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Dharma Diagnostic Clinic, aka "What was that?"

Infinite Contraction and Infinite Expansion

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Before I started meditating, I used to - every now and then - experience some sort of feeling of infinite contraction/claustrophobia/crowdedness, coupled with visualisations of dark, crowded environments (kind of) - something akin to a bunch of rusty pipes bunched up all together. Not really so visually specific or so identifiable, though. On the other hand, I would sometimes get a feeling of infinite expansion, visualising total whiteness. Sometimes I would experience these things independently, sometimes it would rapid cycle between the two as quickly as multiple times per second (A guess. I cannot be more specific because my attention was less precise those days). After I started meditating, I ceased having these experiences, though I have experienced the concentration state "boundless space" or whatever it's called many times since. This state is not accompanied by the visualisation of whiteness, and seems... different, somehow. Though the experiences I used to have used to be quite short, while they lasted they had much in common with how I imagine a diamond-tier hard jhana would be. Maybe. As I said, I haven't experienced this for some time. Anyway, I haven't spent much time practicing concentration, so I don't imagine I could get that hard into a jhana normally. Then again, maybe I could. I think I've experienced nirodha if that is any indicator.

What can these experiences have been, people?

RE: Infinite Contraction and Infinite Expansion
Answer
8/4/15 1:00 PM as a reply to Sup Dude.
No idea WHAT they are, but I've experienced  similar things - when I was a kid (usually when sick), and later in my adolescence while under the influence of various hallucinogens. The idea that by going far enough "in" you wrap around to the outer reaches of the universe...or go far enough "out" and you wrap around to the innermost depth of the self. It has never been clear to me whether this was some sort of insight or just a hallucination.

RE: Infinite Contraction and Infinite Expansion
Answer
8/4/15 4:55 PM as a reply to Sup Dude.
Do you get any sense of a 360 degree field of vision?

I experienced something sort of similar before I started meditating.  It has happened a bunch of times since I was a kid. 

It was a state of feeling either incredibly (infinitely?) big or incredibly small compared to this object-like thing that appeared before me in consciousness, which seemed to warp the flat plane of consciousness, like it just bwooop suddenly raised up out of it.

I haven't experienced it in meditation yet, I haven't read a description of a meditation state that made me say "yeah! that's what I've been trying to describe.."  It's frustrating in a way because it's so clear and real and it appears out of nowhere, and I say "ahh there it is again, I haven't seen you for years"  and then it disappears, I have no control over it and right after it fades I have no idea what it felt like or how to really describe it.

If I'm ever able to find the state and reliably get back there, I think I might spend years in it, it'll always have a special meaning for me.

RE: Infinite Contraction and Infinite Expansion
Answer
8/5/15 3:38 PM as a reply to chris mc.
I don't know if I can ascribe any number of degrees or field of vision to these states. These states seemed absolute, and didn't contain any sense of a visual field - if that makes sense. I remember the infinitely small state was quite uncomfortable, and "noisy" in a way, though there was no noise as such.

RE: Infinite Contraction and Infinite Expansion
Answer
8/6/15 2:16 PM as a reply to Sup Dude.
Sup Dude:
Before I started meditating, I used to - every now and then - experience some sort of feeling of infinite contraction/claustrophobia/crowdedness, coupled with visualisations of dark, crowded environments (kind of) - something akin to a bunch of rusty pipes bunched up all together. Not really so visually specific or so identifiable, though. On the other hand, I would sometimes get a feeling of infinite expansion, visualising total whiteness. Sometimes I would experience these things independently, sometimes it would rapid cycle between the two as quickly as multiple times per second (A guess. I cannot be more specific because my attention was less precise those days). After I started meditating, I ceased having these experiences, though I have experienced the concentration state "boundless space" or whatever it's called many times since. This state is not accompanied by the visualisation of whiteness, and seems... different, somehow. Though the experiences I used to have used to be quite short, while they lasted they had much in common with how I imagine a diamond-tier hard jhana would be. Maybe. As I said, I haven't experienced this for some time. Anyway, I haven't spent much time practicing concentration, so I don't imagine I could get that hard into a jhana normally. Then again, maybe I could. I think I've experienced nirodha if that is any indicator.

What can these experiences have been, people?
 I have had those expansion contraction experiences where it moves back and forth like seeing the optical illusion of the vase or two face profiles...flip expand...flip contract...etc
I'm gonna put this into the same category of body distortions that happen in the first jhana. If you wish to experience it again then I would try to not slip up the jhanas but take the first jhana very methodically  or you can read about some of the body distortion stuff here -

Interoception, Proprioception, Cortical homunculus, Body distortions


Have fun,
~D

p.s.
Sup Dude:
I think I've experienced nirodha if that is any indicator.

Nirodha Samapatti is very very rare if that is what you are meaning...though there are a list of things that can be similar and confusing. Do you have some mastery all 8 jhanas? Are you around third path?
If so then you may indeed be getting something like it. I know I have, but don't claim the real deal yet as I don't have enough mastery and repeatable evidence to claim that though I have experienced a lite version of it, but it does not meet the definition as others have described it. (which would make anyone who has expereinced the real thing cringe and shake thier heads)
Nirodha Samapatti

RE: Infinite Contraction and Infinite Expansion
Answer
8/9/15 4:58 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:

Sup Dude:
I think I've experienced nirodha if that is any indicator.

Nirodha Samapatti is very very rare if that is what you are meaning...though there are a list of things that can be similar and confusing. Do you have some mastery all 8 jhanas? Are you around third path?
If so then you may indeed be getting something like it. I know I have, but don't claim the real deal yet as I don't have enough mastery and repeatable evidence to claim that though I have experienced a lite version of it, but it does not meet the definition as others have described it. (which would make anyone who has expereinced the real thing cringe and shake thier heads)
Nirodha Samapatti
I'm actually not entirelly sure about the nirodha. I did have an experience somewhere around second path that proceeded pretty much as nirodha is described, but as the last of experience was fading away and I was rapidly approaching... nothing, this fear of death rose up in me. It felt so much like going willingly to an end to my existence that fundamental existential angst became very apparent. So I think I might have come close at that time, but wasn't able to enter that state. I'm fairly certain I'm at 3rd path now, though I'm not married to that. Not that long after attaining 3rd path I had an experience that might have been perception-nonperception in hindsight, but I'm no expert at these things. First, one layer of experience dropped away (can't say quite what it was, but it was very noticeable in it's absence), then mental sensations dropped away, then physical sensations dropped away, and I was left experiencing next to nothing. I don't think this was nirodha, as I did have an experience of sustaining something, as in sustaining my attention - even though it took care of itself, you know? Though this experience of sustain, and the unsatisfactoriness of it, was all I was experiencing. Barring the relief of not experiencing everything else, I suppose.

The first time was a bit different. In the time leading up to everything starting to fade away, there was a *very* strong sense of unsatisfactoriness from experiencing anything at all, and a strong desire for not experiencing anything. Stronger than usual, I mean. Almost unbearable. Very clear. Very sharp.

As to mastery of jhanas, I don't lay any claim to that. I haven't really tried to do much concentration stuff since pre-stream entry, I think. When it happens, it happens. It tends not to happen. Insight practice tend to happen more.