Odd experiences in meditation

Abstract Buddha Face BackgroundI get a lot of people writing and asking about unusual experiences they’ve had, often on a consistent basis, in meditation. Sometimes they’re worried, and sometimes I think they’re hoping that these are signs that they’re enlightened, or close to it, or that they have meditation superpowers. Those hopes and fears are quite understandable.

Here’s a selection of some of the things people have described. I’ve put them into groups, and I’ll discuss each type separately. I’ll say upfront, though, that I can never be 100% confident I’ve categorized these experiences correctly. After all I’m having to interpret other people’s experiences, often from descriptions that are unclear.

Swirling lights, etc.

  • During my sit I saw a bright white/yellow circle shape flash of light in between my eyebrows (closed eye meditation). The light came rushing at me and filled my vision then vanished. While very interesting, it actually freaked me out a bit.
  • I’ve had noises so loud in one ear they made me jump, lights, weird visual things, feelings of floating or expanding or shrinking – just every now and then.
  • While i meditate in complete darkness i notice swirling of lights. The longer or deeper the meditation the color changes. I noticed it would go from a red, to orange, up to indigo.
  • When I feel Im getting deep I can see bright purple colors swirling about. Ive tried for a long time to find out if there is a meaning to this.
  • I have had a recurrent experience during meditation. These involve being completely absorbed by an intense yellow vibrating light, qualitatively ecstatic or electric.
  • i meditate in the dark. when i open my eyes and i look at my hands i can see like smoke coming out at the tip of my fingers.it look like when you get out of a really hot bath and you got steam on your skin
  • I have experienced a similar meditation twice where I am going deep…seeing stars/universes… colors…then silence…and stillness (void?) and then I am aware of a medallion that looks like it is made of stone with low and high relief with a face on it.

The swirling lights are quite common, especially in people who are relatively new to meditation, and sometimes when people do more meditation than usual. The term I was taught for these is a “samāpatti.” This term is not used in the way it is in Theravadin Buddhism, and I believe it comes from a Chinese Chan tradition. Anyway, the name doesn’t matter too much.

These experiences tend to arise when people are starting to get a bit more concentrated and they are thinking less. They’re nothing to worry about. You’re not going crazy if you see swirling lights. They’re also nothing to get excited about either. No, you’re not on the verge of enlightenment.

What I think is going on is that there’s a kind of dreamy state of mind combined with mild sensory deprivation. People in sensory deprivation tanks tend to have similar experiences. So what’s probably happening here is that the mind is becoming quiet, but it’s not used to being quiet, and it creates these odd sensations. They’re mild hallucinations, in other words — although don’t be alarmed by that word. We all hallucinate every night, when we’re dreaming, and most of us hallucinate during the day as well, when we’re having conversations with other people in our heads. The good thing is that we don’t believe these hallucinations are real.

What to do about these odd sensations? Just note them, and keep going with the practice. See if you can notice the sensations of the body and the breathing more clearly, so that your mind is filled with sensory experience rather than deprived of it.

If you let your mind get absorbed in these sensations it’ll stop you going deeper into meditation.

Symbols and Synesthesia

  • The breath became a shiny reflective surface, a cold metallic grey colour. Then faded after 5 minutes or so.
  • Sometimes it happens that there is a moment during a sit, when the type of experience changes in a way that can be hard to describe (but I’ll try anyway). It’s as if one sinks a fraction deeper into the seat, and is surrounded by a bubble. There is no desire to finish the sit.
  • Today, and I have noticed on previous occasions, when the allotted time for meditation has expired, I sometimes get “stuck”, in a nice way. I feel the urge to move, but it passes just like an urge to itch. Eventually, I “decide” that it is time to move on. But it has a different quality to it than the urge that comes from a timer.
  • Becoming aware of the continuity of the breath created an infinity symbol for me to flow along, never ending. … I feel like my whole body is breathing.
  • I reach a certain point where it feels like I’m acutely aware of my body while being outside of it, like I’m watching it from physically far away.
  • After about 10 minutes or so I flowed into self metta and when the gong rang I felt/saw golden light in and around me.
  • [I saw] some teal and purple circular coloring that I think has to do with retinal pressure. It responds to my movements, mostly breathing and pulse, generally as shrinking concentric blobs alternating between the two colors … it lets me know that I’ve found a good relaxed alertness balance and that my focus is refined enough to notice it.

Some of these might sound similar to the samāpattis above (and in fact it can be hard to know what’s going on in someone else’s experience) but I think these are all what we call nimittas. The word nimitta means “sign” or “hint” and these experiences are all signs that we’re getting deeper into meditation. In contrast to samāpattis, you should pay attention to these sensations, because they’ll take you deeper into meditation. They’re “signs” in the same way that a glimmer of light in a dark cave is a sign showing you where the exit is; more toward the glimmer of light and it takes you closer to the exit, which in the case of meditation is jhāna, or absorption. The Buddha actually described jhāna as the “escape from a confined space.”

In some of these cases it’s not hard to see that the nimitta is connected with the object of the meditation, or some other positive quality that’s emerging in the meditation. For example a feeling of love is perceived as a golden light, or stillness is perceived as a sinking into the seat or as an inability to move. The continuous flow of the breathing is perceived as a visual or tactile infinity symbol.

These experiences seem to be to be similar to synesthesia. Synesthesia is a state where sensory information in one form is perceived in another. A common type is where people sense words of numbers as having colors attached to them. Estimates of the incidence of synesthesia vary from 1 in 23 to 1 in 2,000 (thanks, Wikipedia). I think many of us have weak synesthetic tendencies, but that the synesthetic signals, being weak, are drowned out by other, stronger experiences (thoughts, feelings, etc.). It’s only when we’re still, and the mind is calm, that these experiences emerge.

Synesthetic nimittas are useful because they are a form of feedback. Paying more attention to a subtle synesthetic signal that arises in our experience as the mind is calming encourages the mind to become even calmer, and so the synesthetic signal becomes stronger. It’s like walking toward the glimmer of light in the cave, and seeing it get brighter.

Sometimes nimittas can take the form of visual symbols. Unlike the swirling lights they’re stable and very, very clear. They can seem more vivid than your experience of the outside world.

