Wildmind Buddhist Meditation

Mindfulness of Breathing

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Signs of progress in meditation

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  • If you’re here because you’re having odd experiences in meditation, like swirling lights or your body feeling odd, I’d suggest the post I wrote on “Odd experiences in meditation.”
  • When you’re new to meditation you often need some reassurance that you’re on the right path. Often it’s hard to tell whether you are making progress or not. I emphasized earlier that one of the things that will help you to stick with your meditation practice is the ability to notice and appreciate small changes. So here are some of the small changes that you might want to watch out for.

    • Other people noticing that you are changing. Sometimes it’s hard to have a sense of perspective on ourselves. We can easily concentrate on supposed failures to the extent that we completely miss positive changes. Often, my meditation students report that other people notice that they are changing; becoming more relaxed, less reactive, and more friendly.
    • Starting to develop more concentration. You can use the counting to give you a sense of whether you are developing more concentration. Being able to count to ten even once may be a step forward. If you make it to there, then you might want to aim to count to ten three times in a row. You might notice that you have the ability to count continuously and also have a lot of thoughts arising. That’s great! Pay more attention to the fact that you have developed more continuity of awareness than you do to the fact that there are still a lot of stray thoughts.
    • Having interesting experiences in meditation. You may begin to notice unusual things – like a delightful sense of rhythm in your breathing, or the way in which your body subtly moves in response to your heartbeat. These are signs that you are developing more concentration and awareness in meditation, and you would be wise to pay attention to such experiences. Some of the things you might experience might seem a little odd. A common example is seeing patterns of moving lights. This is a good sign, in that you are moving into a deeper state of concentration. But it’s best not to pay much attention to those lights or they will turn into a distraction and slow your progress.
    • Spontaneous resolution of posture problems. Sometimes you’ll notice parts of your body relaxing spontaneously. Sometimes a particular problem you had with your posture might suddenly disappear.
    • Paying more attention to the outside world. It’s a very good sign when you start to slow down and notice the beauty in the world.
    • Noticing your posture more. You may become more aware of your body during the course of the day, and you may notice how awareness of your body grounds you. You may even come to a deeper understanding of how your posture influences your emotions and mind.
    • Noticing you have choices. You may start to notice the gap between stimulus and response, and realize that you have a choice about how to respond. You can choose not to respond habitually, but instead to choose a more appropriate and creative response.
    • Becoming more aware of your actions. Often, before we get to the stage of being aware of our actions before we do them, we start to notice them after we’ve done them. It’s tempting to feel frustration to realize that you’ve lost your temper once again, but actually it’s a good sign that you’re noticing this at all. With practice you’ll be able to catch those responses earlier and earlier, until you’re able to choose to respond more creatively.
    • Feelings of calmness. You may have spells of greater than usual calmness in your meditation or after meditation. You may even experience some reluctance to end a period of meditation.
    • Interesting and vivid dreams. When your meditation begins to “bite”, it often leads to more vivid and meaningful dreams. Pay attention to these and see what you can learn from them.
    • Becoming more dissatisfied. Paradoxically, one side-effect of becoming more self-aware is that you realize that there are things about yourself that you’d like to change. This realization is uncomfortable but also useful. If you don’t become aware of things in your behavior that you want to change you’ll never do anything about them.
    • Time passing quickly. When you’re really enjoying something, time passes more quickly. It’s common to notice that time passes faster in certain meditations.

    One of the main signs of progress in meditation, though, is being more relaxed about making progress. Our meditation practice never changes in a constant, linear way. There are always ups and downs. One day you’re sitting there and you unexpectedly find that you’re blissfully happy and almost totally without distraction. The next day your mind is all over the place. This is normal, and it’s good to relax, and not be obsessed about “getting somewhere.” Yes, it’s good to have the aspiration to move in the direction of greater calm and happiness, but the expectation that this is going to happen will bring us nothing but pain. Bearing in mind the aspiration to move in the direction of greater calm and happiness, we simply work with whatever arises, not worrying about whether it’s a “good” meditation or a “bad” meditation.

    Also, not all changes are noticeable in the short term. It’s now known that when you meditate, you rewire your brain in helpful ways. Can you tell whether or not new neurons have been generated, or whether new connections between neurons have been built? Of course not. But it’s happening anyway. It might take months for those changes to manifest in anything perceptible. So in the meantime, just relax and get on with the practice.

    Comments

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    Comment from Robert
    Time: March 27, 2009, 4:34 pm

    I have always been a vivid dreamer, but sadly my entire life has been plagued with horrendously frightening dreams which then lead to hallucinatory sleepwalking and injury. Also, I rarely feel like I have slept at all.

    After a few nights of practicing meditation, I have experienced positive and interesting dreams with no sleepwalking. Last night I was blasted into space by the americans from an air force base with a particularly architecturally fantastic mirrored building, where there was a Blackbird plane on display (this plane beat everything there was at top trumps). A friend I haven’t even thought about since school (15 years ago) was along for the ride, I think we were humanity’s last chance. Unsure how it ended but for once I was not being attacked by monsters and waking up screaming/sweating.

    So, just to say thanks, I’ve not even touched the surface of the information on this site, and already there has been a major change which, if permanent, will indeed change my life in a big way.

    Thanks for making this information publically available. Keep up the good work.

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    Comment from srag
    Time: July 20, 2011, 10:51 am

    Hi

    I am doing stage 1 – 30 times stage 2 -30 times, by that time, my breath become less obvious and can’t feel the in and out. I can see some people faces ( old, ugly, scary can’t explain) which I never met them in my life. kind of pictures coming. why it happens?. should I let it go and keep calm. I think it distracting the meditation

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: July 22, 2011, 7:25 pm

    Hi. The fact that your breath is becoming less obvious is a very good sign, signaling that you’re developing a state of calmness and focus. What you need to do at this point is to shift your attention either to pleasant sensations of energy (piti) that you sense in the body, or to any happiness (sukha) that has arisen. It’s probably because you’re not doing that that these images are appearing to you. They’re technically a kind of samapatti, where the mind, not having become used to stillness and a consequent lack of stimulation, provides its own stimuli — usually of a slightly bizarre or unpleasant form.

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    Comment from Alexander
    Time: September 6, 2011, 7:19 am

    I briefly tried to practise meditation a few years ago and during that time my concentration would wander – I’d catch myself at a count of fifteen or more and realise I’d ‘zoned out’. I started again only a couple of weeks ago and found I could get to ten and start back from one many times without distraction. Then I had a session where I mentally uttered the words ‘let go’ near the beginning of my meditation and felt everything melt away, as if being propelled in the void. I was aware but concentrating on nothing and I thought this to be real progress. Since then I seem to drift into a hypnagogic/ semi dream state (thoughts leading to thoughts – mostly abstract) and I stop counting altogether. I lose awareness as this seems to be a wholly passive state. It is the same as when falling asleep and my mind just wanders off. Am I mentally fatigued? What can I do to pull myself back? I focus on my breathing, the rising and falling of my abdomen but it’s a struggle as of late. Also, it is preventing me from meditating for longer than 10 minutes or so as I feel I will end up asleep.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: September 6, 2011, 11:17 am

    Hi, Alexander.

    This sounds like either the hindrance of sloth and torpor, as it’s called, or perhaps a more subtle experience of what’s known as “drifting,” where the mind is caught up in thoughts.

    Paying attention to the abdomen is precisely the wrong thing to be doing in these circumstances, and it may well be that main cause of what you’re experiencing. Paying attention to the abdomen is a great way of slowing the mind down and creating calmness. It’s like the brake on your car. But you don’t want to drive with the brakes on, which is what you’re doing.

    Instead, try paying attention to the breathing higher in the body — up in the upper chest and head. You should find that more stimulating.

    Your “letting go” experience sounds pleasant. It’s good to let the mind rest from time to time…

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    Comment from Alexander
    Time: September 6, 2011, 5:24 pm

    Thank you for you prompt reply. I’ve read up a little on the hindrance of sloth and torpor and I think you have correctly diagnosed the issue. It seems, after reading a few articles, that I may have only a minor problem to over-come and the first steps towards this have been traversed. I will resume practise tomorrow and implement your suggestions. Best wishes.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: September 6, 2011, 6:33 pm

    Another thing you should watch out for if your posture. And tendency toward slumping, and to closing the chest, will promote sloth and torpor. It’s very hard to diagnose this yourself, so if you want to take pictures of yourself, from the side, while meditating, feel free to send them to me. One technique that works well is to set up a videocamera, and to take stills from various points in the meditation. That gives you time to forget that you’re on camera, and so you won’t be “on your best behavior.”

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    Comment from Alexander
    Time: September 9, 2011, 3:53 am

    Posture isn’t normally a problem for me, however, I’ve had a back problem recently and have had to resort to using a wall for support. While not slumping in this position it does take away a significant amount of effort. I was at the doctor’s yesterday and have been given medications but today the pain is greatly worsened ruling out any meditation at all. This is a shame as my Zen meditation pillow arrived today but for now I will have to just practise relaxation whilst lying on my back. I will report back once my back is improved and let you know if the improvement in posture sees an improvement in mental energy and focus during meditation. Thanks.

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    Comment from John
    Time: September 24, 2011, 11:49 am

    After about 4 months of meditation, the strangest experiences have been occurring when I meditate and sleep. I see bright lights (sometimes just a single, central light) that can be so bright it’s as if I’m meditating with a commercial spot-light on me. (Yes, it is that bright.) No longer do I see “blackness” when I close my eyes or fall asleep. Sometimes I “burn-up” with body heat. Also, my dreams, while pleasant, have turned bizarre. In one dream everything was chromey-metallic and even my voice sounded metallic. (In that dream, I told myself, “Where am I? I don’t think I want to be here.” And then I awoke.) Last night, I seemed to have been in the future with buildings, towns, even energy sources that are nothing like we have today. The experiences are positive, and I am gaining an immense sense of how we are connected and the world cycles/persists/continues. But, are my meditation “lights” and dream experiences typical?? Thanks.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: September 26, 2011, 10:43 pm

    Hi, John.

    Meditation experiences are so varied that almost everything that can happen does happen. Odd dreams are quite common, especially when beginning meditation or when doing more intensive meditation on retreat. (One retreat my dreams were in neon outlines and in cartoon form, and I used to have lots of dreams of looking into the sky and seeing huge planets hovering above the earth. Sometimes there have been Buddhas and bodhisattvas in my dreams).

    I often have the perception of light during meditation, although not while I’m asleep. This is described in Buddhist texts as well. The light itself can be an object of meditation, and in fact I’d encourage you to simply be aware of the light.

    As long as you feel these things are positive, then that’s fine. If there’s anything at all that seems worrisome, to you or to others who know you, then please let me know.

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    Comment from Alexander
    Time: September 27, 2011, 7:54 am

    Bodhipaksa, my meditation has been going fairly well since I last commented but I am having some difficulty with my awareness. Following on from your earlier suggestions I have chosen to take my awareness away from the abdomen and into the head (I have opted for the third eye region). I have no problem fixing my attention on that spot as I inhale up through my nose and find it quite easy to feel/visualise the flow from my nostrils into this area. It is on the exhale I find that I am, after a few minutes, losing focus of this area. There is no real sensation from the exhale that I can attribute to the third eye area and find my mind wanders to minor discomforts (back, sinuses, jaw) or simply drifts. Should I be following the breath whilst being aware of the third eye or should I fixate my awareness on the third eye and allow the breath to pass through it?

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: September 27, 2011, 11:18 am

    Hi, Alexander.

    I’d actually meant for you to pay attention to the physical sensations of the breathing that arise in the head. I’m curious why you chose the “third eye.” I put the term in quotes because it’s not part of my vocabulary for either practice or teaching. It’s not a part of the body I routinely pay attention to. Having said that, I’m struck by the fact that I can feel sensations connected with the breathing just about everywhere in the body: less so in the head, although perhaps that’s just because I haven’t been looking. It’s possible that if you relax more into your awareness of the breathing, you’ll start to notice sensations there, but I’d suggest simply paying attention to the breathing itself.

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    Comment from Alexander
    Time: September 29, 2011, 8:27 am

    I was drawn to the third eye as I used to do a lot of basic chakra meditations and thought it may be beneficial but I don’t think it is (definitely not at this stage). I’m now doing as you said and just paying attention to the breath without forcing too much to fixate on any one area (as it seems either tension or distraction results) and the results are positive. I’ve been using all the resources on your wonderful site and it is all a great help to my practise – despite this being in the comments for stage 3 I am only just starting to add a little of stage 2 to my routine so will keep at it the way I currently am for a month or two more before seeing what stage 3 involves. Many thanks.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: September 29, 2011, 12:56 pm

    That sounds like a good move. Please do let me know how you get on.

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    Comment from Radhakrishnan
    Time: February 20, 2012, 2:59 am

    I am practicing meditation for few years (watching thoughts and feelings). Earlier I was so anxious I need to be “inside” the thoughts. Even if I am physically in a meeting and I am seeing the people who are talking, but I won’t hear theam. Now I moved out of that mode. I am able to focus on. Sometime my body shakes during meditation. Even my body bend forward during meditation. I am getting thess symptoms for some time. But I am not sure whehter I am progressing well. Please let me know or suggest for my progress.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: February 20, 2012, 10:33 am

    Hi, Radhakrishnan.

    It’s very hard to know what’s happening without talking to you more extensively. From what you say you’re able to be less caught up in your anxious thoughts, and more able to be present. That all sounds good. I wouldn’t be concerned about the shaking — things like this are quite common and are often the sign that the meditation practice is working. It sounds like it may be a form of prīti (pīti in Pāli).

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    Comment from Mukta Raut
    Time: March 30, 2012, 11:30 pm

    Hi

    Can one meditate lying down on one’s back? Is it less fruitful than the other method?

    Thanks

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 31, 2012, 1:05 pm

    Hi, Mukta.

    This article might answer your questions about lying down to meditate.

    All the best,
    Bodhipaksa

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    Comment from Pho
    Time: April 22, 2012, 7:29 pm

    Hello Bodhipaksa,

    Many thanks for the wonderful work you’re doing, the site is very helpful and clear.

    I’ve been practising zazen for a year now, and within the last two months have had a recurrent experience during meditation. These involve being completely absorbed by an intense yellow vibrating light, qualitatively ecstatic or electric. The light swirls, and as the experience progresses, so does the intensity of the swirling. The most powerful of these I had today, in which the vibrating light was roaring. Time and physicality were gone. It was indescribable and quite shocking.
    The experience is both unpleasant and pleasant. Very intense. Once I return to my body I find that my heart rate is soaring. The reason I write is that in a way the experience, despite being extraordinary, is worrisome. I haven’t any formal guidance nor have I sought a teacher. Now that my practise has reached this point I feel it necessary. I think I may start a course on here. What would you advise at this point?

    Thank you

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: April 22, 2012, 8:12 pm

    Hi, Pho.

    Thanks for your kind comments about the site and about the work we’re doing.

    I’m familiar with the kind of experience you describe. It’s not a helpful state, but nothing to be worried about. If it’s what I think it is, it’s a particular kind of samapatti that arises when the mind is becoming calmer and more concentrated, but where the meditator hasn’t yet become fully grounded in their present-moment experience of the body and mind. I see it as the result of mild sensory deprivation. The mind, lacking its normal input and lacking its normal level of internal activity, starts generating these mildly hallucinatory effects. Often they are swirling lights, although sometimes they involve distorted perceptions of the body.

    I’d have thought this kind of thing was more common in focused meditation compared to zazen, which is much more of an open-focused state where there is a broad range of perceptions, giving the mind much more to pay attention to. So I’m going to guess that in your zazen you’re tending to focus quite narrowly on the breath, or some other sensation. If I’m wrong, please forgive me and put me straight…

    What I’d advise you do is to pay much more attention to the details of your physical experience, including sensations from all over the body, and sensations arising from the outside world, and not just the breathing. Even when you’re paying attention to the breathing, do it in a very full-on way, noticing a wide range of sensations from the front of the body, the sides, the back, the surface, the depths, the belly, the chest, the throat and head…

    And if the swirling lights re-appear, just note that that’s happening, but redirect your attention to your actual physical experience.

    People who are prone to this kind of samapatti are also prone — and this is good news! — to having clear and vivid nimittas arising in meditation. A nimitta is a “sign” — often arising as an image — which is very clear and stable. They emerge as they mind is settling down, and if paid attention to in a non-grasping way, they’ll lead you into a much deeper level of calmness and concentration. In this case, the mind is finding you a subtler object to focus upon. So watch out for the arising of a similar experience to your swirling lights, but one that is lucidly clear and (probably) very still and stable.

    As for courses, I’m currently doing most of my teaching on Skype, and some of those courses are at a time suitable for people in the UK (I’m assuming that’s where you are, based on your IP address). But I’m probably not starting any new courses until the fall, although in just over a month, when my current courses end, I’ll probably keep meeting with people on Skype in a more informal way, where we sit together and then discuss what’s going on in our practice. You’d be welcome to join in with one of those. Alternatively, Sunada is running our web-based courses, and if you like I could pass your email address on to her and she will make contact.

    All the best,
    Bodhipaksa

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    Comment from Pho
    Time: April 22, 2012, 10:30 pm

    Hello Bodhipaksa,

    Thanks for the prompt, detailed and informative response. Greatly appreciated.

