Fatness or Expansion of Body – Video 4

[Page updated: 30 September 2017]

This is the 4th video in the series of meditation experiences videos. The topic of this video is an experience that some people get after the mind stops thinking thoughts. The experience is what I’ve always called the “Fatness Feeling.” I have had this feeling since I was a small boy. It didn’t happen during meditation, I wasn’t doing any. It happened as I came out of sleep and woke up on my bed. I felt a numbness in my hands usually and it progressed all over my body – or, remained at the hands. It then turned into a growing feeling – my hands and/or whole body got rather numb and then felt like it was growing… expanding outwardly at all points.

A truly strange experience! I was very happy when I received this experience during meditation the first time. I cried later – there was a tremendous relief to find out what it was after all those years of not knowing. None of my friends ever had it. My family did not have it. Nobody I ever talked to – had it. I quickly stopped telling people about it for fear of being different.

Many More Videos Here >

Video 4 – Fatness – Expanding Body Feeling

60 Meditation Tips >

Pre-Jhana Levels – Experience

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 finger tips 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 itself 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 am not lying in any form here, 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.

The last two times I’ve 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.

Peace…

Vern L

Breath Slowing, and Mind Stopping – Video 3

This is the third video in the series covering various experiences that happen during meditation as you become concentrated and your mind slows down – and eventually – stops.

When the mind stops – many experiences begin. The experiences seem almost surreal or other-worldly at times. They are bizarre and sometimes even scary. It’s frightening to lose control or to give control away… This is part of the reason for creating these videos – to show you that these are normal experiences within the context of meditation – and you can go through them without any permanent harm or dysfunction. Sounds intense – right? They are!

Intense Concentration on the Breath – Video 2

In this second video I go over some of what happens as you try to concentrate on the breath, and finally are able to. I detail what is perhaps my first strange experience as the mind focused so intensely on one small sense object – the breath going in and out of the nose. It is during the experience of an intensely concentrated mind that you begin to understand how powerful the mind really is.

I had many odd – and sometimes scary – experiences during meditation. None of them were harmful in the long-term. I urge you to watch this series of videos if you are beginning meditation – to give yourself a good idea what is a normal experience. It will alleviate some of your concerns, I am sure of it! Start with Video 1 – Some Basic Meditation Experiences, here.

Video 2 – Intense Concentration on the Breath

Some Basic Meditation Experiences – Video 1

This first video, in the series of meditation experiences videos, touches on a lot of things that beginning meditators might find interesting. If you are new at meditating, you probably have a lot of questions about what you’re doing. I hope to answer some of them, just based on my experience of sitting and focusing on the breath.

Meditation can be scary and or difficult. Some that begin meditation quit quickly after they start. With this series of videos I hope to inspire you a bit by taking some of the mystery out of meditation. I’ll cover a dozen or so experiences that beginners up through advanced meditators might have – and talk about my own personal journey through some of these often “strange” events unfolding from the mind.

Watch this video to see my idea about basic meditation.

If you have any questions or comments, leave them below, or send me email at the Contact page.

Video 1 – Some Basic Meditation Experiences

Abhinna

This is something that I’ve not spoken much about at all – but, the experiences happened as a result of meditation, and I think better to tell the stories. Maybe someone else has had similar or other stories to share with me?

Abhinna deals with what most of us would consider the supernatural. These are abilities that come with meditation, in some practitioners, when concentration becomes solid.

One Abhinna is the “Divine Eye”. Another, the “Divine Ear”. Another is knowing the minds of others…

I know, it sounds like it comes right out of some sci-fi cartoon book. I can assure you that at least a couple of them are absolutely true. I’ve experienced some things that I cannot deny are abhinna. I cannot vouch for the others, but if a couple are true – then the others could well be also.

Have you ever had a supernatural experience resulting from meditation?

