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Pre-Jhana Level Experience of Physical Nimitta

This is part of my Meditation Journal with dozens of posts >

I found this post on an old backup CD-ROM I have. I had posted to some meditation group about some of the odd experiences I was having while meditating. Pretty fun to read now.


Hi all.

I’ve lurked here for quite a while because I haven’t had much to offer.

I think I do now though…

I’ve been practicing mindfulness of breathing sporadically for the past few months. By sporadic I mean once every 2 – 30 days–pretty sporadically in other words, right? Anyway. I learned mindfulness of breathing from my fiance’s father who is from Thailand and who is Buddhist.

I’ve been reading up on much of Thich Nhat Hanh’s stuff as well as various zen books and even J. Krishnamurti’s philosophy and diary. I tell you all of this because I have yet to come across anything in my reading that is very similar to what I’ve felt when I “meditate” lately. Here it is.

About 7-8 minutes into my mindfulness of breathing meditation, I notice that the environment gets very quiet for a second or two (or who knows how long it truly is, but from my perception it is a second) and I notice that I have amazing concentration on my breath coming out and entering my nose and body. This awareness fades in and out during the rest of the meditation and can be brought back with a simple thought to pay attention to it.

After this, I notice a numb feeling in my hands and fingertips which travels up my forearms and biceps and triceps to encompass my shoulders, chest, back and lower torso and finally my legs from my thighs downward to finally my feet. When the numbness is moving down past my chest I start to feel a “fatness” starting in the center of my chest which spreads outwardly toward my arms/hands and downward to my lower torso and legs and eventually feet.

When my whole body has been numbed I no longer am aware of my body and it’s physical bounds, but I am more aware of my mind which I “feel” has moved from the head and is now encompassing my whole body – not just stuck in the head.

This “fatness” that I spoke of is the thing I’ve really not encountered through reading or through talking to others who meditate. By “fatness” I mean that my physical body, though numb, feels as if it wants to expand in all directions! I feel physically fat! It’s the weirdest feeling – I wish I could explain it better to you. At this time I feel as if my mind is extremely powerful and capable of changing the body to any shape that it chooses. I don’t actually have any “conscious” input / desires / wants while I am in this state, it’s like the mind just naturally wants to expand and stretch the limits of the body.

By far the most “odd” things is that when I am in this state I have this very strong “push” from the powerful mind that is seeking to push the body into different shapes. I told you it was different. I felt as if the mind really wanted to flatten the body out into a sort of cubic cylinder (like the shape of a 2’x2’x 5′ board.

Even stranger though, was that at one end of the shape (which I was actually becoming in my mind) I felt as if that which was my head was becoming even more elongated and stretching into a point (have you all seen Terminator 2 when the policeman’s finger turned into the liquid metal and stretched out? Sort of like that). I think that the force was trying to stretch to this point because it represented an extreme focusing of power and concentration in this point form. I don’t know how to say this well, but this force inside my body was all moving toward this concentrated point and I felt that the force was incredibly powerful as it was moving toward this shape.

During this time I can sporadically be aware of sounds in my house, like the dog snoring (very clearly) lucidly. I can just acknowledge the outside sound and then focus with extreme clarity back on the breathing and the experience going on with this force. Sound disappears again.

The last two times I meditated, this same thing has happened to me. I am afraid to let it go further because I am fearful that I will reach nirvana or something and forsake all of my present responsibilities that I now have. I want to share with someone who may have a similar experience, or who has an equally unique experience before I go further.

I know that some will doubt my authenticity because of my lack of devotion to religiously meditating and trying to attain some sort of enlightenment, but I have noticed that I have some extreme concentration capabilities that were part of me ever since I was in grade school. I remember the teacher asking once in 4th grade if everyone in the class would sit and just try to think of nothing for the next 30 seconds. We all tried and I was the only one who stated that I could do it! She then went on to ask me to try it for one minute. I did try and succeeded. I don’t think she believed me then either–but I knew it was true about me, though it meant little then.

I did not think about the concept of “nothing” or the word, or not thinking of nothing, etc. I just totally blanked my mind for this period, like I do so much now when I am trying to “think”. I have had some experience concentrating on breathing when I did triathlons in Pennsylvania and Miami for two years, though nothing formal before about last October.

I would love to hear from anyone regarding this experience, or if you have any experiences you’d like to share, I would like to hear them.


Vern L

1 thought on “Pre-Jhana Level Experience of Physical Nimitta”

  1. Dun worry about reaching nirvana. Jhana alone can’t bring you to Nirvana directly. You need insight to attain that. And higher Jhana means less insight.

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