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Interesting Experience
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12/15/17 2:43 PM
Hi All,

This is my first post here so please excuse any inadvertent breeches of protocal. I would very much appreciate any "go read this first and stop wasting our time" posts along with any other input.

I've only been meditating daily for about 5 months, 20-25 min per day at minimum, but frequently make time for more each day. I have dedicated a good bit of time learning about verious aspects of Buddhism and meditation in this time as well but would certainly consider myself at the very beginning of my practice, both in experience and book knowledge.

Now to the point, I had a very interesting experiece today and I am trying to figure out it this has any significants at all or if I should write it off as just something interesting and move on.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a medical marijuana patient and had smoked a typical amount (for me) prior to meditating today as I frequently do. I don't believe this is the root cause of my experience as I have been meditating in this manner (as well as completely sober for at least 1 sit each day) since starting and have not had anything like this occur. However, I must concede that it is certainly a possibility and, as such, needs to be clearly called out before continuing.

During a 25 minute unguided meditation session, I was experiencing strong body sensations (this definately due to the THC). I will typically use this as an object of meditation when experiencing it as it very easy to focus on, more so than the breath as per my usual practice.

After a few minutes of this I started to notice something different. the body sensations were heavily focus on my face, so much so that it felt sort of like a "mask" (not exactly, hence the quotes, but Im not sure how to articulate it in any other manner). I started to focus as it quickly became the very prominant in my awareness.

From there, I started to explore the sensation with a bit more intention. Feeling the specifics of it, seeing how things changed if I focused on other aspects, such as my breathing or external sounds, instead of the "mask." This quickly led to a feeling sort of like the mask having been removed, but was still held out in front of my face. The body sensations were still there, and as strong as they had been, but there was now a sense of space between my awarness and the sensation. I was now able to move back and forth between the sense of having this bit of space, and not having it. I have used the Headspace app in the past, and understood the concepts of it, but this is the first that I feel like I experienced it.

After I experienced this for a bit, I refocused again on my breathing and such, which lead to the perception of a third "event" of the mask sort of melting away, but not completely. This lead to a further muting of the body sensations. They were still there, and just as strong still (this was only a 25 minutes sit, start to finish), but I could fairly easily switch between fully experienceing them (mask on), partialy experience them (mask off but in front of my face), or almost completely ignore them.

Shortly after this came the realization that there really is no "mask." It was like noticeing that concentration could be controled like a set of volume knobs. Turn up the body sensation, or turn it down....focus on the breath for a minute and then shift back to something else...but with intention, not mindlessly.

So that is basically the jist of it. This went on for the remainder of the 25 minutes, and when it was over it left me with a strong sense of focus and clarity.

With that, I am wondering if this is anything anybody has experienced before or if I should write it off to the THC or something else and move on.

RE: Interesting Experience
Answer
12/15/17 2:56 PM as a reply to Ryan.
When most people begin meditating, they've got a very strong feeling that they're somehow at the center of their head seeing what's going on and controlling everything.  When they start paying attention with meditation, they realize that that's not true -- that they're not actually "looking at" anything but instead are just aware of what they're seeing, and that the sensations of looking from the centerpoint are really just misread patterns of muscle tension.  And when the brain realizes that it's flat-out wrong about how the world works, it starts reorganizing its model of the world, which can feel subjectively quite strange.  I've had my share of similar experiences and changes, and I'd say that it gets weirder the further you go on the path but that you get used to it quite quickly. 

RE: Interesting Experience
Answer
12/15/17 3:19 PM as a reply to JP.
Thank you for the quick reply. Your response gets to the core of my question, which is a bit retorical I suppose, but should I consider this a step along the path or just a fun little distraction that is best avoided if the intention is to make real progress?

RE: Interesting Experience
Answer
12/15/17 3:36 PM as a reply to Ryan.
Depends on what you define as 'progress', if you are talking about the progress of insight, that stuff isn't very 'tangible' until the A&P event.
(https://alohadharma.com/the-map/)

Progress can also be measured in terms of what you can do with your attention, I recommend a systematic meditation 'manual' like 'The Mind Illuminated' to know exactly what you have to do to further refine your concentration.

I use 'The Mind Illuminated' as well to practice and improve my concentration but I tend to  measure progress in terms of how much 'carry over' there is in-between my life and my meditation. If my present awareness is more clearer and 'stable' in daily life then that's all I can ask for.

RE: Interesting Experience
Answer
12/15/17 4:33 PM as a reply to D..
Thanks a ton for the link. That is the most helpful thing I have read so far on this topic.