conscious in and of my dreams, and the terror element will work itself out. 
Im not so sure about the 'unconscious issues'... the lows after insight practice appear to be more after effects of the insight practice. If I hang out in jhana there's no problem. I have been doing reflection work in jhana, and agree that everyone has dark matter that is often brought to the surface in meditation. However the disconnected feeling I was experiencing after noting seemed to be more linked to the actual practice, rather than attached to any point in particular. I could be wrong! 
It seems like it would be best to stop the noting practice for a while. Are there certain conditions/time frame that would make it a little smoother? Or is it a case of try it and see? 
Jenny thanks for your reply- v. Interesting! I'll email you with questions 

debs