So pay attention to nimittas (and learn to distinguish them from samāpattis).

One last thing: People who are prone to having samāpattis when they first take up meditation are also prone to experiencing vivid nimittas once their meditation is a bit more established.

Distorted Body Sensations

  • 26 minute sit. Feeling of extreme spaciousness in the beginning and like my hands were infinitely small.
  • Notable sensations: being very small and yet infinite, as if pulled 35 degrees up to the right 4 feet away.
  • I had that strange sensation of body distortion again. This time, it felt as if my legs were huge and the rest of my body very small. I got a very funny image of what I looked like according to my distorted perception. Then the sensation faded after a few minutes and I moved on to Metta Bhavana.
  • I don’t know how long I sat, but it was very peaceful and I felt myself expand a little beyond my normal sense of where my body boundaries are. At a certain point my hands and lips felt like they were growing very fat, which was interesting to observe (for example the thought really crossed my mind, unconvincingly, that maybe my lips really were swelling up).
  • I have had the “swelling sensation” in my hands before during meditation and I always find it fascinating. It feels very real, like my body is expanding beyond itself and sometimes I feel tempted to open my eyes and double check.
  • A few years ago when I was first learning to meditate I had an a experience doing mindfulness of breathing where I felt my legs begin to melt. It totally freaked me out causing me to open my eyes and stop the meditation. When I did that, the feeling immediately stopped and I’ve never had anything like that since.

These are also nimittas, but I’ve singled them out because I think they arise a bit differently. Mostly these involve a loss of the normal boundaries of the body. This might actually involve the loss of perceptual “filters.” Some parts of the body, like the hands and lips, have vastly more nerve endings than other body parts. In fact if your sense of how big various body parts are was proportional to the amount of sensory information being received in the brain from each part you’d feel like your body was like this:

Cortical homunculus by stormthor on deviantART

Which is pretty much how the body can feel sometimes in meditation. Why don’t we feel that the hands and lips are huge all the time? I think it’s because there’s a “correction filter” in the brain that “scales” body parts and makes the internal feeling of the body correspond more closely to the external visual appearance that we see. In meditation it seems that these filters are dropped, and we experience the body more as it is. And so the lips and hands feel large, for example.

Another (possibly related) mechanism is that there is a part of the brain (the parietal lobes) that keep track of the spatial orientation of the body and of parts of the body relative to each other. It’s been observed by neuroscientists that in some forms of meditation the parietal lobes become less active, and so our perception of the body changes. The nimittas that these changes are associated with don’t lead directly to jhāna, however, but to what are called in the scriptures the “formless spheres” (āyatanas). You’ve probably heard them called the “formless jhānas” or “higher jhānas” but that’s not a term the Buddha used, and they’re distinct experiences from the jhānas proper.

At the point these distorted bodily sensations emerge, you can choose to ignore them and head instead for the jhānas by focusing more intently on the breathing, or you can stick with them and see what happens. (It can take you into some really weird experiences that mess with your sense of self — in a good way!)

I feel prīti, oh, so prīti

  • After the counting was done and Bodhi’s voice was telling me to observe how I felt I noticed that my mind was calm, there were lights around me and my body felt energised so all-in-all it was a positive experience.
  • Perhaps it was my particular state of mind tonight, but I dissolved easily into simply being aware of my breathing. Hands and feet felt quite warm.
  • During the counting of the in-breaths I was getting real rushes of energy to the point where it was a little uncomfortable. At one point ( not sure which stage ) I had the strange sensation of my mind being stuck/jammed.
  • I felt an uncontrollable wave of extremely strong energy. It felt almost good , but in a sense too powerful – pure pleasure.. I tried to just experience it as is but then felt myself getting physically aroused which freaked me out because I was in public with a large group. I then tried to control it and found it very difficult to do so.
  • During the meditation, I feel tingling in my hands and feet. Is this normal?
  • Certainly I’ve felt a tingling sensation that generally starts in my lower spine and spreads over my whole body

We call this energy pīti (Pāli) or prīti (Sanskrit). It’s one of the factors of jhāna, and it’s a good thing! This kind of energy arises when we’re becoming more sensitized to the sensations of the body because the mind is becoming calmer. Also, because the body is relaxing, there’s a release of tension. The effect can be of tingling, or of rushing energy. Sometimes the pīti manifests as warmth. It can be very pleasant. But it can also be a bit much. If the pīti does get too intense, then focus more on the experience of joy, which will almost certainly be present as well.

Pīti is, in a way, another nimitta, but a very specific one.

Sensations of Pressure

  • Another strange sensation I had during today’s meditation was pressure on the eye balls, just like fingers pressing. It was near the start of the meditation and only lasted 30 seconds or so. Another new sensation. In the end I found myself feeling pretty relaxed.
  • I have developed a feeling of pressure in my head–sometimes in my forehead or scalp, sometimes more in my face. At times it is quite strong and unpleasant.
  • I have noticed that I get quite hot, develop damp skin, and recently have felt a pressure in the top of my head, as though something is trying to burst out. It is not painful, just unusual, and not a serious distraction.
  • I have physical sensation in my body, rising pressure in stomach, sometimes shaking, right now I always notice that and let that sensations to pass.
  • i also was feeling 2 points of pressure on my chest (i cant think of another word to describe it)
  • I feel pressure, not pleasurable or painful, just pressure, on the middle of my forehead. I this normal, or is it something I should be worried about?

This is something I’ve never experienced myself. I suspect that these are nimittas, and that the only problem with them is freaking out about them. If you experience these, please relax and be aware that the sensation of pressure is just a sensation like any other. It’s not going to hurt you. I’m told that relaxing the muscles in the head helps, and that the sense of pressure can have a stabilizing effect on your attention, as with any other nimitta.

158 Comments. Leave new

Hello Bodhipaksa,

This morning after i finish my 1 hour meditation, i go to my bed to rest then suddenly my ears hear a noise sound (noisy sound like higher frequency sound maybe) i ignore it but then i feel electricity surround my body to my leg, i cant move any part of my body but i feel aware of the feeling, It happens for few minutes. I felt a bit scared when that happen because its my first time.


