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Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat Warrior Monk 12/22/16 7:12 PM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat C P M 12/22/16 8:19 PM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat bluedevils 12/23/16 3:40 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat Bigbird 12/23/16 3:40 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat shargrol 12/23/16 6:08 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat shargrol 12/23/16 6:21 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat Warrior Monk 12/23/16 7:21 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat shargrol 12/23/16 9:02 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat Change A. 12/23/16 8:22 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat elizabeth 12/23/16 9:23 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat Bigbird 12/23/16 9:15 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat Doctor Avocado 12/23/16 12:12 PM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat svmonk 12/23/16 12:45 PM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat Causes & Conditions 12/30/16 8:34 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat Mike H. 1/4/17 9:10 PM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat Bigbird 1/5/17 12:19 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat Warrior Monk 1/5/17 1:21 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat shargrol 1/5/17 10:34 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat svmonk 1/6/17 9:43 PM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat Warrior Monk 1/16/17 3:35 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat bernd the broter 1/16/17 5:52 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat Warrior Monk 1/16/17 6:24 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat bernd the broter 1/16/17 8:12 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat Bigbird 1/16/17 12:25 PM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat Bigbird 1/17/17 12:48 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat C P M 1/16/17 7:07 PM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat Noah D 1/16/17 9:28 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat Warrior Monk 1/18/17 4:23 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat Bigbird 1/18/17 8:38 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat shargrol 1/18/17 10:47 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat svmonk 1/18/17 2:44 PM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat Anna L 1/21/17 9:01 PM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat Warrior Monk 1/22/17 7:27 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat Jinxed P 1/22/17 6:19 PM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat Warrior Monk 1/30/17 1:16 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat Nikolai . 1/31/17 3:18 AM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat john paul komperda 3/16/17 10:53 PM
RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat Banned For waht? 1/22/17 12:45 PM
Hi all,

I'm having some struggles post-retreat and I thought this might be the best place to come. 

I returned from a 10-day Goenka Vipassana six days ago. It was my first retreat. Following the retreat I've experienced changes in perception that haven't budged, even though I've done no formal meditation since. As a psychologist, I'm worried that what I'm experiencing seems to have a large amount of overlap with a dissociative disorder, as some of the phenomonelogy is similar to what peope who are experiencing derealization and deporsonalization describe. Similar reports can be found of DR/DP support forums. I don't know if all of this is because I've gotten "deep" or if the meditation and stress on retreat have triggered something for me. Psychologically, I have few risk factors: I'm generally emotionally stable, high functioning, have exerienced no significant traumas, had a wonderful upbrinding, am financially comfortable and have a good support network. However, I have dabbled with recreational drugs in the past, which can be a risk factor; I also experienced severe stress on retreat, which can be a trigger. In terms of dharma, my teacher is Kenneth Folk, who I have been working with for a short time; he believes I made it up to the 10th Vipassana Nana, Re-Observation on retreat.

--

I can presently really relate to the "Headless Man" phenomenon described in Sam Harris's book 'Waking Up'. I have much less of a sense of "me" up there beind my eyes. It like my head is hollow, empty. I feel that I'm "just seeing" -- I have less of a sense of anyone up there doing there seeing. I also feel less attachment to my body. 

I can also relate to the 3-D glasses effect discussed in Dr. Robert Foreman's 'Enlightement A'int What It's Cracked Up To Be'. I have seen few references to this outside of it. It is like something has changed with my depth perception. While I initially thought the 3-D effect was a good description, it could also be that my brain has stopped creating the illusion of object permanance; if a water bottle is facing me I only have a visual sense of the side I'm seeing; I logically know it is rough and has a back, but I'm only visually aware of the image I see of it. From that perspective, the visual experience could also be described as things looking somewhat more 2-D. Apologies if that seems illogical or paradoxical. My visual field also looks like I'm playing a first-person video game, like my perhipheral vision is integrated, and I'm just seeing what's on my visual screen - I am my visual screen. 

I initally enjoyed visual changes on retreat, as it seemed like everything was clearer and more vibrant. However, now things almost have a cartoonish or unreal quality to them. 

Other possible effects: It's like I'm more aware of parts than wholes if an object is obscured by another, like my brain is doing less work to piece them together and create the gestalt. It's caused some philosophical thoughts, and I can see why so many advanced meditators like the "brain in the vat" philosophical discussion; this has been unnerving in itself, as it is against my philosophical worldview, and has also left me feeling a little more detached from my usual reality. 

--

I started having difficuties on day 6. In terms of my vision, it was as if everything was jumping left and then right constantly. Nothing was stable. It was also like my vision was flickering. This began to make it hard to concentrate or to watch the dharma talks. I felt sick, as if I was on a boat; there was a swaying sensation that didn't change even when I closed my eyes. I spoke to the teacher and he didn't know what I was talking about, he just said to practice harder.

I practiced very hard and dilligently the next day and it just made things worse. The following night I woke up having what was my first ever panic attack. Due to the visual phenomena I felt like everything was shifting and changing around me, nothing was solid, no matter where I looked. I also couldn't turn the body scan meditation "off", I could feel sensations of my body shifting and changing very quickly, though there were other parts of my body I couldn't feel at all. I felt as though I was disolving. I was so distressed I went and spoke to the manager and said "I think I need help. I feel like I don't exist. I think I'm going insane." He managed to calm me down with a cup of tea. I walked back to my dorm and threw up multiple times. When I got there, I meditated through the fear, realised it was just sensation, and managed to get some sleep. Kenneth thought this was nana 6.

The next day in meditation my attention heightened again and I realised that I had pulsing nerve pain in my left and right jaw, alternating. This was contributing to the woozy, sea-sick feeling. Then, I realised that each time my jaw nerves pulsed my eye on the corresponding side flashed at the same time. I felt relaxed knowing that the world wasn't changing, but there was a physiological cause.

Over the next couple days I had a number of no-self experiences. I looked into the mirror and had a sense that no one was doing the looking, there was just the reflection, no one behind the eyes looking. I saw my reflection in a window while drinking a cup of tea, I had the sensations of the cup and saw the picture, but I had no sense of me looking at it -- it was like when you go to the dentist and come out with a numb lip, you know it used to be there, but you can't feel it. It was like I had a numb self. I also had the experience of hearing rain and there was "just the rain", I had the thought "I am the rain" and it made sense.

As my attention heightened on retreat the 3-D effect increased too. On retreat I enjoyed much of this. It made everything look clearer, more vibrant and more interesting. It felt like it reached a nadir and then everything "clicked" into place and I felt like I finally, experientially understood what Sam Harris was talking about with his "Headless Man" example. 

When I told the teacher on retreat that it looked like things were 3-D, he said "That means you're not there yet. Get more concentrated and soon there will just be awareness."

The visual flickered seemed to settle on the morning of the last day, however the 3-D effect was pronounced; the next two meditation sessions brought the flickering back. 

--

I expected this changed in perception to change after retreat, however it's been several days and nothing is different. Things that felt profound and interesting on retreat and frightening and disorientating in real life; especially seeing as they haven't changed. The visual flickering has settled down but my vision is still somewhat distored: I'm following this up with a GP and optometrist. However, I've read that people experiencing depersonalisation and derealisation can also experience visual distortions. 

I have been too scared to meditate in case it makes thigns worse or makes whatever this is permanent. Kenneth says that the proximal goal is stream entry and I need to get to equanimity first. He recommended a large focus on moment-by-moment mindfulness, which I've been trying to do, though the worries are getting in the way. He also said that my perception may or may not go back to normal, but that normal is a function of familiarity, so that my distress at this may fade over time. I felt very reassured after talking to Kenneth, as he is a very good and precise teacher.

However, I wanted to see if anyone here had ever had any similar experiences, or knew anyone that had. I would very much like my visual experience to return to normal; frustratingly I know that's attachment and aversion. The 'headless' phenomena I could live with, but the cartoonishness of my visual world if very disturbing. It's presently causing my significant distess. I also feel somewhat isolated, as this is a strange thing to talk to many people in my life about; I'm also hesitant to tell me psych colleagues, lest they try to diagnose me with a dissociative disorder. 

Does anyone have any thoughts, advice, recommendations, suggestions or musings? 

Thank you for your time!

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
12/22/16 8:19 PM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
Hi Warrior Monk.
Welcome to the forum. Have you found this video yet by Shinzen Young? Enlightenment, DP/DR & Falling Into the Pit of the Void:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zIKQCwDXsA

I don’t have the fear response anymore, but I suffered my first panic attack a long time ago after pursuing spiritual practices. You have an advantage being a psychologist, your training can help you see them as psychological and physiological responses and hence reduce the power they can have over you.

I get the visual flickering when I get highly concentrated. I first encountered it on a home retreat and it endured for long periods. I haven’t had the flickering for a while, but coincidentally, got it today after getting more concentrated than usual during meditation. I just see it as a curiosity.
Others will chime in with some more practical advice. Kind regards to you.

