Scary meditation experience - help!

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

Postby mindfullmom » Mon Aug 03, 2009 7:10 pm

I have been hesitant to write about this meditation experience because I am not sure I can put it into words sufficient enough to explain it. It was frightening enough to keep me from my sitting mediation practice which is unfortunate because it has been so beneficial for me up till now. If anyone has any understanding of the following description please clue me in, so here goes. (I will note, the problem did not begin until after the meditation!)

I focused on my breathing and my mind began to calm itself from the everyday thoughts. I focused my attention on something I may have learned from Thich Nhat Hanh, did I exist before I was born? My mind began a process of negation from this moment back as far as I could conceive of, memories of this life, back to the womb, back to the egg and sperm before they united, back back back to what was once a flaming rock hurling through space that we now call earth. I realized once again, the interconnectedness of all things in time and space. That everything is in constant motion, dependant and empty. Maybe we could call it a deep seeing.

My mind returned to the breath until my mind was quiet and there was only breath and body. The body fell away and eventually the breath fell away also. I remained like this for some time and then decided my session would come to and end. I felt myself return, the feelings and sensations of the body all returned. Then I opened my eyes.

This is where the problem began! As I sat in my very familiar den, it was also very unrecognizable. Although everything was still it was as if it was moving. It was as if I could literally see the impermanence. It scared the heck out me which I assume made it even worse? I could not shake it and I eventually went into a sort of panic mode, full of anxiety. I tried to keep my attention on the fear waiting for it to go but it would not go. I’m not sure how else to explain it but it was as if my mind had dislodged itself and now everything looked different??? :cookoo: Eventually I turned on the TV to use the method of distraction (mindless distraction) and that worked. Everything was fine after that and has been fine. But what the heck was that all about?

Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated! :namaste:

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genkaku
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Re: Scary meditation experience - help!

Postby genkaku » Mon Aug 03, 2009 7:45 pm

Good move, turning on the TV. I once had a similar scary experience and used a similar prescription that worked, as you say, pretty well.

Sometimes, in practice, we find ourselves getting 'ahead' of where we have the strength to be. It's OK. 1. Practice builds the strength we need, so keep on practicing and a little at a time scary and wonderful experiences will integrate themselves and no longer be so special. 2. These woo-hoo or eek experiences, aside from their woo-hoo or eek, are like advertising: It's as if we imagined we had a handle on Buddhism and Buddhism turned around and twisted our nose ... "how do you like them apples?" it may seem to ask. Buddhism is bigger than our pieties and bigger than our fears and bigger than our Magical Mystery Tours ... and when some actualization of that wide-open understanding asserts itself, it can feel like a threat. Sure, we can talk "ego" all day long, but a threat is a threat.

The bottom line is to keep on practicing. If something feels too scary, back off a little. Day by day, week by week, year by year ... just keep practicing and the surprises will no longer be so surprising. Plain old zazen? Do that. Rocket-fueled zazen? Do that. Too scary? Go get an Oreo ... and just do that. Imagining former lives? Just do that. Just ... keep practicing.

Just my two cents.

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Pannapetar
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Re: Scary meditation experience - help!

Postby Pannapetar » Tue Aug 04, 2009 3:54 am

Occasionally coming out of deep meditation feels weird. It feels like a "phase shift" - the body and senses are already back in reality, but consciousness is still lagging behind, still in a different phase or state, hence phase shift. I never found this particularly scary, weird at best, but perhaps your experience was very pronounced, so it might have scared you. Maybe you should investigate that fear. In my case, the strangeness always subsided within a minute at most.

Cheers, Thomas

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Re: Scary meditation experience - help!

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Aug 04, 2009 8:37 am

some people do experience moments of deep insight suddenly- they are however unstable because there is no gradual buildup- the yogi is not prepared for it and so it can seem disturbing-in that sense they are superficial. this is in a way, the mind showing us what it is capable of- typically happens in samadhi/unified states like the one you mentioned. nothing to worry about- the fear was because it felt wierd. just remember that even the fear arises and passes away. it is unlikely to happen repeatedly. I have heard of people experiencing non-self in this manner. Nothing gets us back to the ignorance (also known as 'normality') like indulging in some sense pleasures during such moments! But you should take this as a sign that your mind can give rise to deep insight and work with an insight meditation teacher.
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

mindfullmom
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Re: Scary meditation experience - help!

Postby mindfullmom » Tue Aug 04, 2009 11:20 am

Thank you for these posts, they are very helpful. It's good to know I'm not in need of some kind of psychiatric help :woohoo:

I have been practicing in the Theravadan tradition mostly so maybe moving into this type of Zen practice did move me ahead faster than my little mind was able to comprehend!
I would love to find a vipassana insight teacher - online - if anyone knows of any.

I will just keep meditating, it's all part of the dance of experience. If anyone has another other experiences I'd love to hear them.

:thanks:

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Rui Sousa
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Re: Scary meditation experience - help!

Postby Rui Sousa » Tue Aug 04, 2009 12:07 pm

Maybe it was a sign that your meditation was good, and you have developed some insight on the impermanence of matter, and the delusion that makes us accept forms as static and real was not present for a moment. I believe TV is an excellent method of raising delusion up once again :)

Take look at this text, by Ven. Mahasi Saydaw, it may be useful so that you don't get scared when such experiences occur: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/mahasi/progress.html#ch6.5
With Metta

mindfullmom
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Re: Scary meditation experience - help!

Postby mindfullmom » Tue Aug 04, 2009 1:32 pm

Maybe it was a sign that your meditation was good, and you have developed some insight on the impermanence of matter, and the delusion that makes us accept forms as static and real was not present for a moment. I believe TV is an excellent method of raising delusion up once again

Take look at this text, by Ven. Mahasi Saydaw, it may be useful so that you don't get scared when such experiences occur: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... html#ch6.5


Wow, that was some good reading. That is exactly what I could not put into words, the mind was focusing on the disolution of each object it came into contact with and it was sort of stuck on that. I will be using this text often as an aid, thank you.

by rowyourboat » Tue Aug 04, 2009 3:37 am

some people do experience moments of deep insight suddenly- they are however unstable because there is no gradual buildup- the yogi is not prepared for it and so it can seem disturbing-in that sense they are superficial. this is in a way, the mind showing us what it is capable of- typically happens in samadhi/unified states like the one you mentioned. nothing to worry about- the fear was because it felt wierd. just remember that even the fear arises and passes away. it is unlikely to happen repeatedly. I have heard of people experiencing non-self in this manner. Nothing gets us back to the ignorance (also known as 'normality') like indulging in some sense pleasures during such moments! But you should take this as a sign that your mind can give rise to deep insight and work with an insight meditation teacher.


I was just about to ask for a text on the unified states of samadhi that might be helpful, do you know of any?


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