Strange Experiences in Meditation

The cultivation of calm or tranquility and the development of concentration
sfoobar
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Strange Experiences in Meditation

Post by sfoobar » Sun Dec 04, 2016 11:08 pm

Hey there! I’ve got some questions regarding recent experiences in my meditation practice, preferably from someone more experienced than I am.

I’ve been meditating on and off for some years now, never having enough motivation to build a really solid practice.

For some reason this changed and the last few weeks I’ve been meditating a lot and what’s even more important: I’ve been meditating every day, not skipping a day.
I guess i am trying to build up some concentration, eventually reaching at least access concentration.

My normal session consists of concentrating on the breath at the tip of the nose, with frequent mind-wandering, bringing the mind back to the breath and so on and so on.

Today something strange happened. My body startet to feel really small, from the neck downwards. At the same time my head felt really big. Like these action figures, I don’t know what they are called. The ones with tiny bodies and a really big head.
At the same time it was as if my whole awareness was filled with breath sensations. I really don’t know how to properly describe it. I could not just feel the tip of my nose, but it seemed as if my whole mind was filled with the breath sensation.
At the same time I just started smiling. There was no joy or even rapture, I just noticed I got a really big grin on my face.

Now my question is: Am I on to something there? Is this access concentration, or even the beginning of a jhana? Maybe some of you experienced something like this before and could help me out :anjali:

SarathW
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Re: Strange Experiences in Meditation

Post by SarathW » Mon Dec 05, 2016 12:33 am

Is this access concentration
The way I understand it is not.
The way I understand the access concentration is the right effort and right mindfulness.
When you experience any thing just observe how they arise, sustain and perish.

http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=43&t=26399&hilit
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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altar
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Re: Strange Experiences in Meditation

Post by altar » Mon Dec 05, 2016 12:56 am

It sounds like my meditation. Suffused with breath.

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Zom
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Re: Strange Experiences in Meditation

Post by Zom » Mon Dec 05, 2016 11:39 am

Is this access concentration, or even the beginning of a jhana?
Do you really think you can get to jhana just by sitting on a pillow as long as you can? .) How about the Noble Eightfold Path with all its complicated factors 8-) ? This may take many lives to accomplish, are you ready for that?

sfoobar
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Re: Strange Experiences in Meditation

Post by sfoobar » Mon Dec 05, 2016 9:17 pm

And who is telling you that i didn't practice the eightfold path for lots of lifetimes, so i can now reap the fruit?

paul
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Re: Strange Experiences in Meditation

Post by paul » Tue Dec 06, 2016 1:32 am

If that were the case you'd have an intuitive confidence about your development and wouldn't be asking questions.

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pilgrim
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Re: Strange Experiences in Meditation

Post by pilgrim » Tue Dec 06, 2016 3:35 am

Such distortions in perception are quite common when concentration gets a little stronger. It is one of the manifestations of Piti or Rapture. In commentarial literature on the 16 stages of Insight they are considered one of the "Defilements/Corruptions of Insight" which commonly arise together with the first few Insight Knowledges. The 10 Defilements of Insight are considered defilements as they are distracting and seduce the meditator into thinking he has attained to something valuable.

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robertk
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Re: Strange Experiences in Meditation

Post by robertk » Tue Dec 06, 2016 4:16 am

pilgrim wrote:Such distortions in perception are quite common when concentration gets a little stronger. It is one of the manifestations of Piti or Rapture. In commentarial literature on the 16 stages of Insight they are considered one of the "Defilements/Corruptions of Insight" which commonly arise together with the first few Insight Knowledges. The 10 Defilements of Insight are considered defilements as they are distracting and seduce the meditator into thinking he has attained to something valuable.
these sort of strange experiences are simply due to concentration that is true.
However there is little reason to assume that in most cases they are a sign of someone reaching insight knowledge. They arise readily with wrong concentration more than with right.

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Zom
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Re: Strange Experiences in Meditation

Post by Zom » Tue Dec 06, 2016 11:33 am

And who is telling you that i didn't practice the eightfold path for lots of lifetimes, so i can now reap the fruit?
Your birth date tells -) I think you could be right if you were born in 5 century BC along with such saints as Sariputta, Moggallana, Anuruddha, etc., but...

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srivijaya
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Re: Strange Experiences in Meditation

Post by srivijaya » Tue Dec 06, 2016 12:24 pm

sfoobar wrote: For some reason this changed and the last few weeks I’ve been meditating a lot and what’s even more important: I’ve been meditating every day, not skipping a day.
I guess i am trying to build up some concentration, eventually reaching at least access concentration.
Sounds good. I think everyone's mind is wired-up differently, so that when we begin to access deeper levels, the 'show' is different too. What one person experiences, is unknown to another. The only "constant" seems to be flux and change, so it's best not to cling to any experience as you may be disappointed when it vanishes. Just note it and move on. Not saying reject it either. Equanimity in the face of this transformative process is key.