Meditation Questions and Answers – Biographical

Meditation and Mindfulness:
Meditation Journal, Questions and Answers Biography

A short bio – about my experience with meditation – some of the experiences of jhana or however you choose to call it…

1). Do you feel you lead a contemplative life? (A contemplative life is one that is engaged in a regular religious or spiritual activity, such as prayer or meditation, following some kind of ethical standard, such as the 10 commandments or the Buddhist precepts and some kind of religious study, such as the canon and commentaries of ones chosen religion or contemplative tradition.)

I’ve not led a contemplative ‘life’, that much is sure… starting from about age 20 I became interested in various religions and read some about buddhism, hinduism, church of mormons, etc… I have recently started to practice ‘sitting’ again. I don’t follow any religion or adhere to any tradition but my sitting is similar to Vipassana with a focus on the breath…

2) If so, what? Please describe.

I really do just two things… focus on the breath during sitting meditation and I am mindful during some parts of the day – meaning, I become aware of the present moment during the day sometimes. Sometimes mindfulness is induced by setting an hourly chime on a wristwatch… Sometimes it’s part of a routine – I am routinely mindful of doing the dishes, or some other physical activities… or walking… sometimes the mindfulness comes on it’s own and on it’s own schedule…

3) How long have you engaged in this activity?

I meditated rather regularly for a period of 10 months about 9 years ago… stopping for 9 years due to a downright fear of what was going on inside… and not having anyone to explain it, attempt to explain it, or relate to it… I was in the USA during that time and Buddhist monks I spoke with there seemed oblivious to what I was describing… could have been a language issue for some of them, but there were others that spoke english at a high-level that were also bewildered…

4) How frequently do you engage in this activity? Is this contemplative activity a daily practice? If not how often do you engage in contemplative activities?

Back then I meditated almost daily… sometimes 10 minutes, and other times 40 minutes, never more than about 2 hours at a time… usually once per day though sometimes twice… recently I started to sit for 10-20 minutes at a time again…

5) How long is your typical contemplative session?

10 minutes to 40 minutes. Usually 20.

6) What do you do and/or not do, during these contemplative sessions?

I sit in a lame half-lotus position – not strict. Nearly always on the floor somewhere. My back is pretty straight. My neck is always straight… my head is level – meaning if my eyes were open i would be looking out horizontally… sometimes I have a cushion under my butt. Sometimes not. Sometimes I am leaning my lower back against a bed, couch, chair or something else… I have severe back pain from a soccer injury years ago. Sometimes I sit without leaning against something and experience the pain. I put my hands in my lap, one hand cradles the other, palms up.

I close my eyes. I watch the mind’s circus for a while… eventually it calms and I’m able to focus on the breath. I watch the full cycle of the breath without taking attention away from it. If a thought interrupts I re-focus on the breath. If there is pain somewhere, itchiness, a tickle, a sting, I will shift attention to that and watch it… until it dies away… I will then re-focus on the breath. That’s it really.

During non-meditative sitting I am mindful during some periods of time throughout the day.

7) Have you engaged in other spiritual activities?

Having grown up Catholic and then turning born-again christian in my early twenties I have prayed and studied the bible quite a bit.

8) If so, what, when, how often and for how long?

For a period of about 2 years, prayed and read bible daily, during my early 20’s (I’m 40 now).

9) Have you ever taken mind-altering drugs, specifically psychedelics, such as LSD, mushrooms, or peyote? If so, what and when? Do you still take them? How often?

No, never had the chance – I thought at one time I’d be open to taking LSD for the experience, but never did… and then, after the meditative experiences started there was no desire to at all after that point…

10) What is the nature of the charismatic phenomena that you experience? (The kinds of experiences we are interested in are non-normal phenomena, such as OOBs, auras, chakras, kundalini, kriyas raptures of various kinds, bliss, ecstasy, jhana, visions, charismatic ringing, etc.) Please explain how they manifest in your case.

