My heart stopped while meditating (seemingly). What happened?

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Herokazz
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My heart stopped while meditating (seemingly). What happened?

Post by Herokazz » Sat Dec 02, 2017 12:27 pm

Hi everyone

I know it is a bit of a long post, but please read it as I need an explanation and a bit of help.

I am a Danish guy 34 years old.
In december 2016 I attended a 10 day Vipassana course in Kandy, Sri Lanka, as a part of a 6 months backpacking adventure in Asia with a friend.
I had done a bit of Zen meditation where you count your breaths to 10 and start over. More like a focus exercise. But I didn't know much about Vipassana before we started the course.

The second last day I had a crazy experience that scared me so much I feared for my life or at least my connection to my body and the reality.
I was meditation really strongly, as in I hadn't moved an inch in 50 minutes. I had put in earplugs to better concentrate and I was scanning my body up and down with tingling sensations all over my body. I could easily hear my heart beat due to the earplugs.
Suddenly when I was focussing on the last bit of pain I had in my left knee I seemingly heart my heart stopped beating and I got the feeling that the senses in my body shut off and I was sort of weightless and "behind" my body. Or inside my body loosing control of it.
Immediately I opened my eyes and put my fingers on my throat to check my puls. It was still there and I slowly came back to my self again, but was extremely frightened. I was scared I had done something wrong and meditated too deep almost putting my self in a coma? Is that possible?

The next couple of days even weeks I felt a bit weird and I was afraid of relaxing and sleeping, as I felt I almost lost control again of my body like I was still a little bit in that state.

The rest of my backpacking adventure (about 5 months) went pretty good, but when I got back to my life in Denmark I could feel I was a bit stressed out all the time and had a bit of anxiety that manifested it self as muscle tensions, headaches, lump in the throat, redness in my face, dizziness, and exhaustion. It is getting better but I still have these symptoms and I can feel them being activated now that I am writing this and remembering the experience. Also I don't feel like doing Vipassana anymore. I can feel that I am scared it will happen again.

I have been talking to a psychiatrist that says, that when I experienced my heart stop I possibly got so scared that I got the feeling of leaving my body to some extent. It is common in people fearing for the life. F.eks. people getting raped or tortured would describe something similar.
I guess it could also be that I experienced that place of complete stillness that is what everyone meditating is trying to accomplish. But why didn't I like the feeling then? Isn't it supposed to feel good?
I guess if I didn't feel like my heart stopped beating, being numb and weightless for a while, could sound pretty appealing, but I definitely didn't enjoy it at the time.

Please tell me what you think. I think more knowledge will help me settle down.

Thanks.

Kasper

dharmacorps
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Re: My heart stopped while meditating (seemingly). What happened?

Post by dharmacorps » Sat Dec 02, 2017 6:13 pm

Have you done many retreats before? Were you a daily meditator before doing the 10 day course? Did the people at the Goenka retreat give you any advice? Are you under the care of a psychiatrist for any mental health issues?

Only things I can tell you are to not put in earplugs when you are meditating. It is not helpful in meditation and can lead to strange sensations and overawareness of the heart beat would be unsurprising when doing this. That has been my experience.

My guess is you had something of a panic attack based on what you are describing. I'm sorry I can't be of more help here maybe if we got more info we could be of more assistance? :)

paul
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Re: My heart stopped while meditating (seemingly). What happened?

Post by paul » Sat Dec 02, 2017 7:06 pm

"...stressed out all the time and had a bit of anxiety that manifested it self as muscle tensions, headaches, lump in the throat, redness in my face, dizziness, and exhaustion."

I have meditated in Kandy and the climate there would be warmer than Denmark, even though the altitude makes it cooler than the coastal areas, temperature and altitude adaption may have some effect. But the continuing symptoms (one year after) sound like a mild case of dengue fever, which is common in Sri Lanka and is transmitted by mosquito bite. You would have to rule medical conditions out before attributing it to be a purely meditation experience.
http://www.who.int/csr/don/19-july-2017 ... -lanka/en/

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pilgrim
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Re: My heart stopped while meditating (seemingly). What happened?