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Jojola
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Re: Strange Experiences in Meditation

Post by Jojola » Tue Dec 06, 2016 4:22 pm

Zom wrote:
And who is telling you that i didn't practice the eightfold path for lots of lifetimes, so i can now reap the fruit?
Your birth date tells -) I think you could be right if you were born in 5 century BC along with such saints as Sariputta, Moggallana, Anuruddha, etc., but...
You don't believe the noble attainments can be accomplished by someone born in contemporary times?
Regards,

- :heart:
__________________________________________________________________________________________________
"Only in a vertical view, straight down into the abyss of his own personal existence, is a man capable of apprehending the perilous insecurity of his situation; and only a man who does apprehend this is prepared to listen to the Buddha’s Teaching." - Nanavira Thera (1920-1965) :candle:

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Zom
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Re: Strange Experiences in Meditation

Post by Zom » Tue Dec 06, 2016 7:07 pm

You don't believe the noble attainments can be accomplished by someone born in contemporary times?
In such attainments (jhana in N days of sitting) - no :D

dhammarelax
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Re: Strange Experiences in Meditation

Post by dhammarelax » Tue Dec 06, 2016 7:42 pm

sfoobar wrote:Hey there! I’ve got some questions regarding recent experiences in my meditation practice, preferably from someone more experienced than I am.

I’ve been meditating on and off for some years now, never having enough motivation to build a really solid practice.

For some reason this changed and the last few weeks I’ve been meditating a lot and what’s even more important: I’ve been meditating every day, not skipping a day.
I guess i am trying to build up some concentration, eventually reaching at least access concentration.

My normal session consists of concentrating on the breath at the tip of the nose, with frequent mind-wandering, bringing the mind back to the breath and so on and so on.

Today something strange happened. My body startet to feel really small, from the neck downwards. At the same time my head felt really big. Like these action figures, I don’t know what they are called. The ones with tiny bodies and a really big head.
At the same time it was as if my whole awareness was filled with breath sensations. I really don’t know how to properly describe it. I could not just feel the tip of my nose, but it seemed as if my whole mind was filled with the breath sensation.
At the same time I just started smiling. There was no joy or even rapture, I just noticed I got a really big grin on my face.

Now my question is: Am I on to something there? Is this access concentration, or even the beginning of a jhana? Maybe some of you experienced something like this before and could help me out :anjali:
Sorry to be the disonant voice but it does not seem you are practicing in accordance to what the Buddha taught, the translation of Samadhi as concentration needs much care, in the Suttas Sama Samadhi (Right Concentration) is defined unequivocaly as Jhana, the cause for Jhana is tranquility not concentration. Try to follow the Buddhas instructions http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html:

[1] Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.' [2] Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.' [3] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.'[2] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' [4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.'[3] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.'

"[5] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.' [6] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.' [7] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to mental fabrication.'[4] He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to mental fabrication.' [8] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming mental fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming mental fabrication.'

"[9] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the mind.' [10] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in satisfying the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out satisfying the mind.' [11] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in steadying the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out steadying the mind.' [12] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in releasing the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out releasing the mind.'[5]

"[13] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on inconstancy.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on inconstancy.' [14] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on dispassion [literally, fading].' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on dispassion.' [15] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on cessation.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on cessation.' [16] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on relinquishment.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on relinquishment.'

Smile
Dhammarelax
Even if the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, I will use all my human firmness, human persistence and human striving. There will be no relaxing my persistence until I am the first of my generation to attain full awakening in this lifetime. ed. AN 2.5

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mikenz66
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Re: Strange Experiences in Meditation

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Dec 06, 2016 11:10 pm

dhammarelax wrote: Sorry to be the disonant voice but it does not seem you are practicing in accordance to what the Buddha taught, ..
Seems quite consistent to me. The first tetrad of that sutta seems be about how one builds up samadhi/concentration and calm by paying attention to the breath, which appears to be what sfoobar is doing.

The sutta doesn't have much detail about how to pay attention, so tip of the nose, or some other area, are fine. With experience, you'll find that some of those approaches might work better or worse for particular purposes.

When one builds up some concentration all kinds of odd things can happen, in this case, the feeling small. Some feel big, some feel like they are floating. It's good in the sense that it's a sign that one is becoming more concentrated, but I wouldn't read too much into it.

sfoobar: it would be helpful for you to explain whose instructions you are following. That might help some members give some advice that is consistent with that approach. Since different teachers can have very different introductory instructions, it can be really confusing to mix them up.

