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What WAS that? (ego death?)
8/14/18 1:42 PM
Hey there, I am trying to figure out something that happened to me yesterday, please comment if you can shed some light

-Bad mushroom trip last fall sent my mind into frequent severe panic spirals, which led to introspect intensively obsessively observing my thoughts and sensations trying to bring lots and lots of awareness into my daily life and question the thought patterns that were causing me pain
-A few days ago, had a very present very intimate moment with a partner of the opposite sex during which, after being very present and breathing mindfully while kissing, there was a short moment of loss of sense of self...just an awareness of bliss presence connection and intimacy, felt a surge of love and energy
-Have been riding a couple waves of love and presence since then

Yesterday did daily morning yoga and felt more awareness and more energy movement than usual. Felt a warm fuzzy lovey powerful feeling. And then as I ended my session and walked back inside I noticed a loss of the typical mind chatter guiding me on how to go about my day. Usually during yoga I am thinking about what I'm going to eat for breakfast, all the chores I'm going to do etc, wondering what people think about me etc., and then right after the session it's like yoga what yoga? But this time it was like... hm.... what do I DO? who am I? I don't really want to do anything right now.... what do I usually do?! and I knew I was planning on eating after because I felt hungry during yoga but it was like... hmm... what do I eat? do I even want to eat? much confusion... and as I was trying to navigate the fridge and figure out what to do I was shaking with vulnerability and uncertainty. I felt awake and felt like all I could be aware of was everything going on inside me... had this sudden urge (very unfamiliar to me) That I did not care to do anything for myself at that moment, if anything my energy should go to others... I felt a sense of panic about this for about a minute and after that felt like something ripped me open and I felt more vulnerable than I have since taking a good dose of mushrooms
Cried for a long time not sure what had happened to me, shaking a bit and just feeling very vulnerable but also very peaceful, like there was nothing I needed to DO about it but just be with it...
I am overthinking this a little too much but I feel like it could easily be looked at as some sort of moment of egoless flow, BUT also as a simple dissociative episode. I don't know, at the time it felt pretty deep. But by the time I played volleyball in the evening I felt very happy but my ego felt almost fully intact, although things bothered me less e.g. when other people on my team were playing badly or when my friends were bossy, I was able to see everything as OK

Do I need to just relax and stop overthinking? probably. but some answers would be so nice. Thank you!

RE: What WAS that? (ego death?)
8/14/18 2:12 PM as a reply to es pro.
It will pass.  It reads to me that you first loosened up awareness (moving it outside your body) and then had an experience of depersonalisation followed by powerful mindfulness in review, as well as shaking up of your objective function.  I have had this too, and read other similar accounts on DhO.  This kind of event seems common at some point, and some traditions talk about it explicitly. 

While your current feelings and state of mind will pass, at the moment, things are a bit loose.  So it would be useful to make some choices about who you want to be - who your best self is - and to re-establish yourself using those attributes - compassionate, mindful, alert, energetic, joyful, tranquil, determined, equanimious, detached, loving.  And don't forget to make yourself a prime object of your own compassion!  Love yourself, and love others.

After I had this kind of experience I took up more focussed concentration practices.  That was very stabilising, and helped me to make better use of other moments that arose along the path.

With love and joy.

RE: What WAS that? (ego death?)
8/14/18 6:47 PM as a reply to curious.
Thank you for sharing your insight and sharing your experience. I wonder what yours was like and what provoked it. The shaking up and loose is very resonant with though I have to create things anew. Makes things a lot slower and more tiring at times overthinking everything but it is also a lot easier to make these compassionate choice. Thank you <3

RE: What WAS that? (ego death?)
8/15/18 4:44 AM as a reply to es pro.
Hello Es Pro,

I don't know much about your spiritual background, but for other readers, this is the reason it can be so helpful, so important to have a conceptually based dharma cushion to fall on, when something like this happens.  Reading and engrossing yourself in dharma is still useful for you even now, especially if it feels to you like you don't have a solid footing.  The problem you might encounter is that the motivations and attention you might need for that are askew, or much weaker, or much stronger than before.  It just depends.

The mind, at its core, is simply awareness, no more, no less.  Even our habits are just the roller coaster tracks, and our awareness is the cart that's riding along the slopes.  Your awareness, your entire life so far has been built from one ego vantage point.  Through some method, you have side-stepped that vantage point, even if only half a step, and are therefor feeling freed from old chains, seeing the world with new eyes.

Here's what will happen next.

You will, eventually, be pulled back into old habits.  But the old ego may or may not ever return.  You might end up forming a brand new ego, with the potential to start somewhat fresh, with shadows of old habits, but still with a cleaner page than before.  Think of born again Christians, that's the experience.