Post by pilgrim » Sat Dec 02, 2017 10:51 pm

Your heart didn't stop. If it did, you would have passed out immediately. What probably happened was that you attained a state of deeper calmness which reduced sensory input. This is good. Unfortunately, fear arose in your mind and you let that grow. The instruction was to continue observing the sensations, i.e the pain in your knee. If you had done that, you would be able to observe the sensations with even greater clarity without the distraction of your heartbeat.

Your subsequent stress when you came back to Denmark has probably nothing to do with your meditation experience but merely adjusting to a hectic work life after a relaxing 6 mth break.

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m0rl0ck
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Re: My heart stopped while meditating (seemingly). What happened?

Post by m0rl0ck » Sat Dec 02, 2017 11:47 pm

I have noticed states where the time between my heart beats seemed almost endless, but i think thats just a perception.
If it happens again just watch and wait. I dont know that anybody ever died from noticing their heartbeat slow down, at least nobody thats talking about it :)
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

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JamesTheGiant
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Re: My heart stopped while meditating (seemingly). What happened?

Post by JamesTheGiant » Sat Dec 02, 2017 11:56 pm

Herokazz wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 12:27 pm
...seemingly heart my heart stopped beating and I got the feeling that the senses in my body shut off and I was sort of weightless and "behind" my body. Or inside my body loosing control of it...
All kinds of interesting and weird things can and WILL happen in meditation, including visions, sensory distortions, hallucinations - both in the meditation and afterwards, bizarre sensations, intense fear or dread or love or bliss, all kinds of stuff.
The key, the very heart of the practise of the Goenka Vipassana you have been taught, is to observe whatever happens, and just look at it as a thing happening, not worrying about it or trying to push it away.

But if you have a pre-existing mental illness, all bets are off, and it's best to see a psychologist.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11

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mikenz66
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Re: My heart stopped while meditating (seemingly). What happened?

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:58 am

Hi Herokazz,
pilgrim wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 10:51 pm
Your heart didn't stop. If it did, you would have passed out immediately. What probably happened was that you attained a state of deeper calmness which reduced sensory input. ....
That seems like the likely explanation to me. As James says:
JamesTheGiant wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 11:56 pm
All kinds of interesting and weird things can and WILL happen in meditation, including visions, sensory distortions, hallucinations - both in the meditation and afterwards, bizarre sensations, intense fear or dread or love or bliss, all kinds of stuff. ...
The body can feel distorted, you can feel like you are floting, the body can appear to disappear. Some of those things can be scary ("Where did my body go?"), but as Pilgrim says, the instruction is to keep noticing.

If you go on another retreat and odd stuff happens, the first thing to do is to talk with the teacher. If they are competent to teach they will have seen/heard it all before.

Of course, I would echo the advice that if you have on-going problems then you should seek medical attention.

:heart:
Mike

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Re: My heart stopped while meditating (seemingly). What happened?

Post by Garrib » Sun Dec 03, 2017 4:49 am

You might have slipped into the astral body... :spy: :alien:

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robertk
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Re: My heart stopped while meditating (seemingly). What happened?

Post by robertk » Sun Dec 03, 2017 4:16 pm

It is simply the result of wrong concentration.
Read over this topic and if you have questions I can try to explain more.

http://www.abhidhamma.org/forums/index. ... #entry1407

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binocular
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Re: My heart stopped while meditating (seemingly). What happened?

Post by binocular » Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:39 pm

It looks like you zoned out. When zoning out, 1 second can feel like 5 seconds or even more, as in zoning out, the perception of the time that has passed, changes. That can be really scary and disorienting.

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seeker242
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Re: My heart stopped while meditating (seemingly). What happened?

Post by seeker242 » Mon Dec 04, 2017 1:18 pm

Herokazz wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 12:27 pm
I was scared I had done something wrong and meditated too deep almost putting my self in a coma? Is that possible?
No, that's not possible. Nor is it possible for your heart to stop just by doing meditation. Tens of thousands of people do it everyday and none of them are dropping dead from no heartbeat. The phenomenon is an entirely mental phenomenon and has nothing to do with your actual body. Your body did not change, all that changed was your perception of it. :smile:

Herokazz
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Re: My heart stopped while meditating (seemingly). What happened?

