Signs of progress in meditation

smoke

  • 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.

Share on Google+Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on StumbleUponPin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

227 Comments. Leave new

avatar
Jason Jackson Johnson Smith
October 29, 2013 12:15 pm

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

What do you mean by “bite”?

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.

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

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.”

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

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…

avatar
[INTP] trouble day-dreaming - Page 2
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 […]

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…

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.

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

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.

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

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

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!

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.

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?

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.”

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

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?

avatar
aaron hadeed
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.

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.

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

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

avatar
peter machado
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.

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.

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.

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.

Hi, Melvin.

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

All the best,
Bodhipaksa

Hi Bodhipaksa,

Thanks for your reply.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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!!!!

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.

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?

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

avatar
Meditation Techniques: How To Get Started On Mind Relaxation | My Best Yoga
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 […]

Hi Bodhipaksa

Thank you for your valuable advise.

God Bless you.

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

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.

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.

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

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

avatar
Bodhipaksa
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.

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.

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.

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?

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

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.

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

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

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.

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.