Jhana in unlikely circumstances?

Bronson Michael Miller, modified 7 Years ago at 7/31/15 2:20 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 7/31/15 2:20 PM

Jhana in unlikely circumstances?

Posts: 18 Join Date: 7/2/14 Recent Posts
So I did a ten day S.N. Goenka retreat with very little previous meditation experience. Afterwards I didn't meditate much for months but in the last month I've been getting back into it with more serious dedication. 

I started attempting the Noting technique even though I've never attained the first Jhana. At first it was hard to make one note per second but now I can usually note 1-5 per second. Last week when I would focus on the sensations somewhere it would basically disappear and I could only feel sensations around it leading me to think it sounded like dark night territory which really aligns with my feelings in daily life lately (sleeping way more than usual. Tons of fear, disgust etc). But then the other day that all lifted and my meditation was very focused and the center was very clear. I had much more energy and clarity that day. That night as I was falling asleep I was noting and would occasionally drop into a quick dream then note that and continue noting. 

One time I dropped briefly into a dream and it felt like I focused on the dream then somehow looked past the dream and suddenly I was flooded with the most intense euphoria I've ever felt, including when I was a drug addict and tried shooting "speed balls" (coke and heroin together). I'm sorry to bring up this disturbing subject but I want to make it clear just how intense and amazing this felt. 

My heart immediately started racing and my focus went to thoughts and the intensity dropped by about half before I steadied my concentration and it felt like it solidified. There were no vibrations or sensations other than euphoria. I couldn't even feel my body at all and it felt like I was just a brain under cool water. That's the best way I can put it. 

From what I've read these are not the conditions that a Jhana would arise but I'm not sure what else it could be. It lasted about five minutes off and on. I'd slip out of it when I had thoughts or once when my dog came up to me and licked me but then I'd think of how it felt and it would come back then I'd make it solidify again somehow. After about five minutes I think I drifted off to sleep even though when it was happening I felt like I would never be able to or need to sleep.

I've read the MCTB and browsed this forum a bit and read some other books recently but I'd really like input about what this might be as well as if you think I might be in the dark night. I've definitely had many A&P type experiences since I was about 16 or 15 and since then I've gone through bipolar II type cycles, though they are usually fairly mild except when I was using drugs. 

I'd also be curious as to whether you think I should keep noting or try to get good at concentration or first Jhana first. Also on the last day of my retreat I had an experience where everything was perceived like reality was a strobe light... not sure what that was. About 2 frames per second or so.

Thank you so much for your input! I don't know anybody  that knows anything about these practices so it's been hard to get any input or direction as I have been living in a very small Mormon town in Utah, though I just moved to Seattle so I'd love to find some pragmatic type Buddhists. I've tried going to Buddhist temples and it felt like they had completely forgot about anything Buddha was teaching and made a religion instead..

I look forward to any/all responses!!
Matt, modified 7 Years ago at 7/31/15 3:13 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 7/31/15 3:13 PM

RE: Jhana in unlikely circumstances?

Posts: 316 Join Date: 1/14/14 Recent Posts
It sounds like you're having a normal response to good contemplative practice.  You don't need to categorize and map everything.  If you want continued progress, keep up a regular practice.  MCTB is a great resource, but finding someone that has covered the ground is very helpful as you move along the path.  If you start a practice log here, you will get feedback and more resources.

Sorry I don't have time for more.


Bronson Michael Miller, modified 6 Years ago at 8/22/15 3:06 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 8/22/15 3:06 PM

RE: Jhana in unlikely circumstances?

Posts: 18 Join Date: 7/2/14 Recent Posts
Thank you for your reply. I know that I don't have to label or map everything but it would really be helpful to me to know where I'm at. 

I've never been able to really tell different stages apart and I don't even know exactly how it works even though I've read those parts of the MCTB SEVERAL times trying to figure it all out. 

I know that either way just keep practicing but I feel like if I had some idea I'd be better prepared for any traps of that stage or anything else.

Since this incident I went through a period for about two weeks where almost every sit I would get that euphoria rushing in with so much power... it feels so visceral and real. Very much, I would say, an altered state. Although my mind is still very clear, my heart tends to race and breathing gets very hard usually. I really have to focus on my breath.