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
12/23/16 3:40 AM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
It sounds like you’re doing an excellent job. I have a feeling that your biggest hindrance might actually be your background as a psychologist, as it seems like you have a bad habit of trying to self-diagnose yourself, to the point where you’re under the assumption that there is something wrong with you. There is nothing wrong with you, rather there has been a change in your fundamental perception of reality and who you thought you were that is no longer compatible with your prior beliefs. Give it some time for it to integrate, you’re not going crazy. In the meantime resist all attempts at trying to diagnose yourself, and in fact maybe you should try to incorporate some metta meditation into your practice to feel more grounded and more sure of yourself. http://www.wildmind.org/metta/introduction

As for the sensation that there is no longer a 'you' that is observing yourself, you're right on point.

"In the seen, there is only the seen,
in the heard, there is only the heard,
in the sensed, there is only the sensed,
in the cognized, there is only the cognized.
Thus you should see that
indeed there is no thing here;
this, Bahiya, is how you should train yourself.
Since, Bahiya, there is for you
in the seen, only the seen,
in the heard, only the heard,
in the sensed, only the sensed,
in the cognized, only the cognized,
and you see that there is no thing here,
you will therefore see that
indeed there is no thing there.
As you see that there is no thing there,
you will see that
you are therefore located neither in the world of this,
nor in the world of that,
nor in any place
betwixt the two.
This alone is the end of suffering.” (ud. 1.10)

http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com.au/2010/10/my-commentary-on-bahiya-sutta.html

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
12/23/16 3:40 AM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
In general, crossing of A&P with the Goenke technique would involve one full penetration from outside to all of the inside. This should climax with the elements all dissolving into vibrations. The fact that you have not mentioned this, and that you still have blind areas *may* mean that you are in the 3Cs. At A&P Kundalini should be released, with anything from no noticable effect to having your head blown off.
The experiences that you are having, are pretty common. Dry Insight can be a messy business. Your psychocondria (psychology/hypochondria) is also common. The subtle body is mind blowing stuff. It will take awhile to get used to it. If you diagnose the nanas with your psychology you will develop a non deliberate form of Munchausen(sort of).
Is your teacher a Psychologist? It may be helpfull to have a teacher who has both skill sets, so that they can help you to separate the two(very important).
The stuff that Shinzen Young is talking about is not common and far more serious than what you are describing. I guess when you have lost alot of the ability to function, then you will be in that category.
Now that you have started, at least keep up some daily breath meditation. Say 2x20min, and see how you go.
Finally, you can cycle through the nanas, you can get paths. However IMO its the clearing of all obstructions in the energy system(mind/body) and reduction of the Fetters that gives real freedom. Good luck and Merry Christmas.
PS. AYP Forum has good info on energetic symptoms.

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
12/23/16 6:08 AM as a reply to Bigbird.
Warrior Monk,

Why are you doing meditation? What is your motivation? You're at a good point to really think about what you are doing and why you are doing it.

Meditation is often talked about as if you "gain" insights from the practice -- like "I'm going to get stream entry" -- but really it's about loss. It loosens the self-other construct and loosens the solidity of our mental representations of the world. The good news is there is a lot of love, compassion, and freedom that is found, but the flip side is there is a lot of loss of self-pride, loss of emotional distance, and loss of faith in various intellectual structures/dogma/models. You feel more vunerable and are less protected, yet you have greater resiliancy and equanimity. (It's paradoxical, ultimately, so somewhat hard to talk about.)

As others have said, these effects are fairly common. It's kind of ironic... when well-balanced people start meditating and go through changes, they often become off-balanced.  When off-balanced people start meditating and go through changes, they often become re-balanced. (Although I guess it makes sense, doesn't it?)  emoticon

Ultimately things might stay the same, might continue to change. The changes also take time to become normalized. Many insights happen and feel wierd for a while, but then become the new normal. One thing I will say is that "the self that knows" does not change -- and that's a big hint right there. So it can feel insane at times, but if you think about it, the self that knows is aware of these changes and remains the same. Everything else really isn't the self. 

Anyway, I don't really have advice except to really think about your intentions for practice and talk about it with your teacher. 

Meditation practice has a way of pulling the rug out from under you, especially if it is being pursued due to unclear motivations or pursued too quicky or with too much effort. 

Hope this helps, best wishes!

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
12/23/16 6:21 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Another quick point... Imagine someone else going through exactly your experience but who had a strong faith in the meditation maps and had confidence that his teacher was supporting his practice and would help with any difficulty.

That person would probably say "I had a great retreat! I actually experience the flickering digital nature of perception, had insights into how visual perception creates the 3-d world, had moments of no-self, and encountered my cutting edge of practice. It was really hard, but I feel like more happened on retreat than in the past 6 months of sitting at home. Now I'm looking forward to integrating those insights into my practice and life."

So a different person with less aversion and more faith could have exactly the same experiences but interpret them completely different. Interesting isn't it?

Once again, meditation has a way of pointing out our resistances, defenses, and clingings. It's a very deep practice that radically rewires how we relate to the world. You can see why changes in morality can be coorrelated to practice -- any resistance, fear, or ill will gets magnified and turned into a problem that you have to address to make progress. Practice points out all the ways self creates itself and forms an attitude of greed, aversion, or indifference to the other. This isn't an insight into some abstract aspect of self and other, but rather how self and other is created in every single moment and how greed, aversion, and indifference show up in every single viewpoint.

This can be a very hard thing for people to see if they have a very solid worldview. These insights are in some ways easier for people who have already gone through trauma or are suffering, because it also points to a way beyond all these rigid views of their situation. The way out is to hold on to things a little more loosely and provisionally, while identifying less with conditions and more with "the one who knows".  

Hope this helps.

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
12/23/16 7:21 AM as a reply to Bigbird.
Wow, thanks so much everyone. This is really helpful and reassuring.

I initially began meditating because I wanted to be happier, as well as reduce my suffering and stress.This is all my first experiential foray into the "deep end". I've read Kenneth's Folks work and most of Daniel Ingram's book and found it absolutely fascinating.I began to think that, okay, there really is a deeper end goal here that is worth me exploring. I was never very interested in drug-like experiences, I just wanted to increase my well-being. However, the lived experience of some of this stuff is a totally different ballgame. I have a really strong worldview, which is usually a plus in the everyday world, though it may be an obstacle in meditation. I actually had to let go of a lot of attachments to various parts of my identity and worldview on retreat. I feel like I had insights into no-self, impermanence and suffering: I never understood the latter before. However, I came to realise I was always causing my own suffering through attachment, craving and aversion; once I realised this it was like I noticed I was touching a hot oven repeatedly. At that point, it was easy to stop. It's far harder off retreat. 

I definitely have a part of me that can see a lot of positives on retreat. I think I can, over time, get the hang of the headless experience. However, it's everything looking like a cartoon that really freaks me out. It's reminiscent of playing a first-person video game. At times, people can seem like characters, visually, that is. My depth perception also seems all out of whack. It also kind of feels like everything is a simulation, which, I suppose I know it is - in that it's my brain's simulation of the objective world. Though all of this perceptual change is happening without me trying or doing anything, yet I can't make it stop. This is the most distressing symptom; if it wasn't for this I think I would be adjusting much better. It's hard to go about daily life when everything looks so profoudly strange, weird and unreal -- and I'm worrying about it being permanent. I know I'm causing my own suffering with my attachment to it, but god it's annoying! lol

@Sid: I'm definitely part of the capitalist system. At times my work involves treating people's mental illness in order to get them back into the workforce ;) I can understand from everyones more experienced perspective it seems like a small timeline. However, for me, it feels like coming off a psychedelic trip, yet still experiencing the effects nearly a week later; from the perspective of everyday life that's strange. Intelectually I range wide territory, however in usual life I'm a pretty regular guy. 

@BigBird: I had multiple "climax" type experience. The first time I was in meditation and I passed through extremely pleasurable states. It literally felt like a whole body orgasm. The experience hit me like a train. On approximately day 6 I felt absolutely amazing, it was one of the best peak experiences of my life. Everything seemed profoundly okay, joyous, wonderful. I had the thought that I could die happy. At the time, before I attained more nuanced insight, I thought that might be "it". Later, I had an experience in meditation that felt like merging with god, or experiencing emptiness itself. It was viscerally shocking -- it hit me really hard. In my meditation I went from feeling gross sensations and worked to feeling subtle sensations all over the body, which was really nice. At that point my body scan was so fast it seemed uneccessary, and I could easily use the whole body as a meditation object. Another way over describing this whole-body phenomenon would be to say that the body dissolved into vibration, that's kind of how it felt. The latter two peak experiences I described were also followed by very severe anxiety experiences.

@Shargrol: That's a really good point about faith. The Goenka teacher told me that I needed that. I found it difficult, as in terms of my identity, I don't identify as a Buddhist, a spiritual person, or any kind of new age identity. I do identify with being an atheist, a rationalist, a skeptic and a scientific materialist. In terms of the maps, I find them fascinating. When I read them now I'm surprised how much they overlap with some of my experiences, even in terms of things I didn't expect, believe or know before retreat. However, beforehand I've always been agnostic, and entertained a healthy skepticism even though I was very intruiged. However, I tried to have faith in sensible people who have gone before me and reported that it was positive, like Sam Harris, Kenneth and Daniel Ingram; I also tried to have faith on the research on long-term meditators, showing increased well-being. 

