Meditative experience to share

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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Meditative experience to share

Post by Mawkish1983 » Wed Oct 06, 2010 8:41 pm

I'm not sure if I've shared this before, but this isn't the first time I've had this curious experience and I thought I should share it to see what I could do to improve my practice: really I'm after advice about what I should keep doing/stop doing or what I could do to make my meditation sessions more productive.

So basically I hadn't meditated for over a month (very busy with the teacher training... I've found it hard to find the time). This morning I sat in a quiet corner of the library and decided to sit for about half an hour. I didn't have long, but I wanted to take the opportunity to restart my sitting practice. I tried to follow the instructions I'd been taught from teachers at the local Buddhist centre and also things I have read in books and online.

I sat, straight backed, well supported bottom, stable, still. My eyes were closed, I tried to relax my body at first because I'd been running around. Then I began to 'scan' my body. I started from the top of my head and worked my way down, feeling where contact was made with my skin. When I reached my toes I went back up again. I repeated this. Then I began to scan my body again but this time trying to decide if the contact sensation was pleasureable, plainful or neither. Again, I did this a couple of times. Then I decided to explore how I felt that that moment. I analysed my emotions, not judging them, just trying to bring them to the front of my mind.

Then I began breathing in and out (not that I'd not been breathing before, but I drew my awareness to it) and counting. An in breath, an out breath, one. An in breath, an out breath, two. An in breath, an out breath, three. I did this up to ten, then started from one again. I noticed just how much my mind wandered into memories, imagination... anything! I kept bringing my attention back to my breathing. After maybe 5 or 10 minutes (hard to tell when you have your eyes closed) I began counting first and then breathing, so: One, breath in, breath out. Two, breath in, breath out. Three, breath in, breath out... up to ten. After the same amount of time as before, I stopped counting and tried to just be aware of the breathing without the numbers. My mind still wandered, and I kept bringing it back. At this stage, I began to notice a strange feeling.

The feeling is what I want to ask about really, I'm not sure what to make of it.

The feeling seemed to come in two parts. The first part was the sensation that my hands were very far away from my head. It felt as though my hands were getting further and further away... as though my body and arms were being stretched. I think I'd simply lost awareness of where my limbs were (I can't remember the name of that sense). It was a very curious feeling and slightly distracting from the breath.

The second part was a brilliant feeling. It's hard to describe, maybe excitement? Joy? Happiness? ... maybe more on the excitement side of things... hard to pin down. Trying to be as grown up as I can about this: it sort of felt like the mental component to an orgasm. It is hard to explain I think without sounding like an idiot (sorry!).

I tried to continue following the meditation instructions by concentrating on the feeling of the air moving in and out of my nostrils... but I was rather distracted having to bring my attention back to the feeling and away from the euphoric sense my mind was creating.

So, after about half an hour in total, I gently came out of the experience and wondered what to make of it.

Now, obviously I know I don't want to read too much into what is probably just more constructs of my own mind being a pain. I just don't really know what to do about this.

When I sit tomorrow, what do you think would be the best way to deal with these two (possibly related) feelings that arose last time? Hmmm, clumsy English, sorry if I'm not clear, I'm a bit tired.

Advice? Suggestions?

Thank you, kind Dhammawheel people :)

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Re: Meditative experience to share

Post by bodom » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:39 pm

When I sit tomorrow, what do you think would be the best way to deal with these two (possibly related) feelings that arose last time?

First off, dont have any expectation that these experiences will necessarily arise the next time you sit. Every sitting is different and if you sit expecting these feelings to come up they surely wont.

Secondly, if they do happen to make an appearance, watch them as long as they last, see there impermanent nature and watch them fade away, and then return to your primary object of focus ie. the breath.

To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo

With mindfulness immersed in the body
well established, restrained
with regard to the six media of contact,
always centered, the monk
can know Unbinding for himself.

- Ud 3.5

"Dont send the mind outside. Watch the mind right at the mind."

- Ajahn Dune Atulo

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Re: Meditative experience to share

Post by Ben » Wed Oct 06, 2010 10:16 pm

Hi mawkish

The first is just a tactile hallucination. I have had very many of them as so have lots of my co-practitioners. Its nothing to be worried about. Its just stuff.

The second sounds like piti, that euphoric joy or "rapture" which is one of the jhanic factors. Its good that it is present but don't get attached to it. Note its presence and keep going.

And as Bodom said, its best not to have any expectations with regards to meditation. If you are practicing a vipassana exerciese, the aim is to observe the changing nature of the observed phenomena. If it is a samatha exercise, keep the focus of your unbroken attention on the object for longer and longer periods.
All the best,

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Meditative experience to share

Post by Dan74 » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:37 pm

Hi Mawkish,

if someone really knowledgeable comes and explains these precisely, I think that will just hinder you in your next meditation as you will likely think and proliferate more concepts about this explanation, these phenomena.

If instead you are attentive to them as they arise and attentive as they change and attentive as they pass, neither attaching, not adding more thought, you allow them to be what they are and then they will work themselves through.

I've had these experiences in the past and all sorts of things can come up especially as one lets go to some extent and allows the sit to unfold in unforeseeable ways.

Que Sera, Sera!

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Re: Meditative experience to share

Post by lojong1 » Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:27 am

You said it was distracting from the breath. Is that the breath at one location (excluding others)?

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Re: Meditative experience to share

Post by rowyourboat » Fri Oct 08, 2010 12:56 pm

Be clear in your mind whether you are doing samatha or vipassana before you sit.

If it is samatha your job is to watch the breath, to unify the mind and not the results of samatha, which will take care of themselves, interesting as they may be. Exploring them will take you away from your purpose. Incidentally do you know how the meditation is supposed to do what it is supposed to do? Knowing this is really important.

I wanted save the most important thing for last: set up a daily practice; sporadic efforts are not very useful. A lot of energy, introspection and innovation needs to go into setting up this basic but essential ingrediant of your practice.

With metta

With Metta

& Upekkha

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