I doubt if the two things are directly related, Antony. It’s quite common to hear tinnitus-like sounds under certain circumstances. Some people get them during meditation, and it may be related to blood pressure changes, or perhaps it’s just because it’s quiet and they’re paying attention :)

Feelings of tingling in the body are also very common. It’s discussed above as “piti.” It’s nothing to worry about, and in fact it’s a good sign.


Thank you Bodhipaksa.


You’re welcome!


I almost passed out while meditating… Something very strange happened last night. I sat on the chair and was listening to music, my focus was on my body starting from my toes going up. I felt a buzz pulsing through me and wondered if i could feel my hart beat if i focused on it… Everything dissipated at that moment it was like I got to a point where the surge of energy that i was experiencing go more and more intense. I though i was going through some kind of deep meditation experience but it just got so intense that i almost passed out, my hearing got dull and i freaked out. opened my eyes and stood up. At that moment i though i was dreaming, walked around and reassured myself that this is real.. the sensation was still there for a few minutes. My face was bleak and it felt very strange… I don’t know what happened but if i didn’t snap out of it i was sure i would have passed out completely. This was the first time it has happened.


I can’t really say what was going on, Roald. It may just be that you were falling asleep.


I just started to meditate, & when I meditate I’ve been seeing smoke & like explosion smoke. Is that normal ?


Yes, indeed, Bernie. That kind of experience is covered above.


What does it mean ?


Hi, Bernie. Go back and read the three paragraphs beginning with “What I think is going on is that there’s a kind of dreamy state of mind combined with mild sensory deprivation….”


It was lovely to read everyone’s experiences , I have been meditating since 2years. Am happy to be on this journey , have had many of such experiences but feel everything passes ,I feel a peaceful corner inside myself , which seems to be getting bigger by time. Before wanted to know answers to all experiences but lately don’t feel any need for any more answers . That peaceful corner says, all that you need you will get , and all you need to know u will know.

I felt gratitude for Bodhipaksa as on this journey sometimes one gets discouraged if you don’t get answers and you might leave the path . The path that can bring the ultimate to you.



You’re welcome, Preeti. I like your attitude. Pretty much any experience in meditation is OK as long as you don’t either panic about it or become inflated about it. I sense that a lot of the people commenting here are either afraid or looking for confirmation that they’re “special.”


I’m so glad I found this post! I had an experience recently and wasn’t sure what to make of it. While lying in savasana, a pinprick of light traveled from my forehead to my right eye. Somehow I felt it was a signal for me to open my eyes, which I did. I saw a circle of golden/yellow light on the ceiling above me. It seemed to “breathe” and it was almost as if small shoots or beams of light wrapped around to touch my head. A thought came to me. “There is more than here” and I was overcome with emotion. When I opened my eyes again, the light was gone. I checked the room, windows, etc for a “logical” explanation. It is so wonderful to read about others experiences and hear that these are normal samapatti, as you explained. To be honest, I wondered if I was going a little bonkers ;)

Thanks for all the helpful information!


Hi Bodhipaksa

First of all, a big thanks to you for putting up an excellent website and thread. It feels nice to be able to relate out own experiences with others.

I am from India and I practice dark, silent meditation. I do it around 3AM to 4AM with ear buds in my ear and eyes closed sitting in a dark room.

I am fairly new to meditation and I am not able to contemplate my experiences. I try to think (gently though) one small body part like a finger and after few minutes the finger gets stiff and if I think of whole hand after this, my complete hand gets stiff and also I feel a gentle push upwards and my hand automatically rises above the hand rest on chair. Then if I continue to put my consciousness on hand, I start feeling some sensations like something wants to get out. After a few minutes I feel a deep sensation of coolness and relief in body (kind of same feeling as peeing after holding it for a long time) and all of a sudden all stiffness in my hand disappears and it gets very gentle as if I am totally relaxed at this moment.

After 4-5 sessions, I am able to achieve the above experience easily in both my hands. And once I am in meditation for 20-30 mins, I can easily trigger the stiffness in any of my fingers at will followed by the sensation of coolness in body which I DON’T understand a bit.

The same happens when I concentrate in the middle of forehead, I would feel gentle stiffness and some dark unstructured tunnel appears before my eyes, and as I follow it through the end (which never appears), I feel the same coolness sensation in the whole body after a few mins.

So, what is that coolness sensation ?


May 3, 2015 5:13 pm

Hi, Nikhil.

You should really ask whoever it is that’s teaching you meditation.

All the best,


Haha.. I am just following my consciousness and let it go roam inside my body.

May 3, 2015 7:30 pm

In that case I’d suggest taking up an actual meditation practice, seeing what happens, and then asking for advice if you need any.


It’s probably none of my business, but I’m sensing some frustration in your responses. Perhaps you would benefit from taking a break from posting? Judging those that ask you questions as being either too fearful or arrogant/wanting to be special, helps no one (even if it is often true) Please don’t feel the need to post this. It’s not my intention to be combative or embarrass you publicly, but I thought maybe it might help for me to reach out.
Best wishes to you :)


Thanks, Angela. I have to confess it’s often rather tedious having long, rambling, “colorful” descriptions of people’s meditations, especially when they don’t even get around to saying what meditation they’re doing. I’m sympathetic both to people who are hopeful of receiving confirmation that they’re “special” and especially toward those who are fearful, but I don’t think it’s unhelpful to call out those motivations.


Oh, and it can also be tedious receiving enquiries from those who don’t bother to read the articles they’re commenting on, in which they’d often find the answers they’ve been looking for :)


* to the moderation queue :) *
Sorry Bodhipaksa… i think i’m one of these colorful writers :)
The web is full of “10 steps to success” blogs that offers guidance in meditation too, then is refreshing to find a website like yours
Thanks for this wonderful resource

May 5, 2015 8:07 am

Hi, Ciccio!

And you’re out of the moderation queue :)

When I said “colorful,” I was thinking of people who write about their “third eye” etc., rather than simply describing their experience. In other words, a lot of people dive straight into interpreting experience rather than simply describing it. (Seriously, I’ve been a Buddhist for over 30 years and the Buddha said nothing about “third eyes”!)