@Pawel K: Thank you, that gives me some perspective. I do hope the cartoonish presentation does fade. Kenneth did say that I need patience, I think he's right. 

Thanks again everyone. While my experience still currently feels very weird, strange and unusual -- your comments have helped normalise it and make me feel a little more stable. If I'm really honest with myself, I think perhaps one of the things I needed most was reassurance. I certainly didn't get that, or any kind of human warmth, from the Goenka teacher!

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
12/23/16 8:22 AM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
Warrior Monk:
I also couldn't turn the body scan meditation "off", I could feel sensations of my body shifting and changing very quickly, though there were other parts of my body I couldn't feel at all.
Do some physical exercises which work on the muscles of the parts of the body that you couldn't feel at all. That will bring them online and will fix the problems you are having. I guess you're not having that much sensations in the head as well as you feel headless. For that, you can try shoulder mobility and flexibility yoga. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ywv4agkhHOU

Also, try yoga nidra (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04DDx8wcUDw) and put emphasis on tightening and relaxing the muscles where you couldn't feel at all.

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
12/23/16 9:02 AM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
Warrior Monk:
However, it's everything looking like a cartoon that really freaks me out. It's reminiscent of playing a first-person video game. At times, people can seem like characters, visually, that is. My depth perception also seems all out of whack. It also kind of feels like everything is a simulation, which, I suppose I know it is - in that it's my brain's simulation of the objective world. Though all of this perceptual change is happening without me trying or doing anything, yet I can't make it stop. This is the most distressing symptom; if it wasn't for this I think I would be adjusting much better. It's hard to go about daily life when everything looks so profoudly strange, weird and unreal -- and I'm worrying about it being permanent. I know I'm causing my own suffering with my attachment to it, but god it's annoying! lol


[...]

I do identify with being an atheist, a rationalist, a skeptic and a scientific materialist. In terms of the maps, I find them fascinating. When I read them now I'm surprised how much they overlap with some of my experiences, even in terms of things I didn't expect, believe or know before retreat. However, beforehand I've always been agnostic, and entertained a healthy skepticism even though I was very intruiged. However, I tried to have faith in sensible people who have gone before me and reported that it was positive, like Sam Harris, Kenneth and Daniel Ingram; I also tried to have faith on the research on long-term meditators, showing increased well-being. 

Vision is an interesting thing. It can be very strange to suddenly get that there are big parts of the visual field that have been ignored in the past. Normally people only see at the focus point, kind of like they are looking through a tube. When you take away the tube, suddenly the experience is much more panoramic, 3-d, immersive, and odd. We can be strangely aware of the space within a room or how high the sky goes over our head -- even when we don't intend to notice it. We can also get a wierd depth perception thing where suddenly we notice parallax, how different rent object move past us depending on how far away they are.

Adding on: it could be interesting to notice that when we spread our vision and "identify" with the edges of vision, we have a stronger sense of self-in-the-body, as if we are separate from our seeing eyes. When we identify with the middle of vision, we have a stronger sense of union with vision, as if we are vision itself. During certain states, these "views" can become really strong as they impart those insights.

Yup strange. But here's the thing --- you never really controlled vision in the first place. A lot of meditation is just noticing things that were always occuring but that were never able to be seen before. One phrase that might be helpful is that "meditation is getting used to it."

btw, I'm also a very rationale/scientifically minded person. Faith for me is more of a faith that my natural intelligence and wisdom that has directed my adult development will continue in the same manner. Change isn't something to be afraid of, but something that takes me beyond my comfort zone and into a maturity that I can't image from where I am now. That kind of faith. Hope this helps.

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
12/23/16 9:23 AM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
Warrior Monk:

However, I wanted to see if anyone here had ever had any similar experiences, or knew anyone that had. I would very much like my visual experience to return to normal; frustratingly I know that's attachment and aversion. The 'headless' phenomena I could live with, but the cartoonishness of my visual world if very disturbing. It's presently causing my significant distess. I also feel somewhat isolated, as this is a strange thing to talk to many people in my life about; I'm also hesitant to tell me psych colleagues, lest they try to diagnose me with a dissociative disorder. 

Does anyone have any thoughts, advice, recommendations, suggestions or musings? 


Warrior Monk:

Thanks again everyone. While my experience still currently feels very weird, strange and unusual -- your comments have helped normalise it and make me feel a little more stable. If I'm really honest with myself, I think perhaps one of the things I needed most was reassurance.


I’ve never done a Goenka retreat but I did read MCTB and try Daniel’s experiment. I was pretty shocked when it worked to the extent that perceptual changes happened.

One of the changes that happened for me may be something like your 3D effect. I called mine the IMAX effect. There sort of full immersion intervals where I could wander around in this amazing world where there were amazing IMAX 3D visuals, there was external sound and the narration in my head ceased totally and I was just enchanted with what ever was happening no matter how ‘mundane’ it was.  Some of those changes persisted in less extreme forms when things were more ‘normal’.

I too wondered what had happened. Worried about whether I could function like this. I both grasped onto any change even the disconcerting ones as signs meditation was working - that I was making progress  and  that something was dreadfully wrong and I’d messed up somehow. I feared that either way if this continued or got more extreme I wouldn’t be able to function in the world.

Finding ways to normalizing it and getting reassurance helped me a lot.

Reading this forum as well as KFD and Awake Network. Getting an idea of how wide the range of experience and effects can be and that I was not quite so strange after all.

Talking with Kenneth – I eventually reached out to him. After my first venture into this territory things had calmed down quite a bit. Then somehow an intense off cushion period and more on cushion time resulted in another more intense round. After the initial panic wore off I contacted Kenneth. That first conversation and many since then have been about impermanence – what ever is happening will change. Beginning to really understand and rely on that as a sort of bedrock fact of life has helped. 

Adyashanti describes experiences that fit with what was happening for me.  Listening to a lot of his discussions and working with his more no manipulation of experience / awareness focused strategies has helped me find a peace with this. This is just one of the many possible ways awakening shows up. It’s ok. I went to an Adya intensive then on multiple retreats with him. Becoming more experienced and comfortable with the changes and the kinds of experiences that happen from time to time. Realizing that time has passed and life has gone on even with these changes.

Also by understanding what how I was working with fear and increasing it. Going to one of Mukti’s events and watching her work with another yogi who was using fear about what was happening to distract himself really helped me notice that I was doing the same thing. I was creating stories about what I feared would happen. When the actual changes and what had come of them was not on that level at all. Mostly the changes were enjoyable and benign. Occasionally they were annoying and mildly problematic. But over time I’d found work arounds and life had gone on. None of the horror stories I’d told myself about the future had happened so why was I continuing to tell them. That was a revelation I could just see that it was a story I was making up. That insight shifted things again and brought more peace.

In that gradually expanding space of peace other changes and shifts have continued. Some bits of that journey were harder than others but it has definitely been worth it.

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
12/23/16 9:15 AM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
Your second post describes a likely A&P. So Kenneths call of Re-Observation fits well. I can't see any real problems with you moving forward, after all its highly unlikely that you will be able to go back. Most people do psychology to understand what's going on so to speak, so this is a good thing.

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
12/23/16 12:12 PM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
As someone who has dealt with similar bizarre depersonalization phenomena.


When this stuff first happens or becomes your waking reality for a while, the primary instinct is to panic, imagine/invent all kinds of attributes of what you're experiencing and to try to understand/explain what is happening. 

You are concerned about what is happening, you are extending your actual experience with lots of adjectives and analogies, and you're trying to compare it to what he said, she said and they said. 


My experience was that the panicking, imagination and need to understand contributed both to the degree and persistance of the problem. This was because they all take you away from what is actually happening at a sensation level. It's important to keep reminding yourself "what is actually happening? What am I actually experiencing within my body?". In the middle of that DP/DR peak, notice what is happening and try to notice/note your actual physical/mental experience. 


For instance, DP often gave me a feeling of totally naked vulnerability, like my body was the lightest gust off wind in a huge open expanse, with a visceral dread that I might flash out of existence in the next frame of time. This experience was scary and it was easy to imagine some impending annihilation.

But upon investigating every aspect of my actual experience, there was some lightness, numbness, in fact, lots of relaxation (since I was used to feeling the continual solidity and tension of my body), and a number of other specific physical and mental phenomena composing this experience.

When I saw that it was only physical and mental phenomena, it was easier to stay equanimous with each experience. As a result, strange experiences seemed to persist less.


So keep bringing yourself back, "what is actually happening? What am I actually experiencing within my body?"


-Wing


(As an aside, one of my more insane meditation teachers would advise people to dunk their heads in an ice cold bucket of water whenever anything like this happened. A quick way of getting back "inside" the body perhaps. )


RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
12/23/16 12:45 PM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
Hi Warrior Monk,

I normally don't post on threads that have lots of good advice like this one, but it's the holidays and I am on vacation so I have more time and, well, I've had quite a few cases of experiencing what you describe, namely substantial sensory and cognitive changes during and after major retreats.