    Haha ahh you’ve described my practice perfectly. I used the term Zazen carelessly and may have misunderstood its true meaning. I started meditation in this style; A choice less awareness in which I’d pay attention to the breathing, though not exclusively to it, allowing my attention to wander from feeling to thought for instance, then back to the breathing as an anchor. From what I’ve understood this more resembles the open awareness of Zazen you’ve described. I practised in this manner for what may have been the first two months.

    Since then I’ve adapted a method on this site. I currently spend 5 minutes counting after the exhalation. Five minutes counting before the inhalation. Then I drop the counting and spend five minutes in general awareness of the breath; The rising and falling of the stomach and other associated sensations. Then 10 minutes following solely the sensations of the breath around the nostrils! Then 5 minutes of loving kindness. As you predicted, my meditation is mostly on a single object!

    How could I structure my session on this basis? I’d like to balance open awareness with focused awareness for their associated benefits. Especially after reading an article on here about open awareness having an improvement on creative, divergent thinking! Maybe replace 10 minutes of my session with the open awareness I described (to ensure that I’ve understood)?

    Another query relating to this is how to use meditation in relation to tasks that necessitate thinking. I’m a university student and should currently be doing an essay. How would one use what they’ve learnt in meditation to think more effectively? Apologies for the vague question, I’m finding it difficult to verbalise the issue.

    Ah I’m glad the opportunity may arise with the nimita for a deepening of concentration and calmness!

    If you could pass my email on to Sunada that would be great, I think a web based approach would be better suited for me at the moment.

    Thanks a lot!

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: April 23, 2012, 10:25 am

    I think what you’re doing is fine, on the whole. In other words the way you’re structuring your meditation is perfectly appropriate.

    I suspect (again this is just my best guess) that the problem is just that you’re allowing yourself to be seduced by the swirling lights, and the more you pay attention to them, the more intense that experience becomes. So as you’re practicing within the structure you’re using, just don’t pay any significant attention to the lights. Acknowledge that it’s happening, but see it as a distraction just as you would with passing thoughts, and keep bringing your focus back onto the breathing or lovingkindness. Becoming absorbed in the lights will stop you going deeper into your meditation practice. It’s probably a question of fine-tuning your attention.

    But also try to have as full an awareness of the breathing as you can. As I like to say, “Mara makes work for idle minds.” In other words, if you don’t give your mind plenty to do in terms of paying attention to the breathing, it’ll find plenty to do, whether that’s excessive thinking or the kind of experience you’ve been having.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if you had nimittas starting to arise before long, and if you ended up in jhana soon thereafter. But do let me know how you get on.

    I’ll certainly pass your email address on to Sunada.

    All the best,
    Bodhipaksa

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    Comment from Day
    Time: June 19, 2012, 5:17 pm

    Greetings,

    I am an infant when it comes to meditation but have been experiencing some very unusual sensations. Today as I meditated I began being pulled to the left. I allowed the steady movement and put up no resistance. It was pretty cool but it has left me wondering if it means anything. I eventually was leaning to my left until I felt the pulling subside. I also feel waves as if I am in the ocean. Can you please shed some light on what this all means??? If it means anything at all :-)

    Thank You!

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    Comment from Kumar
    Time: June 20, 2012, 7:36 am

    I meditate everyday in the morning for 1.5 hrs.
    Its peaceful. Its magical.
    But after the meditation I get an immense urge to lie down and fall asleep.
    I dont feel tired.
    Sleep just comes to me.
    Is it normal? I have been meditating for the last one month.
    Sometimes even in the evening I meditate for an hour.
    When I open my eyes, everything is blissful.
    But it always ends in sleep.
    Please help.
    Thanks

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: June 20, 2012, 11:10 am

    These kinds of experiences (samapattis) are fairly common in relative beginners, and they tend to arise when the mind is starting to settle down. They’re not of any significance in themselves, and in fact becoming interested in them will prevent you from going deeper in meditation. They seem very similar to the kind of thing people experience under sensory deprivation, and I think of them as mild hallucinations that arise because we’re not used to the mind being calm. So I’d suggest not playing around with them and instead just keep returning to the meditation practice.

    You may later find that a different quality of experience emerges. These experiences (nimittas) are more related to the meditation practice itself, have an esthetic quality to them, and will help you get more concentrated if you pay attention to them. In my experience people who are prone to samapattis are also prone to nimittas.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: June 20, 2012, 11:27 am

    What are you doing in your meditation practice, Kumar? What are you paying attention to? How are you sitting?

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    Comment from Felipe
    Time: September 5, 2012, 11:53 pm

    It’s kind strange something that is happening to me: whenever I sit and start focusin, it’s seems that the middle part of my chest, just below the heart (and I am sure it’s not the heart) starts pumping in a strong, powerful way. Can anyone relate to this? Thanks :D

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: September 6, 2012, 9:19 am

    Hi, Felipe.

    One of the things that can happen in meditation is that as the mind settles we start to notice subtler sensations in the body. There are a lot of nerves in the area you’re talking about: there’s the vagus nerve running all the way down to the intestines, and also the celiac (solar) plexus. And there are of course lots of blood vessels. It’s possible that you’re picking up on some rhythmic activity connected with those nerves or vessels.

    Sensations like these have no inherent value, but since they tend to be noticed when the mind is becoming more still, they can be seen as signs (“nimittas” in Sanskrit) that we’re heading in the right direction. So just notice them and recognize them as a good sign.

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    Comment from Srdjan
    Time: September 16, 2012, 1:49 pm

    I would like to present my sensations of zazen meditation. I’m practicing zazen for 5 months, but during meditation I have a lot of sensations which I couldn’t explain. Very often I have really big shaking of my stomach and body, like something goes from stomach to head and another direction. That is some kind of tension which flows around my body, before 5 months, when I started, that were stronger than right now. Some times that tension like a ball gets be quiet and stays in one part of body and I could feel that tension goes to be released through sweat on top of head or in area of stomach. Sometimes I feel really big tension in stomach and my muscle goes to pinch, and once that tension explodes and I feel then like a some kind of electricity on whole body. Is that some kind of good sign that everything is ok? But I also could say that before 5 months I was totally crazy man, right now totally different person. Btw I started to use this meditation cause of social phobia. Right now sometimes I say to myself, “me and social phobia, are you crazy hehe”, im really satisfied with zazen, the meditation brings to me new life. I couldn’t imagine that when I was happy person last time, I totally don’t remember that sometimes in my life I felt this happiness than right now. That is zazen :) What I need to know: is that shaking normally?

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: September 17, 2012, 9:38 am

    Hi, Srdjan.

    This is something you should really talk with your Zen teacher about. I don’t want to give advice that might conflict with what you’re being taught elsewhere. But this kind of shaking is a form of what’s known as priti in Sanskrit, or so I would assume. In this particular form it’s not necessarily common, but it’s quite normal.

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    Comment from Srdjan
    Time: September 17, 2012, 3:23 pm

    I would like to find some Zazen teacher here in my country but here is no one, I’m practicing zazen according of advice from youtube, just breathing and getting concentration to stomach and breathing, when some though goes to my mind I just leave like that and let to pass by itself. Right now, very often, on my mind don’t come any thoughts during zazen meditation, that situation brings to me to be more relaxed and getting better concentration on breathing and watching sensations if they come. But sometimes I could say everyday I have one of sensations, that pumping like Filipe described, I get also, my stomach goes to pump himself sometimes I think that could explode :) but in that situation I feel there is pumping like a ball, and goes to up, to chest and finally in my head, and head goes to move left and right, that lasts maybe 10 seconds, after that everything is fine, my body is relaxed and prepared for another sensation. Till right now I didn’t see any lights, I didn’t experience that, but I don’t care and think to much about that sensations and also sensations which I didn’t experience, everything will be in right time. The point is how I feel right now and 5 months ago. Sometimes I wake up early at morning and see nature around me , people, animals, and take a deep breath and for first time in my life I feel happiness in my heart and butterfly in my stomach :), I have different point of view of people, everything around me. For the first time I feel love, I feel beauty of everything. With teacher or without him, zazen changed me and I could say I’m very rich man cause I met zazen, did somebody experience crying cause of happiness, right now if I could do that, I could hug the whole earth planet and say “I love you so much”

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: September 22, 2012, 1:10 pm

    Hi, Srdjan.

    I’m glad to hear that you’re a happier person.

    With regard to the sensations, I’d suggest just not paying too much attention to them as long as they keep passing and don’t seem like they’re harmful. Just let them arise and pass, and notice all of this happening without judgement.

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    Comment from pritis
    Time: September 26, 2012, 3:00 am

    Hello,
    I am able to meditate everday after my prayers for almost 30mins. during meditaion I see many colours specially green and blue and these green colours make patterns and form circle or as if its like embracing with arms aroung and forming a circle, then these colours move in a circle and form a chakra it looks like the universe in green, i enjoy this very much.I saw today in green many hands ( Palm) fingers pointing outwards and forming a circle. what are these that i am seeing and what do they mean.what do these colours mean, my eyes are becoming red is it normal. It would be great if you can guide me. I am meditating for more than 25 days now.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: September 26, 2012, 11:05 am

    Hi, Pritis.

    I’ll write a fuller post about this at some point, but I’ve dealt with this in the post above: “Some of the things you might experience might seem a little odd. A common example is seeing patterns of moving lights. This is a good sign, in that you are moving into a deeper state of concentration. But it’s best not to pay much attention to those lights or they will turn into a distraction and slow your progress.”

    It’s the last part that’s key. These lights are of no spiritual significance, and in fact they’re just a distraction. They are a sign that you’re on the right track, but you need to pay attention to the physical sensations in your body, and not get lost in the random imagery that your mind is generating.

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    Comment from Nikhil
    Time: October 6, 2012, 10:07 pm

    Excellent article!

    I have an issue with meditating and am curious what you think about it. I involuntarily focus/strain my eyes (though closed) when trying to be aware of breathing. I try to relax the eye, but it always ends up paining as I automatically start concentrating and that creates stress to the eyes.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: October 7, 2012, 9:13 pm

    You might want to try a peripheral vision exercise I teach.

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    Comment from Ara
    Time: October 27, 2012, 8:47 pm

    Thank you for this beautifully enlightening article. It helped me understand that I’m on the right track with my practice. Peace to all.

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    Comment from Devin
    Time: November 27, 2012, 3:39 am

    The only thing I disagree with you on is time speeding up during meditation… one of my favorite things about meditation is that ten minutes feels like an hour to me… it lets me remember that at twenty years old I have all the time in the world to sit back and sort my problems out and to live. Thank you for the article.

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    Comment from Srdjan
    Time: November 28, 2012, 7:14 am

    Hi Bodhipaksa,

    in some previous article, you wrote following text:
    “Just let them arise and pass, and notice all of this happening without judgement.”

    Right now 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, but you wrote that “WITHOUT JUDGEMENT”. What you did exactly mean? What is actually judgement? I read about zazen meditation that to allow all thoughts to be shown and mention during meditation. What in situation if that thoughts is actually judgement, and what will be if you judge. Could zazen goes to wrong direction?
    Maybe that is my prejudice, cause I couldnt believe that im going to happiness and good life. For me zazen is miracle, that changed my life totally, for short time I am totally different person with totally different point of view to anything. Could zazen hurt?

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    Comment from eva
    Time: November 28, 2012, 7:59 am

    I have been meditating with Sound Healing Meditation Music(Delta waves) for 45 minutes and started doing it three times a day yesterday, once a day for about 2 weeks maybe. I feel sensations throughout the right side of my body down my side and down my arm sometimes feeling a little bit on my left side. Its a tingling feeling and kinda warmth. What is this? Also been having more vivd dreams and actually talking in full sentences and paragraphs for the last 2 nights my husband says and I do remember it sort of it wakes me a little. It was a dream of an unpleasant time in my life but I awoke and decided it was time to let that part of my life go for good. Is this normal?? Is what I am mediatating to bad? Causing these dreams?? Please help so new to this and trying to heal so many things in my life including Bi-polar disorder. Thank you!!

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: November 28, 2012, 11:33 am

    Hi, Eva.

    I’m afraid I’ve no knowledge of Sound Healing Meditation Music or what it does (or is supposed to do). The tingling feelings sound quite normal. This is what Buddhism calls “piti” or “priti” (in Pali and Sanskrit respectively) and it’s something that commonly happens as we’re relaxing and becoming calmer.

    It’s also not uncommon to have more vivid dreams when you begin meditating, or if you’re doing more meditation than normal. Talking in your sleep — I don’t think I’ve heard of that one before.

    You haven’t said anything that I find particularly concerning. If you were doing the kinds of meditation I teach I’d suggest just continuing and seeing how it goes. In fact I’d recommend doing some more traditional meditations.

    All the best,
    Bodhipaksa

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    Comment from manish
    Time: December 13, 2012, 8:50 pm

    I have started meditation few days back with the OM sound and i am observing an increased number of dreams. what does it signifies? Does it signify we are on right track and we should continue?

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: December 13, 2012, 9:08 pm

    I don’t know exactly what it signifies, but it’s certainly common to have more vivid and memorable dreams after starting meditation or when we’re doing more meditation than usual. I take it to be a sign that something beneficial is happening. Keep on going!

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    Comment from Cheneil
    Time: January 4, 2013, 1:25 am

    Hi Bodhipaska,

    I just started meditation, and today while I was meditating, I felt like I was being pulled to the left, and felt like I was stuck leaning significantly that way, even though when I opened my eyes I was sitting perfectly straight. Do you have any thoughts on what that might be about?

    Cheers,
    Cheneil

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: January 4, 2013, 12:06 pm

    These kinds of sensations are not uncommon when people are starting to learn meditation, and sometimes when they’re doing more meditation than usual. In the form of Buddhism I practice they’re called samapattis, and the advice is that they’re distracting but otherwise harmless, and we should just ignore them and continue with the practice. They disappear in time. It may be that your body was fractionally out of alignment, and the sensation was being exaggerated in your perceptions.

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    Comment from Andee Cris
    Time: January 26, 2013, 2:48 am

    I’m happy that I’m seeing/feeling these signs (and in a very positive way). I’m not that reactive anymore, before I was so moody and get angry in an instant. I’m more calm and friendly.

    And the dreams — yes, the dreams. They’re more vivid and I remember them even to the slightest detail. Maybe that’s because I’m practicing lucid dreaming or something. But maybe meditation really had to do with it.

    Salamat.

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    Comment from Nick
    Time: January 26, 2013, 12:40 pm

    During meditation sometimes it feels like energy is flooding throughout my body. I’ll be in full rem, my eustation tubes are opening and closing and my lips are quivering uncontrollably. Sometimes in my limbs its like little valves are opening and closing. Its not what I would call a relaxed state, but when I hold on to that for awhile and release back to a relaxed state, it’s deeper. Are those symptoms normal? Thank you.

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    Comment from Radu
    Time: January 28, 2013, 12:21 pm

    Hello,
    I’m relatively new to meditation and have no teacher besides reading books and internet articles, which are not necessarly following the technical aspect of meditation. I use breathing as an anchor to control my mind and progressively, during the past few weeks, I have started to feel changes. Occasionaly I see light patterns, but more often is the feeling of being in a crystal like sourounding, very clear but no forms around. Then energy starts flowing through my body which feels like shiwers up and down my spine. But in my last sesion I left like I was entering a ‘realm’ I was forbiden to and the shiwers were cold, I was sweting and to be onest, I was scarred, although I kept on meditating and concentrating on compassion at that time. During my meditation sessions I pay more attention to the feeling than to an immage. Is it possible that without a formal guidance, one can access forbiden areas and my feeling scared was just a warning, or this is normal and one’s mind plays tricks ?Feeling scared is what concerns me.
    Is this normal ? Am I on the right path ? Can you please help.
    Cheers!

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: January 28, 2013, 4:37 pm

    Hi, Radu.

    It sounds like you’re experiencing a number of things connected with an experience of jhana, or meditative absorption. These are all quite normal. The light patterns sound like what we call a samāpatti, which is a slightly hallucinatory experience, which I see as resulting from the mild sense deprivation that can arise when the mind is becoming still but you haven’t yet got used to that stillness. This occurs on the way to jhāna, but isn’t actually very helpful.

    The crystal shell sounds more like a nimitta, which is a more constructive experience. Nimittas emerge when the mind is becoming more still and when we are able to enjoy that stillness. Nimittas often seem to be slightly synesthetic. They’re a very good sign that jhāna is beginning to happen

    The energy flowing in your body is called pīti or prīti, and is a very familiar experience to meditators. It’s one of the experiences that characterizes jhāna, although it often arises before jhāna begins.

    I wouldn’t worry about the fear. It’s probably just that you don’t have guidance and so there’s some fear about whether what you’re experiencing is normal and healthy (which it is). There may also be fear of change, which is something that can be stirred up by deeper meditation experiences. I’d suggest that you just keep going. When the fear arises, meet it with lovingkindness. And if you don’t do lovingkindness practice, then I’d suggest you start :)

    The links I’ve put in here should give you more of a sense of what you’re experiencing. You might also want to join Wildmind’s Google+ Community, where you can get support and encouragement from other meditators.

    And if you appreciate the fact that a meditation teacher is spending several hours of his day corresponding with people about their practice (I’ve literally spent six hours responding to comments and emails today), then please feel free to make a donation to our Sit : Love : Give project. Monthly donations are ideal, even small ones, but a one-time donation would also be welcome.

