Thank you and the others for your descriptions of your experiences.
Yes, me, too. And they always just appeared when I induced them somehow.Kenshou wrote: I've had experiences of these nimittas which seem in accordance with what I've learned of them. Rarely, I've had the orb-like visual signs as described by Ajahn Brahm,
When I concentrate on the physical body I usually get visual images of the body instead. When I concentrate on the nostrils I get an image of the nose for example, of the nose from the inside. No orbs for me.
This sounds to me like a sensing of the element "air" (or wind). It is odd, Theravada has the usual pranayama techniques and describes the elements just as Mahayana but lacks the chakras. Then again some nimittas are clearly described in synch with the chakras (same place, same image such as a wheel or orb). I mean, nose-tip, between eyebrows, forehead - all are typical chakra positions.This bit from the Vimuttimagga describes it well enough: To the yogin who attends to the incoming breath with mind that is cleansed of the nine lesser defilements the image arises with a pleasant feeling similar to that which is produced in the action of spinning cotton or silk cotton. Also, it is likened to the pleasant feeling produced by a breeze. Thus in breathing in and out, air touches the nose or the lip and causes the setting-up of air perception mindfulness. This does not depend on colour or form. This is called the image. If the yogin develops the image [sign] and increases it at the nose-tip, between the eyebrows, on the forehead or establishes it in several places, he feels as if his head were filled with air.
If you ask me it is a typical "energy" sensation as used in yoga. Tibetan Buddhism describes it in detail and also has specific techniques for them. One basically moves this energy (your breezy soft feeling and pressure) around the whole body, and even outside, until it all is "purified". When you start moving it you will notice that there are places that you can move it to easily and those that seem closed to it. The closed ones are so called "blocks", they need to be "purged", meaning one has to practice moving the element there, too. Full purification is reached when not only your head is filled with "air" but the whole body and then the whole world around.I'm fairly confident this is not simply the arising of normal aspects of life that I've been previously unaware of, since quite a bit of that sort of expansive body-awareness increasing type stuff occurs far before this point and levels off. Only after dwelling in that calm state of awareness for awhile does this "nimitta" show up, and this breezy soft feeling which beings at and grows around the original breath-point is accompanied by a particular sort of pressure. It's subtle yet distinct from any normal experience.
Let it fall naturally where it will is always a good idea IMO. But if you want to use the element air you need to let go of the breath and use the element as your new object.Is it best to continue to watch the breath at this point, or rather, is this the proper time to let go allow the focus to fall naturally where it will?
Oh, and btw doing these kind of element meditations can induce the iddhis as described in the Visuddhimagga. So don't be surprised when stuff starts to happen outside the sitting.