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Hyperventilation?

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Hyperventilation?
Answer
8/7/17 10:29 AM
I was meditating till my breath became very subtle, then my chest tightened and breathing seemed to be shallow but tight. A question popped in my head – Are you afraid of death? I replied mentally – Well, honestly yes. I could not note any breathing – it is possible that I might have mentally decided to either stop breathing or see what happens when I do not note my breath by not willing it to breathe.I started to hyperventilate. What happened?

RE: Hyperventilation?
Answer
8/7/17 12:38 PM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Hello Yilun, welcome emoticon

Do you have a teacher? Are you following a book or a specific method? How long have you been meditating for? How is your typical sit?


Yilun Ong:
I was meditating till my breath became very subtle,
Ok, this is normal. With high concentration it can become so shallow that it feels like you are not breathing anymore (but you actually are).


Yilun Ong:
then my chest tightened and breathing seemed to be shallow but tight.
What do you mean by "tight"? Could it have been anxiety about the breath getting shallow? Remember that you cannot suffocate yourself by meditating.

Yilun Ong:
A question popped in my head – Are you afraid of death? I replied mentally – Well, honestly yes.
What technique were you practicing? Depending on the technique, replying to questions may or may not be the correct thing to do. Since you mention noting below, I will assume that you were doing some kind of noting practice, like Mahasi noting. In this case, you should not engage with the content of your thought, but just note the thought as "thinking" (or "hear in" if you are doing Shinzen-style noting), and then move on.
 

Yilun Ong:
I could not note any breathing
See above, this is normal and a sign of high concentration and relaxation.


Yilun Ong:
it is possible that I might have mentally decided to either stop breathing or see what happens when I do not note my breath by not willing it to breathe.
If you had decided to stop breathing, you would not be asking this question, so I would rule the decision option out.


Yilun Ong:
I started to hyperventilate. What happened?
Maybe you got anxious? Either way, what happened to you is pretty common and happens to most meditators at one point. Just keep at it and let us know how it goes emoticon

RE: Hyperventilation?
Answer
8/7/17 8:35 PM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Hi! Thank you for the warm welcome. I am a new Singaporean monk in Chiang Rai, Thailand in a temple called Wat Doi In Cee, up in the mountains. I have been meditating and have been here for ~2 months and a monk for 1 month. There are teachers but most aren't good at English and my Thai is worse than any of their English, of which I am learning of course! Due to this, I get most of my instructions online and piece together what makes the most sense to me. This happened during the evening chanting session after which, we usually meditate for 60-90 minutes whilst listening to Dhamma teachings in Thai. I was doing Vipassana meditation: I concentrated on my breathing and classify thoughts into the 3 baskets and move on to note sensations whilst staying on the breath. I have not had feelings arise other than restlessness. I have also not had any insights.

"What do you mean by "tight"? Could it have been anxiety about the breath getting shallow? Remember that you cannot suffocate yourself by meditating."

This happened after I had achieved samatha, it felt like my robes tightened around my chest and I stayed my attention on it, till the question of - "Are you afraid of death?" arose. I was not anxious and was a lot more curious and seaching than anything else. I am aware that I cannot suffocate thus I wondered what will happen if I did not will myself to breathe, surrendering to what might happen. Then the hyperventilation happened seconds after. I was not under a panic attack, I remained a calm observer and noted the whole episode, which I estimate to be ~30 minutes. I did not will the breath to slow down nor control it. I looked for images in my head and they were simply different forms/colours at different times: from a yellow/green/red sun to white splashes to moving shades of blue. During this time, my hands felt numb and I could feel waves moving rapidly up through the arms to my shoulders. There are also waves of sensations moving from my chest to my head. My body was heaving up and down rapidly in concert with the breathing.The sensations and my recognition sped up and they seemed to be somewhat simultaneous to me. I did worry if others would worry if they see me in such a state a few times but brushed it off. The speed of the sermon outside was at normal speeds but they varied in distance and I could make out the sounds or focused on them at will. I did not feel any feelings from my spine, all else was normal other than the hyperventilation...