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    Comment from Andee Cris
    Time: January 31, 2013, 12:16 am

    Hello,

    I’ve been meditating for two weeks now. And by then, I feel relaxed, not getting affected by my thoughts that much.

    But for the past couple of days, my mind is racing again. I can’t seem to concentrate. I feel like I’m getting impatient. Is this normal?

    Your thoughts and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Salamat.

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    Comment from Andee Cris
    Time: January 31, 2013, 12:24 am

    I think I found my answer —

    “There are always ups and downs. One day you’re sitting there and you unexpectedly find that you’re blissfully happy and almost totally without distraction. The next day your mind is all over the place. This is normal, and it’s good to relax, and not be obsessed about “getting somewhere.” Yes, it’s good to have the aspiration to move in the direction of greater calm and happiness, but the expectation that this is going to happen will bring us nothing but pain. Bearing in mind the aspiration to move in the direction of greater calm and happiness, we simply work with whatever arises, not worrying about whether it’s a “good” meditation or a “bad” meditation.”

    I’ll just keep on meditating and, yes, work with whatever arises.

    Salamat :)

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    Pingback from Meditation Increases Dissatisfaction « Brownvagabonder's Blog
    Time: January 31, 2013, 9:01 pm

    […] read this post, about Progress in Meditation, that exemplified that. The more you meditate, the more clearly you see everything around you. The […]

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    Comment from Kelvin
    Time: February 6, 2013, 4:41 am

    Hi,I have been trying to meditate for almost a month now.I have tried focusing on my breath but always get distracted by my thoughts.I start getting bored then I just stop.I really want to learn how to meditate but I don’t have a treacher, what should I do.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: February 6, 2013, 11:05 am

    Hi, Kelvin.

    Well, you will always get distracted by your thoughts. That’s what happens to everyone, no matter how long you’ve been meditating. But the other side of the coin is that you always notice you’ve been distracted and you return your attention to the breathing. That’s the important bit. That’s the bit where you’re shaping your mind by letting go of unhelpful thinking. That’s the bit where you’re developing mindfulness.

    You don’t say whether you’re using any guided meditations, but they can be very helpful in the absence of a teacher. You also might want to join the Google+ group I set up, which is over 200 people sharing what’s going on in their practice (some are complete beginners, some have been meditating for years) and giving each other support and encouragement.

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    Comment from Harsh Dave
    Time: February 12, 2013, 7:56 am

    Dear bodhipaksa,
    I m frm india..I hv started meditating frm the past 6 months. Initially everything was perfect. But now when I meditate, I see a light ball passing between my eyes to my forehead and it moves above my forehead to I dnt know where…but as soon as I follow it..my eyes start to open automatically and I come out of it…I cant help to not focuse on that light moving upwards…sometimes that light source is straight ..sometimes drifting towards right……..now just before all this happens I feel immense push of energy on my eyes (it is not hurting..in fact it actually feels goood)…..I sit straight and join my thumb to the ring fingure……someone said that my agya chakra ie the top most chakra is misalligned… m afraid this will lead to negative results…kindly help

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: February 12, 2013, 9:38 am

    Hello, Harsh.

    I’m not really sure about this. In the Buddhism of the Pali canon, and even in the later Mahayana Sutras (or at least those I’m familiar with), there is no reference to chakras. So I can’t comment on the advice you were given. So I treat this as just one of the two types of visual appearance that I’m familiar with. One type is a distraction — it’s just your brain trying to make sense of random activity in the brain, much like you will see mandala-like patterns if you press the palms of your hands on your closed eyes. And those should simply be ignored. The other type is the nimitta, which is a more helpful experience. Nimittas aren’t always visual, but when they are they’re connected in some way with the meditation practice in such a way that when we pay attention to them we can become more deeply calm, alert, joyful, and focused.

    Your experience sounds more like the second kind — a nimitta — and yet paying attention to it is not helpful. So I’m wondering whether it’s the way you’re paying attention that’s the problem. Is there a quality of grasping, or excitement involved when you see this light? If so, that grasping or excitement would be disturbing the mind and making you drop out of a concentrated state. My advice would be to just relax, as best you can, and accept that the light is a normal phenomenon. It’s not that significant in itself — it’s more just a sign that good things are starting to happen in your meditation practice. So just accept the light, and pay more attention to other aspects of your experience. What’s the light connected with? Joy? Pleasure? Energy? Calmness? Notice those things instead of the light, but also simply accept those without grasping after them, or trying to make them more intense, or trying to make them last longer. If there’s a tendency to get excited, then appreciate any mental calmness or stillness that’s present. That calmness balances with the alertness and energy of meditation and prevents excitement.

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    Comment from Maggie
    Time: February 13, 2013, 6:47 pm

    Hi
    I love the article and the site. I live in West Africa and I quietly practice Mindfulness Meditation – an 8 week course on a CD. I’ve been practicing once or twice per day and I’m currently on Week 6. I find it relaxing and I’m noticing that straight into the meditation my breathing becomes shallow and it is the only thing I ‘feel’ ie, I do not feel any part of my body when I’m in this state. The thing that I worry about is I still have a tendency to be annoyed or irritated by situations and people. I worry that if I continue to feel this way that I will compromise the practice, and I would not achieve my goals and that is to be peaceful and a good creative writer. Please help?

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    Comment from Harsh Dave
    Time: February 13, 2013, 10:04 pm

    Dear bodhipaksa,
    I thank you for replying . The impact of enery on my eyes feels good…but rather than excitement I would say its curiosity…..feels excellent….and the thing about my eyes has reduced..I met a very learned yogi yesterday…even he said that the chakra is not alligned and also gave me an excercise..where in I have to tap with my middle and left fingure (with my left hand) between my eyebrows for 15 times (lightly)…and immediiately my prob reduced…not completely over..but reduced…

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: February 14, 2013, 10:26 am

    I’d imagine that tapping yourself between the eyebrows would at least to some extent reduce the image of light, since you’re shifting your awareness from your inner visual sense to your external sense of touch. But this is a technique of distraction, and I’m not convinced that it’s the best thing to do. I think that learning to relax with the light is more important than trying to get it to go away (is that’s what the intention was).

    As I said before, “Just accept the light, and pay more attention to other aspects of your experience. What’s the light connected with? Joy? Pleasure? Energy? Calmness?” I ‘d said previously to pay attention to those things instead, but what I meant is to notice what else is going on in the body and mind as well as and connected to the light. Become more aware of your experience as a whole, and that allows the light to be just one part of your experience.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: February 14, 2013, 10:31 am

    Hi, Maggie.

    It’s great to hear of the progress you’re making.

    I’d tend to look at it the other way around, actually, that we practice (in part) in order not to be annoyed and irritated by things and people rather than we try not to be annoyed and irritated by things and people so that we can practice. After all, it’s very unpleasant for other people when we’re annoyed or irritated with them.

    The practice I would suggest is lovingkindness meditation. This will help you to actively cultivate more patience, kindness, and compassion.

    All the best,
    Bodhipaksa

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    Comment from kim
    Time: February 15, 2013, 2:05 pm

    I just started meditating. I always thought I’d never be able to do it because I always felt I was too hyper and wouldn’t be able to concentrate long enough. To my surprise, the very first time I tried it I felt extremely relaxed. My breathing almost went away it seemed and I had a strange sensation between my eyes. I noticed that the few times I’ve done this, I start with my head level or downward but it always slowly rises and my neck seems to stretch as well. Is this common or am I doing something wrong?

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: February 15, 2013, 2:21 pm

    Life is full of surprises, and sometimes we have capacities we didn’t imagine were present.

    Of course the fact that you tend to be hyper has no bearing on whether you can meditate or not. That would be like saying “I can’t do exercise because I’m not fit.” The thing with exercise (and meditation) is that you do it for the benefits it brings, not because it’s easy. If it’s difficult, that just means it’s working.

    Your posture changing is not unusual. Our posture changes with our emotional states. No one has to make you slump when you feel depressed, for example. Conversely, your body straightens itself out as you feel happier, more energized, more confident, etc. Over-excitement in meditation can in fact cause the chin to come up a bit too far. The chin should be very slightly tucked in…

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    Comment from kim
    Time: February 15, 2013, 2:33 pm

    Thanks for you quick response. You just took away my excuse for exercise though. :)

    What causes Over-excitement in meditation and is that a bad thing or a good thing.

    Thanks,
    Kim

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: February 15, 2013, 2:40 pm

    What causes excitement in meditation is a huge topic. What causes excitement, period? Sometimes we get overstimulated, or we have the habit of thinking a lot, or we’re eager for “results.” Throw in some posture-related and breathing-induced feedback, and you can have a lot factors affecting our excitement levels.

    Excitement in meditation is not a good thing :) In Buddhist meditation we try to let the mind slow down and become calmer…

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    Comment from Ashima
    Time: February 20, 2013, 1:20 pm

    Dear Bodhipaksa,
    I have been meditating on and off for quite a few years now, tried different forms of meditation, guided meditations and Transcendental Meditation. Now, when I meditate, my chest, rib cage feels very heavy, I feel my heart beat very loudly and there is a slight tingling sensation in the right side at the back, below the shoulder blade. Ther is a slight movement of my body like a pendulum going sideways and sometimes back and forth and counterclockwise. I try not to pay attention to it. Please advise, if following different meditation techniques hinders the meditation process in any way.

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    Comment from John
    Time: February 20, 2013, 7:16 pm

    Thank you. Article is very welcomed and appreciated. Initially, it seems, it may be a challange to know one’s progress. Really do appreciate the items you mentioned. Thanks again.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: February 20, 2013, 8:25 pm

    Hi, Ashima.

    Whatever you experience, try just noticing it without aversion (a desire to make it stop or go away), or craving (a desire to prolong, or intensify it). Small movements of the body are quite common, and may simply show that the body is balanced, and relaxed enough to move with the breathing and heartbeat.

    Following different meditation techniques can be enlightening or confusing. The thing is, do you find them helpful?

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    Comment from Izimar
    Time: February 20, 2013, 10:39 pm

    Hi bodhipaska, I just really need assistance in my meditation and what I should do. I have ALOT to ask but I realize I can’t ask them all in text. I for some reason I have taken the interest in meditation and have been doing it for about a week. When ever I meditate and go into a deep state of mind. My eyes twitch uncontrollably and almost force them selves open and I feel like I am completely numb. I can’t continue to far from there though because. Of my eyes. And I also could not continue my meditation one day because I kept hearing the sound of mumbles and a girl trying to talk to me, and also when ever I’m about to fall asleep, I hear drums and sirens and people talking and it scares me like nothing els, am I ready for meditation? What should I do about all of this and my eyes? Thanks so much

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: February 21, 2013, 10:36 am

    Hi, Izimar.

    I don’t know what you’re doing in your meditation practice, so I can’t really comment. What kind of meditation practice are you doing? And how are you trying to do it?

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    Comment from Izimar
    Time: February 21, 2013, 6:58 pm

    I just typed meditation in YouTube and watched the first one, I’m pretty sure it was the breathing meditation because it says to focus on that. I have also been really studying on meditation which is how I got here. I read that (and I don’t know if this is true) that stuff like this can happen when you begin to open your third eye or kundalini energy. I’m not to sure if this is it or not because I also read I normally takes months to years for this to happen

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    Comment from Izimar
    Time: February 21, 2013, 7:19 pm

    Sorry, forgot to answer the rest. I just close my eyes and just kind of space out. Ile start geting thoughts of things but it seems to get me deeper into meditation. All of the crazy stuff starts to happen thought when I start to think about the amazement of the world and universe and I start to ask myself, how does the universe work, where does everything come from, why do I exist, and then I feel completely numb and I can’t even feel my physical self. Then my eyes start to Spaz and it messes it up

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    Comment from Ashima
    Time: February 22, 2013, 2:49 pm

    Hi Bodhipaksa, thank you for answering my questions. I agree that following different practices can be both confusing and /or enlightening. I do find it liberating sometimes and usually go with the flow, start meditating the way I feel like doing, there is not much difference though. One more question, I have, how do I know that I am making any real progress. I do feel happy and energised when I meditate regularly.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: February 24, 2013, 9:14 pm

    Hi, Izimar.

    Well, what you’re doing isn’t meditation — or at least it doesn’t bear any resemblance to Buddhist meditation. So this is outside of my area of expertise I’m afraid I can’t be of much help. It sounds like you’re getting rather over-excited…

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    Comment from Ashima
    Time: February 25, 2013, 12:47 am

    Dear Bodhipaksa,

    These are all meditation techniques, different from Buddhist meditation, as you rightly pointed out. One is a guided meditation, where you just watch your thoughts being a silent observer, non doer entity and other, TM , Transcendental Meditation is a natural effortless meditation technique, you can look it up on the Internet. It is a mantra meditation, bringing the focus back on the mantra or the present. I am excited about meditation cause it brings the focus on the Important things in life, makes me more loving, accepting, patient. I can see the difference in my quality of life. So anyways, thankyou… I appreciate your time.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: February 25, 2013, 8:44 am

    Well, when you say “I start to think about the amazement of the world and universe and I start to ask myself, how does the universe work, where does everything come from, why do I exist…” — that’s not meditation, or at least it has nothing to do with Buddhist meditation, and it’s not TM either. If you notice thoughts like these arising, I’d suggest just letting go of them, rather than becoming intoxicated with them.

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    Comment from Ashima
    Time: February 25, 2013, 10:12 am

    Dear Bodhipaksa,

    That wasn’t my comment, please see the trail above. :) it was someone called Izimar… :)

    I think you confused me with this person.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: February 25, 2013, 10:57 am

    Oops. Many apologies.

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    Comment from Ashima
    Time: February 25, 2013, 10:59 am

    No problem…. Please read my comments above and say something… :)

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: February 25, 2013, 11:10 am

    Well, you said ” One more question, I have, how do I know that I am making any real progress. I do feel happy and energised when I meditate regularly.” And that in itself is a sign that you’re moving in the right direction. However the concept of “progress” in meditation is not straightforward. Sometime’s it’ll seem that things are going backward, and we feel more confused, there’s pain and distress, or we feel less focused. But those are just short-term ups and downs. These days I say that any meditation you do is a good meditation. Any meditation brings progress. So just keep meditating, and have confidence that the process will lead you further from suffering in the long term.

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    Comment from Ashima
    Time: February 25, 2013, 11:17 am

    Thankyou, and I agree that sometimes it seems that things are going backwards, I have experienced it too.. The pain I get is both physical and emotional but the clarity of thoughts and the ability to view situations from a distance keeps getting sharper.. I thank God for sending guidance at each step. Thank you once again. Will come back with more questions/ doubts…

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    Comment from Izimar
    Time: February 28, 2013, 6:36 pm

    Yea I stoped doing all that, I tried just focusing on my breathing and now I feel as if I’m switching states of contiousness and then when I get to my last state, I feel completely numb and as if im floating still and my eyes still twitch to the point where It forces my eyes open. Is there any ways I can stop my eyes or suggestions?

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 1, 2013, 1:01 pm

    Hi, Izimar.

    I don’t want to sound unhelpful, but I don’t know what instructions you’re following, or what you’re actually doing when you’re focusing on the breath, or exactly what you mean by “switching states of consciousness,” or even quite what you mean when you say you feel numb.

    A fuller description of all this might give me more of a clue to what’s going on. I appreciate that these things are hard to describe!

    All the best,
    Bodhipaksa

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    Comment from Izimar
    Time: March 1, 2013, 11:52 pm

    Haha yea I’m sorry, it is really hard to explain and again I don’t have a teacher telling me what to focus on or how to do it, I kinda just go off online teachings but maybe I can just start over and you can teach me some things? You seem trustable… Alot more trustable than YouTube or Internet haha, and again sorry for the trouble I’m causing, I’m really new to this

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 2, 2013, 8:25 am

    Hey, no problem, Izimar.

    I’d suggest starting on this site. Go to the “meditation guides” link above and then to the Mindfulness of Breathing practice. There’s a structured guide to the practice, along with recordings of guided meditations. If you do that I’ll know better what you’re doing and should be able to offer you more help.

    All he best,
    Bodhipaksa

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    Comment from Smille101
    Time: March 4, 2013, 2:24 am

    Hi Bodhipaksa
    My question is, While meditating I all of a sudden was in the back of a movie theatre..older vintage type setting, dark and everyone was looking at the screen. THen all of a sudden a man turns around and looks right at me.. He Can See me or at least this is how it apprears. I’ve seen beautiful angelic spirits but also I see men.. they look a little stern but not harmful? Do you have any meaning to this and is it natural to see people in your meditations??
    Thank you so much in advance for your help

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 4, 2013, 8:41 am

    Oh, the mind plays all kinds of tricks. Sometimes we can enter a kind of dreamlike state, even when we’re very wide awake, in which we have these kinds of images unfolding. I’m sure there’s some meaning behind the images. It’s interesting that in meditation you are watching a kind of movie unfolding. And it’s a complex process because the mind is observing the mind, which is what the man looking back suggests to me.

    I wouldn’t see too much significance in all this, though. Just treat these like any other thoughts, and let go of them, coming back to the object of the meditation practice.

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    Comment from Pauls meditation techniques
    Time: March 4, 2013, 8:57 am

    Definitely is amazing the amount of tricks the mind plays! I think the key is to just stay focussed on the one thing you are meditating on.