The answer to this question would take many pages of text and I’m not sure it would be worth the effort because it’s all me describing things that can’t really be explained at all in words… I will list some typical experiences that went on after giving a short explanation of how things came about…

After reading a bit on zen meditation and other meditation practices I decided to try it. I did not follow any religion of any sort. I read SN Goenkas book about Vipassana but I was overwhelmed by the vocabulary used to describe things… I did not believe religion was necessary in order to meditate and I didn’t want to bring any into it. It’s inevitable I guess as I needed some guidance, but I’ve never committed to memory anything much about any “ism” though my practice seems related to Buddh”ism”. To this day I don’t know the meaning of various Buddhist vocabulary that seems to describe things that i’ve experienced – or that ‘experienced me’ really. Within the past 2 years I’ve met with some english speaking Buddhist monks here in Thailand that have told me that they believe i had jhana… I read 2 pamphlets that explained jhana – it explained 8 levels or steps and signs for them… it appears that i’ve seen them (all)… Just knowing that I was not losing my marbles (sanity) was so relieving that I cried great sobs of tears at the news… To finally have someone tell me that they understood or at least ‘knew of’ these states of being was so incredible that I felt as if time had stopped (again)…

In 1997 I meditated as I mentioned for about 10 months. During that time there were many, many experiences that I wrote of in a computer journal after the sessions… I hadn’t a clue what they meant, only that I was following SN Goenka’s Vipassana meditation book (loosely). I focused on breathing and I was mindful during the day. I ‘attached’ to nothing. The experiences over that brief time were mind-blowing to say the least… and yet, at the time they happened they were nothing. There was no attachment to them during the sitting meditative sessions. It was only afterward sometimes that I sat, thoroughly amazed, perplexed, and incompetent to understand what had just happened, why they happened, and how they happened… At times there was a weak ‘wanting’ to repeat an experience… and usually (not always) the experience did not come… it was only when one was totally non-attached to the idea of the experience coming or not coming – that it came again…

That was true of nearly all the experiences… this non-attachment to getting some experience… to having it repeat… seemed to be crucial to progression to the other experiences… if it was a ‘progression’ at all…

So nearly everyday I sat and watched the breath for 20-40 minutes. I watched the mind hijack my attention to the breath repeatedly – thousands… tens of thousands of times maybe? At times I focused on the other stimuli that came up – pain, heat, cold, tension, itchiness, a tickle… and I would just watch it – pay attention to it… and it would fade. Everything faded when attention was applied… except for some real pains – back pain and on occasion a foot or leg would fall asleep causing the pins and needles that necessitated a change of position for relief…

When I first sat I would focus just on relaxing a bit – getting comfortable sitting on the hard floor… getting a good position… I’d relax all the muscles not needed to sit straight and then i’d watch the mind… I’d see how many thoughts were being generated and thrown around… sometimes it would calm down a lot after 5 minutes… sometimes it took 20 minutes… sometimes I felt so much tension or some other emotion that I got up and went about doing something else and meditated later that day or the next day.

Meditation was not looked at (is not) as a chore or as a way to “get” somewhere special. It was more like a reward… a nice way to spend a half-hour after a day at work or school or both. While it was enjoyable at times, it was also a chore at times… and yet I didn’t look at it as either one – just something to do… I wasn’t attached to it or attached to the idea that I needed to do it everyday or for a certain time everyday or so many times per week… there were no restrictions or expectations put on it… in that way I remained non-attached to it…

I began to experience various things – some of which I found mirrored approximately other persons’ experiences here in gwv but mostly they did not…

In a few weeks of sitting – I noticed that attention was developed enough that I could focus with great concentration on the breath. Many breaths – as many as I chose… after fully focusing on 6 or so breaths there developed a substantial ‘power’ feeling around the concentration… a very strong sensation that this concentration on the breath was the ONLY thing in the entire mind. There was no thought any longer that didn’t relate only to focusing on the breath… there was a direct and full experience of the breath. That is all. There was a profound peace because there was nothing else going on.