Post by Herokazz » Mon Dec 04, 2017 8:27 pm

Thanks for the answers everyone!

To answer some of the questions:
This was my first retreat and before I had done a bit of meditation over 2 years. Not much though. Like 30-40 times or so.
The teacher told me it was good that I got so far but I should not try to get to that state. I should try to stay present. I didn't feel very comfortable with his help. He didn't seem to listen so good to my worries.
Other participants, especially the older ones, told me they had tried to get to that state for many years so they thought it was impressive. So I guess they tried to bring my concern down like that. Another woman said I experienced my own death in some sense?? And I should worry about it. She was a bit weird though. She also talked about my astral body.
I did not have any psychological issues before, but I am seeing a psychiatrist now as a part of trying to figure out what could be wrong. I have also had my blood tested for infections and my organs UV scanned. My blood preassure is also fine.

I was tested for Dengue fever 2 weeks after the retreat as I got some kind of viral infection. It was negative both times and the doctor said it was just some other virus infection.
robertk wrote:
Sun Dec 03, 2017 4:16 pm
It is simply the result of wrong concentration.
Read over this topic and if you have questions I can try to explain more.

http://www.abhidhamma.org/forums/index. ... #entry1407
This scares me a lot robertk. Do you think I could have meditated the wrong way giving myself psychological problems now? I couldn't read much of this in your link without feeling really bad. Can you tell me what my options are if this is the case?
I did allow memories from old times to come up and I even explored them in my mind. It was both pleasing and nostalgic/sad.
(I had a very good childhood and upbringing so it wasn't sad like that) But seen in hindsight that was probably not what I was supposed to do. Maybe I opened up too many "channels" or something.

Kasper

Herokazz
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Re: My heart stopped while meditating (seemingly). What happened?

Post by Herokazz » Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:09 pm

I just read something about disassociation. Like you are not completely grounded and present in your own body.
That exact feeling was what scared me the most about the incident I had. I these days I most of the time still dont feel completely present in my body.
I have read that excessive meditation can do this to someone who is not prepared properly after the meditation course.

How do I deal with this and get grounded again and completely present in my body again? I think that would help with my other worries/symptoms as well.

Kasper

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robertk
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Re: My heart stopped while meditating (seemingly). What happened?

Post by robertk » Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:30 pm

This scares me a lot robertk. Do you think I could have meditated the wrong way giving myself psychological problems now? I couldn't read much of this in your link without feeling really bad. Can you tell me what my options are if this is the case?
Hi Kasper
wrong concentration is no big deal so relax about that.
In fact all of us have different types of wrong concentration on a daily basis - it is normal.

The problem is that in intense, extended and artificial situations, like you were in, the concentration becomes predominant and all kinds of exciting and unusual experiences may occur- pleasant or unpleasant.

If they are pleasant then people wish to repeat them and if unpleasant avoid them- all very natural.

So I am not a fan of the Goenka method , and looking back in the future, you might be glad this happened. Better than being caught up in this ' special technique' that seems to hook so many.

The Buddha's path is well worth pursuing - but one has to be circumspect - and take the time to study and understand it.
If you have the time read over this thread which gives useful info on the development of insight.
viewtopic.php?t=15952

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xofz
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Re: My heart stopped while meditating (seemingly). What happened?

Post by xofz » Mon Dec 04, 2017 11:40 pm

It could have been that you slipped into a brief period of samadhi, the stilling of bodily formations and the arising of single-pointed concentration. Deep samadhi can be cultivated to result in enlightenment but it must be ok to lose all awareness of the body. Very scary at first, but then you'll see that a body in samadhi is not in any danger at all.
My real life name is Sam.

Herokazz
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Re: My heart stopped while meditating (seemingly). What happened?

Post by Herokazz » Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:03 pm

Ok thanks Robert. I will try and read that at some point. :)

Thanks everyone. It seems like I don't have anything to worry about. I just need to focus on things that make me feel good and grounded for a while.
I think the meditation retreat and whole trip in general opened up for a lot of old feelings and memories I wasn't prepared for. I just need to settle with them and it probably takes a bit of time.
But I feel better now. Thanks again.

Kasper

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