Hi leo and all...
leo wrote:Thanks for responding. The lights were not disturbing me- I could still feel the sensations. I just reported it to the AT because I've never seen it before. The AT did mention to go back to anapana. But when I later told him that I was still seeing light he got annoyed with me. I think his strong reaction might have set off the hallucinations I had later that night. However, another thing I noticed was that these lights became more focused over time. To the point that there was light shooting out of my forehead to the area of focus during body scan. I described this to the AT and he seemed disturbed. Another light feature I noticed was that once in a while there would be shimmering light and my body felt relaxed. Do you know what these lights are?
About the metta - is it really possible for me to feel someone else sending me positive vibrations? That's really mind-blowing if true.
Some of the artefacts of meditation that I've experienced include visual, auditory and tactile hallucinations. The main type of light that I "see" tends to be flashing light that seem to occur with the vibrations that are going on within my body. Something similar to the shimmering light you noticed. The light didn't occur with some visualisation of my body, but just against the inside of my eyelids. I'm not sure whether someone can 'feel' metta from someone else.
retro wrote:When I did a Goenka retreat I discerned a luminous blue triangle while doing the anapanasati component. I received similar advice to you from the AT, focus on the sensations, not the visualisation... and that's fair enough, and getting totally removed from the physical sensation would not be in keeping with the meditation technique you were being taught. That said, I found it difficult to separate the two, the triangle seemed to be a "mind map" of the physical area I was focusing on (i.e. the area around the nose)
This was confirmed later on the retreat when I would have a "mind map" of the physical area I was focusing on during the "sweep en masse"... a little like a mind-created segment of the body, with blue illumination on the mind-map corresponding with the sweeping. I think this mind-map might have been a by-product of the cognitive processes that actually direct the "sweeping", or the movement of the area of attention? What is it that moves the focus? How does it work? The deliberate act of sweeping must involve some volition, and some cognition of the physical space in which the body (and subsequently, feelings) can be observed. Again, the AT wasn't much help, I just persisted with the sweeping, accepting that I could not switch off this visual mind-map even if I wanted to, so whilst I didn't focus on it or try to accentuate it, or focus on it to the exclusion of physical sensations, why try to repress it? That would have merely led to frustration, and it did not interfere with my ability to follow the instructions that were given. If anything, it actually helped.
One of the things I've come to realize is that it is really really really hard not to get caught up in some visualisation when one is attempting to move through the body and observe sensations. I've really had to work on just observing the sensation without conccocting a visualization or mental map in my head. Its an occupational hazard with this technique but I think the best thing to do is to try and just relax (mentally as well as physically). And perhaps it is the interaction of observing the sensation against the backdrop of the unconscious mental map of the body while engaging in some subtle visualization that some of the hallucinatory experiences come in. Some of the tactile hallucinations I have had is feeling like I had elongated to ten kilometres with my head somewhere up in the sky and my body reduced in width to a spagetti straw while other times believing my body had morphed into a completely different and irregular shape when observing sensations in my right lower arm and the next minute as I move along, my awareness pops out under my knees. Over the years, those novel events have decreased to the point where I don't really have them any more.
salmon wrote:I, too, had once been in a similar situation (in dealing with ATs). My experience was more difficult as I was dealing with a Venerable rather than a lay teacher. I reported to him that I was seeing my body "fall apart" and he snubbed me by saying that he had been practising for decades and had not even seen that, how could I, a mere child in his eyes, achieve that when I had only been meditating for a year or so. Not having learnt how to deal with feelings, I left the temple a day after that, feeling upset and ostracized. I spoke to a lay teacher about it as well and while she did not told me I was hallucinating, told me to ignore it and focus on the tactile sensations instead. That, too, did not make the visions go away. Much later, I found another teacher who, having had the same experience before, taught me how to turn those visions into tools for developing insights. Like what retro said, it could be a by product of something...instead of fighting it, just accept it and park it aside so it doesn't disturb you main focus. Don't reject an apple just because there's a sticker on it.
Sorry Salmon to hear of your less than ideal experience as well. There's a lot of wisdom in the instruction "just observe whatever manifests" There's an AT I know who is the 'Area Teacher" for a part of SE Australia. I've known him for over twenty years and if I have any difficulty, whether it relates to meditation or ethical dilemma, I speak to him. In the past, instead of raising things with an AT on retreat, I've waited until the course was over before speaking with my mentor/friend.
salmon wrote:If the Goenka method is not working for you, you might want to find another method which is more suited to your temperament. Takes a little bit of shopping around but you will know when you have found the right method.
Keep in mind Leo, that the intensity of the Goenka ten-day course may have been a factor in your adverse experience. If that is the case, you might want to investigate a ten-day course at International Meditation Centre. Its almost identical and is run by the successors of U Ba Khin. http://www.internationalmeditationcentre.org/
From what i have heard, not quite as intense as the Goenka 10-day course.