It's my first time in a Buddhist discussion forum.
I'm looking forward to get to know the forum, the people here and to learn from all of you
About my self;
30-something Norwegian guy
love to sing
love to learn new things
love to be a part of a community that make something good together
love to contemplate existence and such
My journey with Buddhism:
In 8th grade or so (14 years old) we were learning about other religions in school. Reading about Buddhism, the idea felt true through and through. We learned meditation (new agey style) in a camp school the same year, from a guy whom I 15 years later randomly encountered in a laughter yoga-class. I found it to be pretty cool, the meditation practice (and the laughter yoga also). For some reason I felt that I wanted to become a Buddhist monk, and Buddhism became a companion that followed me in life. A companion that I sort of only knew the name of - but trusted nonetheless. Sometimes just hanging around doing nothing, sometimes prompting me to change direction. Sometimes I listened, and sometimes the world was too loud to notice the companion.
Some of the basic concepts I learned about Buddhism impacted my thinking processes a lot in my late teenage years, but I also learned a lot about other religions and old myths. I was curious about the similarities. Buddhism scared me, for a while. I didn't feel ready to renounce my desires. I wanted adventure in life. I wanted to live. I was an occasional follower of Buddhism.
9,5 years ago, on a holiday in California, we took the night bus up the coast to San Fransisco. I just happened to go into meditation. This time I went deeper than I was prepared for - and it left me dazed and confused for many years. I have never really shared this with anyone. But I reach out to you who might help me put it into perspective, and help me find my way.
As I sat on the night bus I was meditating, visualizing people in my life and noticing the emotions that surged. I wanted to heal those emotions, so I gave them acceptance/love. I did this systematically for an hour or so. I did the same with each area of pain and discomfort in my body. Then I focused on breathing; breathing in love and breathing out love, sending love to all the people around me in the buss and to all life forms eventually. It wasn't a technique I had learned, I just did what felt natural at that time. What happened next was too much. Energy started building in my lower belly. My sitting position felt superbly stable. I wasn't sitting anymore. It didn't matter. The energy was like nothing I had ever felt. I was terrified and exhilarated at the same time. It felt like the energy was building up, up, up, so much that I didn't even know if I could survive it, but a notion within me led me to just go with it. The state lasted for what felt like an hour, but likely was a lot less. Each moment of time was just so intense. The energy pulsated up my spine and to my neck. Then went out my arms and hands. I gently opened my eyes. And with what felt like a wide screen vision, I saw a seeming stream of tiny stars flowing towards the silhouettes of people around me in the dark bus. Here is where I got confused. The strongest energy had left my body, and what was left was a lighter buzzing energy. I was sort of relieved the experience was over, and I started getting more thoughts into my head. I was trying to make sense of this. What had I learned? What was this?
The day after, I wondered if the Taco-parlor had spiced my burrito with drugs as a jest. Could I possibly have gotten this experience by chance?
Back in Norway, I went to University. Frequently going back to meditation, but often recalling the experience on the bus, I quickly lost focus - realizing there was a desire for the physical bliss to happen again. Years passing. Got a super job. Traveled. I found a Diamond Way Buddhist community in my town. I joined the small group, and did meditation with them for a while. At this point the experience on the bus had gained less of a definition power on my spiritual journey. But I was still kind of stuck. What was my direction? What intentions did I allow to lead my life? All my choices and actions in daily life was driven by ambition. Ambition driven by ego. Even though I knew I should work towards the benefit of all life, I couldn't translate that into daily life. Compassion had turned into a superficial behavior. I prayed that I could learn to feel deeper compassion for all life. Then anxiety came to the rescue.
Two and a half years ago, after a long period of stress with work, drama with my boss, and burdened with too many obligations - I had my first anxiety attack. It was the feeling of going insane, and the fear that I might never get back to my old self. I thought meditation to still the mind could help, but being in the moment was already what was so terrifying. It was like my soul was supremely alone in the universe. I was afraid that the afterlife could be like perpetual anxiety with no escape even in sleep. I prayed to God and Jesus (I was born Protestant). I clung to faith, hope and love - and also gratitude, as anchors for my mind to find stability in the chaos. I focused on the people in my life that have given me grace, and gradually rekindling the feeling of love within me. The anxiety attacks happened occasionally every other day and lasted for 30min to an hour. Focusing on love and gratitude and pledging to help others, the anxiety lost hold. I stopped having anxiety attacks within half a year. It would still take me another year before I could do meditation again. Experiencing anxiety is one of the best things that have happened to me in terms of learning about being a human. I could finally have a deeper understanding of the confusion that people can feel in their lives. I am thankful for experiencing this.
Now I have gradually found stability again. I have had a calm year with less obligations and more meditation. I have no desire to experience the bliss I felt on the bus in 2007. However, a few days ago I was on the verge of reaching the same state as I reached on the bus trip. But I stopped myself. I was curious to explore of course, but I couldn't really pinpoint what was my intention with the meditation. What is my intention? I feel a bit lost. I wish I had a teacher. I am curious to become a monk eventually, but at the moment my finances don't allow me to retreat for a longer time period. So I joined this forum.