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    Comment from Pinky
    Time: March 14, 2013, 4:52 am

    Hi,
    I m practising yoga for last 3 month and meditation for last 10 days . I experience that all that various lights in circle while meditating but I feel or hear my heart beats even when I was normal sitting is it ok?
    Eagerly waiting for reply
    thanks

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 14, 2013, 9:58 am

    Hi.

    It’s not usual to see lights when meditating. It’s a sign that your mind is beginning to quiet down, but that you’ve not yet learned to be fully attentive to the experience of the body. When you see these lights, don’t focus on them but instead try to pay more attention to the breathing.

    It’s also normal to notice your heartbeat. Don’t regard this as a distraction, but as simply something else to be mindful of.

    All the best,
    Bodhipaksa

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    Comment from Paley
    Time: March 16, 2013, 1:48 am

    Hello.

    I thoroughly enjoy this website and find myself continually ending up here when I’m looking for answers to my questions about my meditation practice on the internet.

    I have been practicing regularly for the past 4 or 5 months now, and there are a few things I am noticing about my progress that I was wondering if you could comment on.
    Firstly, for over two months now, I have been getting random flashbacks of very distant memories from either real events in childhood or certain dreams that I have had years ago. I can usually remember quite vividly the moment that I had this experience and that it was years and years ago. Sometimes it was an important moment, sometimes it wasn’t but the memory is so precise and congruent. Is this a sign of progress? What does this mean? It’s different than having vivid dreams…which I see you have already discussed…I am having vivid flashbacks in the waking state. I know meditation is supposed to help memory but I am a little surprised at the frequency with which these flashbacks are occuring and am especially surprised because I have not even been practicing meditation for that long. Would it be unwise to assume that I am actually quite further along in my practice than the average person would be after 4 months of practice? Or in other words, is this a good sign? (The flashbacks are very brief, and they don’t necessarily happen right after meditation.) Sometimes if I go a day without meditating, I will still have some vivid memory of some ancient moment in my life (even though I’m not that old, only 19) at some random time during the day.

    To give a tiny bit of insight, I used to be a heavy drug user as a teenager and about a year ago had the most profound experience of my life through the use of a psychadellic drug called DMT which completely got rid of my addictions and led me to the spiritual path where I have developed an intense interest in Buddhism and other Eastern religions, and of course meditation. It has actually not only instilled in me a deep interest in religion and meditation but completely changed my personality alltogether. I used to be a very extroverted person and now I tend to isolate myself from people and live for the most part in solitude. I believe this out of body drug experience that I had in some way brought about a spiritual awakening. I am still struggling to grasp what that means, and how to handle all these stages of confusion and strange experiences.
    The reason I give this background information is because I wonder about the stage in life or the context in which someone finds an inner spiritual calling, and how much that influences one’s progression on that path. In other words, in my case, if someone has a deep experience of transcendence that leads them to radically and abruptly change everything about their lives to begin practicing meditation and following the spiritual path, is that person perhaps in some way at an advantage in terms of being able to advance more quickly along the path and benefit more from the sense of fulfillment and wonder gained from it?

    I apologize if that did not make sense or if I am getting too personal or being too assumptive. As this is all fairly new for me, and as you know many experiences in meditation and spirituality in general totally transcend language and therefore make them incredibly difficult to articulate, I am only beginning to be able to express my thoughts around this matter in a coherent manner.

    The last thing I wanted to briefly share is another common experience I have in meditation, the significance of which I am also wondering about. This experience is less awe-inspiring for me than the flashbacks, but I would still appreciate feedback.

    Usually my meditations never last longer than half hour. Nonetheless, recently I have been able to go pretty deep into concentration. I meditate with my eyes closed (opening them now and then to make sure I don’t get too sluggish), and what I have noticed is that when I am in a deeper state of meditation, whenever there is the slightest sound I will often feel a sudden burst of energy, (for lack of a better way to explain it), that radiates through my body but particularly in my head, like behind my eyes or something. I think it feels good. Blissful. I am not sure because it is so subtle and so quick that it is gone as soon as I recognize it. But it happens so often and I really enjoy it. I have been thinking and I don’t know if this is also a good sign of progress in concentration or calmness or what have you, or on the other hand it could be a sign that I am getting sleepy or less attentive and therefore am slightly startled by even the quietest noise.

    So, I know this was a particularly long collection of questions, I apologize for not being able to keep it short and simple. If you have the time to provide your thoughts on these matters it would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you, and have a wonderful day.

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    Comment from sara
    Time: March 17, 2013, 10:54 pm

    Hi

    I am going through a very tensed phase in my relationship. Every morning i wake up feeling uneasy and feel like vomiting. So i tried to calm down by practising meditation. But when i close my eyes its either streaks of blue light floating through or its simply pitch dark. I lose contact with my body and can’t feel any part of my body. I can just outline my body but can’t feel it. I don’t know what’s happening and i am quite scared. Please help. Can u also suggest me some different form of meditation which would help me to be happy and be aware of myself even during the worst situation. Any help would be highly appreciated.
    Have a nice day… :)

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    Comment from Dieter
    Time: March 18, 2013, 6:51 am

    Hi there

    I am a very spiritual person and i meditate everynight, i have had many numerous experinces of high magnitude, i can feel spirits and sense them around me. I have alot of hunches and gut feelings.
    When i meditate often the mood in the room becomes so relaxed it feels as if im high,the calendar on my wall would often move as if wind was blown over it even tho my window and door is closed. I use alot of incense sticks and candles in my meditation, like i said my experinces are vast and i cant exactly sit and explain each one of them.

    Am i on the right track to developing my physich ability?

    kind regards

    dieter

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 18, 2013, 3:51 pm

    Hi, Dieter.

    I’m the wrong person to ask about psychic abilities, I’m afraid. These kinds of abilities are considered irrelevant to the main project in my life, which is experiencing enlightenment. And so I have no interest in developing them!

    All the best,
    Bodhipaksa

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    Comment from Paley
    Time: March 18, 2013, 4:12 pm

    Hello, Bodhipaksa,
    Could I get some feedback on my comment above?

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 18, 2013, 4:18 pm

    Hi, Paley.

    Your question/comment above is coming on for 1000 words long. Right now I don’t have time to read it, I’m afraid, never mind reply. I’m truly sorry for this, but my time is very constrained at the moment.

    If you can come up with a more concise version, I’ll hopefully have time to read and respond to it.

    All the best,
    Bodhipaksa

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    Comment from Smille101
    Time: March 18, 2013, 8:22 pm

    Thank you ~ Bodhipaksa

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    Comment from simon
    Time: March 19, 2013, 4:07 pm

    Hi

    I’m hoping you might be able to help me on this one….
    I’ve been meditating for just over 2 years now and in that time had experienced the highs and lows that often go with genuine commited practice.

    Some time ago…I was, or I thought I was making real progress and on a couple of occasions reached a state on a profound peace and intense clarity and presence with the essence of the moment. These experiences have to no significant degree changed my life not to put to small a point on it…all for the good….which is great.

    However. a few months ago, I found my practice suddenly much harder than it had been for many many months -almost like going back to the begining-and I struggled to let go of the thoughts that only a few weeks earlier I would have had no problem with letting pass from recognition to evaporation.

    I am still struggling with this change and and trying to act constructively with it…but tbh am finding it really difficult.

    Also maybe of relevance is that I feel a sense of tension …bodily tension in my practice and demonstrated in feeling that I need to take a sigh of relief more often and more awkwardly than experienced before….

    Any advice you might be able to give me would be very…very much appreciated Bodhipaksa

    genuine appreciation for your time and consideration :-)

    simon

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 19, 2013, 4:35 pm

    Hi, Simon.

    What you’re experiencing is quite common. Think of the famous story of the Buddha being assaulted by the forces of Mara as he sat under the Bodhi tree. He was much more advanced than you or I, and his “distractions” weren’t, as you might expect (and let’s take this story as symbolic of a real episode of spiritual doubt), less vivid or powerful. In fact the opposite was the case. [By the way, despite everything you’ve probably heard about this encounter, the Pali canon has this episode happening seven years after the Buddha’s awakening, rather than on its eve.]

    It may be that you need to take your current experience as a call to go deeper. Perhaps you need to find a complete acceptance of the fact that things don’t feel good. It’s OK not to feel good. If you completely accept not feeling good, then something amazing happens.

    The way I look at meditation, both samatha and vipassana, is that it’s all about “unselfing.” “Selfing” is my rendering of the Buddha’s term, “ahamkara,” which means “I-making.” All craving and aversion is “I-making,” or “selfing.” Now in samatha practice we’re letting go of the hindrances, which themselves are manifestations of selfing, and so we’re unselfing. We may experience jhana, which is a flow state where our selfing is almost absent.

    Vipassana is just another approach to unselfing. We notice the impermanence of our experiences in order to remind ourselves that there’s no basis for a self to “self” (taking self as a verb. We remind ourselves that our experiences are “not me, not mine, (that) I am not this” (Taṃ netaṃ mama, nesohamasmi, na meso attā). And this reduces clinging, and thus helps along the unselfing process. And we can recognize that no experience is worth grasping after because they are all dukkha (incapable of giving us happiness) — but neither are they worth having aversion toward, because they are also not the “source” of our unhappiness. In fact the source of our unhappiness is a subtle level of craving or aversion.

    So all practice is “unselfing.”

    You’re probably needing to make a more conscious shift from samatha unselfing to vipassana unselfing. It’s not enough to have deep and enjoyable meditations. We need to conduct the three kinds of vipassana investigations of our experience that I mentioned above — each one corresponding to a different “mark.”

    Now I may have missed the target by a mile, because you haven’t really said anything about what you do in your practice, but I had a need to write the above, and I suspect that it may be applicable to you — especially the lakkhana of dukkha, where you need to learn to rest deeply in your experience even when it’s unpleasant and chaotic.

    Let me know what you think, and how you get on.

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    Comment from Paley
    Time: March 19, 2013, 8:10 pm

    For a while now, I have been getting random flashbacks of very distant memories from early childhood or certain dreams that I have had years ago. I can usually remember quite vividly the moment that I had this experience and that it was years and years ago. Usually I find that the actual experiences I am remembering were not in the least bit significant at the time, but they come back so vividly, even though they are just fractions of distant memories, like moments that are stored in my brain somewhere. Is this a sign of progress? I know meditation is supposed to help memory but I am a little surprised at the frequency with which these flashbacks are occuring and am especially surprised because I have not even been practicing meditation consistently for more than 6 months.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 20, 2013, 11:29 am

    One of the things that happens naturally through meditation is that the mind becomes less “noisy.” And when the mind is less noisy, then we can hear “whispers” more easily. So there are connections between your current experience and past experiences present all the time, but in a noisy mental environment you can’t pick up on those connections — which I’ve called whispers. When the mental environment is quieter, however, the whispers can be detected. This is a very common experience, although often what people find happening is that they have lots of “creative” ideas in meditation. It’s the same principle, that these subtle connections between different areas of experience are noticed when the mind is quieter, although for some reason the connections your mind is making are seemingly more random. So this is quite normal, and it often happens after just a few weeks of meditation. It sounds like there’s little or no significance to these memories, so I’d suggest just ignoring them and keeping going with the practice.

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    Comment from Toni
    Time: March 22, 2013, 3:42 pm

    I am fairly new to meditation, but have found that I can get into a deep state pretty easily, seeing white and purple light on a regular basis. However, when I am meditating I feel a war inside of myself. There’s a part of me that “put the brakes on” out of fear that I will not be able to wake up or bring myself out of the meditation. This anxiety manifests as a tightening in my chest. I know that my fear is rooted in my thoughts. Any suggestions?

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 22, 2013, 4:00 pm

    Hi, Toni.

    Thanks for writing. It would be good to know more about what you consider to be a “deep state” and also to hear more about what form this white and purple light is taking, and also the relationship between these deep states and the anxiety you’re experiencing. Presumably you’re not experiencing anxiety when you’re actually in a deep state, for example.

    All the best,
    Bodhipaksa

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    Comment from Toni
    Time: March 22, 2013, 5:56 pm

    Thank you for your reply. Since I am a novice, I can’t accurately guage what a deep state exactly is. However, I meditated again and this time, I didn’t feel the same anxiety. I did it on my own (not in a group setting) and so didn’t have the pressure of being on someone else’s timeline.

    The white and purple light looks like a ribbon of heat. The purple is pale but does turn to a darker purple at times. The white light sometimes becomes a burst of white light that then subsides.

    Something else that happened this time around that has never happened before was that, at the end of my meditation, before I opened my eyes and as I was trying to pull myself back out of the deep well, I had the feeling like there was a cloud of energy enveloping my whole body. When I went to raise my hands, my hands suspended themselves (I didn’t feel as if I was doing this voluntarily) about four inches from my body. When I moved my hands up and down along my torso, the “cloud” of energy was consistent along my body. When I “woke up” I had the desire to embrace something and so I hugged my dog.

    This is all very exciting to me. I feel connected but my mind wants to know if this makes sense…whatever sense means.

    Thank you for any input you have to offer :)

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 23, 2013, 10:12 am

    It sounds like you’re experiencing what we call a samapatti, which are experiences that beginners often experience as the mind is starting to quiet down, but when we haven’t yet learned to be more fully attentive to the body. They’re not of any significance in themselves, and they’re best ignored. Basically you can regard them as mildly hallucinatory experiences where the mind is taking random neuronal firings and seeing patterns in them. Some people are more prone to these than others.

    You haven’t actually said anything about what you do in meditation, but if you’re doing mindfulness of breathing you should make a bit more effort to be aware of the actually physical sensations of the breathing rather than getting absorbed in these images, which are really just distractions.

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    Comment from Toni
    Time: March 23, 2013, 10:35 am

    That is very interesting, but also confusing to me. I didn’t know that my focus should be solely on my breathing and not the images. I thought that the breathing was a way to plug into everything else and once I started seeing things or experiencing the lights, I should go towards the images. Again, excuse my naivete as well as my Type A thinking, but I always thought that by quieting myself through meditation I would gain insight and so I thought the images were tools to gain that insight. I’m probably overthinking this, huh? Regardless, this is very fascinating and I am grateful for your help :)

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 23, 2013, 11:09 am

    No, these images have nothing to do with insight. These are other kinds of experiences called nimittas that can be more helpful. Sometimes nimittas are visual, but they can appear in any sensory modality. When they are visual they’re more stable and connected with the object of the meditation, and they can help take you deeper into meditation. Not everyone experiences nimittas, although people who are prone to samapattis are more likely to experience them.

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    Comment from simon
    Time: March 23, 2013, 12:27 pm

    hey bodhipaksa…thanks for your considered answer to my call for help ;)

    My practice has consisted 99.99% of the time of midfulness of breathing…the 4 part method upheld by tmembers of the triratna order.

    I have tried the metta bhavana with some really positive results but for some reason stuck dogedly with the Mof B, probably mistakenly thinking that this was the main key to real progress.

    lols…I suspect that you might now feel that your feelings as to precisely what lies at the heart of the problem Im experiencing with my practice, as indicated in your message to me offers a definite sense of vindication. ;-)

    I think that you are most probably right about my needing to go deeper and thus on to vipassana meditation.

    I guess my next question is therefore…how do I best proceed from here?

    can you please reccommend a good book for me to work with?

    with thanks from my heart

    simon

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    Comment from Paley
    Time: March 23, 2013, 1:33 pm

    Usually my meditations never last longer than half hour. Nonetheless, recently I have been able to go pretty deep into concentration. I meditate with my eyes closed (opening them now and then to make sure I don’t get too sluggish), and what I have noticed is that when I am in a deeper state of meditation (or when I think I am), whenever there is the slightest sound I will often feel a sudden burst of energy, (for lack of a better way to explain it), that radiates through my body but particularly in my head, like behind my eyes or something. I think it feels good I am not sure because it is so subtle and so quick that it is gone as soon as I recognize it. I have been thinking and I don’t know if this is also a good sign of progress in concentration or calmness or what have you, or on the other hand it could be a sign that I am getting sleepy or less attentive and therefore am slightly startled by even the quietest noise. If you think it is the latter, what are some suggestions for not getting sleepy or less attentive in sitting meditation? (I usually sit in a chair with back support because I have back problems)

    Thanks!

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 23, 2013, 5:06 pm

    It’s very hard to comment on someone else’s experience. So I can’t know whether you’re startled by these sounds, of whether it’s something else. But generally an increased sensitivity to inner sensations like this is a good sign.

    But it’s best not to get too caught up in whether or not we’re making progress. Yes, some reassurance is good, but that reassurance needs to come from trusting the practice, rather than reaching some kind of benchmark. Because you can hit periods where for months it seems like your meditation practice is falling to pieces. And that doesn’t matter if you trust the practice; you just keep going. If your confidence is based on “achievements” then you’ll be thrown off balance by those challenging times.

    So what’s a good sit? It’s a sit that you do. Any sit that you do.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 23, 2013, 5:13 pm

    I’d highly recommend doing as much lovingkindness practice as mindfulness of breathing. It’s a powerful practice,and I’d say it’s well-nigh essential to “real progress.” In fact it’s an important component of being able to trust ourselves, and trust our experience as we shift from trying to “fix” our experience to simply sitting with our experience, noting how it arises and falls. It’s also handy from the point of view of changing how we relate to people in our lives.

