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Dharma Diagnostic Clinic, aka "What was that?"

Understanding my experiences in context

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Hi Everyone,

I'd like to ask "what was that," about four experiences I have on and off retreats. 

Background: For the last five years, I've done mindfulness of breath meditation and lovingkindess every day from 20 min to 1.5 hours per day.  Usually it's 20-30 minutes.  I've never been "into" meditation before, I came into from reading reseach on MBSR and trying the headspace app. Now that I feel more radical effects I've begun plowing through Buddhist and meditations books and forums. 

Last year after finishing a 4-day insight meditation retreat, I experienced the following. I experienced higher visual acuitity, colors were brighter and everything looked more vivid. I had wonderfully open conversations afterwards with loved ones.   I notice large gaps or more space in daily life allowing me to be less reactive and aware of emotions. 
1. What was that?

This year at Gaia house I attended a 10 day retreat that focused on korean zen questioning technique, asking the question "what is this?" of the current moment and doing listening meditation.  During those days I really diligently attempted to remain mindful all day long.  During the retreat I developed this pervasive uneasy sense that something about my perception was wrong (not bad but deeply incorrect). Things seemed deeply strange. It felt like after you take LSD, the sensations before you begin to really trip.  It felt kind of like maybe during everyday life my mind is filtering out information so it doesnt reach my conciousness and perhaps some filters had dropped away.  Things kept looking and feeling like "the first time ever," the first time seeing a tree, a bunny, a person.   Strange silly things happened like I became aware that my own nose is within my field of view and that Im always able to see it a little without going cross eyed--all the time.  
2. What was that?

During that retreat, I started caring about more social/environmental issues. It feels like becoming more aware of things and other people makes it really hard to remain inactive & apethetic. It feels like my heart broke / became mega vulnerable during that experience. I don't feel sad all the time but my heart just feels broken/vulnerable all the time-I could cry easily in private because od caring about something or someone. 
3. What was that?

For about 4 days post retreat the amazing visual acuity continued. During daily life I  felt like I had meditative awareness of whatever was going on-but without trying at all. It felt like I was doing "bare/open awareness" meditation, but I wasn't trying to meditate. While speaking with other people time seemed to slow down like slo-mo in a movie while I noticed different facial expressions.  Now many weeks later this has subsided and I don't feel like such a wierdo. However formal meditation seems a lot "easier, restful and pleasant" It also feels like the mindfulness is stronger (if that make sense). 
4. What was that?!

Thank you all in advance for helping me puzzle this out. 

RE: Understanding my experiences in context
Answer
5/9/16 12:06 PM as a reply to Jean-Michel.
Hello Jean-Michel! Welcome emoticon

Before you proceed: Why are you on this forum of all the big wide internet? That is to say, have you read Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha? emoticon

Anyways, here we go: My 0.02€ worth of opinion.
Jean-Michel Moreau:

Last year after finishing a 4-day insight meditation retreat, I experienced the following. I experienced higher visual acuitity, colors were brighter and everything looked more vivid. I had wonderfully open conversations afterwards with loved ones.   I notice large gaps or more space in daily life allowing me to be less reactive and aware of emotions. 
1. What was that?
Knowledge of the Arising & Passing Away.

Jean-Michel Moreau:

This year at Gaia house I attended a 10 day retreat that focused on korean zen questioning technique, asking the question "what is this?" of the current moment and doing listening meditation.  During those days I really diligently attempted to remain mindful all day long.  During the retreat I developed this pervasive uneasy sense that something about my perception was wrong (not bad but deeply incorrect). Things seemed deeply strange. It felt like after you take LSD, the sensations before you begin to really trip.  It felt kind of like maybe during everyday life my mind is filtering out information so it doesnt reach my conciousness and perhaps some filters had dropped away.  Things kept looking and feeling like "the first time ever," the first time seeing a tree, a bunny, a person.   Strange silly things happened like I became aware that my own nose is within my field of view and that Im always able to see it a little without going cross eyed--all the time.  
2. What was that?
A&P again. Or possibly Knowledge of Mind and Body and/or Knowledge of Cause and Effect.

Jean-Michel Moreau:


During that retreat, I started caring about more social/environmental issues. It feels like becoming more aware of things and other people makes it really hard to remain inactive & apethetic. It feels like my heart broke / became mega vulnerable during that experience. I don't feel sad all the time but my heart just feels broken/vulnerable all the time-I could cry easily in private because od caring about something or someone. 
3. What was that?
Knowledge of Misery.

Jean-Michel Moreau:


For about 4 days post retreat the amazing visual acuity continued. During daily life I  felt like I had meditative awareness of whatever was going on-but without trying at all. It felt like I was doing "bare/open awareness" meditation, but I wasn't trying to meditate. While speaking with other people time seemed to slow down like slo-mo in a movie while I noticed different facial expressions.  Now many weeks later this has subsided and I don't feel like such a wierdo. However formal meditation seems a lot "easier, restful and pleasant" It also feels like the mindfulness is stronger (if that make sense). 
4. What was that?!
Arising and Passing Away again, unless it was Equanimity (Knowledge of).

RE: Understanding my experiences in context
Answer
5/9/16 4:16 PM as a reply to Jean-Michel.
1. Your mind & heart was more pure, lucid, clear, loving & free. Your mind & heart gained the proper results from your meditation. 

2. Rather than connecting with your heart (as breathing meditation can do), the 'Zen' retreat appeared to empty out the contents of your mind and some 'perceptual-breakdown' (breakdown of normal perception) was occuring. Whilst this is a normal & OK occurance in meditation, it sounds like it was a bit 'premature' for the readliness or natural development of your mind. However, it does show a potential for realisation. 

3. Similiar to point 2, above. The 'Zen' method used was emptying & opening up your mind prematurely, similar to a LSD trip. Your mind was not ready, i.e., not peaceful & strong enough. But it seems OK since you survived. Gaia House were not required to call an ambulance to drive you to a psyche ward. 

4. It seems like your mind has regained some balance & the meditation effects are still affecting your mind, which is very good. There has been a positive transformation of your mind that has some degree of permanence. 

In general, my opinion is your mind is very suited to meditation & your should do more retreats. If you are in England, maybe a longer term retreat (that costs less money), such as at a monastery.  

There is nothing wrong with 'listening' type meditation since this 'opens' the mind, which better than 'suppressing' the mind in clumsy attempts at breathing meditation. But, ideally, meditation should be balanced enough to connect with the breathing. When breathing is connected with, there will be the 'opening up' but more calmness also.

Regards emoticon

RE: Understanding my experiences in context
Answer
5/10/16 2:18 AM as a reply to Jean-Michel.
Jean-Michel:
Hi Everyone,

I'd like to ask "what was that," about four experiences I have on and off retreats. 

What was that?
Have you read the book? - Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, an Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book, by Daniel Ingram

Read up on this stage -
There are a massive amount of temporary changes that occur along the way, then there are the more rare permanent changes.
It would take me a long time to list out all the funky wierd expereinces that have happened once or twice.

Retreats will get you into altered states. If you get something out of these that change you for the better, awesome.
How long did these effects last?
~D

RE: Understanding my experiences in context
Answer
7/17/16 12:03 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Hi Everyone,

Thanks for all the thoughtful explainations! 

I have read MCTB and I have lurked on the forum a bit.   The LSD-trip like effects wore off after a few weeks.  However if I do "what is this?" even for just a few seconds, I get that visual perceputal-breakdown effect right away--things are brighter, vibrant and fresher looking than before.  Once I get distracted it goes away.

Best,
JM