While I appreciate what I think Angela was trying to do, sometimes it seems like some people have rather strong views about what Buddhist teachers should and shouldn’t say. Expressing frustration is apparently frowned upon. However, if you read the Buddhist scriptures it seems that the Buddha liked a good rant from time to time, and he seems to have used language that would shock many “nonjudgemental” Buddhists. He didn’t mind calling people “fools” or “worthless” if he thought they needed taken down a peg or two. Not that I’d use that kind of language myself, but I will continue to express frustration when I think it’s warranted.

And thank you for your comments. It’s nice to receive appreciative feedback.



I attended vipassana meditation for 7 days. On 6th day, I had a sense of some energy flowing from back of spine till back of my throat and then it would bend my neck backwards(which is an actual movement and not some thing I perceive in my brain). I had this many times on that day and next day even though I was not meditating but like sitting in garden. I asked the teacher, she was not able to explain it to me and did not convince me that it is normal. I saw that everybody around me in that class was sitting calmly. While my neck would go backward again and again. Not just that, my lips would twitch, my eye lids would open and close at a very fast rate and all of them are actual movements that others could see. I did not understand how to continue the meditation and I left the 10-day course on 7th day!

Then, I came back home not understanding what to do. But, I wanted to meditate.

Then, again after a month or so I just sat for 2-3 min and started concentrating on the point between the eyebrows and the same energy would flow from spine to back of throat and would bend my neck backwards. I kept on doing meditation whenever I make time for it and I get lot of body movements like shaking etc. I feel there is some kind of knot behind my throat and it pains sometimes. Sometimes, sth makes me lie down from sitting position. Is this all common?
Sometimes, when I just sit at my desk at computer and keep my spine straight, the energy rises up again and bends my neck backward. So, in my daily life, sometimes I am afraid to keep even my spine straight!

I want to go join some meditation course to answer my queries etc and to keep continuing. But, I am afraid that how can I meditate in a group when I am having lot of body movements while others are just experiencing it inside? This is kind of stopping me. Please suggest what I can do.


Hi, Mimi.

Apologies for the very late reply. Sometimes a whole bunch of very long comments get backed up when I’m busy, and I then have the task of reading and replying to four or five thousand words of questions, which is rather daunting, and sometimes impractical given all the other things I do.

What you’re experiencing is a form of pīti (prīti in Sanskrit). This can manifest in many different ways, from mild tingling in the muscles and skin of the hands (or other parts of the body) to rushes of energy (plus or minus twitching) to the whole body being filled with pleasurable energy. Generally piti is pleasant, although sometimes it can become too intense and be so strong that it’s unpleasant. It can also manifest as twitches that aren’t accompanied by any pleasurable sensation at all. This is all normal.

For a couple of years I developed a twitch in my back that would arise when I meditated or even just got into a relaxed state. The rhythm was very steady, and there was no pleasure. It felt like my spine was trying to “fix” itself, somehow, and in fact when I went to a chiropractor it turned out that I had a misaligned vertebra in the part of the spine where the twitch was taking place. So I think my hunch was right, and that my spine was trying to realign itself. I now go to the chiropractor monthly, and haven’t experienced this twitch in years. One time my spine spontaneously relaxed in meditation, and I would have intensely pleasurable piti in my spine on and off for months. It was so intense that it sometimes felt dangerous to drive.

Anyway, it may not be that your neck is trying to realign itself, but that’s a possibility you could look into. It’s more likely that there is an initial flow of energy in the spine, and that your body is tensing in response to that. Because the muscles on the back of the neck are stronger than those on the front, the neck curves backward. I’d suggest (if this is still going on) seeing if you can notice the underlying sense of energy separate from the movement, and accept it as a normal part of meditation. It’s not something to be concerned about.

Also, since piti is one of the jhana factors, you might want to look for and cultivate the other factors. It’s likely that your meditation is in a chronic state of imbalance. To give a quick and dirty explanation of the other factors, you need to look and see whether the mind mind is calm. Are you generally excited in your meditation, or is the mind generally settled? If you’re often excited and uncalm, then work at being more mindful of the sensations of the body and of the breathing and let your mind settle. The other thing to look out for is joy. If there’s an absence of joy, then let yourself relax mentally, become more playful, and enjoy your meditation. Once the piti starts, notice it and accept it, but start to focus more on the feeling of joy. The problem is that you’re probably focusing on the piti in a way that intensifies it, and being more aware of joy will take the heat off by dividing your attention.

If you’ve found this advice helpful, please be aware that it takes a considerable amount of time to read and reply to comments like these. I’ve spent around half an hour on your query. If you’d like to make a donation to support our work, feel free. I’d suggest something in the region of $20 to $30. By comparison, you’d spend $200 to get a plumber to step through your door, or a chiropractor $45 to spend ten minutes working on your body.



I used to meditate earlier for long time and had all those lighting experiences, universe, stars n everything. After a gap of few months of no mediation whenever I try to meditate in few minutes, when I am
About to approach a calm state, my heart beat goes up and starts pounding. I tried ignoring that but then I felt numbness around my nose and feels like m short of breadth. What’s happening? Any suggestions Sir?


Hi, Nick.

It sounds like you’re having panic attacks. I’ve really no idea why, I’m afraid. Presumably some part of your brain has developed the idea that a calm state of mind is a threat in some way. This may be because you have conditioned yourself to think that there are threats in life that you must be aware of, and that if you’re calm you’ll no longer be scanning for potential danger. In this way, calmness itself becomes see as dangerous and threatening.

All I can suggest is that you try approaching a meditative state in a very gradual way. Spend some time just relaxing, while sitting in an armchair or lying on the floor. Spend time idly looking out of the window. Let your mind relax and calm just a little, so that you condition your mind to see calmness and relaxation as positive things.

Notice when, or if, anxiety starts to arise as you do this. Let the mind observe the anxiety rather than participate in it. Send yourself reassuring thoughts, such as “It’s OK. There’s nothing to fear. Everything’s going to work out fine.”

Do feel free to let me know how you get on.