My personality began to change… my ego began to dissolve… all wants, needs, desires, wanting to “be” or “get” things of any nature started to die away… some buddhists and others use the term “disenchantment”… and yes, it fits… there began to be a disenchantment with things in life… job, car, new things, old things, doing things, fitness, anything and everything… in fact NOTHING stood in the face of this disenchantment with everything… one by one things, ideas, wants, needs, plans, etc… were dropped as meaningless…

There began a feeling of “knowing” motivations of people that I knew and also that were virtually strangers to me… but I thought I sensed their motivations whether ‘good’ or not… whether harmful or not… and the intuition seemed to be spot on…

At times early on there would arise some great overwhelming and staggering feeling of joy or bliss! It was as if it were erupting inside of me and then wanting to blow out of every pore… the face was smiling so exaggeratedly that it was as if it would tear from the strain – and yet there was not pain – just total joy or love… impossible to describe…

At times during times of this intense concentration I would stop focusing on the breath and focus on nothing at all. I found an empty mind. The mind was devoid of all thought. There was nothing. The mind had stopped. The chaos of thought was completely gone.

It was here that things started getting quite strange…

** Sometimes the body would start to ‘go away’… there would be numbness that started in the extremities usually – hands first or feet first usually… and it would travel around to the other parts of the body… soon the entire body would be numb or absent. There would be no feeling of a physical body at all.

** Sometimes the mind or the feeling of mind or “self” would be absent… it was as if watching the body as a separate thing…

** Sometimes there was a feeling of fatness of the body… the limits of the skin would be growing outward – all parts of the body would be getting ‘fat’ – extremely fat and large and filling up huge amounts of space… and the mind would grow outward too – it was as if there was this growing expansion of body and mind and all that one was made up of – to grotesque proportions…

This growing outward feeling culminated in a sort of duel between opposing forces… when the expansion had happened it eventually ran up against another force -almost like the field of two magnets that are made of the same fields – like two “North” poles of magnets… they are the same and yet repel each other… and this outside force was holding the expansion in check before it exploded and merged with the field outside of it… at times this state just existed there for a while – minutes or more while this tension was felt between the two fields that were opposing in manner and yet were of the same substance… if that makes any sense…

Occasionally the two fields would merge and suddenly there was a feeling of complete oneness and huge expanses of oneness… and peace… like being in resonance with all that IS… to be aware that everything is the same… and is vast… and perfect… really don’t know how to explain this one… there was a feeling or a knowing… a knowledge of the entire cosmos but more, of EVERYthing and that it is all linked together – it is of the same thing… the same process… substance… stuff…. and knowing that one was not different from that stuff… that one was part of it too – not a separate character with separate ego that meant something one was IT…

** If the breath was focused on even after great concentration came then there appeared to be a sharpening of the focus… or a refining of the focus… it became SHARP… and so razor-focused that it felt as if the entire head was becoming focused into a point which was coming out of the forehead… or, more correctly like the entire head and then BODY too was becoming focused like a cone… with the point radiating from the head outward but there was such immense concentration and POWER in this state that it was phenomenal… like the entire focus of every portion of the body… every bit of energy from the cells of the body was also engaged in this rapt attention and focus… again, impossible to relate in words… but i’m trying!

** When the thought stopped the breathing had also slowed down quite a bit. I’m not sure there was breath at ALL during some points… the breath became so shallow on occasion that it wasn’t known whether it was actually making any movement in and out of the body. It was as if the body was using so little energy to maintain the state that it didn’t need to breath in an out… it was as if the normal movement of air in the room was enough to come into the nostrils and replenish what had been used in the lungs and some of the used air would be expelled… literally there was NO sensation of breathing sometimes… the first time it happened it caused some fear to arise because who had ever heard of breathing STOPPING unless one was dead or dying? I remember forcing some breath in and out just to see if I could… and of course I could… and then I went back to watching the no-breath, no thought…

The ‘no-breath’ feeling wasn’t really the norm and usually there was some amount of breathing process that was going on and could be paid attention to…

** Once while meditating I opened the eyes and looked at the rug in front of me for a bit… a picture started to form… it was a picture and a feeling in the mind all at once… it was as if i was seeing the form of a boy and girl… both sexes but not one or the other… and it was a very real feeling – as if I was sensing the presence of this being… and there was a knowlege that it was related to me… to my mom and father and family… and it was strange… very strange… but I didn’t attach to it and closed my eyes and focused on breathing…

The next night i heard my wife cry from the shower “Honey, COME HERE, come here!”