It usually happens when for a split second my mind slips into a fraction second of a dream and when I regain focus this huge wave of light and euphoria comes in.

Then it got to the point where this would never happen anymore... it became very hard to concentrate during my meditations but I was ok with that. I almost welcomed it because I didn't want to become attached to that amazing feeling.

Then last night after about forty minutes a very similar but VERY different thing happened. All at once I got the euphoria for the first time in weeks but I quickly noticed there was some weird feeling in it too. Like icy cold pain.

Then my perception started flickering in and out. It started at like... 3 or for frames per second and went to about 10 for a while before fading away leaving everything feel very normal, although I had much more awareness of my body and the room around me. 

So my question is does this sound familiar to anybody? And do each of the insight nanas have a version of this very intense shift? Any help or input would be GREATLY appreciated!
Eva Nie, modified 6 Years ago at 8/22/15 4:20 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 8/22/15 4:20 PM

RE: Jhana in unlikely circumstances?

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
All kinds of high strangeness happens during sleep, certainly any of the sensations that can happen in jhana can happen there and often do.  Lucid dreamers get to experience all kinds of fun and interesting things.  It's just that most don't remember it later on waking.  Most in waking consciousness have little to no recollection of the entire night.  If you start remembering more, than you might be in for some interesting times.  You can put any label onto the experiences or group them into the 'jhana' system of organizing them or whatever.  Jhana is just a label.  If jhana is described as a certain kind and quality of feeling sensation, and if you have that feeling, then it is the jhana.  If you want to say jhana experience requires more specific circumstances to occur, if you want to define it more strictly as some might, then some might argue it's not jhana.  But either way, it's just choice in labels and definitions.  A lot depends on the definition of jhana in question.  Anyway there's lots and lots and lots of cool stuff that does not easily translate into a jhana definition so you can just dive in, and see what you can see and remember.  ;-P 
Bronson Michael Miller, modified 6 Years ago at 8/23/15 3:06 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 8/23/15 3:06 AM

RE: Jhana in unlikely circumstances?

Posts: 18 Join Date: 7/2/14 Recent Posts
Yeah I spent a couple months trying to astral travel at one point and all that happend was I started having lucid dreams almost every night for as long as I wanted until I decided to go to sleep in my dream and let go of control and you're right, a lot of crazy stuff can happen but this is when I am doing insight meditation...

It started when I was noting and now I sort of note without the label. Just move my attention to every flickering phenomana or sound etc and remain aware. Then randomely this intense euphoria will happen and like I said, It's so... I don't know... thick, real, strong sometimes overwhelming.

I'm trying to figure out if this is related to a Vipassana Nana or what.

Anybody.. please.
Bronson Michael Miller, modified 6 Years ago at 8/23/15 4:04 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 8/23/15 4:04 AM

RE: Jhana in unlikely circumstances?

Posts: 18 Join Date: 7/2/14 Recent Posts
Also, I took your advice about starting a practice log today. It's called Diary of a Chronic Dark Night Yogi and this is a paragraph from my first post. Maybe it will help somebody diagnose where I'm at. Thanks again!

"My meditations typically go like this: I sit down, close my eyes and start to watch phenomena flicker in and out. Usually starting with my lips and hands because they are always tingling if I focus on them. I am usually pretty distracted for the first five-ten minutes and then there is a little shift. Everything gets much more focused and the blackness behind my eyes gets more...I don't know... black? solid?  Then after a while there's another shift and I start to feel a little euphoria in my chest and behind my eyelids gets much lighter. After a while it usually seems like it gets more... deep as in 3D. like behind my eyelids goes on for several feet instead of just right behind my eyelid. Then I drop off for a second, get distracted or something and quickly refocus and with my refocusing, sometimes, comes that insane euphoria where I lose the ability to tell where my body ends and space begins, everything feels really weird and fuzzy. I get weird pressures in different places during and before this happens. Lately it's been in my forehead. Sometimes I will have to check to see if there is something touching me because it feels so real.

After a while of this it goes away and it either goes to one of those previous ways or everything is super solid.. I can barely perceive any flickering or anything and I usually stop meditating."