Thank you, Bodhipaksa, this is the closest answer to a question I’ve been trying to find an answer for! I’m new to meditation, and during my session today, while extremely relaxed and drifting, something screamed at me to come out and pulled me to a highly alerted state!

I don’t think I’m special or finding enlightenment ;p I was honestly curious as to why, when I was finally calm and relaxed, something ripped me from it. I do live in an heightened, alert state almost every waking minute…but I will definitely take your recommendations to this poster and practice them myself, thank you!


Hello Bodhipaksa

Thank you for the article and website. It is actually quite helpful for people like myself who are meditating with no formal training or guru. Also, it was nice to read everyone’s comment and experiences. My post is also about fear based experience like most of them. A little background about myself, I try to follow Zen way of meditation. (it’s not accurate to call it zazen as I have invented my own little tricks and twists). I have been meditating for about 3 years and I have had experiences prior practicing meditation (since the day I found out, truth actually exist). I don’t have any other carrier path than to find out what is real? And I am willing to die for it. Anyway coming back to meditation, I have no problem sitting in meditation for an hour or longer. My problem now is the extreme heat, energy and vibration (pīti like you said). The energy and vibrations have gotten so strong and powerful that it sometime is difficult to continue meditation. The energy inside my body (arms, spine, stomach, neck, legs, genitals mostly etc.) and around me, I can feel them all day long even when I am not meditating (crawling sensation, something moving inside and around the body etc.) I can feel them as I write this post. The more I concentrate at this moment, the more it comes to me. It is even difficult to sleep. Also this thing happens to me often in sleep, it’s hard to explain accurately but this thing shoots up from spine or stomach and moves up with high speed, and I am taken somewhere (place, event, people… random) and I forget about my identity (myself… name, person, and I am sleeping which I remembered prior takeoff ) and different things happen. Sometimes it’s physically painful while that thing shoots up during sleep. I try not to be afraid but here I am…. scared, fearful .
Thank you
Good luck to everyone on their journey.


Hi, Mike.

Sorry for taking two months to respond! It’s been a busy summer.

I’ve found that the solution for two much pīti is to focus instead on sukha, or joy. But since you’re “doing your own thing” rather than following an established form, and (presumably) working without guidance (otherwise you’d have asked your teacher about this rather than me) it’s possible that you’re meditating in a way that’s creating imbalances and leading you down an ecstatic meditative path (as is common in Hinduism) rather than down a mindful/concentrative path (which is the Buddhist way). No knowing in detail what you’re doing, I’m not in a position to say.


These days, I have been fesling thoroughly lost and confused from meditation. But actually I’m not even sure if it’s from meditation. It feels like I have fallen into a depression pit. Conflicting negative thoughts keep whirling around in my head. And I am consciously aware of them in my daily life that sometimes I find it hard to concentrate on other things. It’s like I’m living in my head most of the time. I even get really dark and harmful thoughts and I’m so scared I will fall to insanity. I get doubtful of whether I’m going down the wrong path in meditation and question myself if I should even continue. But I’m scared if I do not meditate, I will get anxious and nervous. I try so hard to be positive and just let the thoughts roll but it’ll keep coming. I don’t know what I’m doing now is right or wrong. I really need help here, please.


Hi, Grace.

You should really talk to a therapist to help you work through these difficult experiences. What you’re describing sounds quite serious, and you need to seek solid support rather than just ask questions on a blog.

All the best,


Hi , it’s very good website full of information ,thanks . I seek ur assistance n would try to be brief , I am experiencing strange things from last 6 months ,like mood swings,getting irritated ,in second week of June I I thought to start meditation to feel relaxed ,I wAtched video on you tube spiritual reality n listened to binaural beats . Most of the good things I have experienced like floating,sinking ,hearing bells and seeing flashes of white light , body shaking , vibrations and smelling different smells, seeing red n yellow light , seeing different people in meditation, one night I am falling from sky full of stars , I see white light when I am sleeping.i hear resonance , chimes, wind n thunder , one day recently I could hear wind from right ear n forehead , I feel tingling sensation in neck ,face forehead n head. Many other experiences , Like pressure in third eye I also feel someone softly touching my ears, neck ,forehead And neck also I night time I feel some knock at door n some energy enter my body from my foot , also I get feeling someone turn my room light on and tell me to start meditation (not sure if it’s spiritual or angelic touch or something evil) now things which scare me a bit is when I stared meditation in second week of June I heard voices like someone knocking the door, crying , someone talking in different language on my left ear side , whisper I my right ear when in train , someone calling my name in crowd , some called my name in right ear while meditating , one day after meditation I felt someone breathing loudly on right hand side ,one night I knew I am going to have good session however I felt someone walking outside n knocking my window it was so loud I had to finish meditation , one night while sleeping I had strong vibrations if I was going to have an OBE but my son wake up so my vibrations subsided again i hear someone breathing in my room . I often hear loud voice n it disturb me . I always pray before meditation to spirits guides n ask for energies of highest good only n also visualise a white light protection around me n my house but still I hear voices which make me feel scared of doing meditation . Last weekend I was sick laying in bed doing meditation I think I fall asleep and heard someone moving in my bed first I thought it’s hubby but he was talking in living room someone came on top of my whole body I tried to remote quilt from my body 3 times no success finally fourth time I was able to remove quilt from my face and no one was around . Plz help me why it’s happening to me , is it evil spirits , good spirits or is this my mind playing with me . I want to continue my practice but because of this fear sometime I open my eyes 3-4 times in meditation to make sure no one is around . Hope to hear from you soon . Regards kamal


At over 500 words, Kamal, your “brief” comment is longer than I have the time to read right now, never mind respond to in detail. If your meditation practice consists of listening to “binaural beats” then perhaps you should be asking the creators of the music for advice.