I might have unknowingly 'decided' to calm the breath and I returned to a calm state and stayed there till the call to end the meditation and begin chanting metta. I thought of enemies and wished them well and I felt joy and smiles swept over my face. 

I am not sure what to make of it, but it probably does not matter much other than to understand things better. Thank you for reading and helping!


RE: Hyperventilation?
Answer
8/8/17 3:08 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Interesting stuff! Some thoughts...

When you say "classify thoughts into 3 baskets", do you mean past / present / future? Or anicca / dukkha / anatta?

I suggest that you take what happened as an an insight into anicca and dukkha. You had a thought about ultimate impermanency (the certainty of death) and the unpleasantness of the fact, and looked directly at the reactions to it. From how you describe it, you were very matter of fact and detached, so it sounds like very good vipassana practice.

I will venture forth and say that one possible diagnosis, since you mention achieving samatha pheomena related to strong concentration, and then this anxiety-like thoughts and physical reactions, is Arising & Passing Away (Udayabbaya ñana) followed by Fear (Bhayañana), on the Visuddhimagga maps.

The way most practitioners experience Knowledge of Fear is: Weird, I have all the physical symptoms of fear: a tightness the chest, increased pulse, difficulty breathing, but I do not feel afraid! Rings a bell?

Here is a quote from the Visuddhimagga that I really like, in the context of Bhayañana / Knowledge of Fear:

>> A woman with an infected womb had, it seems, given birth to ten children. [646] Of these, nine had already died and one was dying in her hands. There was another in her womb. Seeing that nine were dead and the tenth was dying, she gave up hope about the one in her womb, thinking, “It too will fare just like them.” Herein, the meditator’s seeing the cessation of past formations is like the woman’s remembering the death of the nine children. The meditator’s seeing the cessation of those present is like her seeing the moribund state of the one in her hands. His seeing the cessation of those in the future is like her giving up hope about the one in her womb. When he sees in this way, knowledge of appearance as terror arises in him at that stage. << [Page 674 on my English version]

If your practice of thoughts in the three baskets was referring to the three times, there you have the connection: Perhaps you subconsciously noticed how every single thought comes and goes and is impermanent. As every thought is impermanent, so is every formation. As every formation "dies", eventually so will you... BAM! Bhayañana! Do you think it might make sense? Or at least be a useful perspective on this?

If it is Knowledge of Fear you went through, the next few sessions might present some more unpleasant and difficult territory. Keep at it and let us know how it works out for you!

emoticon

neko

RE: Hyperventilation?
Answer
8/8/17 3:26 AM as a reply to neko.
neko:

The way most practitioners experience Knowledge of Fear is: Weird, I have all the physical symptoms of fear: a tightness the chest, increased pulse, difficulty breathing, but I do not feel afraid! Rings a bell?

If it is Knowledge of Fear you went through, the next few sessions might present some more unpleasant and difficult territory. Keep at it and let us know how it works out for you!

emoticon

neko
Thank you very much Neko! That is exactly how I felt! All symptoms of fear but I did not feel afraid, I could sense my heart rate go through the roof but I did not make effort to slow it or the breath down, also I have never hyperventilated in my life... BTW, the 3 baskets I was referring to were: Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta. I will certainly persist and report on progress/insight if any! emoticon

RE: Hyperventilation?
Answer
8/8/17 3:45 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Glad it helped, Yilun emoticon 