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    Comment from James
    Time: March 26, 2013, 10:24 am

    Hello,

    I am 21 years old boy.

    I am having major depression and many phobias and I started Mindfulness meditation (I am native Buddhist)..Today is 28 hours of meditation.

    When I start meditation I feel very tight, pulling like feeling inside my head and it happen even not meditating now. But not painful..and nice feeling.

    Specially on top of the head and forehead area, feeling like pulling, tightness like that. and heart beating very much,

    Is that normal ?
    Am I correct way to resolve my phobias ??

    Please tell me

    Thank you.

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    Comment from Marlow
    Time: March 26, 2013, 7:46 pm

    Hi. When I was in my twenties I started meditating on my own and after about eight months I began to have involuntary profane and blasphemous thoughts about God and Jesus when I got into an aware but thought free state (Mindfulness). The first time it happened I decided to stop meditating until the next day. The next day the same thing happened. I stopped meditating completely after the second episode. About a year later I decided to take meditation up again and after a few months the same profanity laced thoughts crept back into my mind. I once again gave up meditating because these thoughts were so intrusive that it felt like I was actually being attacked. It is now about 17 years later and I’m now once again meditating. The thoughts haven’t come back but if they do I’ve decided to ignore them and to push forward with my meditation and not give up. My questions: what are these thoughts, where are they coming from, why was I having them, are they dangerous and was I somehow being harmed by them?

    Also I’ve been waking up at 3:33am for a few nights straight. Any idea why?

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 27, 2013, 1:45 pm

    Hi, Marlow.

    I’d imagine that part of you is really pissed off by God, and that when you got into a more relaxed state and let your guard down, this part was able to make itself heard. I don’t know if there’s anything in your history that ties in with that theory…

    As for why you’re waking up at a certain time, I don’t know. When my daughter was a year old she used to wake up at 4 AM every day, give or take a couple of minutes. There was no getting back to sleep after that, so I hope you’re more fortunate :)

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    Comment from Marlow
    Time: March 29, 2013, 5:20 pm

    Wow. You are so right. I didn’t know it back then but I was very angry with God about being physically and verbally abused by my father. Back in my twenties when the intrusive thoughts came up I was very afraid of them because I thought that they were coming from outside of me by some blasphemous spirit. I didn’t know I was angry with God. The past few years I have come to know that I am very angry with Him. Now that you’ve answered my question I now not only know it but I own and accept it, if that makes any sense, and now maybe I can move forward. I never accepted being angry with Him because I felt it was wrong but whether it’s wrong or not the anger IS there. Thank you so much. I don’t know if you realize how much I needed to “know” this.

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    Comment from lorelei
    Time: March 29, 2013, 9:11 pm

    Hi. I’ve been meditating for some time now, but I’m still unsure I’m on the right path.
    I try to just watch my breath, and all I end up doing is trying to stop that chattering in my head. I feel like I’m only developing concentration. I don’t feel like I’m going into deeper concentration/ another state of being, nor do I have any unusual experiences (I’m not seeking them, but take their absence as a sign). I’m still very much aware of myself, so there’s no feeling of being selfless. I try to be non-striving, non-judgmental etc, but these are goals in themselves, so I end up striving even more. All in all, I enjoy meditating, but I don’t see much change in my practice or myself over time. I know, expectations are part of the problem, but simply letting go isn’t easy.
    Am I doing something wrong? Also, should this practice be even remotely trance-like? When I feel like I’m sliding into pleasant daze, I pull myself back into impartial observation, so maybe that’s my problem. Thank you!

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 31, 2013, 9:18 pm

    You’re welcome. You don’t necessarily have to “do” anything with these thoughts when they arise. It can be enough simply to “hear” them without judgment, recognizing that they come from a part of you that is hurting.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 31, 2013, 9:56 pm

    Hi, Lorelei.

    Most of what people do when they trying to stopp the chattering in the head is a waste of time. You can’t forcibly stop the thoughts from arising, and in fact an aversion to having those thoughts arising is unhelpful. Aversion is one of the things we’re trying to let go of in meditation. So just accept the thoughts, as best you can. Let go of them when you notice you’ve become caught up in them, and just come back to your breathing, or to whatever meditation practice you’re doing.

    Here’s a thing to try, though. Most people, I find, simply plunge straight into paying attention to the breathing, without any preparation. I’d suggest that you start your meditation with four or five minutes of simply paying attention, with the eyes closed, to the space and light and sounds around you. Especially the sounds. And notice that there’s nothing you can do to control those sounds. The most sane thing you can do is to just let them be. And really notice the space that the sounds are arising in. Notice the space in front, behind, to the sides — even above and below you.

    And then start to notice the breathing.

    Give that a go, and see what happens to your level of inner chatter.

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    Comment from Elena
    Time: April 7, 2013, 5:59 pm

    Hello, I started meditate on breathing yesterday. It’s not working yet, somehow its hard to get rid of thoughts. But my sister did it easily and achieved that state on her first meditation. The problem is that she feels ‘dull’, less interested in anyhing in life, after meditation. This worries me. I was looking to find an answer – is it ‘normal to have emotions almost dissapear? Thank you!

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: April 8, 2013, 1:07 pm

    Hi, Elena.

    The comment “I started meditating yesterday — it’s not working yet” is a bit odd. It’s like saying “I started exercising yesterday — it’s not working yet.” Meditation is a training. It’s a process. And much of what happens is taking place below the threshold of consciousness. Did you know that when you meditate your brain actually rewires itself? Since you can’t actually feel your brain rewiring itself, you’re not going to notice this kind of change.

    Just keep on practicing!

    Your sister’s experience does not sound at all healthy. It sounds dissociative and alienated. I don’t know what she’s doing, or whether she has a teacher, but I’d suggest she stop whatever she’s doing and talk to someone with some experience.

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    Comment from Elena
    Time: April 8, 2013, 1:23 pm

    Hi, thank you very much for your reply!
    i myself was worried about my sisters experience, i felt something must be wrong, i will talk to her
    as for me, i didnd’ go through the stages you described here, because i just found your blod yesterday. What i do is this: i sit and catch the calm, i close my eyes and i watch my breathing, my body movements, how i feel my body inside during the breathing and i try put my thought away, but they are coming intermittently. Yesterday, i meditated two times and the last one was the worse – thought were just coming and coming, i got tired of them and went to bed. But in my dreams i was flying all night long! i didn’t fly in my dreams for long time with all that stress in life. i guess, my brain did rewire itself!

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: April 10, 2013, 10:47 am

    Well, your brain rewiring itself is not like flicking a switch. It’s more like building muscles. You have to repeatedly do the work. But as you’ve seen, some changes can take place quite quickly.

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    Comment from Shannon
    Time: April 20, 2013, 5:22 pm

    Hi,

    I was wondering if you could offer some advice, whenever I start to relax and meditate, even trying to get to sleep, as soon as I close my eyes I get these grotesque faces flash in my mind’s eyes. It’s like they rush at me, mouths open, biting, laughing, eyes wide open and their everywhere I turn.
    I have to bring myself out of it, and try again and again, usually if it’s just relaxation I give up but getting to sleep can be a nightmare.
    It’s been happening for about 6 months now.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: April 21, 2013, 9:04 am

    Hi, Shannon.

    This is just part of your mind playing tricks on you. Sometimes as people (usually relative beginners) are starting to become more relaxed and calmer, the mind gets “creative” and produces unusual images or sensations in the body. These are nothing to be worried about. I’d suggest that you first just smile at them and accept their presence. They’re just thoughts, like any other, and we don’t want to get caught up in them. Getting anxious about them is a way of getting caught up in them, so we just smile to remind ourselves that this is OK.

    And then just keep going back to the breathing. Try being aware of several different sensations of the breathing, and not just one. My guess is that you’re only observing a very small part of the breathing, and so there’s “mental bandwidth” going unused — until your mind finds a way to fill the vacuum by creating these images. They’ll pass.

    Smiling can also help you feel happier, and the sensations of happiness are something else that can fill your inner bandwidth. As you feel happier, the images will subside.

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    Comment from Ryan
    Time: April 26, 2013, 8:59 pm

    Hello,

    I have begun to attempt to practice meditation. I find that it is way easier for me to focus on my breaths and nothing else then it supposedly should be from everything I am reading. My mind does not “wander” very often at all… I just count the entire time, counting each breath. All i think about is the counting, and how I want to stop counting but I cannot, my mind just counts and counts and counts. When researching on how to stop this, all I am finding is advice that is telling people to count their breaths to begin meditating, then that when they notice they stop counting and focus on something else, to begin counting again. This is a problem for me because the counting itself is what my mind only focuses on, and I can’t stop counting. For me counting seems to be a problem, but everything I am finding online treats it as a solution. I can sit there and count my breaths for seemingly eternity with my only thoughts on the fact that I can’t stop counting. I try to stop counting, and its like a sub-concious part below the surface continues the count in the background of nothingness. It feels like a self sabotage to me. Like I will just relentlessly count no matter how bad I wan’t to stop.

    Pls help

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: April 29, 2013, 10:15 am

    Please don’t think of this as “self-sabotage.” Part of your mind has found that counting your breathing helps you, and hasn’t been able to let go. After all, why stop doing something that help you? It’s just a habit you’ve latched onto.

    It’s probably caught up with a bunch of other habits you have with regard to your meditation practice, so I’d suggest shaking things up a bit. Try being aware of the breathing more fully, noticing more of the sensations than you currently do. I wrote a blog post about how people tend to have a very narrow idea of what they should be paying attention to, and you might find that useful. I suspect that if you do pay attention to more of the breathing you’ll find that you eventually “forget” to count.

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    Comment from Rach
    Time: May 9, 2013, 2:34 am

    Hi!
    I used to meditate regularly a few years ago, but stopped as I just didnt have enough time, and then forgot…I have now started to make a real effort to reintroduce it into my daily routine, and am spending a good 20 minutes a day doing it. On the very first session a week or so ago, I had this sensation that the top of my head was opening up into this sort of expanse of space. I felt so calm and truely joyful when this happened, and as though I was at complete peace inside. This feeling lingered for about 2 hours afterwards. I have not experienced anything like this since. I just wondered what this is? Is it a state I should be aiming to be in? Is this normal?

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: May 9, 2013, 9:52 am

    Hi, Rach.

    Yes, this is normal. And it is something that you can, sort of, aim at. The thing is, how do you aim? You didn’t get there by trying to get there. If you try to get there you’ll be doing something entirely different from what you did last time and so you’ll end up in an entirely different place! So it’s not a good idea to strive to attain this state. It may recur spontaneously, or you may not experience it again for years. Just do the practice!

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    Comment from James
    Time: May 9, 2013, 10:48 am

    Hi,

    I want to know this,

    ** Can I do few meditation methods daily??
    can I collect all benefits from those all ??

    (for example 2 hours mindfulness and 1 hour mantra meditation and 1 hour imagination meditation)

    please tell me answer to this.

    ** What happen if I am not able to do meditation for some days?? All the benefits lost what I have done already??

    ** Is it normal to pushing sensation in head while meditating and even after doing it ?? (not painful)

    Im.sorry if the section is wrong, but i want to know those ..please tell me…very important to me. please.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: May 9, 2013, 4:09 pm

    You can certainly do several different kinds of meditation in one day and experience benefits from them all. Four hours of meditation is a lot, though, especially if you’re just starting out.

    If you don’t meditate for a few days you won’t lose all the benefits, but it really depends on how long you’ve been meditating and how often you take breaks. When you meditate you rewire your brain. Quite literally you are developing new pathways, just like you build muscles when you exercise. When you stop meditating, you’ll lose some of this, but find that you get back “in the groove” fairly quickly afterwards. If you keep stopping and starting you’ll only see a fraction of the benefits of regular practice.

    The pushing sensation may be a sign you’re trying too hard. But it may be something else. Lots of people have reported similar sensations, and it’s normal.

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    Comment from James
    Time: May 9, 2013, 11:41 pm

    Thank you very much for your clear and kind answer. I really appreciate it.

    Yes, Im Science student, Your new paths is called as Neuro Plasticity. It means new paths developing and change structure to good side.

    Im having terrible mental problems since more than 5 years, such as major depression (I am native Buddhist, killing ourselves is next hell,im afraid of hell) , Anxiety, negative thoughts, Phobias such as afraid to blonde hair,white race skin, and many. live in future (sometimes next reincarnation)

    I did mantra meditation for a week..and I was extremely happy (compare with before), and i wanted to cure mind cure depression, so I turned to Mindfulness.To yesterday it is 75+ hours and I feel better, specially not live in future like before and happy. and looks memory also improving.

    Im really glad wonderful website like this and kind intelligent people like you helping people.

    Best wishes.

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    Comment from Pamela
    Time: May 14, 2013, 10:17 am

    Good day! I have been meditating for about a year now… I practice several different methods, from Tonglin, to contemplation, to breath awareness… however, recently I have focused most on Tonglin. Now, in doing any of my meditations, I always invite the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to sit with me. I invite them to breath in unison with me, and to exchange energy with me… and “visually” they appear. They always come. 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 read in prior comments about third eyes, etc. I know little about this aspect. I have been through the seeing of colors (brilliant golds were the most recent) and quite enjoyed watching the color morph into Buddhas, skulls, faces, etc. and used whatever images appeared to contemplate their meaning, and learn from them… but that seems to have passed. I attend a VietNamese Mahayana Temple, but clearly am drawn to Tibetan Buddhism. I am not concerned as much about the pressure in my head, nor the body emanating so much heat, as much as understanding if there is any spiritual significance to this at all? I thank you for your time… and send you much merit and gratitude for the work you are doing here. Be happy, peaceful and well….

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: May 14, 2013, 11:42 am

    Hi, Pamela.

    There’s no enormous spiritual significance in these experiences. The shape-changing colors and patterns are fairly common when people are first learning meditation, and sometimes when people are doing more meditation than usual. It’s not helpful to pay attention to these, and they should be noted and ignored in favor of the object of the meditation practice.

    The heat in the body is arising because you’re relaxing and experiencing arousal of the parasympathetic nervous system, which allows more blood to flow to the skin. It might be that you need to have some mild sympathetic nervous system arousal, which comes about when we have a more vivid focus in our meditation practice or are otherwise alert.

    The pressure in the head is something I’m not familiar with personally, although it seems to be quite common, particularly between the eyebrows. Again it’s a sign your becoming more calm and relaxed. Just keep on accepting the sensations, neither getting anxious about them or getting excited about them.

    Everything that’s going on is a sign you’re moving in the right direction. Just keep on going!

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    Comment from Melanie Eden
    Time: May 16, 2013, 6:41 pm

    Hi,
    im not sure you’ve answered this as i haven’t read all the comments (there’s a lot of them :) , but i have been meditating for 9 months now and have come to state of silence or peace that has had magical illuminations in my practise and life. I am curious as of late, during my meditation, i have been experiencing what i think is scene’s or snippets of other people’s lives, i can hear talking – and i am not familiar with the voices sometimes these are from completely different worlds to mine i.e. a man talking about the council and his right to land (i’m an mid 20s female artist living on the beach). Other times i feel i vaguely even watch scene’s. I remember when i first started meditating at vipassana introductory course i had sort of flashback replays of past memories but these are definitely not my own. I’d like to know more about this- if other’s share this experience. I’m not worried if it is a progress or not. Happy to just go with it and thought i’d share.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: May 17, 2013, 11:26 am

    Hi, Melanie.

    Our minds are full of scenes and snippets of other people’s lives — things we’ve heard, seen, read.

    And our minds are capable of running “simulations” of other people — including people we don’t know. You can imagine having conversations with them and hear them talking back to you. And every night when you dream, you lose any awareness that this is something you’re imagining, and you believe that the images and voices are real people.

    So this is what’s happening in your meditation. You’ll tapping into the part of your brain that creates dream-like imagery. So this isn’t of any real significance, although it is a sign that you’re getting relaxed. Maybe you need a bit more alertness to balance up the relaxation. It’s just a guess.

    All the best,
    Bodhipaksa

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    Comment from Sincere seeker
    Time: June 15, 2013, 4:34 pm

    I have recently started trying doing meta & only trying meta for self. I have been very conscious of not hurting someone whom I have had a really major fallout with. But I still get sucked into thoughts & arguments which just cause me immense pain. Sometimes I feel like a fraud as I try hard to avoid really saying the harsh things I really want to say to that person but deep inside I know they are boiling & am fearful I may fall to that temptation/ urge one day . I really don’t want to hurt anyone as I know the pain of hurting & am just feeling completely lost of how to deal with this. How long will I have to do meta to myself as I am not strong enough to send meta to that person as the mere thought causes traumatic stress. Or my entire approach is wrong. I have tried to reconcile with that person without any success & it is a person whom I can’t avoid contact for various reasons & the friction doesn’t seem to end. So just caught in a real catch 22.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: June 17, 2013, 10:38 am

    Mainly it takes time, so just keep doing the practice. Thoughts and arguments are always going to come up, so we just keep letting go of them and returning to the practice. Every time you notice that you’re caught up in an inner argument and let go of it, the practice is working.

    I can’t really comment specifically on your situation, but not wanting to hurt someone is generally a good thing. You say you “fear” hurting someone and I’m not sure how seriously to take the word fear, but fear’s not a great motivation. It’s better to want not to hurt someone out of compassion, rather than fear. Because sometimes we need to say things to people that will hurt them, even when they’re true and said kindly. And fearing hurting someone in those situations can lead to us doing the wrong thing.