Hello Grace
It’s okay to be lost and confused, no worries! The human mind is the most complex machine on earth but I doubt your confusion is from meditation. Meditation brings you clarity, it’s brings you out from the filth of ignorance and miasma.
Do you feel or know for sure that you have fallen into depression pit? Look more closely, examine it, look it from all sides, attack it, counter-attack it. Figure it out for yourself. Everything disintegrates under scrutiny. Probably, It’s all because of those “conflicting negative thoughts” (and aren’t they always conflicting) and that’s why we meditate. You are in control here, you are powerful, disown those “conflicting negative thoughts”, in fact disown all the thoughts, try to detach yourself (which is hard at first, but it’s a game you will love) and let those demons/gibberish thoughts go back to whatever planets they came from. Breathe more, drink more water, fall in love with yourself, let go fully, live fully…. It’s a beautiful world we live in and most of the people live in there head, look around you will see people lives and thoughts on auto pilot, I suggest you not to let those thoughts dictate your life.
According to Buddha, DOUBT is one of the five hindrances in the progress of meditation, and I don’t think you are going down the wrong path in meditation. BE DELIGENT, and cosmos shall clear your path.
And I am pretty sure if you don’t meditate you will get anxious, nervous and restless… which according to Buddha is due to the inability to calm the mind.
Don’t try to be positive, just be positive. It’s within your power, take control of yourself and yes those thoughts will keep coming, that’s the beauty of this game, you can play it anytime, all the time :) but don’t get in the street fight with those thoughts, it’s of no significance.
You said “I don’t know what I’m doing now is right or wrong” and Alexander Pope said “one truth is clear, whatever is, is right”. Nothing is ever wrong, nothing can be wrong. Wrongness is simply not possible except in mind.
Take refuge in meditation, fear not, desire not.
Be well


Hi there Mike,
I certainly agree that the mind is indeed complex. When I try to ‘disown my thoughts’, my mind would start contradicting me and say: “then wouldn’t I be left with nothing inside me? Won’t I have no thought at all?” That’s how confusing my mind can be. But what you have said have given me reassurance and comfort. I would continue to persevere and seek the light and love. Thank you very much for your response.

With gratitude,


Hi Bodhipaksa

I don’t quite get it when u say it ‘sounds quite serious’, is it the intensity of my problems? Of that I’m going down the wrong way? Unfortunately, I won’t be able to get to a therapist.
But Thanks anyway


Saying that you’re “feeling thoroughly lost and confused,” that you’ve “fallen into a depression pit,” and that you “get really dark and harmful thoughts” that you think might lead you to insanity is what I was describing as “serious.” It’s up to you whether you seek effective help. Unfortunately it’s not likely that you’re going to get the kind of help you need from a comment on a blog post.


Hi Bodhipaksa,
Thank you for your indepth post.
Im new to meditation, and at the moment only do it once a week. On my first session lying down my left arm flexed 90 degrees unconsciously. The second session sitting i experienced strong feelings of motion sickness and got very hot, both around 30 minutes in. This lasted for the rest of the session (60mins). On my third session (lying) i experienced a bright white flash of light around 10 mins into a 20 min session. Each week i write down my experiences and then move on, so not focus on them at each session. I would love to hear your thoughts on this and if there is any meaning behind the sensations?


Hi, Natasha.

There’s no particular “meaning” to what you’re describing. Random and involuntary movements of the body can sometimes happen in meditation. They’re nothing to be concerned about, but they’re also nothing particularly special. Sometimes the body wants to release tension; sometimes it wants to be sitting in a different posture. Just accept these movements if they happen again, and you’ll be fine.

The flash of light you experienced is covered under the heading of “samapattis”, above. It’s a good sign in that your mind is probably getting quieter, but at the same time this kind of visual effect isn’t very settling, so make sure that you stay focused on the purpose of the practice, and in that way stabilize and calm the mind.


I had a profound experience today when I meditated that I have never experienced before. I felt my head moving ..as if I wasn’t controlling it. Then I felt my left arm lift off the arm of the chair. I wasn’t controlling it …it was like and unforeseen force was controlling it ..then my right arm lifted ..then both arms were being raised. It was really strange. Then at the end both arms went down and I felt like they were very heavy and SO relaxed and my chin went down to my chest and I felt blackness all around me. But it was a very comforting feeling. I felt I had no control over my head and my arms. I was wondering why this happened and what category this would fall under.


Hi, Sara.

It’s not exactly common to have involuntary movements of the body take place while meditating, but it’s not extremely rare either. Actually, we only ever think that there is conscious voluntary control of the body. Next time you’re walking down the street, catch yourself in motion and notice that there are no voluntary instructions being given to the body. Your legs are working all on their own :)

Judging by the sense of comfort and calm you felt, I’d say this is a nimitta. So it’s a good sign. This is obviously not something you can consciously try to make happen again, of course! If it does, then just accept it. It’s not in itself anything special, but it’s a sign that the mind is approaching a jhana (i.e. a deeper meditative) state.


Dear Bodhipaksa, I am curious your opinion of negative energies affecting a person during meditation, especially when the “3rd eye” is involved. Also if needling the 3rd eye in acupuncture treatments can open a person to negative entities, if they are unaware/unprepared for the spiritual implications of the supposed “activating” of 3rd eye area. I do not meditate and have not believed in things like this until being deeply thrust into all this (that your article describes) from receiving acupuncture treatments. Just curious what your thoughts are.


I’m afraid I have no idea what a “third eye” is, Eva. It’s certainly not something that the Buddha taught. I also have no knowledge of acupuncture, so I’m afraid I can’t attempt to answer your question.


Every time i meditate i have numbness in my body in 5 min.By numbness means i stop feeling the existence of my body specially legs and hands.my chest and spinal cord become extremely tight and still,and feels like my chest is shrinking and i have difficulty maintaining my breath.it happens all the time and my frequency of breathing increases and small in time .there is a sensation of constraint on my body as itvhas stuck ,specially my neck which does not move and bexomes extremely hard, and i feel the muscles inside my head …. And yhen the body seems like it is in a cage trying to break free and i freak out..dumb me

So is it normal …


Hi, Rishabh.

This doesn’t sound good. Ideally in meditation you’d develop more body awareness, and although there may be tensions to work through you’d generally become more relaxed. You don’t mention what kind of meditation you’re doing, where you learned, or what your teacher has said about this. If you’re trying to learn without guidance, I’d strongly suggest that you stop, and practice with a teacher who can give you support, encouragement, and advice.


Hello Bodhipaksa – Just started mindfulness meditation. I feel continuous pressure and air noise in both of ears. is this normal? It is not inconvenient.