The flickering you describe has occured for me as well. If the flickering is not just vision but all sense experience, then you may be seeing what the Abhidharmists describe as the fundamental ephemeral basis of experience, that it consists of specific mind moments in which experience appears and disappears very rapidly, like the frames in a film. The mind then integrates these digital moments into one analog-seeming experience. This is an instance of the Mark of Impermanence, one of the three Marks of Existence (impermanence, not-self, and suffering). I am not an expert on the maps, but as Bigbird notes, you may have experienced an A&P, entering through the Impermenance Door, which is the usual way that folks enter an A&P especially the first time.

I tend to experience the opposite of depersonalization after an intense retreat, namely ego inflation. As Pawel mentioned, I would be careful with consulting traditional Western medical practitioners since most do not have any experience with the cognitive, sensory, and somatic transformations associated with hard core Dharma practice. I would suggest only consulting with them if you have difficulty functioning in everyday life. Working together with a therapist that has some experience with Dharma practice has helped me in the past. After one retreat, I was on microdoses of Seroquil for three months, and worked with a psychiatrist who was a Zen practitioner. Another on-line resource is Willoughby Britton, a professor at Brown, who went through an intense depersonalization experience that rendered her unable to work for a short period (she took a sabbatical). Here  is a link to an article where she describes some of the pitfalls of vipassana practice (and Goenka retreats are well-known to be especially intense). 

The good news is that if you keep practicing, you'll get to first path though it might take some time. If your life is such that you can commit to that, it is well worth the effort. There are folks who give up after a difficult retreat, especially if they are having difficulty in everyday life, and I respect that. If you find in the process that reality gets a bit sketchy at times, it's wise to take a break and let the changes settle, then see if you want to continue.

Good luck!

 

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
12/30/16 8:34 AM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
A week is not a very long time to "come down" from a retreat where you got intensely concentrated. I had a similar experience where my first retreat put me into a wildly altered state (though mine wasn't the exact phenomena you are reporting). But it faded. I'd give it a month or two. Also, try noting your anxiety and feelings around the issue. I think you might find out some really interesting things out about your mind.

Hope everything turns out well.

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
1/4/17 9:10 PM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
Threads like this are why i still visit the forum.  I am glad to see so many helpful, specific replies to your question, Warriormonk.

Unfortunately, I don't have time for a lengthy response.  But i can really emphasize with a lot of the phenomena you are describing.  I have had similar issues with the visual field changing and also my perception of the body (where am i in the body) changing.  Most people of course, would find these things very strange.

EDIT:  i just want to emphasize that i have experienced visual field changes, amd that i have read accounts of this.  I have for instance had a strong feeling that objects are simply too "there" in a weird way and hard to take in.  Give it time.  Dissolution and a lot of the other tgings you describe can be very crazy as well.  I had a lot of trouble with dissolution and fear (i dont exist, body exploding, etc) , in particular.  At times it was harder at work or just going to a store.

1.  I would encourage you to do try to focus on calming yourself in meditation, perhaps doing a more narrow concentration focus, focusing on metta, or a more narrow focus on the breath.  Experiment and try to see if you can find a meditation technique that doesn't make you feel so out of sorts.  For me, it was helpful to take a more narrow breath focus (with less intensive noting) instead of a more wide open, noting practice.

2.  Also, remember that some of these perceptions are just temporary.  You might have a longstanding "loosening up" of your identity but the strangeness or the sharpness of certain things will probalby pass.  in my experience.

 Edit:  again give it time.  You arent "permafried" to use another type of jargon

Best of luck to you! 

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
1/5/17 12:19 AM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
Hi Warrior Monk, could we have an update on how things are going?

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
1/5/17 1:21 AM as a reply to Bigbird.
Interesting timing Bigbird, I was planning on updating you all today! Thank you for asking. And thanks again everyone, all of your input has been incredibly valuable, helpful and reassuring. It definitely helped me through what was a very difficult time for me.

My perceptual experience has mostly returned to normal now. The things that were bothering me most -- things looking cartoonish and the visual flickering -- have faded, which has left me feeling a palpable sense of relief.

I still have the headlessness/first-person RPG type visual field to some extent, though it doesn't bother me; also being back in the 'real world' it's easy to get caught up or distracted in life and not notice it. However, I now have my sense of me 'here' looking out at things 'there' again, which is nice; rather than the single-screen, nondual, whatever thing I was experiencing before.

The feelings of unreality, as well as the depersonalisation, have mostly faded too.

I feel like now I'm mostly left with positive effects post-retreat. The insights are still fresh in my mind, but they don't bother me or disturb me; now, they feel empowering, if anything. The three characteristics now feel very real and very true. I feel more relaxed and less bothered by things. I'm less reactive to pain, even though it isn't less severe; I know that I have no control over the sensations, so there's less point resisting. I don't want to oversell it though, I've still been anxious/stressed about work, relationships, etc. It's just I know that on retreat I was able to sit with and accept such intense experiences, that it gives me more confidence to handle daily life, regardless of whatever my present emotional experience.

I had been too scared to meditation for a couple weeks after retreat. However, I did try, as much as possible, to practice Kenneth's recommendation of daily moment-to-moment mindfulness. I'm not sure how well I did, though I tend to include noting at intervals throughout my day, particularly when driving or walking. I've re-committed to formal sitting meditation, doing a minimum of one hour a day (5th day of that), which is quite a bit more than I usually do. I've also committed to doing a minimum of 30 minutes of informal practice. I've started to enjoy meditation again.

I also feel like I have more faith in meditation, the maps and good teachers. I looked over various descriptions of the maps and could definitely relate them to my experiences on retreat, including several things that I had no idea were related to the stages. For example, I had bright, persistent itching before I hit A&P; it was very obvious and unmistakable; the itches were very irritating and seemed to last for ages. I had no idea that was associated with the 3C's. Then, I felt subtle sensations all over the body following that, which, at the time, I had no idea could be associated with A&P. Also, I read a lot of dissolution/anxiety accounts that were eerily similar to my own "panic attack" experience.

A part of me feels a little silly now for freaking out so much, as so many of you have experienced similar things, described it as normal and a lot of it doesn't seem to be permanent. However, from my mundane, ordinary world perspective, it very much felt like being stuck in a bad trip. From that perspective, it was one of the scariest and most difficult times of my life. I had no idea there could be such hangover effects from retreats. I expected some psychological stuff like that, sure, but not a fundamental minute-by-minute change in how the world looked to me. Well, at least, I always imagined it differently when it was described in books. 
 
Oh, one last change. I'm much more positive on meditation than I was when I first made the post. However, I wouldn't recommend it to people so thoughtlessly, like I may have before retreat. Now I feel like if people buy the ticket, they have to take the ride -- it feels like you can't guarantee it will remain "stress reduction" for them.

Overall though, now things are going pretty well.

I’m presently gunning for steam entry! I’ll follow Kenneth’s lead on what to do from here in order to get there. 

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
1/5/17 10:34 AM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
Thanks for that follow-up and for posting in the first place!

What you went through isn't uncommon. It's great to hear you say that you are both more optimistic about meditation, as well as more cautious about blindly recommending it. That is the balanced approach that I hope everyone will take when they talk about meditation.

This work can be endless helpful, but it isn't a cure-all and there can be significant difficulties. Some people are much better served by doing basic psychological therapy rather than meditation, and/or doing gentler practices rather than intense retreats. It's hard to appreciate the kinds of difficulties that can be encountered unless you have gone through it, which make harder for people who haven't experienced it to see the concerns.

Last year I was talking with someone who ultimately switched from meditation to therapy because meditation not only wasn't helping, but it was also making things worse. I promised that I would mention his story if this topic came up again.  

These kind of events also points out how important it is to have some kind of sangha or a support group before really going deep with meditation practice. A meditator may never need the support, but it is a lot easier to get that support in place before encountering difficulties, rather than having to deal with the problem and hunt down the solution at the same time.

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
1/6/17 9:43 PM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
Hi Warrior Monk,

Glad to see you are doing better.
Oh, one last change. I'm much more positive on meditation than I was when I first made the post. However, I wouldn't recommend it to people so thoughtlessly, like I may have before retreat. Now I feel like if people buy the ticket, they have to take the ride -- it feels like you can't guarantee it will remain "stress reduction" for them.
I've been concerned about this for some time. The entire "mindfulness movement" has been selling mindfulness and mindfulness-based stress reduction with little understanding or concern about the profound psychological and cognitive changes that can come out of deep meditation states. The usual answer is that people won't be going that deep, or those experiences only occur rarely, or, well, some other excuse. But actually, the experiences are quite common and occur to many people, as the maps in MCTB outline, though to varying degrees of severity. Some people who take up mindfulness lite are bound to end up at a Goenka retreat, and the results can be quite unpredictible.

This doesn't cause me to reject meditation, but I do believe that there should be some "truth in labelling" and that meditation teachers should know about the potential negative side effects in some of the states along the path, should speak about them periodically, and should be prepared to deal with students who encounter difficulties on retreat. A deep meditation practice should be able to coexist with living a normal daily life I think.

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
1/16/17 3:35 AM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
Hi all,

 Seeing as I got the ball rolling with this thread, I was wondering if anyone could help me work at where I'm currently might be, and what I might best do from here.
 
