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Meditation Experience--Some Fear to go Deeper

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  • Meditation Experience--Some Fear to go Deeper

    Dear Venerable Bhikkus,

    I just experienced for the first time (except for once when I was much younger) a state of bliss and peace during meditation. But it wasn't bliss that elevated me to a sort of artificial ecstasy (the kind one may get giddy over), it just awed me...it was stunning. I don't know what it was that I experienced, to be honest, and I'm a bit baffled by it. It didn't take very long to begin, as I had been listening to one of the Dhamma talk videos. I noticed my mind becoming very still, so I closed my eyes and listened to the end, and then did a bit of breath meditation afterwards, because I seemed so relaxed. I usually sit upright to meditate, but that has proved difficult as it is uncomfortable for me and I was often focused on my posture. This time, I was reclined and it seemed much easier to relax.

    Then, after a very startlingly brief time spent on the breath, it was like this...depth...opened up in my mind. Previously, a bluish light would come and go when my breathing would become relaxed, but that was about it. But this time, it expanded and was so much brighter and luminescent. I was frightened a bit, because I often fear the intrusion of my thoughts...they usually interrupt my breath meditation and make for a period of restlessness and mental activity while I struggle to quiet the thoughts. Usually, the thoughts intrude nonetheless. This time, I could form the beginnings of a thought if I wanted to, and I was afraid that would stop the luminous light, but instead, I didn't complete the thoughts (I just knew that I could form them if I wished) and the light continued. I could occasionally hear noise from outside while observing the light, and I was aware when I swallowed my saliva, but my mind didn't dwell on these things, other than to kind of inspect how curious they were that I could be experiencing this beautiful light while these other, worldly things were happening and yet not interrupting the light or making it go away by focusing my attention on other things. I was almost afraid of what was happening, or I should say, afraid of going deeper but also afraid of coming out of the experience. Is this a normal fear? It was kind of an uneasiness, but...I was very calm and peaceful, too. I just didn't know what to make of any of it.

    The experience only lasted a little while. I'm not sure how long, really, but probably no more than 5-10 minutes. I don't want to get conceited and say it was a nimitta, because in Venerable Ajahn Brahm's book, I know he describes nimitta as requiring a long time of sustained attention on the breath without thought. This all happened to me very suddenly, without much effort, and came as a surprise--I knew my mind was feeling particularly still, but I didn't expect anything like this to happen. Does this sound like a preparatory stage before nimitta, when some thought-forming is still present? Whatever it was, it was beautiful. That was amazing. As a scientist who remained skeptical about such states, I have to say that I am profoundly, deeply humbled and amazed. I was not hallucinating, I was definitely not asleep, and I was not imagining things. If anything, there wasn't enough volitional thought to imagine anything.

    Any thoughts you might have as to what this could have been that occurred, as well as why it might happen, especially when I was least expecting it and without much preparation, would be greatly appreciated. I should mention that I have not been meditating as regularly as I had been, but I have been trying to live morally and be kind. I've also been listening to Dhamma talks and contemplating the Dhamma. I don't know if that helped the situation to come to fruition, but I imagine it couldn't hurt. :-) Thank you again.

    With metta and respect,

    Jenny A.

  • #2
    Dear Jenny,

    It is not unusual to experience nimmita-like lights even when in a home environment situation. What Ajahn Brahm teaches is that the best (but not all) nimittas occur after going through the breath and the associated piti-sukkha. So, good work!

    With metta,

    J.R.

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    • #3
      Dear Venerable Bhikku Jhanarato,

      Ah, I had no idea that they could arise without what I assumed would be a long and arduous period of sitting, most likely in a retreat session. I pictured my hair growing past my feet and my fingernails 3-feet long and curling around my wrists and me opening my eyes and going "Finally!". Haha. I did not expect to just plop down for a bit of meditation and to stumble onto something like that.

      Thank you so much for the clarification. Do bits of inspiration like this come along occasionally to show us we're on the right path and inspire us, giving us more motivation to continue? I definitely was having trouble before this getting back on the cushion regularly.

      With metta and respectful thanks,

      Jenny A.

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      • #4
        Do bits of inspiration like this come along occasionally to show us we're on the right path and inspire us, giving us more motivation to continue?
        Indeed they do. :-)

        J.R.

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        • #5
          My added two cents:

          A few years ago, I asked Ajahn Brahm during a retreat about 'seeing lights' but still hearing things in the outside world, and Ajahn Brahm just used a simple layman's term "It's like a movie trailer."



          However, Jenny, it seems your trailer was quite something!

          Much metta,

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          • #6
            Dear Dheerayupa,

            Yes, I'm very much looking forward to the full-length, feature movie! :-)

            With metta,

            Jenny

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            • #7


              Mega metta to you.

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