RE: Hyperventilation?
Answer
8/8/17 7:36 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
I was doing walking meditation an hour before the evening chanting started. I switched to standing and a light appeared from the top right hand corner of my 'vision'. I concentrated on it and it became brighter and brighter - it seems to be yellow in colour. The scene changed to one seemingly like a planet with the light becoming the sun of it. The planet moved forward with varying speeds, slowing down at times. Some were of greenery, some brown hay like, some old crumbling structures. My eyes were twitching very quickly as the scenes changed. I remember noting impermanence. Shortly after the scene seemed to stagger frame by frame, then the planet became like a book and started to flip backwards in time. Time resumed in the forward direction and the sun became so bright I started to squint physically my right eye and then both. The keeps setting from right to left in numerous sequences. My eyes physically following it. The scene changed to one of one that is swirling. There is a view from space on a planet with life (greenery). It kept spinning and it then enters a wormhole. The light remains and varies in intensity but remained very very bright, I had to squint countless times, I could not control my eyelids from not doing so. It entered some kind of ancient ruins. The light slowly evolving into the brightest ever to the point the eyes could not handle and it became a golden statue of the Buddha emanating strong light. It grew in size and presence. It became smaller then it started to spin backwards, becoming diffferent buddhas of different forms and colours. I am not sure if they are the same buddha. Not sure how many as well. The ruins on the left changed somewhat. I tried to change the colour of gold light to blue, red and green. All that does is bleed slightly and the gold consumed it back and shone brighter. The Buddha then revolved around my head, changing to a light (bright and sun-like). The scene changed to one in a distant planet. There was a majectic golden throne like chair, someone appeared to sit on it. Then the planet started to revolve backwards away from me and I can see many chairs, kind of lined up, different colours, some colors noted were sliver,  golden, black. Hundreds maybe thousands or more of them, I cannot count. During this time (reality) many monks are starting to come into the hall. I could hear them talking and making loud noises but I could not be bothered to focus on them. The scene changed to one of a Buddha statue standing and holding his palm outwards. I struggled for awhile to find my voice and i asked mentally if this is my imagination.  There were the words NO coming out visually from his mouth. I asked again twice. Then I tried to visualize the words as yes. There are a few of them coming out as YES but resumed NO in a more forceful and numerically superior manner. The Buddha statue's mouth extended and it looked liked it became a horn whilst spouting  NO's. There was some quietness and the sun on the right receded in intensity and the scene changed to a purple hue with eyes converging to one eye. It blinked and focused on me. It asked me to go a few times. I reluctantly tried, then I felt the floor tilt upwards so much that I had to tilt my body forward to stay standing. I am unsure if I really did that physically but it was a very strong force. I asked how do I get out and a Buddha statue appeared and swiped the scene to one closely resembling my reality. I struggled for a few moments before I could pull out just as the head monk was getting ready into position to begin the chants. This is all very unreal? Surreal? A figment of my imaginations? It all seemed so very real. I left the chanting halfway to type this on my phone, worrying I might forget, I did forget many of the scenes though. I swear on my life I am not making this up. But in retrospect the scenes do resemble the knowledge I have on the teachings and history! What is this?

RE: Hyperventilation?
Answer
8/8/17 8:07 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Fun stuff. You mention noting "impermanence" in the beginning. Were you still noting throughout? emoticon

RE: Hyperventilation?
Answer
8/8/17 6:08 PM as a reply to neko.
neko:
Fun stuff. You mention noting "impermanence" in the beginning. Were you still noting throughout? emoticon
Not throughout. Very few moments when the three marks were clear, eg when there were no beings (arahants) sitting on the chairs?, I noted Anatta. Rest of the time I was too busy concentrating or lost in amazement... Is this A&P? 

RE: Hyperventilation?
Answer
8/9/17 2:41 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Yilun Ong:
neko:
Fun stuff. You mention noting "impermanence" in the beginning. Were you still noting throughout? emoticon
Not throughout. Very few moments when the three marks were clear, eg when there were no beings (arahants) sitting on the chairs?, I noted Anatta. Rest of the time I was too busy concentrating or lost in amazement... Is this A&P? 

Definitely compatible with A&P. Probably the best idea is to keep on applying the technique that you have been given whatever happens. Including when you think about it afterwards, when you type about it on your phone, and so on. Consistency throughout emoticon