As you can see from the above posts, I went from being truly, thoroughly miserable, to mostly back to normal, though feeling significantly better than before retreat (though, in a very 'normal-ish' way). Following retreat, I was too scared to meditate and had strong aversion to it; this lasted roughly two weeks. Once things settled, I realised that the negative experiences were impermanent, which made me comfortable to begin again; I also had an undeniable sense that all of this stuff was real, important and valuable.
 
I had begun doing a minimum of a one hour sit each day two weeks ago, as well as a minimum of 30 minutes informal practice (which jumped to an hour minimum after a couple of days). This was quite a lot more than I could ever do consistently before retreat.
 
At first my meditation, while being far easier than before retreat, wasn't mind blowing. However, starting at least by last Tuesday (6 days ago) it became really, really easy. I would go through very obvious altered states, like on retreat. I had a different relationship to meditation. Whereas previously, I might lose attention and experience frustration at myself or self-doubt, or I would get annoyed by pain, recently I started being much more okay with whatever came back. I knew that the pain, mind wandering, whatever would pass and I didn't resist it; likewise, I wasn't attached to pleasure, as I knew it would pass too. I started to want to keep meditating past the hour timer! The okayness with the different passing stages was a little different to peak retreat experiences, as I was attached to pleasurable states moreso.
 
Five days ago, I sat and went through altered states, there was intense pleasure that came and went, as well as a number of other things. It didn't finish with large, obvious waves of pleasure. However, when I finished, things were normal-ish for a moment, then I felt like jumping for joy and thrusting my fist into the air. I was very energetic and happy and stayed up late. After this, for a few days, I felt very happy, grateful, energised and almost giddy.
 
Moreover, following this, every time I sat I would instantly experience waves of pleasure. It didn't take more than a moment for my mind to settle. My practice time continued to spike.
 
Then, maybe three days ago, I could experience waves of pleasure in just a moment of closing my eyes, it didn't have to be in a sit. It was like it was just there, under the surface, waiting. I also wrote in my journal "Everything had a very complete quality in terms of the visual field, easy to be aware of everything, the whole visual experience -- leaves and birds flying past, even if small -- things far in the distance -- whatever was in the peripherals at the time. Very nice. Felt in the moment and part of it all."
 
Whatever I was experiencing started to bleed into my life, noticeably affecting how I was feeling during the rest of the day -- kind of like in between sits on retreat, but I hadn't had this in everyday life before.
 
Two days ago, I felt as though I could willingly enter different altered states. At first, I felt like a toddler learning to walk: I could do it but it was unwieldy. I stayed up for hours past midnight playing and experimenting with these: it felt very, very fun and interesting. They also felt similar to a number of states on retreat. Only, this time, it felt like I had more control. The day after this, I also went through the states the first thing after waking.
 
I'm terribly worried that I'm scripting my experience based on things I've read. I had the thought that I'm deluding myself. Then I thought, if I'm deluding myself into intense pleasure, isn't that the same as just experiencing intense pleasure? I also thought: how many regular people can sit and experience intense pleasure at a whim?
 
The first state involves a lot of pleasurable tension throughout the body. I apologise, but the best analogy I can think of is like the rising pleasure before an orgasm. However, it can get too intense to the point of becoming uncomfortable. Then - it helps to take a really deep breath - I can enter a quieter state, with less going on in the body, but it gives me a big smile on my face: it feels like joyously having a laugh with friends. At times, the bodily energy from the first one tries to creep in, though I can supress it and stay in the second state. I'm not as good at the next two and can't get the same level of intensity yet. Though, the next one feel like the pleasant sensation after a really big sigh: it also helps to take a deep breath and release to get here. It’s quieter still. In the last one, my head and body feel like slumping forward. It's very silent, tranquil, and peaceful; there's nothing to do. Awareness of sounds creeps in very strongly here.
 
My good friend and roommate walked in on me practising these and said "I saw the eyes roll back in your head!"
 
Even as I sit here typing, I can consciously enter any of those states at a moment’s notice. I can play around with the intensity as well as how long I stay in each one, though it's easier to do this will seated, concentrated and with my eyes shut. Though, now I can choose to go into those states with my eyes open.
 
Yesterday, at the end of meditation, it was like the sensate field was integrated; it seemed that there was something intrinsically pleasant about this. I could focus my concentration on the whole sensate field at once.
 
This morning, I had a strong experience of fear, which passed in intensity quickly, but took longer to fade entirely. A little later had the thought arise that I wish I had never started meditating and I wanted it to stop. After this, I felt okay again. I think I've been through a number of altered states today. I'm much more okay with this now, as I've been through it before; there's less attachment or aversion; I know that they're impermanent.
 
Whatever is happening, there's very strong bleed through in my daily life, my moment-to-moment experience. It doesn't seem like there's a separation between meditation and life any more. The broad, wide, integrated, panoramic visual field I described earlier keeps occurring; it's reminiscent of what I experienced towards the end of retreat, but more complete. Things don't look cartoony this time round, and I don't have aversion to it, as I have been through it before, and it might be impermanent; from this perspective, it's quite nice.
 
I'm in two minds. A part of me wants to continue long meditation, as it's very interesting: it feels like an adventure. Another part of me wants to stop for a bit and see what happens. A part of me is slightly worried, as the intense bleed-through is affecting my daily life so much -- and I still have to work, in a high responsibility job too! Another part of me wants to walk the middle ground, cutting down the time, but hedging my bets with some short daily meditation. Edit: Hesitant to say this, but another part of me feels like I don't need to meditation, as in most moments of experience there's meditative bleed through; could also be me rationalising the fear that the bleed through will become more intense. 
 
Still, I don't really feel like I have to actively work at informal meditation much from this present wherever-I-am. Everything is very open, like when I've done open-awareness type meditation in the past; previously, this took concentration and effort, now it is effortless. I still get lost in thought, though not for very long. A few minutes and I'm right back, in the present, without effort.
 
Overall, I don't know if I've fallen down or gone up post-retreat, or down then up. Any suggestions on where I might be and/or how I should proceed from here?

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
1/16/17 5:52 AM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
Warrior Monk:
Hi all,

 Seeing as I got the ball rolling with this thread, I was wondering if anyone could help me work at where I'm currently might be, and what I might best do from here.
 
[...]
Five days ago, I sat and went through altered states, there was intense pleasure that came and went, as well as a number of other things. It didn't finish with large, obvious waves of pleasure. However, when I finished, things were normal-ish for a moment, then I felt like jumping for joy and thrusting my fist into the air. I was very energetic and happy and stayed up late. After this, for a few days, I felt very happy, grateful, energised and almost giddy.
 
Moreover, following this, every time I sat I would instantly experience waves of pleasure. It didn't take more than a moment for my mind to settle. My practice time continued to spike.
 
Then, maybe three days ago, I could experience waves of pleasure in just a moment of closing my eyes, it didn't have to be in a sit. It was like it was just there, under the surface, waiting. I also wrote in my journal "Everything had a very complete quality in terms of the visual field, easy to be aware of everything, the whole visual experience -- leaves and birds flying past, even if small -- things far in the distance -- whatever was in the peripherals at the time. Very nice. Felt in the moment and part of it all."
 
Whatever I was experiencing started to bleed into my life, noticeably affecting how I was feeling during the rest of the day -- kind of like in between sits on retreat, but I hadn't had this in everyday life before.
[...]
One thing seems obvious from your descriptions, and I'm not sure if you're actually aware of it:
You only did one retreat, and ended up in weird states with intense side effects.
After the retreat, (your only one!) you sit down at home and try to manipulate those states, and it even works to some extent.
You are talking about altered status (dafuq?) like other people are talking about what they had for breakfast.
All of this is highly unusual. You have a really weird mind. Your experience is much different from other people's!
Possibly, this means that you can make fast progress if correctly instructed.
But those altered states which you are trying to manipulate may also just be distractions.

I think a solid assumption is that, as you resume intense meditation practice (retreats), you will again experience the difficult ('miserable') phases. And these, too, will be much more intense for you than for other people.

I think you ought to consider those special conditions.
Possibly, you only need some time to adjust, and your mind will automatically find a certain balance, and allow you to do intense retreats without freaking out.
If not, some of the following might be a good idea:
-Find a school which trains you to establish more stability in your mind.
-Do retreats with less intensity (7 hours a day instad of 12 still allows for much progress).
-Build a good foundation in a practice which can calm down the intense side effects (Brahma Viharas, Bodywork, whatever...)

On the whole, you seem to have quite good conditions for successful meditation practice, that's nice.

As to 'where you are', I have no idea. All the 'I can feel great joy at will' sounds a lot like A&P, but maybe you are just reviewing all kinds of states from the retreat.
As to 'what should I do', since you are at the beginning, I would advise you to try several things, until you find something that really fits. There's no reason to force oneself to stay with Goenka if that technique is more intense than one can handle. There's lots of other good stuff out there.

