Meditation apnea, asphyxia and ecstasy

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

Meditation apnea, asphyxia and ecstasy

Postby barcsimalsi » Sat Mar 29, 2014 12:15 pm

I experienced it about each every few months and the last time was yesterday which is the most intense one, it happens only in lying posture.

Strong feeling of ecstasy suddenly emerged and filled my whole head while body temperature rose intensely to the point of being sweaty. Breath eventually stops leaving only the vibes of heartbeat which became more rapid. It also seems that some part of my brain has been disable, i can’t make a sound, can barely move my tongue and felt lots of numbness pervading my face.

I thought i was close of getting into deep jhana until i nearly choke myself. :rofl: Regardless of what happened, my consciousness wasn’t blur. The moment last about 5 to 10 seconds until i put more effort on gasping for air. Things gradually return normal except for a slight dizziness.

It was clear that during the practice my brain was lacking in oxygen and my lungs was suffocating, it was accidental and i don’t think it has anything to do with meditation progress although such rare experience did contribute to my motivation on developing samatha practice.

Anyone experienced something similar?
Any explanation for this phenomena?

If this happens again, do i need to intentionally gasp for more air or just observe till i possibly… pass out?
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Re: Meditation apnea, asphyxia and ecstasy

Postby James the Giant » Sat Mar 29, 2014 1:04 pm

Google the Choking Game. The wiki is bad at explaining it though, find a different page.
Also similar mechanism to Autoerotic Asphyxiation.

Don't be tempted to play around with it, a good friend of mine died that way.
At the funeral they said Suicide, but everyone who knew him well knew otherwise.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: Meditation apnea, asphyxia and ecstasy

Postby beeblebrox » Sat Mar 29, 2014 5:51 pm

I haven't had that experience. During meditation I'm conscious of my breathing. I also focus on keeping it comfortable within the body, and keeping it natural.

Of course, there isn't absolute control over it... but there is still some control with what goes on. (This doesn't necessarily imply that there is a controller... it is just a process.) So, whenever I notice something that is unbeneficial, like holding the breath, I try to veer away from it, or if it stays, try to figure out a resolution of some kind.

In another thread I mentioned that it's easier for me to slow down the breath when lying down. I just realized that some people could've misinterpreted that to mean the breathing was close to stopping. That would be the case if a physical object was moving at a slow speed, but it wasn't what I meant.

When my breathing slows down to 3 or 4 times per minutes (I measure it with my heartbeat), I just meant that the stream of air was slowed down to the point where the in-breath lasts for 10 seconds, and the out-breath lasts for another 10 seconds, and so on.

The amount of air that is passed through on each in-breath, or out-breath remains more or less the same, when compared to the normal breathing. (So, the lungs aren't over-expanding, or the diaphragm isn't pressed in hard to get it all out.) The effort is more or less the same.

Though overall, less volume of air is being utilized... because of fewer breath every minute. I think this explains why it's easier for me to breath at slower rate when lying compared to sitting, because the latter takes more energy.

It wasn't like I was breathing in and out at a normal speed, and then allowing that to pause for a while, before I breathe again, and so on. It's still a continuous cycle of taking in the air and letting it out.

:anjali:
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Re: Meditation apnea, asphyxia and ecstasy

Postby Coyote » Sat Mar 29, 2014 6:01 pm

I have experienced what you describe, but not to that intensity. The pleasure that comes from it can, I think, be mistaken for piti and sukha, but it is not. From my reading and understanding, piti and sukha are based on a virtuous and wholesome mind, withdrawn from sensual pleasures rather than from breathing tricks or any experience like this that you can have when trying to achieve samadhi. I could be wrong, but I find it has been a big hindrance trying to go after states like this, rather than building piti and sukha from a genuine sense of wellbeing coming from solid sila, dana, metta ect.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: Meditation apnea, asphyxia and ecstasy

Postby barcsimalsi » Sun Mar 30, 2014 2:45 am

James the Giant wrote:Google the Choking Game. The wiki is bad at explaining it though, find a different page.
Also similar mechanism to Autoerotic Asphyxiation.

Don't be tempted to play around with it, a good friend of mine died that way.
At the funeral they said Suicide, but everyone who knew him well knew otherwise.

Thanks for your concern, i acknowledge that term but there’s nothing Carradine about my practice. It happens naturally and accidentally without one bit of sexual thought.
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Re: Meditation apnea, asphyxia and ecstasy

Postby barcsimalsi » Sun Mar 30, 2014 2:50 am

beeblebrox wrote:
In another thread I mentioned that it's easier for me to slow down the breath when lying down. I just realized that some people could've misinterpreted that to mean the breathing was close to stopping. That would be the case if a physical object was moving at a slow speed, but it wasn't what I meant...
:anjali:

Don’t worry, i did not misread your other post. From my experience, sitting posture may require some strength from the stomach muscle and may sometimes interfere with subtle breathing therefore lying is much easier in smoothing out the breath.