I came in to see on the floor of the shower a tiny embryo… a very small baby that wasn’t formed at all yet – was just a fingernail tip size of tissue covered in blood and other supportive tissues… my wife had just miscarried in the shower… and it was as if I was in a dream as i remembered the vision and feeling of the night before… and I showed my wife the journal entry about it and we both were quite shocked…

There were many, many other things that happened during these ‘sitting’ periods… but the most bizarre things to happen were after I STOPPED meditation for fear that I was going insane as a result of these traumatic experiences…

After searching out people to talk to about what was going on – and finding NOBODY that could explain anything to me about what was going on I decided quite emphatically to STOP meditating at all from that point on… the experiences were so surreal and powerful that they left me at a complete loss for knowing whether I was sane anymore…

I decided to pile on the ego-building activities of my life before… acquiring things, money, wants, desires, even though I didn’t WANT them anymore – the fear made me RUN TOWARD them to re-normalize my life… I began to sell real estate, bought a different car… running all the while from these experiences which were SO LIFE CHANGING and peaceful and awesome… but which I did not trust fully… having nobody validate them for me…

It was then, when the search for enlightenment or for whatever was causing these bizarre processes to occur during meditation CAME TO ME EVEN WITHOUT MEDITATING.

I would be walking to the car to go to work and suddenly it would come to me – this process or whatever it is… it would touch me and the world would seem as if it was me and I was the world… the feeling of oneness and total mindfulness of the present moment was there – and there was nothing I did to get it… it just came… and it was fascinating… it was as if heaven decided to touch me with a corner of itself.

These experiences have not stopped in 9 years… though, upon first stopping meditating they came on VERY often and powerfully as if they were intent on changing my mind about stopping the meditation…. it really was if the process wanted to have it’s way with me anyway… it was as if by stopping I really didn’t WANT anything… not even enlightenment… and so when I stopped wanting it at all – it CAME.

And it still comes now… and it’s like a gravity pulling me to begin sitting again… to begin being mindful again… and recently I decided that I would not interfere with the process anymore… I’ll start sitting sometimes… start becoming mindful sometimes… 🙂

11) When did these phenomena first occur? How frequently do they occur? Do they still occur?

First changes after a few weeks of meditating in 1997. They occurred off and on from that point on and have occurred for the 9 years of not meditating… they just seem to come and go at will – not my will – but when they will… sometimes twice per day… sometimes not for a week. When I initially stopped meditating they were coming daily a few times to many times per day.

12) What do you believe is the cause and/or origin of these phenomena?

I haven’t the slightest idea…. Things happen when the mind stops. That’s all I know. Today at any time it takes just a second to stop all thought, all reaction to anything going on. It’s “on-call” so to speak. I’m not sure what it’s good for, but I have that available to play with. It makes for good conversation. “I’ll bet you can’t stop your mind for 10 seconds”. Nobody I’ve ever asked can do it I could be asking the wrong people!

13) What do you believe stimulates and suppresses the occurrences, frequency and intensity of these phenomena?

I think they are not controlled in ANY way by me… but, if I sit and meditate or if I become mindful during the day there is more of a chance that they will ‘visit’…

14) Do you dream? If so, how often? How much sleep do you receive each day?

I have dreamt VERY little over these 9 years since meditating… approximately once every couple of months… I sleep 5-7 hours per night on average.

15) Have you ever had a dream in which you knew you were dreaming, which is the definition of a lucid dream?

Yes, quite vivid and entertaining – but before I started meditating, not after.

16) Have you ever had a hyper-real dream or OOB? If so when and how often?

I don’t know what these are…

17) Do you believe it might be possible to improve or intensify these subjective experiences? If so, how?

Not sure what this question refers to – the meditating or the dream states…

18) Your gender, age and/or date of birth, where are you from, and what religion and ethnic/socioeconomic group would you say represents your family of origin?

male, 40 years, from USA

My Experience with Meditating

Here is something I posted in a meditation group a while back. Interesting to read it again.