    So if you’re troubled by keeping things bottled up inside you, it would be best to find a way to express them that’s true and compassionate.

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    Comment from Georg
    Time: June 27, 2013, 3:39 am

    Hi,
    since I am meditating daily for 2 years I am feeling calmer and settled with a smooth mind; awareness and gratitude for the given now arises more and more ….BUT I am also missing the thrilling feelings, the joy of buying something beautiful, the heartbeats when planning for the future or just when I see a beautiful woman… … and could it be that my memory about past is going worse as I am living in the very moment? also time goes faster than ever…
    The thrilling involvement in a lively world of joy and sorrow is missing.
    Whats going wrong, are these common side effects of right or wrong meditation or am I just getting old? Thank you for your help!

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: June 27, 2013, 11:22 am

    Hi, Georg.

    Well, I’ve been meditating for 30 years, and I still feel joy when I buy something beautiful, feel excited about the future, and experience pleasure when I see a beautiful woman. I don’t know what you’re doing in your meditation practice, but you may be cutting yourself off from parts of your experience. There’s really very little else I can say, I’m afraid, since I don’t know anything about your meditation practice or about your life.

    All the best,
    Bodhipaksa

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    Comment from Ananda
    Time: July 30, 2013, 4:56 pm

    hello Bodhipaksa

    really nice to wander to this website where i can so easily submit a question!

    i have been meditating for about 11 years . mostly it was zenlike, with an open consciousness, but i got to a point where I am needing focused meditation (mantra in this case) to keep enough focusing capability to be able to keep connect with ‘objects’ within my awareness (words on a paper, people that i talk to… etc)

    i came to this helpfull effect of focused meditation by accident, just by experimenting, and now i alter between zazen and mantra, in order to keep some balance

    I actually ‘do’ zazen during all waking hours, i am not capable anymore to be not in zazen, it became my natural way of being

    My question: is where i am still healthy? and where am i going?

    the zazen is not a practice anymore, it is natural, but i can do, and i do, mantra as a practice

    am i going good or am i in some kind of a deviating state?

    your answer is extremely appreciated as i do not regularely walk into people that can answer me on this one!

    greets!

    ananda

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    Comment from Karen
    Time: July 30, 2013, 11:20 pm

    I started meditating a few weeks ago, using guided meditation on the internet as I could not find a local group. One meditation asked me to open a door and whatever was beyond that door was my happy place. Yesterday I decided to try meditation without any guidance, just silence. After a short time I found I was no longer noticing my breath. I saw my face looking back at me, lots of light and aqua around my face and I was holding a turquoise stone. I’m not sure if this means the meditation worked though I felt wonderful afterwards. I actually felt truly happy and I haven’t felt like that for a long time. Not sure what to make of the colours or the stone?

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: August 3, 2013, 12:12 pm

    I really need to create a post or page for this, since I get asked this question over and over again. And in fact there are several comments above that describe similar experiences. So I’d suggest reading through the previous comments and then getting back to me if you still have any questions.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: August 3, 2013, 12:16 pm

    Hi, Ananda.

    Without knowing you I can’t really comment on whether what you’re doing is healthy or not. I think the practices you’re doing are fine, but how that’s manifesting in your life and impacting those around you I, just can’t say.

    I would recommend taking up lovingkindness practice. It’s a necessary complement to both open awareness and focused attention.

    All the best,
    Bodhipaksa

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    Comment from Jennifer
    Time: August 3, 2013, 10:42 pm

    I have been trying to meditate for quite some time now. 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. Do you know?

    Also, ive tried many times to either astral travel or see some other things. Once when i felt I was getting close I felt a dark evil “face” right up next to my face just waiting for me to get out of myself so that he/it would be right there terrorizing me. Right at that point I felt or sensed my grandmother (deceased) slam closed my meditation and then I couldnt meditate any more that night. Should I be worried?

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: August 4, 2013, 6:39 pm

    I’d suggest reading the comments above, Jennifer. This kind of question has been asked and answered many times on this site…

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: August 14, 2013, 10:27 am

    I’m afraid I don’t have any insight into why you would feel head pain, or whether it would relate to whatever it was you were doing on Hulu.

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    Comment from philip
    Time: August 23, 2013, 5:07 am

    I have just started meditating. Yesterday session was scary I blacked out, soon as I came back around I stopped at once.
    But ever since then I felt dizzy and faint. I google this stuff and was advised that I needed to be grounded. So I walked in the garden hugged a tree and did some grounding exercises from you tube. I woke up this morning and feel completely disconnected. I just sit down and keep forgetting things. I can not focus on anything. And am quite concerned. Can anyone help

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: August 23, 2013, 12:52 pm

    Well, who knows? You don’t say what you were doing when you were “meditating.” Maybe you were hyperventilating or holding your breath. Maybe you need to talk to the person who taught you meditation, or if you tried to teach yourself then perhaps you need to get yourself to a class. Or maybe you need to see a doctor.

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    Comment from Ellie
    Time: September 9, 2013, 11:36 pm

    So today i felt like i HAD to meditate and as soon as I relaxed, I felt the third eye opening almost immedietly, and really powerfully like never before.. Then, while I still had my eyes closed, i saw a light in all this black background, right in the middle. I usually see this thing but today I decided to keep seing it while I open my eyes. This thing came flippin alive and it was moving around! After that, i tried to create one in my palm, I did, and after that I closed my eyes again and tried to make it move on my own will! Once I mastered that, i opened my eyes and after a few tries I made it! But then i lost all focus while trying to keep doing it and i quit after a while. Is that what you meant by “A common example is seeing patterns of moving lights. This is a good sign, in that you are moving into a deeper state of concentration. But it’s best not to pay much attention to those lights or they will turn into a distraction and slow your progress.” ???

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    Comment from Tiffany
    Time: September 10, 2013, 1:11 am

    Today was my second day of meditation. I was taught to count to ten and start over again which I’m able to do. At times I had a little distraction but kept trying to count and concentrate on breaths. At one point of my meditation I found myself zoning out and it felt as if i was having an outer body experience so to say. It felt like I was actually stepping out of my body. I seemed to realize that and all of a sudden my heart dropped, I felt scared, and immediately stopped meditation. Any insight on what happened?

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: September 10, 2013, 8:46 am

    Yes, what you were doing is a total distraction, Ellie, and very unhelpful.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: September 10, 2013, 8:57 am

    Hi, Tiffany.

    It’s no big deal. “Zoning out” is not what we’re aiming to do in meditation — we’re going for clarity and attentiveness — but it’s going to happen, so that’s OK. And when you get into a dreamy state, dream-like experiences will happen. What would have helped is if you’d tried to experience the breathing more vividly (I assume it was your breathing you were counting). BUt instead you became anxious. Again, that’s going to happen. It’s no big deal. Just keep doing the practice, and keep bringing your attention back to the physical sensations of the breathing. (The expression, by the way, is “out of body experience” not “outer body experience.”)

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    Comment from Debbie
    Time: September 30, 2013, 7:09 am

    While meditating i experience alot of energy along with tension but i do feel relaxed after my meditation, its just unpleasant whilst meditating..is it possible im doing something wrong to course this tension?

    Much gratitude

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: October 2, 2013, 11:22 am

    Maybe you’re trying too hard? Perhaps you’re striving after results? It’s hard to say…

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    Comment from Kate H
    Time: October 3, 2013, 10:09 am

    Thank you so much for keeping up with all of our questions about meditation for almost 5 years! That is so awesome of you. I understand if this is too long, so if you’d like to edit any part, feel free.

    I’ve been mediating since January and just came across your website. I have gone through similar challenges to some commenters and I thought maybe my story might help:

    1) I wanted to start meditating January 1. I tried then, and every day for another 15 days, but it was a no go: my mind was too restless and I was trying to force an experience I had never had. Then after two full weeks, two things happened, 1) I read this awesome thing about when thoughts come up, take note and observe them for an instant, then say in your head, “Huh, I was just thinking about that…interesting.” Then go back to focusing on the nothing behind your eye lids. It said not to care when your mind throws thoughts at you, pretty soon they’ll subside; And 2) I found a frequency thingy in YouTube that worked for me.

    2) I was lucky (and unlucky) enough to have a vision the first time my mediation hit home. I saw light flickers, then a galaxy. To this day I can’t hold those experiences: every time one comes up, I instinctively turn my consciousness toward it, then it disappears. Like an eye-floaty you try to stare at directly. Then, at the end of the first time, I saw what I knew was the horizon of the earth from 400 miles up, over the Aegean Sea. I didn’t know why I knew it was that area of the earth as I had never it like that before. I soon looked it up on Google earth and there it was.

    3) I was hooked. I began to have several instances of visions, where I knew where it was, but I had never seen it before. I saw the Pyramid of Giza from about 200 meters up and at its side – an angle I had never seen. I saw some pretty literally, out of this world stuff. Then, I told a friend I thought I may be remote viewing, and I think my mind convinced me I broke a rule, and it stopped all together. I couldn’t even get close to a meditative state, I wanted to see them and was forcing the issue. I began to get frustrated, so at that point I had to take a break.

    4) After a two month break, the meditation started slow, but then the visions started again; instead of visions from far away, they were of mundane things, but out of time. Most notably, one night, I began mediating, and I saw what I knew was the sun surrounded by clouds, making it appear like a white orb or the moon. I forgot about it and went to sleep. The next morning I went to meditate in my chair, and remembered the meditation from the night before. I shifted two inches to look up and see the vision from the night before that made me look in the first place.

    6) Now, I’m experiencing something different. I’ve caught myself in my own eye once, looking up close at the inside of my lower eyelid (weird), like I was a cell in my eye. And just an hour ago, I’m pretty sure I was in a blood vessel. Though, it was dark, so it may have just been a tunnel effect. This was accompanied by tingling up and down my body, and a feeling that I was lifting from my bed. And my blankets even rustled a bit like I was actually lifting, which was a bit odd. That’s how I found you. I googled “vision inside Blood Vessel meditation.” Believe it or not, you are first on google with that phrase.

    Q) Though, still after all these amazing experiences, sometimes I feel nervous or afraid, like I’m crossing a threshold and there is a guard who is insistant on frightening me back. I’ve felt it throughout my mediation every few weeks. It started as a demon face. I’ve seen a lot of people talk about experiencing something similar. I saw a documentary on The Buddha and the demon he faces at the end is a lot like what I saw for awhile. Then it moved it creepy imagery: butterfly shadows that turn into bats and the like. Then sometimes the feeling appears as grotesque faces, or my puppy that turns into a rabid zombie dog… Ug that one is awful. When the eye or face comes back, I sent it love and ask if it wanted to talk or join me in peace, and it usually subsides. But when zombie dog or demon puppets come up I have to stop. It doesn’t happen that often, but I wonder what it is. Any thoughts?

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    Comment from Kate H
    Time: October 3, 2013, 10:15 am

    I also see that you answered a similar question above now as I cull through the voluminous quandaries. Thank you, you are very helpful. I haven’t shared since I began, so it was nice to recount, but feel free to disprove the message if you think it’s a bit long winded.

    Thank you for your wonderful service. Kate.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: October 3, 2013, 11:22 am

    Hi, Kate.

    I’m glad you did the work to find the answer to your question.

    And thank you for your kind words.

    All the best,
    Bodhipaksa

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    Comment from Kate H
    Time: October 5, 2013, 5:09 pm

    One more Question: is it counterproductive to share stories about meditation experiences?

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: October 6, 2013, 11:48 pm

    It can be a very valuable thing to do, Kate.

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    Comment from Marc
    Time: October 12, 2013, 11:29 pm

    I was incarcerated for the past 11 months and I started meditation when I first got locked up because I couldn’t figure out my own thoughts about anything. I had been so fake from trying to be who people wanted me to be that I had multiple personalities and I felt as if I was basically schizophrenic. I could barely tell the difference between right and wrong.

    During the past 11 months I have been self taught and I had many experiences I cannot explain.

    #1 When I first started I tried for hours at a time and a few times I got into a state where my eyes fluttered faster than I could move them basically REM while conscious, but I saw images followed by videos of many random objects such as black and white tv than 70’s dancers and even a ship in the ocean traveling onto the beach and floating through the sand. I had a shorter, but similar experience the following night, but not since…

    #2 I started praying with meditation and I reached it much quicker (20-30 min) after like 3 times I could start in minutes. I would have goosebumps and received great peace of mind and clarity sometimes using mantras.

    #3 I started seeing flashes of light which almost seem like a circle of light around my eyes which I cannot focus on. I have random times of unexplainable happiness in strange situations which may have caused me stress before. I would actually feel the air getting lighter as I changed my perception in hard situations.

    #4 Many times I meditate by focusing on my breath but not even close my eyes like in the middle of conversations is that common?

    #5 Dreams: I used to not remember any of them. It has grown where I remember as many as 5 dreams in one night with many messages I can gain understanding from. I have had lucid dreams several times where I can do many physical impossibilities. I have even been surrounded by black and I imagined a room and it appeared than I thought of a bread box it appeared. I thought to myself if I believe it there is a rabbit in that box… as I walked over I thought I don’t really like rabbits what if it bites me… Sure enough it attacked me and I woke up.

    #6 I have had multiple dreams in which it comes true within a few weeks along with a large increase in synchronicity… Sometimes more than once a day.

    I can make myself have goosebumps and feel my own energy within seconds now and it feels good I feel as if I have given up most of my habitual actions. I have lots of space between thoughts and actions.

    I have tried to explain it to a few people some can follow me a little bit, but I feel as if I’m speaking a different language. As I progress I don’t know what any of it really means. I feel much better than I ever have, but I still feel as if something large is missing. I need to channel it somewhere.

    Any insight into any of these occurrences would be appreciated.
    Thank you.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: October 13, 2013, 9:06 am

    Hi, Marc.

    I’d suggest that you do find some instruction and stay in touch with a teacher as best you can. It’s unlikely that anything “bad” is going to happen because of your meditation practice, but you may end up wasting time and opportunity by getting caught up in ways of meditating that aren’t useful, and you are obviously concerned and confused by some of the experiences you’re having. I’m glad you’ve asked about these things.

    It really would take me far too long to comment on each of your points, especially since some of them (like #3) are actually multiple points. I’d suggest reading through the previous comments, where you’ll find that at least some of the things you’re asking about have already been addressed.

    Feel free to get back to me with anything you think hasn’t been addressed.

    All the best,
    Bodhipaksa

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    Comment from Jason Jackson Johnson Smith
    Time: October 29, 2013, 12:15 pm

    What do you mean by “when your meditation starts to “bite””?

    What do you mean by “bite”?

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: October 29, 2013, 2:19 pm

    By “bite” I mean that your practice has effects that you perhaps hadn’t anticipated. In that particular context, “stuff” can be going on in your subconscious, bringing about strong dreams.

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    Comment from jennifer
    Time: November 7, 2013, 1:05 am

    I have been meditating for about a month I see people and I see colors floating when my eyes are closed right when I start I have like no breathing sounds and sometimes I hear things going on in the house up stairs and it is not with my ears it is like in my head I hear them but now I see metallic tiny lights of diferent colors and still see faces but I’m still and my mind is quiet . Is this normal I heard some one talk but couldn’t hear her what she was saying to quiet for me to hear I let myself just be and see what will come next! I did close my eyes owns relaxed and then I saw a man in white metallic lining of his face the I saw a red image of the devil. I see in metallic now what does that mean all colors. But the face I see are like images like us. Any insight would be helpful. I statred to do this because some one said I should because what was going on with me ! They said I was wakening up don’t know what that means I know at the time I culdnt think and I was lost . Thank you for any insight ! Oh one more thing I mess up lights and computers and my phone sometimes I can’t explain it I just do if I get up set everything goes weird and don’t work. I have weird feeling in my head chest stomach .like it is humming you know that feeling you get when you hum on your lips. Again thank you

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: November 7, 2013, 2:02 pm

    Just regard these things as tricks your mind is playing on you to prevent you from going deeper into meditation, Jennifer. Just keep doing the practice (whatever that is — you said you’d been meditating, but didn’t say what you’d been doing). These things are most definitely not a sign of “waking up.”

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    Comment from Anon
    Time: November 9, 2013, 8:30 am

    For there to be no reply, does that mean its not acceptable. and secondly, you could reply to me at the email address?

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: November 9, 2013, 11:42 pm

    Sometimes questions that are posted seem to have little apparent connection with Buddhist meditation, and in such cases I choose not to post or reply to them. But I wish you well…

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    Pingback from [INTP] trouble day-dreaming – Page 2
    Time: December 26, 2013, 11:13 am

    […] I try to meditate and actually happened the first time I tried. You might be interested in reading this article on what constitutes progress in meditation. What you may be looking for, in addition to a greater […]

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    Comment from Eric
    Time: December 29, 2013, 5:23 pm

    Hi.. I been meditating here and there and some days I mediate for an hour… but one day I mediated for an hour and 30 minutes.. as my body relax more and more I started to feel as if my body was been scanned and the air I was breathing became very light and minty as if I was breathing a different type of air.. then as my body was feeling as it was been scanned from my head to my toes my body felt as if my poors were been open to ever sensation.. by time I was done meditating and lay down and close my eyes my body sensation was very very high… I couldnt sleep because every sound that was made through out the house made my body sensations very aware as if I was feeling high energy from my hole surroundings.. it scared me because I didnt know what was going on… so I would like to know if that is normal…

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    Comment from Nariman
    Time: January 9, 2014, 7:26 am

    Hi there, my husband usually meditates and encouraged me to join him. I did, and had a very wierd experience as I sat comfortably on the floor after doing some stretches, I got into breathing and suddenly tears flowed from my eyes and also I felt and saw my body was split into two and I could see it shaking as well as moving around me then it was reunited. I felt so strange. I don’t know how else to describe this. Is this bizarre.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: January 9, 2014, 1:20 pm

    It’s just your mind doing stuff, Nariman. Just keep going with your practice, and don’t dwell upon it.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: January 28, 2014, 11:32 am

    Hi, Eric.

