Meditative experience after 6 months - Insight appreciated.

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.
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BlackCountyKing
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Meditative experience after 6 months - Insight appreciated.

Post by BlackCountyKing »

Hi all,

Firstly I would like to explain that I do not normally post anywhere on the internet. I am a quiet observer so to speak. However, I believe this community is a very helpful one and it would be a wasted opportunity to not ask for some insight. Also- I have not read any teachings of the Buddha, or studied the various forms of Buddhism. I started meditation as a way to ease my extreme anxiety and OCD. If this post is not appropriate for the forum, please message me and I will be happy to delete it.

I have been mindfully meditating 20 minutes a day for about about 5 months now and, although I have been making steady progress with breath focus and introspective awareness, it has been consistent with the experiences it provides. It is only today after about 3500 minutes of meditation that I have experienced something very different.

I quickly lost track of the positioning of my head and the direction my closed eyes were facing, followed by an almost total out of body experience. I was sitting on the carpet so that my legs were horizontal and stretched out on the floor, but I had this sensation that my lower torso was under the carpet. It was as if my soul had its own body standing straight up.

I was then struck with a form of depersonalisation and confusion of identity. It was like I saw myself as a different entity, a friend. This made me wonder who the real 'me', the person experiencing this, was/is. A good analogy is that it seemed I started seeing through the eyes of a 'guardian angel'.

I have obviously compressed the description of my experience so that it isn't a million words long, but is this just a case of deep personal reflection or something more, for example: an awakening to my true self?

I appreciate anyone that has read this far and more so if you could help.

Blake
cjdevries
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Re: Meditative experience after 6 months - Insight appreciated.

Post by cjdevries »

Sorry I don't have any insight, but I really appreciated reading about your experience. I have had some interesting experiences over the years, but nothing out of body like yours. However, I have a close relative who had an out of body experience where she was literally looking at her body from the ceiling. It freaked her out a little bit. She is also a spiritual practitioner and she has had several quite incredible things happen to her over the years. I look forward to seeing others' responses.
"For the zen student, every weed is a treasure." -Suzuki Roshi
"Please call me by my true names so I can wake up; so the door of my heart can be left open: the door of compassion." -Thich Nhat Hanh
"Waking up, or awakening, is not a matter of working on our issues. It is a matter of waking up from the dream in which those issues seem real." -Jeru Kabbal
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Matt J
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Re: Meditative experience after 6 months - Insight appreciated.

Post by Matt J »

It is a meditation experience. These come and go. Try not to be too attached to them. Many people spend many years chasing these, and often mistake experiences for realization. It sounds like you are questioning your sense of self, which is a good thing. It may be a good time to start looking for a teacher.
BlackCountyKing wrote: Mon Sep 07, 2020 3:47 pm This made me wonder who the real 'me', the person experiencing this, was/is.
[snip]
I appreciate anyone that has read this far and more so if you could help.
"The essence of meditation practice is to let go of all your expectations about meditation. All the qualities of your natural mind -- peace, openness, relaxation, and clarity -- are present in your mind just as it is. You don't have to do anything different. You don't have to shift or change your awareness. All you have to do while observing your mind is to recognize the qualities it already has."
--- Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Meditative experience after 6 months - Insight appreciated.

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

It's just a nyam, meditative experience. They can be a sign of progress but most of the time don't mean much of anything, and shouldn't have great significance attached to them. One of the places where (for instance) Buddhism is different from some Hindu styles of meditation is that while it acknowledges these sorts of experiences, it does not see them as any kind of goal or final marker of anything.

So, the idea that you are "seeing your true self" etc. via this experience would likely be questioned by most Buddhist teachers, having had similar experiences myself, my teachers and friends basically just said "great, keep practicing".

Not to be dismissive, but this also is a pretty common type of experience I think, particularly when you are doing any meditation that involves examination of phenomena. This is one of the reasons that eventually, whatever kind of meditation you do, you probably need a teacher and some kind of spiritual community as a support system.