I just stumbled upon this group and it seems to be a good place to share some of my experience during vipassana.

Quick history… I am 39, an american living in Thailand in the Northeast in a city called Ubon Ratchathani. There is a Wat here filled with many English speaking monks and that is kind of the “why” I ended up here in this city.

I grew up Catholic – not by choice, and by 16 years old I had already questioned the hippocracy of it and was moving into my own search for truth (I thought there was a truth then…). I read the bible completely through and every day for a while… I prayed in earnest and never felt fulfilled… ‘faith’ just never could give me anything to grasp onto…

Fast forward to when I was 25 years old and in Miami, FL at Florida International Univ. I took an elective “World Religions” class and found the jewish teacher to be incredibly knowledgeable about Judaism, Christianity, buddhism, hinduism and the rest of it… I started to expand my search to include experience in many types of these other groups. I attended different get togethers and studied a bit of what they believed and why they believed it…

Then I started reading about Buddhism… it resonated the closest to what I thought was the truth… but again, it was an “ism” that I soon discarded… I went a few years without much of a religion… finished school in Tampa, FL at Univ. of South Florida and found some eastern philosophy books in Barnes & Noble… I started consuming them… then books on buddhism…

In my 5 years of psychology studies I came to believe that “truth” for me was only what I experienced. It was not what strangers told me in a book or on television, on radio, on records/cassettes/cds… It was not what close friends that I trusted told me either… Direct experience was the only truth that I could ever know. I decided that meditation seemed like something I might find some truth in… I found SN Goenka’s book on Vipassana and decided to sit and watch the mind for a bit and see what was going on in there.

I meditated by sitting in a half lotus position, with liberties taken to get more comfortable (like a pillow under my butt at times, or if my back was in severe pain like it was for the first couple months I would lean against the futon cushion or couch which gave some support.

I meditated mostly in my spare bedroom for a period of ~ 10 months while living in Temple Terrace, FL.

At the risk of sounding trivial and incomplete I will list some experiences here.

Please understand that the experience is only memory now (this was 9 years ago). And, while I believe my memory is very good and the experience seems like it was yesterday, any description of what the experience was is not really what it was… It couldn’t possibly be. It is so beyond impossible to put the experience to paper or into bits. I share this because it would be enjoyable to read comments or hear of similar experiences.

As i watched the mind i saw photos and heard voices. These were thoughts. This was brain activity that goes on almost every minute of everyday of our lives unless we decide to watch it and see what occurs. While watching thoughts i also looked at pain and irritation… my back hurt, spiders crawled on me, mosquitoes bit me regularly when I was in the garage at night… Moths would land on me, sweat would run down my chest and tickle or it would get into my eyes. My feet or legs or neck or ? There always seemed to be something that was hurting or irritating during the first few weeks of practice. Oh, the itchiness was unbearable sometimes after the mosquitoes or red ants bit.

I used little technique that the books taught except for a few principles. I was also reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s books on peace and mindfulness during these 10 months so I used some short sentences while focusing on breathing to help calm the mind and relax the body. Some of them I took straight from the book, others I just made up as they seemed more suited to me. One of them went something like… “breathing in I focus on my breath at the nose…breathing out… relax”.

There were “results” or experiences, that came rather quickly. Just a week and the mind and body were able to settle into a state of relaxation in which thoughts would cease for brief periods. It was during these relaxed states that the breath became gradually shallow and very slow… the hands would start to tingle – not at all like when a body part is “falling asleep”, but a faster and less pronounced tingle… and they would start to go numb… this numbness would sometimes start at the feet at the same time and would progress up the legs and up the arms. When I didn’t respond or attach to the feeling (cling) it would envelop the whole body and soon there felt as if there was no body. The body was gone, there was only mind… and mind was sometimes gone too. There were periods of realizing – “hmm, the body is gone… this is great… or, this is scary” and yet most thought about it was done after meditating… During the meditation at all times I kept one idea… that nothing is to be grasped, clinged to, sought after… and for the most part that is what I did…

If a mosquito landed on me during one of these states, the mind watched it – the eyes were closed, it didn’t matter what kind of bug it was… the mind watched the skin get pierced and later felt the itch and watched the itch until it no longer was itch. Every sensation arose and gradually left.