    Sorry for the long delay in replying. That’s not abnormal. It’s the kind of experience that happens to some people when they’re doing more meditation than normal — for example when they’re on retreat. It’s just a heightened state of awareness. It’s certainly nothing to worry about, and as I’m sure you’ve already found out it’s not permanent.

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    Comment from praveen
    Time: February 2, 2014, 12:23 am

    Hi Bodhipaksa
    I just went through your site and you actually answered almost everyone’s question I have a question about meditation, After meditating for 30 to 40 mins first time i felt that i was in some one’s body? Any ideas or any one experienced this kind of situation
    Thanks

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    Comment from Jessica
    Time: February 10, 2014, 11:30 pm

    I’ve recently started up on meditating again. I try to do it three times a day. Today while meditating, I experienced something very unusual. I got very deep into it, and then the whole room felt like it was shaking as if there was an earthquake. Is this good, bad, or does it mean anything? Thanks for any help!

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: February 19, 2014, 2:44 pm

    Hi, Jessica. I’d say it’s neither good nor bad, but is just an experience. Just keep on with the practice, and regard the experience as just one of those things that happens from time to time, without obsessing about it.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: February 19, 2014, 2:46 pm

    I’m not really sure what you mean, Praveen. Can you say more?

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    Comment from Kym
    Time: February 19, 2014, 9:29 pm

    I’m back with another question. During a recent meditation, I experienced this humming sound. Sort of a vibration, which was pretty loud. It startled me at first, but I accepted it. The odd part is that I started hearing it randomly outside of meditation. Comes and goes for no apparent reason. Do you know what this might be?

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: February 19, 2014, 9:53 pm

    Hi, Kym.

    There’s a good chance that it’s just sounds being produced in your ears — not necessarily tinnitus, but a more “normal” kid of internal noise. I’ve had similar sounds at times, although for me it’s a high whistle. I generally just ignore it as part of the background. In fact I’m becoming aware that I can hear the whistle now, and that I hadn’t been paying attention to it.

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    Comment from Kym
    Time: February 19, 2014, 10:01 pm

    Thank you for the response. It’s a sound I’ve never heard before. Maybe it will pass.

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    Comment from Maggs
    Time: February 21, 2014, 7:47 am

    Hi
    I’ve been meditating for more than a year (Mindfulness)and I’m now experiencing shallow breathing and able to quickly get into a peaceful state (not feeling my feet, hands etc). I say, that I am a peaceful soul, and have been saying this for sometime, only to notice that in my actual life, it is not the case. I find myself irritable, at times, angry and not happy. Am I doing something wrong.
    Thanks

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    Comment from Matt
    Time: February 23, 2014, 7:55 pm

    Hi Bodhipaksa,

    I think you are doing a real service by replying so carefully to everyone’s questions about meditation. So I have one of my own. I have been meditating for about 15 years, in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. For the past 9 years, I have been doing Mahamudra meditation in particular, an approach which involves quite a number of different stages (though roughly it breaks down to preliminary practices, shamatha and vipassana, as these are interpreted by this tradition). I try to do about 2 hours of meditation a day; sometimes it’s more, sometimes a little less. Basically, it all seems to be going well, though of course with lots of ups and downs.

    In the last 3 years, though, perhaps coinciding more or less with focusing on vipassana, 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. At first it seemed to occur only when I meditated, then it began to be pretty much all the time. There was a period where I was quite worried about it, and it certainly interfered with my ability to do long meditation sessions.

    Now I do have a teacher, but he is in India, so I cannot just see him whenever I like. However, at one point I was able to meet with him and he advised me to go a doctor and make sure there was nothing wrong physically. Well I did that, and in fact saw multiple doctors, various healers and so forth. The doctors never found anything, while the healers, of course, always did, but no program seemed to clearly help. I have also spoken with other Tibetan lamas since, but all of them found my situation a little odd.

    Ironically–since I am now asking you this question–I appear to be getting better at this point; certainly it’s a lot better than it was at the worst of it a couple years ago. I have learned to relax about the situation, and am no longer in a state of worry about it. But how to understand it? The best hypothesis I could come up with (based on all the people I saw) is that I have too much chi/prana/lung in my head, as a result of my practice–that it is somehow not circulating properly. Now I have started doing chi gong about a month ago and it very well may be making a difference (yoga and exercise also seem to be helpful). I still have the feeling of pressure, but either it is not as intense or somehow it doesn’t bother me as much. I certainly don’t feel vaguely “sick” in the way I did and there is a good deal more fluctuation in my feeling of pressure than there had been. But still I would obviously like not to have any pressure at all, and would be able to do more meditation if that were the case–which is my aim. Interestingly, my meditation does seem to be deepening through all of this; there is generally a lot of clarity and stillness, as well as a certain kind of intensity. Sometimes the head pressure seems to morph into a deeper state of meditation in an odd, hard-to-explain sort of way. But the pressure usually does not go away altogether.

    So my question is whether you are at all familiar with what I am describing and, of course, whether you can offer any advice as to what to do. Thank you for listening.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 3, 2014, 10:13 am

    Hi, Matt.

    I’ve heard from several people of a similar sense of pressure, often on the forehead. So far no one’s experienced any ill effects that I’ve heard of, so I don’t think it’s harmful at all.

    it strikes me that this is similar in many ways to other sensations that can sometimes arise in meditation, especially where the mind is starting to settle down. Sometimes normal sensations can be perceived in an exaggerated way — as if the mind is taking a magnifying glass to them. So sometimes people find that the hands feel very large, for example. I suspect that that’s all that’s going on here: your mind is noticing normal sensations, but magnifying them.

    The general principles I suggest for these kinds of experiences are 1) just to accept the sensations (don’t worry about them, and don’t get elated) and 2) just keep on with the practice. You’re not quite ignoring them — more acknowledging them and moving on.

    But if the sensation of pressure is very prominent, to the point where you don’t find that you can do that, then feel free to pay attention to it, taking a kindly interest. I’d suggest noticing and naming the various “sub-components” of the sensation: pulsing, tingling, pressure, pain, etc. And then notice that each of those sensations is continually changing — coming into being and passing away — and really notice the quality of change that’s taking place. If you focus more on the fact of change, then the sensation itself becomes less troublesome.

    Lastly, if the pressure is causing you suffering, then wish the suffering well, with the usual lovingkindness phrases: “May you be well; may you be happy; may you be free from suffering.”

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 3, 2014, 10:21 am

    Hi, Maggs.

    Well, on the positive side it does sound like you’re managing to calm your mind in meditation, so that’s good. You don’t say anything about doing lovingkindness meditation, which is something I’d recommend taking up. It really is an indispensable complement to mindfulness of breathing.

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    Comment from Ana
    Time: March 11, 2014, 12:04 pm

    Hi Bodhipaksa,
    i am having some very bad consequences from meditation and i dont know what to do. I started to meditate in jan. When i meditated, i watched my chest a lot and all the emotions that were there and i pushed them down to my belly and to my genital area. (i have no idea why i have done this)
    After less then 2 weeks, I woke up one day with a strange feeling inside of me. I started to get really scared, anxious, and i had a very poor sleep for almost a week. I was feeling like my chest was almost opened and i was feeling quite vulnerable and every sound or emotion would be to big for me.. I started to take some pills and the sleep got better. the anxious feeling are gone now (almoste 2 month after) but i am still having the strange sensation of having the chest vulnerable and everytime i breath, I feel like the breathing is travelling from my chest to my genital organs. also, i started to be very sexual arroused. I have read on the internet some stuff and i have found something very distrubing regarding the awaikaning of kundalini. i really dont think this is the case, as i have just meditated for 30 minutes/ for less than 2 weeks. I was really a positive and happy person before this meditation started and now i am a mess. i have stoped meditation for 2 month and i am still having this open chest sensation and i almost can watch the breathing when it moves in my body from my chest, down. it is really scarry and i really hope it will go away and i could come back to my lfe as it was.

    i would really appreciate your advice on this.

    thanks so much

    Ana

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 12, 2014, 2:26 pm

    Hi, Ana.

    I’d certainly agree it’s a good idea for you to stop meditating until you get some proper guidance.

    I don’t think you can really push emotions down to the genital area. Your emotions manifest as sensations in the heart and solar plexus, for sure (there are major nerves in that area) and you probably tensed up in that area to make those sensations harder to detect, and at the same time took more awareness to the sensations arising lower down in the body. That suppression of emotion is an odd thing to do, as you acknowledge. I’m sure you had what seemed like good reasons for doing this, even if you’re not clear at the moment what those were.

    Feeling like the chest is opening and having a feeling of vulnerability are both very normal and healthy experiences to have in meditation. There is a major nerve running through the chest, called the vagus, and it can become very active during meditation — especially during lovingkindness and compassion meditation, but this can happen during any form of practice. This vagal activation can produce a feeling of liquid warmth and openness. Now for some reason you’re interpreting those sensations as something threatening, although as I said they’re normal and healthy. So I’d suggest just accepting them and seeing them as signs of emotional health.

    You’re probably also just becoming more aware of the body generally — hence the sense of physical arousal — but the vagus also runs down to the uterus and cervix, so again the sensations you’re experiencing are probably a sign of vagal health.

    A healthy and active vagus is a good thing. People with an active vagus are more friendly and compassionate, and more likely to help others. I do wonder, though, if there are psychological reasons why you might be afraid of having an “open heart.” If you have reasons to distrust people, for example, then that could lead to fear arising in response to signs of compassion. Any thoughts?

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    Comment from aaron hadeed
    Time: March 13, 2014, 9:35 am

    hello
    im doing from 15 months.in start i did rose meditation for month then i start blue light meditation.In start i stated to see images mostly girls face and one or 2 times horror faces.2 months ago i was having strange feeling like someone is sitting in front of me.that thing really scare me and its happened to me all the time when i meditate then i stop meditation and that thing gone sometimes i feel that thing when im alone.then after few week start meditation again and i started to heard.once i just finished my mediation and i was about to sleep.i was half awake and i heard a very loud and clear voice of spark and i woke up start looking around i was just near my ears then i slept.i ofen hear that some one is whispering in my ear.i was so scared and confuse with these things so i stop my meditation now from almost 1 month i m focusing on my breath and nothing happened.

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    Comment from Maggs
    Time: March 13, 2014, 10:02 am

    Many thanks. I will try this and let you know how I get on.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 13, 2014, 11:15 am

    Hi, Aaron.

    I confess I’ve no idea what the “rose meditation” or “blue light meditation” are. You don’t say who taught you those practices or whether you’ve asked that person for advice, or whether in fact you made the practices up yourself.

    Anyway, I’m glad to hear that you’re focusing on your breath — at least I know that’s a real meditation practice — and that you’ve stopped having these mild hallucinations. They almost certainly weren’t harmful at all, but were just dream-like thoughts arising in a semi-focused state of mind. But whatever you were doing in these two “meditation” practices probably wasn’t benefiting you very much if you were in such a dream-like state, and so it’s no doubt a good thing that you’ve given them up.

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    Comment from Ana
    Time: March 14, 2014, 4:04 am

    Thanks a lot Bodhipaksa,

    It really helps a lot to see that what I am going through is normal and that it’s nothing to be afraid of. When I have started to google this, I have found a lot of strange responses and things that increased my anxiety (as kundalini and other odd things). But you know, sometimes if you google a small symptom, some forums will tell you have cancer I stopped meditation and I am trying to focus on my everyday life and my friends as for some reason this whole experience made me very anxious. Perhaps, this is because I have just lost a pregnancy, I don’t know. Anyhow, you have helped a lot and it is really very nice that you are taking time to respond to all the questions. Have a nice day, Ana

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    Comment from peter machado
    Time: March 19, 2014, 10:01 pm

    My meditation started in the 70’s with TM, but then recently I started Christian Meditation in my church (2012), and while the mechanics is the same, the goal became different. I stopped monitoring my “progress” and paid no attention to it. While not regular morning and night, since I haven’t been to develop the discipline, I catch myself doing it at odd times, when I’m bored, when waiting for the bus, when waiting for anything, when I try to stay alert – to keep from falling asleep (when my son as a baby had colic all night I used it to stay awake). I have a very keen alert sensation in meditation, and I find I can bring this on at will. Even more recently, I dreamed that I was posing questions (to what I don’t know, maybe a computer?) and all I had to do was think the question, as hitting the Enter key on a search engine, and the answer would be there almost simultaneously; all the set of questions that arose as a result of the answer were also instantly submitted and their answers were immediately (simultaneously, almost) retrieved. This went on until the pace slackened, and then started up again; a very weird dream, but amazingly interesting and exciting.

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    Comment from Melvin
    Time: March 20, 2014, 9:29 am

    I started meditating for a few months with eyes wide open. I am starting to feel the energy flow in my head during the meditation and goes away when I finish meditating. (Normally I will meditate approx. 45 minutes). Please advise whether I am meditating in the correct manner. Thank you.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 20, 2014, 10:43 am

    Hi, Melvin.

    It’s simply not possible to tell from this brief description whether you’re meditation practice is heading in the right direction. If you have a meditation teacher, then it would be a good idea to talk to him or her. Or perhaps you could find a teacher, or join an online community like the one Wildmind has on Google Plus.

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    Comment from Melvin
    Time: March 20, 2014, 12:05 pm

    Hi Bodhipaksa,

    Thanks for your prompt reply.How do I join the online community? Meanwhile, I have forgotten to tell you the method of my meditation is by focussing on the breathing of in and out where I felt the energy converging in my head during the meditation.
    Regards.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 20, 2014, 7:17 pm

    Hi, Melvin.

    Follow the link and, if necessary, open a Google Plus account. That should take care of it.

    All the best,
    Bodhipaksa

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    Comment from Melvin
    Time: March 21, 2014, 2:57 pm

    Hi Bodhipaksa,

    Thanks for your reply.

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    Comment from Pradeep
    Time: March 24, 2014, 2:33 am

    Hello Bodhipaksa,

    I need your help regrading my meditation practice.I have learnt saptkosha meditation, which is a practice of observation from outter world to breath, body, thoughts and emotions and then on nothing at last.
    I have specific queries regarding posturing and experiences.

    1. when i do this practice sitting with back supported, i find my neck very stiff after some 40-50 minutes session. so can i meditate lying down posture.

    2. Sometimes things disturbs or take my attention from meditaion like sliva in mouth or heart beats or breathing even after 40 minutes meditation or so.

    3.After 40-50 minutes meditation some laughter automatically comes and goes or sometime i kind of become sad but mostly laughter.

    4.consciousness comes and go between vivid dreams when i try to ignore them.

    5. and some times i feel heavy physical pulling of eyes inside.

    I want formal training and good literature regarding meditaion.
    I practiced it for some 8-9 months and then left and statrting again now…….

    Regrads
    pradeep

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 24, 2014, 11:15 am

    Hi, Pradeep.

    I wish I had time to reply in detail to all the comments posted on this site, but unfortunately that’s not always possible, especially when there are multiple questions in one comment, as is the case here. I also find myself wondering why you don’t direct these questions to your saptkosha meditation teacher. I’m afraid I’ve never heard of saptkosha meditation.

    But to reply to your first question, it’s certainly possible to meditate lying down, but it’s not ideal. It would be best to find out what’s going on with your meditation posture, and get that sorted out. There’s probably some misalignment that’s putting strain on your neck muscles. Unfortunately I’m not in a position to diagnose what’s going on, so you might want to consult with your meditation teacher, or a reputable yoga teacher or chiropractor.

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    Comment from Pradeep
    Time: March 24, 2014, 2:08 pm

    hello Bodhipaksa,

    Thanks for your reply and give your valuable time, I am sorry that i wrongly remember the meditation techique name. Its “panchkosha” meditation and i learnt it in 5 days course during my graduation 2 years back and started practicing later on and i sit in full lotus posture for meditation.

    Thanks again for your reply I will try to find a yoga teacher for these queries.
    Regards
    pradeep

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: March 24, 2014, 4:07 pm

    Ah, wrong number of “koshas”! I still haven’t heard of that form of meditation, though. Perhaps you can track down your original panchkosha teacher and get more specific advice.