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
1/16/17 6:24 AM as a reply to bernd the broter.
@Bernd the broter. Thank you for your reply and input. Can I just add, all of this is profoundly weird for me as well. Like I've touched on in earlier posts, I'm a pretty conventional guy by many standards. In terms of my personality, I've never really had very quick moods swings; likewise I don't generally tend to have intense moods. I've never had anything even approaching a manic or psychotic episode in the past; in fact, I generally require a bit more sleep than average and I'm not generally overly energetic. My mental health is generally pretty good: I had a good - and conventional - upbringing; I'm close to my parents; and I have lots of good friends. I prioritised study over travel. I'm unveristy educated. I've published a peer-reviewed scientific journal article. I'm a skeptic and an atheist. I have a stable, full-time job. I do not at all fit the mold of people who forsake 'regular' life for a while and travel overseas to do intensive retreats. However, I have experimented with psychadelics a few times in the past, which is the only time I've really been exposed to altered states. EDIT: I don't know how I feel about this, a nd if it is true or not, but I've heard the argument that people can cross the A&P on psychadelics; if this is true, I would have crossed in in 2011/2012, as well as in 2013. 

It may be worth adding that I did start meditating 8 years ago, so it's not like I stumbled into a Goenka retreat, discovered meditation and then had these experiences. I've been really interested in meditation for a long time. Nevertheless, it all does seem very strange, which is why I'm reaching out to you all. It's actually quite unverving -- and isolating -- being told that it's unusual, that I have a weird mind and that my experience is different from other people's. 

Additionally, my 60 minute sit was made up of 30 minutes of mindfulness of breath, followed by a 30 minute body scan. My informal meditation consisted primarily of noting, switching to open awareness for small periods if I was able to. As such, I was mixing techniques. 

Extrapolating from your comments regarding an adjustment period, I'm getting the impression that it might be best to have a break, to focus on the rest of life, and engage in some earthy, wordly pursuits away from meditation for a while. 

When you say 'find schools that build more stablity of mind', what would you suggest?

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
1/16/17 8:12 AM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
Warrior Monk:
@Bernd the broter. Thank you for your reply and input. Can I just add, all of this is profoundly weird for me as well. Like I've touched on in earlier posts, I'm a pretty conventional guy by many standards. In terms of my personality, I've never really had very quick moods swings; likewise I don't generally tend to have intense moods. I've never had anything even approaching a manic or psychotic episode in the past; in fact, I generally require a bit more sleep than average and I'm not generally overly energetic. My mental health is generally pretty good: I had a good - and conventional - upbringing; I'm close to my parents; and I have lots of good friends. I prioritised study over travel. I'm unveristy educated. I've published a peer-reviewed scientific journal article. I'm a skeptic and an atheist. I have a stable, full-time job. I do not at all fit the mold of people who forsake 'regular' life for a while and travel overseas to do intensive retreats. However, I have experimented with psychadelics a few times in the past, which is the only time I've really been exposed to altered states. EDIT: I don't know how I feel about this, a nd if it is true or not, but I've heard the argument that people can cross the A&P on psychadelics; if this is true, I would have crossed in in 2011/2012, as well as in 2013. 

It may be worth adding that I did start meditating 8 years ago, so it's not like I stumbled into a Goenka retreat, discovered meditation and then had these experiences. I've been really interested in meditation for a long time. Nevertheless, it all does seem very strange, which is why I'm reaching out to you all. It's actually quite unverving -- and isolating -- being told that it's unusual, that I have a weird mind and that my experience is different from other people's. 
This is actually a stronger statement than I intended. I think your experience is not too unusual - but compared to what the majority of people experience, it is quite different. But retreat formats such as Goenka's were designed for this majority, so the 5-30% (I don't pretend to have exact numbers on this, nor does anyone else) whose mind works like yours may run into weird side effects.
Note that a mind producing lots of weird side effects isn't necessarily a bad thing for meditation progress.
For a historical example, look at this student of Ajahn Maha Boowa:
http://www.forestdhamma.org/ebooks/english/pdf/Mae_Chee_Kaew.pdf

Extrapolating from your comments regarding an adjustment period, I'm getting the impression that it might be best to have a break, to focus on the rest of life, and engage in some earthy, wordly pursuits away from meditation for a while. 
Not necessarily. From my personal experience:
In my first retreat (also Goenka), I experienced some altered states.
In my second retreat, I also experienced some altered states, but fewer.
In later retreats, they didn't show up any more.
So my conclusion is that without any experience, the mind may be overwhelmed from those retreat impressions, and it simply needs some time to adjust that, and then it doesn't go off into altered states any more, at least not that easy.
So maybe you are fine whatever you do. My suggestions were for if it turns out that this is not the case.
For now, I wouldn't worry too much. Two hours of practice a day is quite good. After surviving a retreat (which is much harder), it seems unlikely that this would be dangerous. If you are worried about the bleedthrough, you could create a chart and track those effects over the weeks/months to see if you regain stability.

When you say 'find schools that build more stablity of mind', what would you suggest?
I know hardly anything about this, so I would rather not comment on that. There are lots of different schools, and I would probably just try-and-error those until I find one. But just waiting may solve your problem, too, so maybe this is overkill.

(It is my impression, that this is getting contradictory. I better stop writing before it gets even worse o_O)

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
1/16/17 9:28 AM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
Warrior Monk:
I'm terribly worried that I'm scripting my experience based on things I've read. I had the thought that I'm deluding myself.

This shouldn't matter AT ALL.  If you can placebo/script yourself all the way to SE, all the way to a scripted sense of relief that lasts automatically, every moment till the day you die, then who cares whether it was scripted or not, whether it was SE or not?
Then I thought, if I'm deluding myself into intense pleasure, isn't that the same as just experiencing intense pleasure?

Exactly.
I also thought: how many regular people can sit and experience intense pleasure at a whim?

Exactly.
Overall, I don't know if I've fallen down or gone up post-retreat, or down then up. Any suggestions on where I might be and/or how I should proceed from here?

You're simply experiencing the nanas.  It explains the various energetic, mood and writing fluctuations you're exhibiting.  

You should keep practicing with intensity BUT ONLY if you can take the advise from earlier in this thread about not letting the dukkha nanas bleed through into daily life.  If you don't think you can "handle" the dukkha nanas, then you should consider stopping practice.  

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
1/16/17 12:25 PM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
All sounds perfectly normal. Keep up regular breath meditation, would be my advice. Unless your losing the plot.
What is normal, and is unusual?
A meditators experience can vary in regards to sensations and mind states. They can have a strong inclination to one or both, or possibly none. 
A meditator who strongly inclines to sensations can experience mind blowing pleasant sensations or unpleasant sensations which will sound unusual to a meditator who does not, and perfectly normal to a meditator who does.
When the pleasant sensation arises notice mental rising, the mind feeds on the energy. If you want a stable mind you need to practice mindfulness. When an unpleasant sensation arises, notice mental falling, the mind feeds on the energy. If you want a stable mind you need to practice mindfulness. There is also the neutral sensation, but its normal to notice pleasant, unpleasant first.
Stability or equanimity will come if you do the practice, like fitness comes if you do the training. It will take awhile to get the hang of it.
Check your messages. I sent you one.

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
1/16/17 7:07 PM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
The impression I get is from your post is that meditation is working well for you and the retreat triggered some rapid progress.

Some of the things you are describing sound similar to what I experience when meditating. The one difference is your timeline is fairly short since the beginning of the retreat. For me, things may get intense for a while, then I could have a fairly dry spell for a number of months. I heard Shinzen mention you can modulate the changes by increasing/decreasing the time spent practicing. If you are not in distress, there doesn’t seem to be a need to cut back.

I start to get a lot of bleed through to everyday life when I up mediation to over 2 hrs a day, and I’ve been doing that recently. I have the sense that I am putting in the right amount of time into it when I get this type of bleed through. It’s somewhat destabilizing, but I’m willing to shake things up. For example, here is a chunk of my meditation log from a day last week. (The blissful and spells are happening while I’m at work in the middle of an open office environment).


Jan 12, 2017
My morning meditation was good. It took about 10-15 minutes for my mind to settle and get concentrated, but after it did, I was able to hold complete attention on the breath for at least 30 minutes. The trend I see is the morning meditation is good or really good, but the evening run is often fairly poor. In the evening I can concentrate for only brief periods before my mind wanders. This doesn’t happen on vacation or weekends though, work seems to deplete something.

I walk (walking meditation) at lunch time and can only be in the moment for chunks of time, sometimes maybe a minute.

So, now, I feel focused and at ease, not much wandering mind or ruminations, blissful at times (but not overpowering)(about 11:00 am). Good meditation sessions definitely have an impact later on in the day. It’s like a depth charge that takes a while to sink down and then the ripples come back up at a later time. Amazingly powerful actually.

Hmm, 11:24 and getting a bit LSD like again, imaginative images of white energetic very high frequency noise materializing into form, and me reacting with emotional affect, that if I allowed myself, I would weep.

Ok 11:50 and the bliss state is building.

Ok, Mid-afternoon and now I’m back to hatred for a colleague. Feels very unpleasant.

Oh, also, I watched a video by Shinzen Young last night that talked about sleep being disrupted because of meditation. It’s not uncommon. More likely during retreats. First for me was just after my home retreat last year, and now lately, coinciding with my concentration getting better.

