Can't get past a certain visual effect

Paul Smith, modified 6 Years ago.

Can't get past a certain visual effect

Posts: 109 Join Date: 5/9/15 Recent Posts
I meditate by focusing on my breath and noting/labeling thoughts. I'm able to reach a state when I see (with eyes closed) either:
1. 2D disk of light that starts big and then shrinks to a point in the center of my vision. This process is repeated over and over.
2. "fluid" smudges of lights that move smoothly like calm fishes in a pond.

I noticed that I anticipate this state and wait to get into it. As soon as I'm in, I cling to these lights and don't want them to stop. This of course causes them to dissipate . Once, the lights were particularly bright and I felt intense joy.

My questions are:
- what are these lights?
- does anyone else experienced something like this?
- how do I get past this effect and deepen my concentration?
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Ian And, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Can't get past a certain visual effect (Answer)

Posts: 782 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Paul Smith:
I meditate by focusing on my breath and noting/labeling thoughts. I'm able to reach a state when I see (with eyes closed) either:
1. 2D disk of light that starts big and then shrinks to a point in the center of my vision.
2. "fluid" smudges of lights that move smoothly like calm fishes in a pond.

My questions are:
- what are these lights?
- does anyone else experienced something like this?
- how do I get past this effect and deepen my concentration?

Question 1.  Mind-made objects. Fabrications of the mind.

Question 2.  Not unless they are fabricating the same experience as you.

Question 3.  Aahh. That's the sixty-four thousand dollar question, eh!  How does one get past these self-created illusions.  Think about it and it may come to you! (That's the Zen approach. It forces one to figure things out for themselves. However, if you want answers, look to the Master progenitor's talks. You may find something of value there.)

Here is one approach explained by the Master progenitor:

"Bhikkhus, this is the direct path for the purification of beings, for the surmounting of sorrow and lamentation, for the disappearance of pain and grief, for the attainment of the true way, for the realization of Nibbana — namely, the four establishments of mindfulness.

3. "What are the four? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu abides contemplating the body as a body,ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. He abides contemplating feelings as feelings,ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. He abides contemplating mind as mind,ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. He abides contemplating mind-objects,ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world.

(1. Mindfulness of Breathing)

4. "And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu abide contemplating the body as a body? Here a bhikkhu, gone to the forest or to the root of a tree or to an empty hut, sits down; having folded his legs crosswise, set his body erect, and established mindfulness in front of him, ever mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out. Breathing in long, he understands: 'I breathe in long'; or breathing out long, he understands: 'I breath out long.'
Paul Smith, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Can't get past a certain visual effect

Posts: 109 Join Date: 5/9/15 Recent Posts
So the solution is to treat them as any other distraction or thought? Sounds easy, I'll try that :-)
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Jeff Wright, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Can't get past a certain visual effect

Posts: 82 Join Date: 4/16/15 Recent Posts
So what happened when you just noted the visions, and continued meditating?
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svmonk, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Can't get past a certain visual effect (Answer)

Posts: 396 Join Date: 8/23/14 Recent Posts
Hi Paul,

If your concentration has deepened and the inner voice of your noting is fading, the visuals may be the nimitta, also known as the counterpart sign. In some teachings on the process of attaining jhana, the nimitta preceeds transition to first jhana. The fact that you report feeling intense happiness indicates that this might be the case, since happiness is one of the jhana factors. Ajahn Brahm's book:
  http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books/Ajahn_Brahm_The_Jhanas.htm
talks more about the traditional Therevada jhana practice.

Other folks, many of whom are on this forum, have different experiences about the transition to jhana.
Paul Smith, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Can't get past a certain visual effect

Posts: 109 Join Date: 5/9/15 Recent Posts
When I first experienced these lights, I thought they were nimittas, because they resembled what I read on the internet (like svmonk points out). Then, after reading some more, I concluded they might not be and aren't necessarily useful, since people are reporting a single bright light as a sign of achieving access concentration. This light supposedly grows larger and larger and finally absorbs the mind (or vice versa). At this moment I decided to create this thread and ask how to proceed.

I decided to treat them as a distraction, rather than a sign of progress, because that's how I understood "Ian And" answer in this thread. This was an error. It created a subtle state of aversion, which in turn resulted in my concentration being split between trying to concentrate on my breath and not allowing lights to show up.

Today, I started to meditate sponteneously and just allowed all arising phenomena to exist, gently returning to breath every time I got distracted. No aversion, no desire to hold to any particular sensation or mind-object. Lights quickly appeared and grew in intensity (brightness and movement).

I decided to drop my concentration on breath. Very quickly the light patterns turned from being fluid smudges, to pulsating drops of bright liquid that expand and contract in various points of my vision. At the same time I felt arising of joy and physical pleasure. I didn't focus on them, but analyzed that state and what lead to it, then stepped out of the meditation. I contemplated what happened, to be able to return to that state next time. 

All of this reminded me of this thread, so I decided to share my experience and answer my own question emoticon. You are right svmonk -- these lights are nimittas and a sign of strong concentration.

I think I know how to proceed into the first jhana emoticon !

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