There began a feeling of non-attachment to everything. Wife, job, car, house, making $, a website, any “thing” became nothing worth obtaining. Whereas in the past I was very driven and bent on accomplishment of every sort before meditating it all dissolved very quickly. So too did the desire to do anything that furthered ‘non-truth’ or something unwholesome so to speak…

Many small experiences were had during this time, that I’ll not write about… After the numbness and peace came it was a week or so before I could count 10 breaths in total awareness and without thought (other than counting to 10). At times these states of concentration would last just 10, at other times I could’ve counted to 1000 or 10,000 if I had chosen… but, I think that when you get to somewhere around 10 and you feel the state of concentration – then just throw away the ‘technique’ of counting to 10 and instead, feel the concentration directly. The counting to 10 is a tool to get you quiet enough… discard it once you’re there…

So the mind would go without thought for a period of time… maybe 1 minute… maybe 40 minutes or a bit more at it’s peak… I never meditated more than maybe 1 1/2 – 2 hours at a time. The usual time was about 40 minutes.

At times, during the concentrated state the body and mind would seem to grow to fill the room… actually there was no room, no walls were sensed, no boundaries or limits… but the mind and body would just grow… there seemed to be no limits of skin anymore… no physical limits… and the concentration seemed to expand as well. Keep in mind, this is a very vague explanation of the feeling, it can’t be put into words but I’m trying…

I went through the state of ecstasy where I felt so ecstatic I thought I would burst with love and joy. It happened a couple times at a feverish pitch and then was felt lightly afterward in subsequent sessions. It was a feeling that not only was during meditation, but during ‘waking life’ – walking around during the day – it was there in small or large doses… There was also this feeling of balance… the monks here at the Wat called it ‘equanimity’. So that’s as good a word as any. The feeling was there during meditation and waking hours. It was a ‘knowing’ or a solid feeling that felt as if everything was as it should be or that there is nothing to value as better or worse or by using any other words as dichotomy.

Sometimes while meditating the breath became so slow and shallow and the mind was completely devoid of thought that it felt as if the body had died. After all, it was numb, there was no feeling of body. No feeling of mind since it wasn’t active.

At times there was no detection of breath coming in and out, like it had just stopped and that the ambient air in the room was enough to sustain the body in that state.

Other times it felt as if the concentration, the “mind” for lack of better word was pressing up against some unseen force… it was as if the mind was a magnetic force of one polarity and that it was surrounded by some other force of the same polarity but they were not able to reach each other – they were repelled, and yet were drawn together like gravity… there was the distinct idea that the ego would be lost when these two forces blended together… and many times meditation was stopped at that point for fear of not knowing what was going on. I “knew” that enlightenment was just beyond that point.

I knew that once the forces blended – and they would if I didn’t grasp to the idea of becoming enlightened… once they blended that would be the end of Vern (my name). It was very, very scary. I wasn’t ready yet.

I remember reading books about what was happening during these odd states, and yet none of the books were detailing what “I” was experiencing. There were many similar experiences in the books but my experiences seemed different and didn’t follow the “order” or progression that the buddhists talked about…

It was during this time – about 9 months into Vipassana that I sought out buddhist monks at the Wats in the Tampa, Florida area to ask them to explain what was going on with me and am I doing this “correctly”… I met only one monk that spoke English to any degree and he was either not very knowledgeable about the states of Jhana or he could not explain to me… he seemed more interested in findng out about American culture.