:anjali:
Mike

dhammarelax
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Re: Strange Experiences in Meditation

Post by dhammarelax » Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:19 am

mikenz66 wrote:
dhammarelax wrote: Sorry to be the disonant voice but it does not seem you are practicing in accordance to what the Buddha taught, ..
Seems quite consistent to me. The first tetrad of that sutta seems be about how one builds up samadhi/concentration and calm by paying attention to the breath, which appears to be what sfoobar is doing.

The sutta doesn't have much detail about how to pay attention, so tip of the nose, or some other area, are fine. With experience, you'll find that some of those approaches might work better or worse for particular purposes.

When one builds up some concentration all kinds of odd things can happen, in this case, the feeling small. Some feel big, some feel like they are floating. It's good in the sense that it's a sign that one is becoming more concentrated, but I wouldn't read too much into it.

sfoobar: it would be helpful for you to explain whose instructions you are following. That might help some members give some advice that is consistent with that approach. Since different teachers can have very different introductory instructions, it can be really confusing to mix them up.

:anjali:
Mike
What about the second tetrad?
Even if the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, I will use all my human firmness, human persistence and human striving. There will be no relaxing my persistence until I am the first of my generation to attain full awakening in this lifetime. ed. AN 2.5

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massara
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Re: Strange Experiences in Meditation

Post by massara » Wed Dec 07, 2016 3:59 am

sfoobar wrote:Hey there! I’ve got some questions regarding recent experiences in my meditation practice, preferably from someone more experienced than I am.

I’ve been meditating on and off for some years now, never having enough motivation to build a really solid practice.

For some reason this changed and the last few weeks I’ve been meditating a lot and what’s even more important: I’ve been meditating every day, not skipping a day.
I guess i am trying to build up some concentration, eventually reaching at least access concentration.

My normal session consists of concentrating on the breath at the tip of the nose, with frequent mind-wandering, bringing the mind back to the breath and so on and so on.

Today something strange happened. My body startet to feel really small, from the neck downwards. At the same time my head felt really big. Like these action figures, I don’t know what they are called. The ones with tiny bodies and a really big head.
At the same time it was as if my whole awareness was filled with breath sensations. I really don’t know how to properly describe it. I could not just feel the tip of my nose, but it seemed as if my whole mind was filled with the breath sensation.
At the same time I just started smiling. There was no joy or even rapture, I just noticed I got a really big grin on my face.

Now my question is: Am I on to something there? Is this access concentration, or even the beginning of a jhana? Maybe some of you experienced something like this before and could help me out :anjali:

All this weird stuff also happens to me just like you described.
Keep focusing your meditation object and don`t pay too much attention to all these sensations. They appear and soon disappear, so, do not take them as something valuable.

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mikenz66
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Re: Strange Experiences in Meditation

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Dec 07, 2016 5:00 am

dhammarelax wrote: What about the second tetrad?
What about it? Nothing there about focussing, or not, on a particular aspect of breathing, or whether or not to control the breathing...

:anjali:

dhammarelax
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Re: Strange Experiences in Meditation

Post by dhammarelax » Wed Dec 07, 2016 7:31 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
dhammarelax wrote: What about the second tetrad?
What about it? Nothing there about focussing, or not, on a particular aspect of breathing, or whether or not to control the breathing...

:anjali:
Yes but there you must develop rapture.

smile
Dhammarelax
Even if the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, I will use all my human firmness, human persistence and human striving. There will be no relaxing my persistence until I am the first of my generation to attain full awakening in this lifetime. ed. AN 2.5

sfoobar
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Re: Strange Experiences in Meditation

Post by sfoobar » Wed Dec 07, 2016 8:34 pm

Thanks for your various replies, especially for the helpful ones ;)

I have been practicing using the instructions of Culadasa and found his book and his "10 stage model" very helpful.

However i don't like religious orthodoxy and answers like "you can't develop concentration in n days/months/lifetimes" are not very helpful.Especially on a discussion board.

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mikenz66
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Re: Strange Experiences in Meditation

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Dec 08, 2016 4:23 am

Hi sfoobar,

Thanks. I guess you mean the approach given here?
http://dharmatreasure.org/wp-content/up ... andout.pdf

Those instructions seem quite similar to Ajahn Brahm's here:
http://www.dhammaloka.org.au/files/pdf/ ... ers1-4.pdf
and you might find a slightly different perspective useful.

:anjali:
Mike

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