It could be tinnitus, Vega. You might want to get your ears checked. We have an article on the subject of tinnitus here.


I posted on Oct 27th 2014 about my experience but you did not make a comment. I have never done any meditation until a 10 day Vippassana retreat. It was on about the 6th day that I had the above experience. I have been through all your comments in this blog and the closest thing that I think may relate to my experience is your comment here:

” It’s not uncommon for the sense of our body shape and sense of separation from the world around us to change (even to disappear) during meditation. It’s a good sign, in fact. In certain forms of meditation there’s less activity in the parietal lobes of the brain, which maintain our spatial sense, and this leads to these experiences.”

You also made another comment about “Ayatana”. I tried to do a Google search to better understand this concept and have ordered some books that might help.

My question is: When you have no awareness of your body in any way, is it then possible to have no thoughts as well? If this is possible, then what would make you come out of this state?

When I was in that state, I found myself thinking why would this state ever change? I seemed to bring myself out of this state by trying to find some part of my body to touch. When I did, the sensation was very heightened, with much more clarity than a normal touch sensation.

Thanks for a wonderful Blog……


Hi, Map.

“When you have no awareness of your body in any way, is it then possible to have no thoughts as well?”

It’s possible to have no thoughts, whether or not you have any awareness of your body. I presume by “thought” you mean “internal self-talk.”

“If this is possible, then what would make you come out of this state?”

That seems like an odd question — as if you’re assuming that thought is the most important thing about us, and that having a prior thought is the only way we can act.

Try observing your experience next time you’re typing, or walking, or driving, or doing anything else, really. Is your experience that no action ever takes place without a thought such as “now my left index finger is going to move up and to the right and then press on the ‘T’ key”? And if you are, essentially in every moment, taking actions without thinking about them first, then why would you assume you’d be unable to stop meditating if there was no thinking going on?

Angela wilkinson
August 16, 2015 12:59 pm

im quite new to mediation find I can easily meditate and relax quickly since the beginning I have been experiencing involuntary movements mainly legs and hips but I get them intensely in my hinds they move quite a lot I also have tingling. Today I have noticed lights behind my eyes bright white to begin with then a vivid orange then a pale purple colour just wondering what they could be .


Hi, Angela.

I cover two of the phenomena you describe — light and tingling — in the article.

Involuntary movements are fairly uncommon in meditation, and nothing to be concerned about. I don’t think anyone knows for sure why they happen, but sometimes it seems that tension is being released. Other times it seems that the body is trying to realign itself. I experienced that many years ago: a twitch in my back was related to a vertebra that was out of alignment, and my back seemed to be trying to straighten itself out.

I’d suggest just accepting that the movements are normal. Just let them happen, but don’t pay particular attention to them either. Instead, just keep on with your practice.

Angela wilkinson
August 16, 2015 1:01 pm

Sorry the above meant to say hands and my arms move also and my neck goes to the right side


Regarding the re-alignment I just talked about, Angela, I found it helpful to go to a chiropractor, who aided me in realigning my spine.


Bodhipaska, I concur with Angela (May 2015). I was shocked to read your April 2015 response, and I agree with her that you may need to take some time away from this discussion due to the frustration we’re causing you.

Or instead, learn where we are coming from: Buddhist leaders and meditation instructors tend to focus on all the trouble we students may have with meditating. It’s rare to be taught what it will feel like when we are “doing it right.” So, I disagree with your rather mean-spirited April statement that people ‘want to feel special.’ Instead, I offer you the thought that these people just may want to be told that they are doing it right; that they are getting from meditation what you get from meditation. Because frankly, you guys never tell us.

And to that end, I was disappointed to read that this article wasn’t written by a Buddhist who experiences these phenomena. And I humbly offer my opinion that your lack of concern to ask more knowledgeable peers before making responses is kind of a complete bummer. Especially regarding the panic attack questions. A little bit of research could really help these kiddos. Panic attacks (and weird meditation experiences) can be frightening experiences and answering willy nilly isn’t helping anyone. Don’t forget, prompt responses aren’t half as important as correct responses. These comment threads exist out here for decades with whatever we’ve said set in stone and, frankly, with little attachment to the articles they began with.

Thank you for allowing me to speak these things, Bodhipaksa. And thank you for allowing all of us to engage in public discourse with you, even when we disagree. I hope to be as open in my own leadership someday.


Hi, Amy.

I re-read my response, and I can’t see anything shocking about it. I can’t see how it’s “mean-spirited” to observe that some people want to feel special at times. Is it your experience that this isn’t the case? Or is it that it’s somehow taboo to mention this phenomenon?

And when you say “I was disappointed to read that this article wasn’t written by a Buddhist who experiences these phenomena” I’m not sure what you mean. Do you mean that you don’t think the article was written by a Buddhist? (I’ve been a Buddhist for decades.) Or that you think I don’t experience “these phenomena” (which phenomena? I’ve had a huge range of experiences over the years I’ve been meditating)?

All the best,


Namaste, in the past few days my mediation has moved to the view of breath to breath becoming a vibration in my forehead and heart. The are synced and start thru my exhale into inhale and exhale become the vibration. Would like to get your thoughts, please.


Hi, Lot. The “vibration” you describe sounds like piti/priti — a pleasurable sense of energy in meditation that can feeling like tingling. The flow of piti that you’re talking about may well constitute a “nimitta,” or an indication that you’re getting close to jhana. It’s a good sign. Just allow it to be there, without trying to make it stronger or trying to hold on to it. Jhana arises when we’re not grasping after anything, so grasping after jhana is counterproductive!


Thank you for the interesting website and you taking the time to answer so many questions from so many people. I have just tried meditation for the first time at home after work and had some swirls, saw myself as a child and I also floated in the stars briefly… Pretty sure I may have dropped off to sleep! :-)
Very enjoyable though


Namaste, would then the meaning of meditation be to reach jhana?


That’s one of the goals, Lot. We also practice meditation in order to become kinder and more compassionate in daily life, and to develop insight.


Namaste, during meditation would you say that chants or tones via vocal cords would be a distraction or a way to channel your energy? I find myself at times using om and others. Thank you!