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    Comment from Cameron
    Time: April 1, 2014, 10:58 am

    Ok so I recently learned of spirituality about a year and a half ago,i believe just after learning of enlightenment, and I have learned quite a bit about spirtuality since then. Recently, I have been reading on meditation( ive practiced meditation a few times; no specific meditation, just relaxation and calmness of the mind)and binural beats. I have always been aware of someone or something in the baxk of my mind giving me the answer to things I dont know how I would prove true, but they always made perfect sense in every current perspective, and usually come to be correct. I have always had someone back there who feels like its me, but I know its the me with all the answers I want; hard to explain. But then I learned it could have always been my sub conscience or something and in my path for spiritual enlightenment I need to better know both my physical and etherical selfs and learn some unanswered personal questions that I’m sure my sub conscious self can answer. And so I came across this book “awakening the third eye” by samuel sagan, and I was wanting to know if doing drugs affects my practices at all. And I have what I would consider poor posture and problems with fixing my spinal alignment and fear it is blocking my chakra from flowing and allowing me to grow.
    Please help me, man? Im new to the spiritual world, well consciously, and am doing this all on my own.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: April 1, 2014, 6:23 pm

    Hi, Cameron.

    I’d strongly suggest finding a community to practice with, under some traditional approach to spirituality, rather than trying to cobble something together from books (most spirituality books are kook-books) and various new age ideas.

    All the best,
    Bodhipaksa

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    Comment from Jack
    Time: April 7, 2014, 10:39 pm

    I have been meditating for over a year now and noticed a couple things. One is 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. I cannot help but wonder, could this be in connection with the chakras? In fact, ever since i started practicing mediation i noticed that after making love i notice these lights. Funny thing is i can only see them in complete darkness. If there is light in the room that illuminates it even so slightly i wont see it. But when it is completely dark or i close my eyes i can see it. another thing i have noticed with my meditations is that i find that my head lifts up and keeps going to the point where the back of my neck begins to hurt. Another thing i have noticed is that in some meditations is that my body leans forward after each breath i take. It get to the point where i feel like i am literally going to fall on my face. I feel this interrupts my session where i have to reposition myself. What would you recomend to remedy these two? Thank you.
    Jack

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    Comment from cameron
    Time: April 9, 2014, 10:21 pm

    thank you, man. i cant believe you actually replied to me. i usually would suspect like an automated message or something, but this is not the case haha! anyhoo, i have been trying to find some kind of organization, school, or community that would like to aid my progress, but can’t find one that doesn’t charge me, for i come from a very poor community, both financially and spiritually. and i am one of the only people i’ve ever met that has a mind or perception of life that i have. it’s really sad, man. the people i know who do have a spiritual outlook on life that i know of have a very limited and biased christian outlook on life or are cluelessly looking for answers as i do. so the christians are of very little help and my other 3 or 5 friends are not only available to group with and search with but in the same confused boat as i am :( so if you could like point me in the right direction and give me some ideas or something like that, or tell me of someone who could, or even mentor me or something yourself, that would be such a fantastic and progressive help. you and i aren’t the only ones who benefit either, because whatever it is that i learn and come to understand in life is also taught and spread to any and every other open mind that ever comes my way!!!! i love to share and spread as much knowledge as the listening ear can possibly take, and to simplify knowledge that is harder to understand into a much less complex way of understanding to help further progress one’s understanding without painful hours being spent trying to wrap your head around it. so please, help me understand and you will start off a chain reaction of awakenings, because for some reason people like to just follow what i do. PLEEEAASE HELP!!!!

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    Comment from Lori
    Time: April 13, 2014, 12:13 pm

    I started to practice meditation in order to do a mental house cleaning. I had realized that few positive things crossed my mind through the day. I thought I was doing great feeling great, then all the sudden I felt like something was upon, disturbing me. I couldn’t get it off me it was aching feeling. I have quit meditating and want to return but am a little nervous. Do you know what this comes from?

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: April 16, 2014, 2:23 pm

    Hi, Lori.

    It’s difficult to know from such a brief description (“something was upon [me?], disturbing me”) what you’re experiencing. It sounds like you at the very least are feeling an uncomfortable sensation of some sort. There’s nothing wrong with experiencing discomfort, and there can be many reasons for that to happen. It sounds like you responded to this discomfort with perhaps fear and aversion, which is natural, but not helpful. What would be good is for you to practice accepting the presence of discomfort. It will pass in time, and sometimes this kind of thing passes very quickly. Often what we were afraid of turns out to be rather insubstantial and insignificant — our own fear was what was causing us to suffer. Feel free to tell me more about what was going on for you, and I can say more.

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    Comment from Kim
    Time: April 23, 2014, 1:57 pm

    Hi there. I recently have been introduced to LOA and meditation to help build my self esteem and get rid of so much negativity that has built up over years. I am so new to the meditation thing that I started with Deepak / Oprah 21 day meditation. I have found that the past 2 nights (meditation was in evening btw) have been sleeping odd. Im trying to recall as much as I can. I should have written it down to remember, but 2 nights ago I must have had an odd dream/vision. All I can remember at this point is a person walked out from this really bright light and approached me. I cant remember what was said, but I do remember just asking for their guidance and assistance to help me improve myself from within. Thats it. I cant remember anymore. Last night I slept horribly. I take sleeping pills to slow down the mind, but yet last night I woke up at 3:30 wide awake. Dont remember any dreams, but it was a horrible sleep. Is this normal to see odd things and not sleep well? Should I be doing the meditation in the morning instead?

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: April 25, 2014, 7:05 pm

    I think it would be a good idea to switch to morning meditations and see what happens. It’s quite common, when people take up meditation, or do more of it than usual, that they have more powerful dreams and remember their dreams more.

    Meditation has actually been shown to improve the quality of sleep for insomniacs, so I’d suggest persevering. However I’ve no idea what Chopra does in his 21 day meditation challenges; he’s not a teacher that I have a high regard for, and it may be that it’s the specific forms of meditation you’re doing that’s causing your sleeplessness.

    I do have some advice, drawn from my own experience, of how to use meditative techniques to combat insomnia. You might want to check that out.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: April 25, 2014, 7:08 pm

    Why don’t you join Wildmind’s community on Google+, Cameron? There’s a lot of friendly people there willing to give you support. With that, and the teachings available on this site, you have both a set of practices and a community.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: April 26, 2014, 11:55 am

    Hi, Jack.

    Sorry for the delayed reply — I’ve had a very busy time recently. As for the lights, see some of my comments above. They’re just a distraction, and you should ignore them.

    It’s really impossible to say what’s going on with your posture just by a brief verbal description. Generally, though, the chin lifting is a sign that people are absorbed in thinking in an excited way, leading to physical tension. I don’t know what you’re doing in your meditation practice (and you don’t say what kind of practice you’re doing) but from this, and your comment on the lights, it sounds like your attention is not very grounded in the experience of the body while you’re meditating.

    But there also may be something postural related to the way you’re sitting. As I said, with just a description like this there’s not much I can offer by way of advice. I’d really need to see how you sit, what you’re sitting on, where there’s tension in the body, etc.

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    Comment from Melvin
    Time: April 29, 2014, 11:50 am

    Hi Bodhipaksa

    Thank you for your constant feedback.

    Lately, I have experienced a certain surge of concentration in my mind which results in warmness in my head and sudden fast breathing during my meditation.

    Kindly advise whether it is normal.

    Thank you.

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    Pingback from Meditation Techniques: How To Get Started On Mind Relaxation | My Best Yoga
    Time: April 29, 2014, 9:41 pm

    […] are still ways to check in. Wildmild advises that you can tell that meditation is helping you if you begin to develop more concentration or start noticing things like your breathing or how particular parts of your body feel while you’re meditating. You may also feel calmer […]

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: April 30, 2014, 12:34 pm

    Hi, Melvin.

    That sounds like what we call piti (priti in Sanskrit). It’s a feeling of energy, which sometimes has a rushing quality to it. It’s quite normal, and it’s a good sign, because it only happens when we’re relaxing and emotional conflict is being resolved. The thing is just to accept it, without trying to resist or intensify it. It sounds, from the change in your breathing, as if you’re getting a bit excited by it. If that keeps happening, try becoming more aware of any joy that’s present, and let that be the focus of your attention instead. That’ll help keep you calmer, and let you go deeper into your meditation.

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    Comment from Melvin
    Time: May 1, 2014, 9:13 am

    Hi Bodhipaksa

    Thank you for your valuable advise.

    God Bless you.

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    Comment from Ugo
    Time: May 2, 2014, 4:07 am

    hi, everytime i meditate in the dark. when i open my eyes and i look at my hands i can se 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

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    Comment from Ren
    Time: May 3, 2014, 6:02 pm

    Hi Bodhipaksa
    I have experienced a similar meditation 2x’s 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. I don’t hear what it is saying. Do you have an idea of what I am seeing?
    With gratitude and blessings for all you do.

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    Comment from Lorraine
    Time: May 4, 2014, 6:54 pm

    Hi Bodhipaksa,

    I have one or two questions please,

    1: Feeling hungry near end of meditation, even though i would have eaten an hour before starting.( the hunger is like i havent eaten in a week)

    2:Im starting to get great heat in my Hands and they tingle
    But after meditation i get cold fast, where id need to put a jumper on:( i do have Raynauds )

    3: During meditation i get flashes of images,(not all the time, can be White light, to a red circle) but i cant recall it back, the only way i can describe it is a car journey and you are looking out the window when you see something then its gone, Strangest thing i have seen is a foot, a mans foot.

    I sometimes feel i am not doing it right, i focus on breath, then my mind is blank, then my thoughts get louder and when i give up an hour or 2 may have passed, yet feels like i was sitting for only 5 minutes:

    Finally: Since starting there can be days where i can get angry or agitated in myself ( out of character for me) after meditating, could be a day or two afterwards ( if i dont meditate daily)
    I just dont understand why i would feel agitated, when i am ment to feel good and at peace, Am i doing it wrong?

    I have googled looking for answers but i cant find anything

    Thank you

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: May 8, 2014, 12:25 pm

    I’d suggest checking out a new page I just created which discusses these kinds of experiences, Ren.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: May 8, 2014, 12:26 pm

    Hi, Ugo. Try checking out this page on odd experiences in meditation, which I created to save me having to answer one-by-one the kind of question you’ve raised.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: May 9, 2014, 9:55 am

    Hi, Lorraine.

    That seems to be five, rather than one or two… :)

    1: Feeling hungry near end of meditation, even though i would have eaten an hour before starting.( the hunger is like i havent eaten in a week)

    Just notice the hunger mindfully. There can be a tendency to treat hunger as an emergency, but it’s just a sensation. You can choose just to notice it with curiosity. I’ve written about the practice of mindful hunger elsewhere.

    2:Im starting to get great heat in my Hands and they tingle
    But after meditation i get cold fast, where id need to put a jumper on:( i do have Raynauds )

    The heat in the hands is a sign that you’re relaxing, and that blood is flowing to your extremities. That’s what happens when the parasympathetic nervous system is activated. Because of this you’re losing body heat, and so afterward you feel cold. Try wrapping a blanket around your legs (not your upper body unless your environment is very cold).

    3: During meditation i get flashes of images,(not all the time, can be White light, to a red circle) but i cant recall it back, the only way i can describe it is a car journey and you are looking out the window when you see something then its gone, Strangest thing i have seen is a foot, a mans foot.

    They’re of no significance. Just allow them to pass. Pay more attention to the sensations in your body (the breathing, etc.) and your mind won’t have so much mental space available for generating random imagery.

    I sometimes feel i am not doing it right, i focus on breath, then my mind is blank, then my thoughts get louder and when i give up an hour or 2 may have passed, yet feels like i was sitting for only 5 minutes:

    Presumably by a “blank” mind you mean that you’re not talking to yourself. Sometimes we think a lot, sometimes we think less. That’s not a sign that you’re doing it wrong. It’s just how it happens sometimes.

    Finally: Since starting there can be days where i can get angry or agitated in myself ( out of character for me) after meditating, could be a day or two afterwards ( if i dont meditate daily)
    I just dont understand why i would feel agitated, when i am ment to feel good and at peace, Am i doing it wrong?

    Perhaps you’re becoming more sensitive to feelings in the body because of your meditation. And since those feelings can include things like hurt, you may be finding that you’re more sensitive, emotionally. I’d suggest that you pay attention to what’s happening when you are more reactive like this. What’s sparking it off? Is is fear, hurt, frustration? See if you can notice those feelings mindfully, and not react to them with anger or irritation.

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    Comment from Arthur
    Time: May 30, 2014, 12:17 pm

    I am six weeks into daily ten-minute mediation. Last week I started noticing the following sensation in my brain during the first minute of mediation. When I close my eyes and slowly exhale several times to quite my mind and prepare for a session, all of the sudden it feels like an energy of entire brain converges to the front (behind the eyebrows) of my brain and slowly contracts almost like a muscle. I can’t say it hurts but I certainly feel it. Then “it” slowly relaxes and the next twenty or thirty seconds are devoid of anything – I don’t notice anything, no breathing, there’s no physical me, just a void that is self-aware. Interestingly if I think about the formation of the “brain muscle” it immediately subsides, but if I let go and simply allow it by gently noticing it (not “staring” at it), it develops into a full sensation. I can now produce this physical sensation at will; but if I do it several times in succession I get a heavy feeling right behind my eyebrows; but it eventually subsides. I am so very grateful for the Creator for answering my prayers and giving me the gifts of Meditation, Frequency and The Law of Attraction. There’s one other experience I’d like to share with you – how I envisioned curing my flu and got better in under an hour. But that’s before I discovered Meditation and it might be unrelated to this blog. Thank you for your time and for sharing your wisdom. Sincerely, Arthur.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: June 2, 2014, 12:07 pm

    Hi, Arthur.

    I’d suggest that you head over to the accompanying page on odd experiences in meditation. I’d imagine that what you’re experiencing is what’s called a “nimitta.” This is a good thing, but the important thing is that a nimitta is a sign that you’re going deeper in meditation rather than the nimitta itself. But it is good to pay attention to these sensations and just allow them to be there, since they seem to involve a kind of feedback loop, where paying attention to the sensations takes you deeper, which stabilizes or even intensifies the sensations, and so on.

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    Comment from Gaurang
    Time: June 7, 2014, 9:21 am

    Hi, I have been practicing meditation for 15 minutes since a month. While meditating my breath get really slow and sometimes I feel that I was not breathing at all. But as described above by other meditators I don’t get any sensation nor any dreams my mind gets just blank. At first I thought that this is a good sign and I am progressing well, but these day my mind is in blank state not just during meditation but all the time throught the day; I am not able to think at all. Now after mediation I feel sleepy and active both at the same time. Am I doing it in wrong way? Should I stop practicing?

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: June 7, 2014, 11:35 am

    This doesn’t sound at all healthy, Gaurang. I’d certainly suggest stopping, or trying another form of meditation, like metta bhavana.

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    Comment from kristi
    Time: June 20, 2014, 1:41 am

    Hi bodhipaksa,
    last night i meditated for about 15mins in the middle of my meditating i felt weird. I suddenly felt a heat and my body became sweat and i felt that i’m running out of breath..

    Is this normal or i’m doing the wrong practice?

    thanks for your time.

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    Comment from Mandi
    Time: July 12, 2014, 2:42 am

    I had an experience with meditation almost 20 years ago when i was 18 that i have never discussed with anyone educated on the subject. I meditated by relaxing my body and focusing on my breathing until everything melted away and i found myself engulfed in a soft white light. Not flashing ligts or moving lights but almost as though i was floating in an empty room and the air itself was light. It’s very difficult to describe because it was so amazing but a few words i can use to describe my sense of it are peaceful, love, knowledge, timeless and complete. It was such a significant event in my life that i have never let go of the memory and for the past couple of months i think about it more and more. I have never tried to meditate again (althoug 20 years ago i experienced it two nights in a row) and i have been so conflicted between believing that what i experienced was real and the ways it changed my views on life but doubting myself because it was so long ago and i have never had any spiritual or meditation guidance. I guess my question would be is there any significance to my experience or should i stop dwelling on it?
    Thank you for taking the time to read my post and for all the knowledge you share.
    Mandi

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: August 28, 2014, 9:53 am

    Hi, Kristi.

    Sorry for the delayed reply. Busy summer!

    What you’re describing could be many things — even a virus! I wouldn’t be concerned about it unless it became a regular occurrence.

    All the best,
    Bodhipaksa

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: August 28, 2014, 11:22 am

    Hi, Mandi.

    An experience like that is certainly significant in personal ways. It’s good to have “peak experiences” in life that we can recall, and often those memories can bring us some joy. But on the other hand, it’s just an experience. It probably hasn’t radically transformed you. You’ve opened a door in the past, seen something lovely on the other side, and then decided not to open that door again.

    If you started meditating again you probably wouldn’t have the same experience again. You’re a different person now, and conditions are different. Maybe you know that. At the same time, meditating isn’t, fundamentally, about the peak experiences. It’s about the gradual work to develop skillful qualities like mindfulness, patience, courage, kindness, compassion, and wisdom. Sometimes as we develop those qualities we pause and just bathe in the beauty of our experience (as you did), and that’s great because it inspires and nourishes us as we get back to work. Eventually life can become more like that experience — less extreme, but imbued with an ongoing sense of stillness and love.

    Anyway, I’d say it’s up to you whether or not to make that experience meaningful. I’d suggest that to do so you might want to gather your courage, take the plunge, and start meditating again. Don’t expect to repeat the experience. It may or may not happen again. But it’s a preview of what your life could be like.

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    Comment from Bodhipaksa
    Time: August 30, 2014, 1:28 pm

    I’ve closed the comments on this post because of the large number of them. If you’ve had unusual experiences in meditation that you’re uncertain about, I’d suggest:

    1. Reading the article above.
    2. Reading the comments above.
    3. Reading this article on unusual experiences in meditation.