Childhood experience

thumbnail
Lewis James, modified 6 Years ago at 12/21/15 8:20 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 12/21/15 8:19 AM

Childhood experience

Posts: 155 Join Date: 5/13/15 Recent Posts
Hi all, this is something I've been curious about as it kind of kickstarted the whole existential journey for me at a young age. The memory has been coming up frequently lately and I wanted to know if anyone had had a similar experience or thoughts as to what it was.

When I was 9 or 10 I had a lot of trouble getting to sleep. I was quite an anxious kid in general and I would often lie in bed for hours trying to nod off to no avail. It's possible I may have accidentally meditated on the breath as a way to try to get to sleep, though I can't remember if that's the case or not. So, the whole experience may well have 'just' been hypnagogia.

At some point, I slipped into a state of extremely high alertness and lost the sense of my body. What appeared to me was like a huge constellation of what looked like stars or jewels. I realised that each point represented a life, an identity. I had the overwhelming sense that if I let go of my own identity, I could experience any one of these lives, be that person. I remember feeling extremely curious and fascinated by this feeling, but also scared that if I let go, I wouldn't be able to come back to this body. The entire experience lasted maybe 30 seconds before I regained the sense of my body and opened my eyes, though I'm not sure because time didn't really seem relevant in that 'place'. It remains one of my strongest memories of childhood and though I didn't get interested in spiritual practice until over a decade later, it did trigger a sort of existential crisis that to this day I guess still hasn't been resolved (working on that, though!)

Now of course I now know that such experiences aren't to be clung to, but given that it happened at such a young age seemingly without prompting I've always wondered if it had any significance. A highly alert dream? A seeing into something real? A&P? Perhaps the lives I saw were my own past lives? I don't know, and I think I accessed that state a couple more times as a child but have never had anything like it occur during my meditation practice.
Eva Nie, modified 6 Years ago at 12/22/15 10:16 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 12/22/15 10:16 AM

RE: Childhood experience

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
As a child, we tend to be more open to new and different ideas, I think that is why these kinds of things happen more in childhood.  Sure, I think you could have experienced diff lives if you had followed that interest further.  I also think you would have gotten back to your body no problem, but fear of getting back is a common prob in OBE/astral projection that has to be overcome to do it.  LIke so many things in life, to experience new things and understandings, you will need to let go of old assumptions and challenge some of your fears.  IMO that is the super hard part of the challenge, but if those are overcome, the rest is easy and natural to everyone.  ;-P
-Eva
thumbnail
Lewis James, modified 6 Years ago at 12/23/15 4:04 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 12/23/15 4:04 AM

RE: Childhood experience

Posts: 155 Join Date: 5/13/15 Recent Posts
Thanks, Eva. You're totally right, I would hope facing the same experience today I would have the courage to let go. I've never really explored astral projection or OBE's as a formal practice, though I have had chemically induced OBE's in my younger years, which required letting go to the extreme, haha. Do you know of any good resources to induce such states? Despite the prior experience, I guess I'm still a skeptic, so you're right, it needs further investigation and work to overcome my assumptions.
Eva Nie, modified 6 Years ago at 12/24/15 6:40 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 12/24/15 6:40 PM

RE: Childhood experience

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
Well I have been out of it for a long time but this board was pretty popular back then and probably still is: http://www.astralpulse.com/forums/index.php .  THe thing with OBEs, etc is they are experiences. How to interpret them is a personal issue in many ways.  What do they mean, what really happened?  We don't really know.  All I can tell you is experiences I have had and patterns I have noticed with others who also spent a lot of time on it.  I think the advantages to such mind exercises is that it helps open the mind to other possibilities than the normal day to day stuff.  And also to do it well requires training the mind to be more calm and in control (most people need to work on that at least).  Plus it's just interesting IMO.  And also by looking at such experiences, if I turn my analysis in that direction, the experiences can tell me more about my personality.

However (now to put on the seemingly obligatory parental finger waggin hat for just a second), the Buddhist guru types will likely tell you that focus on the powers like astral travel can be a distraction to the ultimate goal of letting go of clinging and attaining a greater release of suffering.  From such a perspective, checking out some weird stuff is not typically going to sound as good as a huge permanent release from suffering.  ;-P  But then again, OBEs are probably easier.  ;-P  IMO investigation of 'the powers' will for some turn out to be a stepping stone and for others turn out to be a more serious long term side route that does not lead back to the main road.  So I'd just say to keep that in mind that other aspects of Buddhism are going to be a stronger indicator of what liberates the mind from suffering whereas OBEs are more like watching TV, not a huge deal and can be fun and at times educational (IMO) as long as it doesn't distract too much from the meat and potatoes of development.  ;-P 

Just felt like I had to say that because first of all, it's kind of basic Buddhist tenant.  And second of all because there was a time where I was under some kind of hope or desire (not super overpowering but it was there) that mastery of OBEs would lead me to some vague kind of greater enlightenment and power than I had before.  But now I think of that time in my life as more of a stepping stone to open my mind more to directions that actually would do that more directly.  Thinking of it as a stepping stone, it had important value to me in what it could teach me, but at some point, to learn more I had to move on in other directions.  (for some reason I've been in stuffy teacher mode lately so sorry about that!  ;-P)
-Eva
thumbnail
Lewis James, modified 6 Years ago at 12/25/15 2:06 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 12/25/15 2:05 PM

RE: Childhood experience

Posts: 155 Join Date: 5/13/15 Recent Posts
Thanks, tom and Eva. I agree with everything you say, Eva! Those are the exact reasons I haven't pursued such powersy things before. Having had those early experiences, misguided drug experiences, as well as real meditative insight, I've known for a while that real insight is much more... mundane, in some sense, and more practical, less likely to send you down intellectual rabbit holes that have no end. I suppose, now having the understanding and grounding through extensive samatha/vipassana practice that the content of the experience isn't important, it can't hurt to play around with it a bit, as long as I keep an eye on how it's affecting my regular practice and mind state. Cheers!
thumbnail
tom moylan, modified 6 Years ago at 12/23/15 4:09 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 12/23/15 4:09 AM

RE: Childhood experience

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
hi,
i had similar conceptual ideas at that age including something similar to the 'light being concept' you mention.  i have been interested in what 'life' is my entire life long.