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
1/17/17 12:48 AM as a reply to Bigbird.
So that there is no misunderstanding.
A pleasant sensation does not guarantee mental rising. An unpleasant sensation does not guarantee mental falling.
In general this is how the mind responds at first.
As insight arises this will change.
The important thing is to be mindful of whatever arises.

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
1/18/17 4:23 AM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
Thank you.

@Bernd: Thanks for clarifying.

@Noah: Interesting perspective!

Update

I've been in quite a lot of distress, so I've stopped practice for the past couple of days.

I've been experiencing what I'm told are kriyas. I have a feeling of energy flowing through the body, which co-occurs with a desire for the body to move, as if by itself. The energy tends to flow up the body to the head, at times with the back arching back and the head rising. It then seems to flow down to the toes; the toes have a tendency to want to curl at times. The energy flow is constant. 

There's a lot of sensation in the jaw, throbbing and pulsing. The visual flickering has returned. At times there's a tingling or burning ont he skin. 

Everything feels a bit "trippy" and altered. Everything feels woozy and wavy (may be due to the aformentioned energetic phenomena). Everything seems slow and fuzzy. 

There's also been intermintent fear, primarily related to: "What the hell is happening to me?" And: "Am I going insane?" Also: "Is this my life now?"

It's been hard to concentrate at work, partially due to the various phenomena. Unfortunately, it's very, very hard for me to take time off of work at the moment. There could be lasting consequences. 

If I can lay down and surrender to the sensations it can be quite pleasant. Though, any kind of mindfulness exercise, breathing, whatever also scared me again, as I don't want to make the phenomena more intense. 

It's wrecked my sleep. The night before last was terrible: I woke up about 14 times during the night. I normally sleep great. Last night was quite a bit better, as I allowed myself to surrender to the sensations. However, a colleague commented: "You look tired." I was. 

Any advice? My primary concern is getting things to a manageable level so that it doesn't impact my work life. As I said, it would be really hard to get life off. 

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
1/18/17 8:38 AM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
Sounds good. Shame about the work commitments. Just do your best and soldier on.
Although the feet are venting points they are also neutral areas, so you can focus your attention on them without stirring up the energy system.
During some quiet times, see if you can notice other sensations (at the feet) such as heat, cold, hardness, softness, wetness, dryness, flow.

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
1/18/17 10:47 AM as a reply to Bigbird.
Warrior Monk,

It sounds to me like you have A&P as your "baseline" state and are going through the purification of the Dark Night nanas. Everyone experiences the DN nanas differently. Some people are more "mental" and they experience it mostly as emotions and visual images. Some people have a more "physical experience" with lots of energetic releases, body movements, vibrations, etc. 

It seems extremely strange (since it isn't talked about openly), but it's par for the course for serious meditators. Basically there are very sublte reactive patterns in the body that get triggered over time. During the dark night nanas you actually have those experiences during a very mindful context and there are insights into the nature of those experiences. Hard to put in words but it's like "oh fear is a state of severe aversion with images of a future suffering just a few seconds from now." "oh misery is soft achy sensations with mild aversion and images of a distant future suffering that is of a long duration" etc. Basically you _have_ these experiences, you are not them. You aren't afraid, you experience fear. Big differences

People who have more physical experience tend to feel like they are being wrung out like a wet towel or maybe "beat up" like being in a washing machine. After the sensations die down, there is a sense of being "cleaner" and "less solid" --- the classic detoxing feeling. 

Have you read many practice journals? There are a whole bunch on awakenetwork.org on both the dharma refugees and the kenneth folk dharma discussion boards.  A number of people have been guided through the dark night on those boards. It might give you some context.

Anyway, you'll probably have bumpy roads ahead. You can do this while still working, many of us have. But get a teacher/spiritual friend or a meditation peer group, please! emoticon

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
1/18/17 2:44 PM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
Hi WM,

Sounds like kundalini to me. I had the same thing happen after a 1996 vipassana retreat (again you can read about it in the practice memoir I wrote).

Basically, there was nothing I could do about it and no advice my teacher could give me. The "story" around kundalini is that the energy is purifying your subtle body, moving up through the chakras from the base chakra to the crown. As it hits a chakra, any blockages cause pain and the spontaneous movements until the blockage is cleared. From a more scientific standpoint, I suspect that there is some kind of rearrangement going on in your sensory-motor maps in the brain, basically the homuculus on the top of your brain which contains a map of your body gets interconnected through the lower layers, where the reward center is located, in some fashion. In some cases, it felt like I had plugged my body into an electrical socket, or a whole body orgasm. In other words, incredibly painful or incredibly pleasurable.

I've heard some folks say eating lots of meat heavy meals or strenuous exercise helps. I stopped daily meditation for a while, but because I was an ordained Zen priest, I couldn't stop going to retreats. When I did a retreat, I sometimes had to lie down because the body rushes (I don't like to use the word "energy" since it seems to be an all purpose word for describing these kinds of experiences that really doesn't nail it down for me) were so strong. I rarely had spontaneous movements, and if so, they were just a quick jerk.

I think the reason the body rushes became less intense is that I stopped seeing them as"special", thereby making me "special". I believe you mentioned upthread that you enjoyed manipulating the energy states, I'd try to cultivate a more neutral attitude toward them. They never really went away, I get them now and then, during the runup to concentration (Thervada calls them "piti" though I think the classical description of piti doesn't do the full blown intense body rushes justice, see my blog post here on the subject) or even when I hear a song that somehow has a strong emotional appeal to me.

Good luck!

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
1/21/17 9:01 PM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
Hi WM, how are you feeling now? 

I have also been through what you are going through (with some variations, but essentially the same thing). Some good advice has already been given above. 

You wrote: "There's also been intermintent fear, primarily related to: "What the hell is happening to me?" And: "Am I going insane?" Also: "Is this my life now?""

I had the same thoughts and fears as you, and funnily enough I come from a psychology background too (B.Psych. Hons. degree) and tended to want to pathologise my experiences and diagnose myself with DR/DP as it fit so nicely! haha. You are not going insane, however you COULD drive yourself insane if you get too caught up in the thought processes and stories regarding what is happening to you. Having the psychology knowledge and framework can sometimes make things more difficult. Keep an open mind and remember that psychology is only a very new paradigm (compared to ancient contemplative practices) and has its own limitations. 

Here are some things that I found helpful;

- find some good teachers within a tradition or model that you can relate to and seek their advice. E.g. Daniel Ingram, Kenneth Folk
- read Daniel Ingram's book - MCTB
- resist the urge to pathologise/psychologise your experience or get caught up in thought spirals
- eat heavy foods such as meat (I was on a raw vegan diet when going through what you describe and it really did not help!)
- spend time in nature - earthing, playing with animals and children, swimming in the ocean, walking on sand, hiking etc.
- yoga practices and other physical exercise can help you feel "back in your body"
- start a hardcore loving kindness/compassion practice - this changed everything for me and helped me get out of the dark night and to reach Equanimity. (Personally, I really really like this guy: http://int.michaelroads.org/. His daily emails are free - I've never paid for any of his courses). I also worked with a local meditation teacher here in Australia for the past 2 years on this type of meditation and it was invaluable. He Skypes if you would like his details. 

Other great resources:

https://soundcloud.com/buddhistgeeks/the-dark-night-project

https://soundcloud.com/buddhistgeeks/mental-illness-and-the-dark-night

http://shinzenyoung.blogspot.com.au/2011/11/dark-night.html

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/06/the-dark-knight-of-the-souls/372766/

Regarding your question, "Is this my life now?", I assume you mean will you ever "go back" to your previous way of perceiving the world. In my case, the answer was No. The change in perception was permanent, however eventually it became integrated and became my "new normal" and now is a much happier and more highly functioning normal than I have previously ever known. I would not wish to "un-do" it. That said, my dark night experience was no joke - it was lengthy and I had no idea what was happening as it happened to me after learning TM - I was not a seeker and had never been on retreat. 

In my own situation, I moved away from psycholgy and starting seeking answers from the contemplative traditions. So much so that I am now starting a Masters research degree in religion that explores this very issue - troubles that people encounter when meditating and why these issues have largely been overlooked in contemporary Western forms of meditation practice. 

Happy to answer any further questions you might have! 

Take care,

Anna

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
1/22/17 7:27 AM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
It's been great to hear from people who have had similar experiences, it's ridiculously reassuring.

--

@Shargol: It's been really clarifying to hear about how some people have more physical experiences, while some people have more 'mental'. It's nice to know that it's not a problem that people who have a mental experience may relate to the process differently (and vice versa). I will follow up on your suggestion and read through some practice journals to get a feel for other people's experiences, too. Doing my best to build a bit of a support network emoticon

@SVMonk: I'm really interested in your hypothesis about what might be happening in the brain with the "rushes" or energy flow. Culdasa mentions something similar in a footnote in the Mind Illuminated, through in a briefer and less detailed way. I have begun trying to cultivate a more neutral attitude towards them; I've also stopped trying to control or manipulate them in any way, or purposely experience pleasure. I feel like I may have shaken things up or upset some kind of balance when I did that.