Nothing is a distraction if we pay attention to it mindfully, Lot. Paying attention to chants and their vibrations is a major part of mantra meditation.


Thank you brother, I know nothing of mantra mediation practices, however OM, an OH seem to be the ones that flow thru the most. If it’s flowing just right, I feel the vibration echo thru my skull. Peace and love is all I feel. As a child of light I ask many questions with very little who can or willing to answer. My unconditional love for all who choose to or not to view this site! And thank you for your time!


I have started meditation long ago because one day sitting on my bed i had this idea … that the greatest wisdom resides in simple things … it awakened my senses to an unusual degree .
I was then interested in meditation and in krishnamurti’s teachings.
now i have some really scary experiences .. i feel like im going out of my body and very strong energy on the surface of my skin in addition to a great fear ” panic” that comes
yesterday i was walking outside and saw a very beautiful view.. it absorbed me to the point i started having tension headaches and felt alienated to the world, disconnected from people and from myself, like i’m a stranger to this world, like if people were not living beings …
I’m afraid of all this please can you help me


I’m sorry to hear that you’re having these unpleasant experiences, Dif. You don’t say what kind of meditation practice you’re doing, or who your teacher is, so I’m guessing that you’ve been “doing your own thing” without guidance. That may, as you’ve found, not be a good idea. I can’t really suggest much except for a) stop doing whatever meditation you’re currently doing, b) see if you can accept the sensations you’re having as normal — it’s OK to experience fear, and there’s no need to be anxious about being anxious, since that just makes things worse, and lastly, 3) if you are going to meditate in the future, make sure you have some guidance and are following a tried and tested path of practice.


Bodhipaska, For the first time during meditation, I immediately picked up the sound of chanting. I did not recognize it, but began humming the tones I was hearing until they faded away and I was in a deep state of relaxation. I also happened to be holding a clear quartz crystal in my left hand. I feel I was guided to your site to ask about it. Any thoughts on what or why this occured? Thank you.


Hi, Susan.

All sorts of odd things can happen during meditation. Sometimes people get into a lucid, but still dream-like state in which mildly hallucinatory experiences can arise. They’re of no significance in themselves, but it’s a sign that you’re getting relaxed, which is good. It also suggests a need to be more rooted in the actual sensations arising in the present moment, though.

BTW, it’s Bodhipaksa, not Bodhipaska :)


My brother, if chants and mantras stir a vibrations within you, what steps can be taken to understand them fully? Namaste, Lot


I m doing meditation since few years and deep mediation for few months. I am now feeling so much activities on my head like something is pulling my hair with force, scratching my scalp with nails, my hair (sometimes even single hair) are being pulled, drilling on my scalp above the ear, crown area and all over the head, something is moving very fast and hard that even now I am feeling so much pressure and cant explain it, earlier it was less, right now even I am not meditating I am feeling the same symptoms more intensely these are now unpleasant, please tell it is mediation symptoms or some neuro disease & I need to visit a doctor for remedy .. please tell


Hi, Sam.

It’s probably not a neurological disease, but one of the “samāpatti” experiences I’ve discussed above. What may be going on is that instead of just letting these sensations be and letting your mind become more engaged with the meditation practice, you’ve been focusing on them in an aversive way and in doing that inadvertently making them stronger. It’s a bit like how when you have your hands full an itch in your face can become very intense because you’re focusing on it — which makes it stronger.

My suggestions? At the start of your meditation, see if you can treat these sensations as normal. Be mindful of them as best you can, and just allow them to be there. Then, just carry on with the meditation practice. Of course you don’t mention what kind of meditation you’re doing (almost no one does!) but I’ll assume that you’re doing some form of mindfulness of breathing because that’s the most common form of practice. So really pay attention to the sensations of the breathing. Breath with the sensations in your scalp, but also really notice how three-dimensional the sensations of the breathing are. You’ll still experience the sensations in your scalp, but that’s OK. Gradually you’ll find that they become less noticeable, and that when they’re present they don’t bother you so much. But don’t be in a hurry for this to happen! Hurrying is just another form of aversion, which will make things worse.


Hi Bodhipaksa,
I just wondered if you or anyone on here has any idea what my following account means. I neither think I’m special or enlightened, I’m just interested.
Several years ago, one late December (I’m not sure this is relevant) having never mediated before, but having felt a compelling urge to do so that I had put off a few times, I decided to do it. I was urged to enter an empty building on my property and lie down, relax, concentrate on my breathing then put energy around my body starting in my little toe and working my way to my head.
I then felt as if I was completely covered in orange energy. I then had extreme clarity in my mind.

I was urged to ask myself my most difficult personal questions and once I had been 100% honest with myself it came to me that the most important thing in the world is honesty. Never lie, exaggerate etc. I had to be brutally honest with myself during this process and deal with things is been avoiding.

I then felt above my chest both good and evil trying to get inside my chest. I had to fight hard for good to come into me, while evil would be easy. After a while good went into me and it was like being hit by lightning in my chest. It lasted for a while of what I imagined to be orange energy entering my chest, it was I now think pure energy from the universe. It was the most intense feeling I’ve ever had, orgasmic times a thousand but not sexual at all.
Once it stopped I was shown the universe and told that everything would be ok. We are all just a small part of a big thing and just do what we can.
I then pulled myself out of the meditation and when I opened my eyes there was an orange light above my chest. I looked around it to see where it was from and touched it. When I touched it, it kind of burst.

Just asking.


I’m unclear why you need someone else’s opinion on your experience, Daniel. You either found it helpful and meaningful or you didn’t. What other people think probably isn’t very important :)


Thanks for replying. I did find it helpful, I was just hoping you could shed some light on what it actually was. Never mind.


Thanks Bodhipaksa,

I shall try not to give attention to feeling on my head area. But it is like little difficult because now even without meditation even if I am working or reading even few sentences those strong sensation and feeling start coming.
In deep mediation , recently, I saw one blue radiating eye 5-6 times and I suddenly distracted from meditation , how to focus then when I am feeling something flowdown on my body (shoudlers/ears/foreherad, back) through my crown/head araes..



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