So the decision is yours to make.  How will you start anew now?

You are benefiting less from concentration, and more from an automatic mindfulness that occurs when defilements are cut off.  You can call that depersonalization if you want.  But the defilements were not eradicated with understanding, so they will return.  Depending on how much inertia and motivation is remaining in this phase of yours, I would recommend diving a little into dependant origination / emptiness teachings, and trying to gain some insight into this, if it's still possible.  It's what I would recommend to anyone that has a sudden experience with higher concentration states.

Best wishes to you.

RE: What WAS that? (ego death?)
8/15/18 10:58 AM as a reply to Chris.
Hey Chris , thank you for the response!
I have had training in Vipassana which gave me the foundations for the "obsessive awareness and challenging my thoughts" I mentioned engaging in this last year.. might explain why this happened
Could you tell me more about the "automatic mindfulness that arises when defilements are cut off"?


RE: What WAS that? (ego death?)
8/15/18 12:04 PM as a reply to es pro.
Hi Es Pro,

Defilements are practically the only thing preventing us from maintaining uninterrupted mindfulness.  Our mind habits are what carry us away when we aren't keeping a watchful eye on what's going on.  So when an event occurs that disrupts our life, as is what happens with spontaneous samadhi away from the cushion, this can feel like, and can result in, yet does not necessarily result in, a depersonalization effect.  All of our habits are bound to an ego root, and all of a sudden, unexpectedly, we're freed from all those chains.

Imagine an actor running around in his movie, then suddenly the movie is put on pause but he keeps walking, yet he sees the world around him is on pause.  It's that wtf moment you experienced, unexpected and dramatic, and your experiences with the world at that point feel disjointed, because you did take a step or two away, the world really is on pause, but the ego habits got left behind you in the dust.  These habits have temporarily lost all their momentum.

I just call it automatic mindfulness because when these defilements are stopped cold in their tracks, you're no longer distracted by them.  You have no choice but to abide briefly in your buddha nature.  What you do with your awareness in that time and afterwards is up to you.  You've probably never been more free.  When a living being experiences this, and has a cushion like dharma to fall on, things can snap into place when we try to make sense of it all.  If our background with teachings is a little less, you're basically much more on your own, and you're reinventing the wheels of wisdom, and while that may not be very efficient, it doesn't matter too much.

Again, just do your best to keep alert, try to build in a positive and wholesome new direction, don't give up your spiritual life, and most of all, enjoy, be happy, and love everything that moves.

RE: What WAS that? (ego death?)
8/15/18 12:49 PM as a reply to Chris.
Wow. makes a lot of sense very well put. Thank you
<3 <3 <3

RE: What WAS that? (ego death?)
8/15/18 4:36 PM as a reply to es pro.
es pro - Chris's descriptions are beautiful, and also describe my experience very accurately. To answer your question, I was applying the self-enquiry model of Raman Maharshi when I had a deep realisation, followed by compulsory mindfulness and expanded perception, and so on as Chris describes.

It really did kill off the ego that was then inhabiting the body, and I had to reconstruct my current self.  The new me is much happier, much less grapsing, much less separate from the world.  But I still have a bit of nostaglia for the old me - flawed and with a history of pain, but kind of nice and with some pretty good qualities too.  Definitely a born again/reincartion kind of experience.  Although nobody else noticed much difference!

So for me it was disorienting, hence my subsequent focus on concentration practices to build a stronger base for insight.  You may be better prepared than I was.

RE: What WAS that? (ego death?)
8/15/18 11:56 PM as a reply to es pro.
Hi es pro,
Thank you for sharing!
As a fellow Vipassana meditator, I have also experienced the dropping away of identity as explained above. I posted the experience here:
Since then it's happened many times - including about 1 hour ago when I sat.

Often feels like a weird, disassociated state and a deep realisation that all thoughts feelings & are just empty, ego created narratives. Sometimes it gets really weird (like experience 2 in my post above).
Chris has beautifully explained the process and I have little to add other than I completely agree with his assessment that, like everything else, the disassociated feeling you may have presently (& and the bliss states that may accompany) will be temporary. You will re-associate to thought patterns & feelings as you have done in the past. But something has been 'seen' & the insight will stay. 
What I learnt from it:
try not to analyse it, don't give it any importance, or hold on to the experience in any way but acknowledge it as a sign of progress & get inspired to work for the much deeper, permanently altering insights. 

RE: What WAS that? (ego death?)
8/17/18 1:09 AM as a reply to U Ba Fin.
Hey, thank you for sharing, esp the DON'T OVERANALYZE IT or give it importance!

RE: What WAS that? (ego death?)
8/17/18 2:17 AM as a reply to es pro.