@Anna: It's great to read your post. I would love to talk and hear more about your story. It seems that everyone is saying quite similar things.

--

In regards to how I'm doing, it's okay. This past week was really, really hard, but things have settled down a little. My sleep has, for the most part, returned to normal, mainly because I've stopped resisting sensations.

Over the past few days I've had a lot of sensate activity in the jaw area, a lot of uncomfortable pulsing, throbbing and movement. There's also has been neck pain arising, though it's not as frequent, but can be accompanied by heat or warmth. There's been nausea on two occasions, on at least one of them it seemed like everything (sensate experience: primarily visual) was shaking very fast. At times there has been pressure in the head. Today, for a while, I was experience strong itches, as well as pains, over the body, accompanied by burning sensations; everything felt pretty uncomfortable. The energy flow has settled down; there have been no kriyas for a couple days, aside from the toes curling; I think this could be due to stopping practice. There has been heat and tingling in the feet a lot, and less frequently the hands. There's also times where everything seems to slow down and things feel altered and dreamy: I have the strongest aversion to this one. I would much prefer to deal with the uncomfortable sensations. Oh, there’s also intermittent periods where there is a strong emotional component of awe and wonder.
Eve n though the energy stuff has settled for a moment, as soon as I wake, I'm aware of all of the sensations of the body constantly shifting, changing moving. It doesn't scare me like it did before, though it can be a little annoying. A lot of my daily experience feels this way at the moment.

 My short-term gameplan for now, based on the consistent advice I've received, is to:

1) Have a consistent exercise routine; I'm aiming for daily exercise
2) Eat regular, heavy meals, including meat (my flexible vegetarian diet has become much more flexible, lol)
3) Potentially introduce some body work like qigong and/or yoga
4) Make time to do grounding activities, including getting out in nature more; I've started scheduling some of this
5) Speaking to others who have been through this process as much as I can; finding people who can help in the difficult times
6) I've also massively cut down on caffeine and alcohol, for what it's worth

I also need to find a way forward past the dukkha nanas. For the moment, I've taken the foot off the gas, hoping for things to settle down; they have to some extent. However, I need to move forward while being able to balance work and responsibilties. I don't plan to do any more body scanning, as several people have cautioned against this. Though, I need to work on a solid plan for how to move forward with practice. Kenneth wants me to be doing precise moments of mindfulness, through noting, staying with the sensation for a while, not noting too fast, but noticing changes -- throughout the day -- even if I'm not sitting for now. A lot of the time, it seems like I’m mindful and aware of sensation, even if I didn’t really want to be: my attention is very easily there (at least, compared to how my attention was before). It seems unavoidable for now.

A part of me would like to try and give everything up for a while, to see if things return to normal. However, almost everyone has told me that this is very unlikely to happen.

--

On a side note, related to Anna's comment... I need to get through the dark night first, but I'm thinking of doing a PhD to look into this in the future, likely in neuroscience/cognitive neuroscience. I did get accepted for a PhD in mindfulness and compassion a couple of years ago, though it was before I knew, or had experiences, any of this. I turned it down to pursue clinical work first, due to circumstances and how the registration process works in Australia. If anyone knows any researchers actively working in the area, who are familiar with the 'deep end' side of things, could you please PM me their names?

--

A few of open questions.

I've heard a lot of people say that crossing the A&P is a point of no return. However, I've also heard people say that they've gone below the A&P and then had to work their way up. What do people think of this? Does anyone know people who crossed the A&P, gave up and then returned to their normal lives and experience?

Also, what do people feel about concentration practices after crossing? I’m not sure what to make of this. I know Kenneth just wants me to mindful to get me through to the other side. Other people mention concentration, calm abiding and/or focusing on breathing to build tranquillity/whatever. However, with the increased awareness of the changing, shifting nature of experience, is it possible to do that in the dukkha nanas? 

Anna recommended metta meditation to help with the dark night. What do other people think of that practice in this stage?

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
1/22/17 12:45 PM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
what is your degree in being serious? get doubt into your possession somewhere.

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
1/22/17 6:19 PM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
WM,

When someone is very anxious, they can make almost any sensation psychosomatic. Your depersonalization/DR may have nothing at all to do with your meditation, and everything to do with simply being anxious.

Once your anxiety calms down, you might notice most of these odd sensations going away. 

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
1/30/17 1:16 AM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Just an update to close off this thread, then I'll let it fade: will start at practice log if I want to write about my experience futher.

Taking a break from practice really settled things down. It did take a while though. The altered-state stuff, as well as the energetic phenomena, aren't preset outside of formal practice any more, at this stage. It's been that way for a few days. My visual perception is still much more wide, panoramic and integrated, though I think it's quite nice. The no-self stuff doesn't really bother me any more, at least not at present. 

I've tried to continue putting in place lifestyle changes to help suport me through the dark night, as described above.

However, the absolute best thing has been talking to other people involved in this. It's really helped normalise it all, as well as give me confidence and hope that there's somewhere better to get to. I can't stress how important this has been. What intermediate and advanced meditators go through seems very far removed from what "conventional" people experience day-by-day. However, when talking to them I quickly realised that it's par for the course and that lots of other people go through it too. It's also been helpful getting tips and advice from others in regards to what has worked for them. I definitely plan to keep talking to other people involved in all of this. 

In terms of practice, I've begun again, but now I'm trying to pace myself. I'm trying to find a level of practice that has me progressing, yet is sustainable and doesn't have really intense bleed through. As such, I'm trying to balance concentration and insight practice, rather than just going heavy on the latter. I also plan to introduce some metta meditation into my practice. 

I don't know where I am now in terms of any kind of map, but I'm trying not to worry/think about that too much at this stage. I do feel like now the hard stuff has faded (again) I am left with some benefits (again).

Thanks again everyone!

--

RE: Jinxed P. You're absolutely right, that's one possibility. In terms of a differential diagnoses, I would point towards the fact that I had experienced DP/DR previously. It occured during and after intensive meditation (though, there was high anxiety present at times during retreat). Also, another psychologist told me that dissociation normally occurs as a response to trauma -- as I said in an earlier post, I've had no significant trauma in my life. Other advanced meditators I spoke to said that they thought it was due to partial/incomplete insight, or having some insights and not others. To some extent, my experience continues, though I no longer have the anxiety; now I've recontextualised it, there seems to be some positives. Nevertheless, I'm very open to the idea that some things may change, they certainly keep seeming to. 

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
1/31/17 3:18 AM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
Nice. Good to see, Warrior Monk

Balm: relaxing and dropping practices, metta, a good movie, friends, dharma friends, a walk in nature, excercise, chilling out, beginner's mind. 


Nick

RE: Derealization / Depersonalisation Following Goenka Retreat
Answer
3/16/17 10:53 PM as a reply to Warrior Monk.
Warrior Monk:
Just an update to close off this thread, then I'll let it fade: will start at practice log if I want to write about my experience futher.

Taking a break from practice really settled things down. It did take a while though. The altered-state stuff, as well as the energetic phenomena, aren't preset outside of formal practice any more, at this stage. It's been that way for a few days. My visual perception is still much more wide, panoramic and integrated, though I think it's quite nice. The no-self stuff doesn't really bother me any more, at least not at present. 

I've tried to continue putting in place lifestyle changes to help suport me through the dark night, as described above.

However, the absolute best thing has been talking to other people involved in this. It's really helped normalise it all, as well as give me confidence and hope that there's somewhere better to get to. I can't stress how important this has been. What intermediate and advanced meditators go through seems very far removed from what "conventional" people experience day-by-day. However, when talking to them I quickly realised that it's par for the course and that lots of other people go through it too. It's also been helpful getting tips and advice from others in regards to what has worked for them. I definitely plan to keep talking to other people involved in all of this. 

In terms of practice, I've begun again, but now I'm trying to pace myself. I'm trying to find a level of practice that has me progressing, yet is sustainable and doesn't have really intense bleed through. As such, I'm trying to balance concentration and insight practice, rather than just going heavy on the latter. I also plan to introduce some metta meditation into my practice. 

I don't know where I am now in terms of any kind of map, but I'm trying not to worry/think about that too much at this stage. I do feel like now the hard stuff has faded (again) I am left with some benefits (again).

Thanks again everyone!

--

RE: Jinxed P. You're absolutely right, that's one possibility. In terms of a differential diagnoses, I would point towards the fact that I had experienced DP/DR previously. It occured during and after intensive meditation (though, there was high anxiety present at times during retreat). Also, another psychologist told me that dissociation normally occurs as a response to trauma -- as I said in an earlier post, I've had no significant trauma in my life. Other advanced meditators I spoke to said that they thought it was due to partial/incomplete insight, or having some insights and not others. To some extent, my experience continues, though I no longer have the anxiety; now I've recontextualised it, there seems to be some positives. Nevertheless, I'm very open to the idea that some things may change, they certainly keep seeming to. 
Hey!

I've gone and for the most part, still am going through a similar situation. Your story is nearly identical to mine. Feel free to email me at Johnkomperda@gmail.com if you would like to discuss and maybe find some resolution. I'm having trouble emailing you on the site, hence the personal email.