If I might make a suggestion, experiment with opening your eyes and just relaxing. it is quite easy to "space out" when your eyes are closed and gradually you lose awareness, you can have all kinds of weird experiences, and the more you meditate the wider they range, in my experience. Generally, the more you create a narrative around your experiences the more tension you will experience in meditation - even if you don't think tension is there, and the more you come across weird experiences you can't let go of, which is not the point, and is in fact pretty much the opposite of the point - at least as far as Buddhist meditation goes.

In other words, just let it go, man.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low
Genjo Conan
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Re: Meditative experience after 6 months - Insight appreciated.

Post by Genjo Conan »

What everyone else said. In Zen, we're taught that sometimes weird experiences in meditation (there's a Japanese word for the phenomenon that I now can't remember) can be a prelude to kensho or some kind of wider opening...but sometimes it's just weird shit that happens and doesn't mean anything. It's not something to fixate on or hold onto.
avatamsaka3
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Re: Meditative experience after 6 months - Insight appreciated.

Post by avatamsaka3 »

Also- I have not read any teachings of the Buddha, or studied the various forms of Buddhism.
Why not?
it has been consistent with the experiences it provides
I wish I had such consistency!
I was then struck with a form of depersonalisation and confusion of identity.
Stop this meditation practice and go find a traditional teacher. If not a traditional one, a Western one that has experience and is compassionate. You could ask around here for references. One that has experience with the problems you're dealing with would be ideal. And a tip from experience: Listen to or read what they share publicly. Does anything strike you as terribly inconsistent with your experience and challenges? If so, move on. Don't go by titles or fanciness or fancy things in the background. How do they treat people who are suffering? That's a pretty good indicator.

Bring attention to the "what" and "why" of meditation. Study meditation techniques in detail, not ignoring the fine points. And ask "What is the underlying philosophy behind this method?" Certainly in all traditional schools there will be one. Even in many of the "detached" Western schools. Some people will say "No underlying thought needed". That's OK. It comes up.
Bundokji
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Re: Meditative experience after 6 months - Insight appreciated.

Post by Bundokji »

Hi there,

One theory to explain it is that the stilling of the body and focusing on meditation object increases consciousness (predictability) which increases neuroticism. This manifests itself as strange experiences that shakes the mind out of its habitual ways. which gradually increases both creativity and madness.

A good protection would be to study the texts and to contemplate phenomena. The teachings provide an objective basis that counters the subjectivity arising on the cushion. The real meditation that comes to you is not necessarily during sitting meditation, but as you begin to pay more attention to what is essential and what is not essential. Encountering a spiritual friend who teaches you something of value is meditation coming to you. Encountering a life situation resembling an issue that you was bordering on is meditation coming to you. Noticing Karma in action is meditation.
The cleverest defenders of faith are its greatest enemies: for their subtleties engender doubt and stimulate the mind. -- Will Durant
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PeterC
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Re: Meditative experience after 6 months - Insight appreciated.

Post by PeterC »

BlackCountyKing wrote: Mon Sep 07, 2020 3:47 pm I quickly lost track of the positioning of my head and the direction my closed eyes were facing, followed by an almost total out of body experience. I was sitting on the carpet so that my legs were horizontal and stretched out on the floor, but I had this sensation that my lower torso was under the carpet. It was as if my soul had its own body standing straight up.
These sorts of experiences are not unusual and often are related to the position of the body or other physiological causes. A common one is the sensation that you've stopped breathing (which in almost all cases isn't what's happened, or we would have a lot of dead meditators).
I was then struck with a form of depersonalisation and confusion of identity. It was like I saw myself as a different entity, a friend. This made me wonder who the real 'me', the person experiencing this, was/is. A good analogy is that it seemed I started seeing through the eyes of a 'guardian angel'.
The important thing with these experiences is not to reify them into some sort of transcendental or significant thing. That makes them an obstacle.

As others have said, it's very helpful to have a teacher at this stage. Most of what that teacher will do is check that you're doing what you're supposed to be doing, then whenever you bring something like this to them, tell you to ignore it and keep on trucking. People here shouldn't give you specific advice on your meditation method, because they don't know exactly what you're doing, how you're doing it, or anything about your situation - that's why you need a teacher in real life. A teacher doesn't need to be someone wearing fancy regalia sitting on a gold throne, or a monk living in a cave, just someone who has experience taking people through the stage of practice that you're in right now who can talk to you one on one.
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