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Dharma Diagnostic Clinic, aka "What was that?"

An Almost Non Dual State Except for Uncomfortable Sensations and Caution

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5 years of meditating while depressed and at the end of last year I'd somehow manage to be mentally healthy enough to be called normal. A few months ago I'd make enough progress in that I was someone who was starting to be deeply satisfied with life caused by an unexpected acceleration of enlightenment experiences. Probably caused by being introduced to self inquiry. Though, if I'm overestimating my progress, you can tell me.

What it's like : Well, I heard from Shinzen Young that people in a deeply meditative state breathe more deeply and slowly. Normal people breathe about 15 times per minute. Right now as I count it, I have about two breaths per minute which according to him, is a deep meditative experience. A few times yesterday I counted was about  2-4 times a minute. While a few counts yesterday have way more than the normal — which is the problem I'm getting to.

Recently, I was someone who hated noise as it kept distracting me. I even had some traumas in the past during my depression where I get ridiculously sensitive to noise to the point of panic attacks. While it was not as severe, it made me somewhat scared of noise. But then I asked, "What if I listened to my fears? What if I listened to noise and appreciated it?" After a few days of practice, I could feel a deep peace in the middle of a crowd. 

Yesterday, I remember being so absorbed in a book that no noise could distract me though I do remember being focused, but in noise, it wasn't as much as a strong "penetration" and "depth" to it. Though, that only happened a few times during it.

At the commute home yesterday, it got even deeper. Focusing felt effortless unlike before. Like as if deep focus was trying to lay down on a cushion rather than a cold hard ground. And through the whole commute, there were no words. I didn't really see all the cars, road signs, people walking by as those concepts, but I just saw and heard them. As if they were all just mashed together as everything so much that they become nothing.

Right now, ideas and memories come up in my mind when I look at things, but it still seems different. . . As if I'm both aware of what the world is like in the idea of concepts and what it's like as wordless "nothing" at the same time. The associations and what my senses give aren't seen as the same thing anymore.

The main problem seems to be physical sensations. Ever since I was a kid, I've been incredibly fidgety. And amongst the feeling of calmness that last almost the whole day, there's a bit of agitation with how much I'm aching to move. Like small uncomfortably rough areas in one big soft blanket. I suddenly notice a castle of itches, pressure, tingling and more.

. I'm losing the feeling of "me" so much that I don't seem to lose any confidence, get embarrassed by anything or even pride on most of anything "I" do because there's no "me". That is, unlike a few weeks ago where one of my major problems was getting so high and mighty about how awesome it is to be in this state that I regress in progress. But the feeling of me sticks around with my need to move. 

I thought I'd train this problem with determination sitting — a meditation made for deeper focus through not moving. The longer I try not to move, the more stressful it becomes. That is until after about 45 minutes of unsuccesfully trying not to move every minute that I get so overwhelmed by it, I have to stop.

There's also the fact that I'm a bit scared of this. I tried Kundalini Yoga once and on the first few tries, I had an experience where I experienced time did not exist, existence didn't have a difference with non-existence, a sudden questioning of cultural and spiritual beliefs on life and a bunch more. It felt like my mind was exploding with insights and my old ones were gigantic buildings toppling over. It started as a high of ecstasy and joy, progressed into a deep calmness and then turned into intense terror.

Because of that,  I thought I'd move away from Kundalini Yoga and try determination sitting again. And I concentrated so deeply, I hallucinated. The furniture was warping. I was seeing static and moving colors. Holy shit. 


After all that, I got so exhausted that I fell asleep and after that day, stopped meditating for a week, but came back because I missed it all. 

Any progress after all that, tiny or big, that happened didn't have the same "The Big Bang"  feeling to it and was just. . . pleasant and tranquil. But I'm still cautious enough to ask about it here. 

What was that? Any misconceptions? What can I do next? I'm also pretty new to the idea of meditation stages so you might want to keep that in mind when communicating with me. 

Update :

Tried Determination Sitting again today and hallucinated again in meditation. I was staring at my bed and it was warping. Subtly shifting from left to right, up and down. A white background with cracks like broken eggs appeared over and over for some reason. Instead of moving every minute, I kept going until I didn't move up to 32 minutes, where it became too straining. Less time than my last one but more consistency in focus. Hey, I'm getting used to this.

For some reason, I just felt excited for almost the whole day today. Excited for what? Excited for living. Excited for the present. Excited for everything. I feel like Nyan Cat came down from the heavens with its rainbows and happiness playing dubstep music 24/7 and put the energy of "joy" into my soul. Like that, but with thousands of Nyan cats scrolling the heavens and bringing me to travel the entire Galaxy through their rainbow behinds made from their elation. 

 Eh, I did a lot more practical meditations than actually reading the theory on it much either than the information already mentioned in guided meditation audios. Should I be expecting one of those crazy terrifying experiences? If so, what would I do with them? What do you call all this? 

Hi Bianca,

Mostly I want to say that your practice seems to be in a phase of a lot of activity / growth.  I don’t (for various reasons including how my own path has been) tend to try to place things on the progress of insight in terms of stages as most do on this forum.

You have mentioned a few things that certainly indicate movement, though.  I don’t have much to say about the respiration rate as I never much paid attention there.  Being able to kind of easily transform one’s relationship to things that have always been problematic (in the case of noise you describe, or the wilingness to persevere with determination sitting) does show you are making progress… as does the attenuation of  self-consciousness.  That was very noticeable for me

In terms of the intense experience where you felt time did not exist etc. in the yoga class… i would guess people here would identify that with the Arising and Passing on the progress of insight.  I would generally say those kinds of experiences again show progress, but over time may or may not have contained insights that will be useful or built upon later. 

In terms of the visual perceptual stuff and the fear around it, Shinzen relates this to what he calls “bhanga” or dissolution (i think he is using a definition of Bhanga from goenka - I am not totally sure).  He has some videos about that stage you can find on Youtube as I recall. It’s a little confusing to try to map what he is saying directly to the progress of insight totally, but it’s not unrelated to dissolution/fear etc.  When I began to have experiences which included the visual perceptual experiences you described, mixed with for me a lot of fear, this is where he placed me, for what its worth.  It was an intense time, but also kind of a very holy time, somehow.   

Movement, warping, waviness, pixellation, flickering are all things reported by meditators particularly ones doing vipassana.  It’s hard to say just from what you describe but the thing about the eggshell cracking which is different than the other things you list.   I think it could be related to concentration and a perception of a nimitta which you would see with your eyes closed as well,  or energy moving internally, but maybe its something else.  When one first sees something outside of the scope of what one is used to, it can be “seen” as something else entirely - something kind of vague might be perceived as something concrete and very fixed by the mind, etc..  Learning about the relationship between perception and “reality” is a key thread in meditative/dharma practice which you can follow and unravel in profound ways.

Good luck.  You might consider working with someone at this point (a teacher, group, do a retreat) if you don’t already.  Good that you are posting here!  I thought i was very crazy at the point this was happening to me.

Move. Why not.
Just remain aware of the change: Stillness, movement, stillness, movement… etc. It will die down at its own accord, when it has exhausted itself.
Do not force anything, your body will take care of itself.