Furthermore, the asphyxia doesn’t often occur. It was very accidental but when it happens, the ecstasy is always there and only fade after i gasp for air.
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Re: Meditation apnea, asphyxia and ecstasy

Postby barcsimalsi » Sun Mar 30, 2014 2:56 am

Coyote wrote:I have experienced what you describe, but not to that intensity. The pleasure that comes from it can, I think, be mistaken for piti and sukha, but it is not. From my reading and understanding, piti and sukha are based on a virtuous and wholesome mind, withdrawn from sensual pleasures rather than from breathing tricks or any experience like this that you can have when trying to achieve samadhi. I could be wrong, but I find it has been a big hindrance trying to go after states like this, rather than building piti and sukha from a genuine sense of wellbeing coming from solid sila, dana, metta ect.

Agree, i just wanna know more about the phenomena.
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Re: Meditation apnea, asphyxia and ecstasy

Postby daverupa » Sun Mar 30, 2014 5:04 am

Related to sleep apnea, perhaps?

Worth consulting a medical professional.

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    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Meditation apnea, asphyxia and ecstasy

Postby barcsimalsi » Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:58 am

daverupa wrote:Related to sleep apnea, perhaps?

Worth consulting a medical professional.

:heart:

Nope, it only happen in meditation.
Thanks btw.
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Re: Meditation apnea, asphyxia and ecstasy

Postby daverupa » Sun Mar 30, 2014 9:31 pm

What is your bhavana method when lying down?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Meditation apnea, asphyxia and ecstasy

Postby SarathW » Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:21 pm

The way I understand it, Jhana should be developed in stages.
Breath should be kept as a home base until you go to fifth Jhana.
:shrug:
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Re: Meditation apnea, asphyxia and ecstasy

Postby barcsimalsi » Mon Mar 31, 2014 3:02 am

daverupa wrote:What is your bhavana method when lying down?

Mostly anapanasati sometimes satipattana, or just observing and pondering.
Sometimes it happens after just 5 minutes of lying down and other times longer. One thing i'm sure is they happen only when the mind is already quite calm and as far as i recall, the extreme ecstasy usually emerged during exhalation.

SarathW wrote:The way I understand it, Jhana should be developed in stages.
Breath should be kept as a home base until you go to fifth Jhana.
:shrug:

Yes, and it is not my intention to stop it.
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Re: Meditation apnea, asphyxia and ecstasy

Postby daverupa » Mon Mar 31, 2014 2:17 pm

When it begins to occur - which is to say, you notice this process warming up to get going - what are you able to do? For example, you said the breath eventually stops; why not re-establish awareness at that time? Since you'd necessarily have stopped doing anapanasati, pursuing the process you've described is off-target.

Whether anapanasati or just doing satipatthana prone, which tetrad(s) are correlated with these effects?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Meditation apnea, asphyxia and ecstasy

Postby barcsimalsi » Tue Apr 01, 2014 2:54 am

daverupa wrote:When it begins to occur - which is to say, you notice this process warming up to get going - what are you able to do? For example, you said the breath eventually stops; why not re-establish awareness at that time? Since you'd necessarily have stopped doing anapanasati, pursuing the process you've described is off-target.

Whether anapanasati or just doing satipatthana prone, which tetrad(s) are correlated with these effects?

I would say contemplation of feelings.
"And how does a monk remain focused on feelings in & of themselves? There is the case where a monk, when feeling a painful feeling, discerns, 'I am feeling a painful feeling.' When feeling a pleasant feeling, he discerns, 'I am feeling a pleasant feeling.' When feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he discerns, 'I am feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling.'

…' When feeling a pleasant feeling not of the flesh, he discerns, 'I am feeling a pleasant feeling not of the flesh.'

"In this way he remains focused internally on feelings in & of themselves, or externally on feelings in & of themselves, or both internally & externally on feelings in & of themselves. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to feelings, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to feelings, or on the phenomenon of origination & passing away with regard to feelings. Or his mindfulness that 'There are feelings' is maintained to the extent of knowledge & remembrance. And he remains independent, unsustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on feelings in & of themselves.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

All i’m interested is its “phenomenon of origination & passing away” but since it happens rarely, in a short time and almost accidental, i can’t get a clear view of it.
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