I read more books. I asked anyone I could that had meditated. Later I looked on the internet. I could not find a concrete answer to – “Am I going to go insane if I continue?””What good is Nirvana for anyone anyway?” – I knew that for me the question was becoming crystal clear…

I would experience total bliss – I had felt it while meditating and then I began to have experiences during my day in which bliss would come upon me and there was nothing I could do but experience it… it just CAME and no matter what I was doing there was this feeling of ultra awareness and truth… It was a total state change and would occur whenever it wanted… it just happened. After I stopped meditating the “otherness” as Jiddu Krishnamurti sometimes called it – just came and I feared that it was on a course of it’s own and would complete it’s way with me despite my stopping meditating. For days at a time I would walk around in complete equanimity – unable to “want” something, unable to “desire to “be” something”… it was quite unnerving after it went away and I thought about what it meant.

It meant the destruction of the me… it meant that relationships that I had would be severed, not on my part- but because friends, family couldn’t begin to grasp it. They didn’t know how to interact with the new “vern”. Which was really more like the absence of the old vern since he was no saint before. Somewhere during the time I was meditating my wife and I dissolved our marriage. I could no longer relate to her… to selfishness, to greed, to gossip. I could not have the normal interchanges that we used to have.

Imagine the person that you married going away. The body is there. The mind is there. The memories are there. But, the new vern wouldn’t pull out the memories that were incongruent with the new vern. So, while the memories were there locked into the mind – they were not needed much. There was very little recall of anything in the past because the focus – the whole focus was on present. There weren’t thoughts about past or future. It just didn’t happen. Nearly every moment from maybe the 6th month to the 10th was spent in mindfulness of the moment, nowhere else.

I had stopped my job activities, I was a real estate salesperson and luckily had some money saved because there was no desire to perform work that wasn’t congruent with what I was feeling. There was no motivation for ANYTHING. I stopped exercising. I stopped talking with friends. Family and friends would call on the phone and I’d give them responses that were totally uncharacteristic for the old vern. They were afraid, especially since I’d already lost my wife and they knew I wasn’t working.

When I stopped meditating about the 10th month as I said before, the process was going on it’s own. No meditation was necessary… It would just ‘visit’ whenever it felt like it. A couple times per day was common for the first few months of stopping. Then it slowed to once/day, then couple times per week… where it stayed for a couple years… then (and now) it is not often that it occurs – once per couple months on average now. However, what has remained is this knowledge of what is there. It is always there. It is waiting there and it’s the most comforting feeling. It also has a pulling effect… like gravity. It is always pulling me toward it, to finish the process I suppose.

It has been 9 years since I meditated regularly (there were maybe 15 instances of sitting for 30 minutes in 9 years).

In order to STOP the process… I decided the only way to interrupt it was to fight it by acting as if the ego was back and purposefully going against the feeling in every way possible. After all, it was running on it’s own and I was very afraid that it would never cease. I began real estate and a pursuit of money and debauchery that was excess even for the old vern.

Last year while still living in the United States there was a sudden increase in the ‘gravity’ or pulling and it felt like I had to continue the process. It was undeniable. The ‘otherness’ came back more frequently. The gravity was stronger. MUCH stronger. I began to look on the internet again for clues of what the whole thing meant. I wasn’t convinced that I was in the enlightenment process… but I was convinced that whatever was taking place inside me was very very powerful.

It had already changed who I was as a person. There was already much less ego present – a 1/10th?

I searched for a day and found someone on a web site in thailand… “Santikaro” he was called. He was an American that had found his way to Thailand about 20 years before to study buddhism. There was his picture on the site with Buddhadassa Bhikku – one monk that I did read some of before and enjoyed his perspective. So I emailed him. No response. I called the number that was listed for some organization in Illinois, hoping to reach someone that could tell me his phone number.

Well, HE PICKED UP THE PHONE. I was so excited to finally speak to a person that could maybe help… I explained what happened to me for over an hour – he listened. When I was done he asked some questions… apparently there are false experiences that might not be ‘real’ – whatever that means, i’m not sure… but, he seemed to be genuinely interested in what I said because he and I talked for nearly 2 hours that afternoon. My main questions were – 1. What was I experiencing? 2. Is there any desire to complete obligations in society – like making car payments, driving, working, etc.

While failing to give a direct answer, he did tell me that it appeared that I had experienced the Jhanas – perhaps all 8 of them. About the obligations – he said that the personality remains somewhat after enlightenment… memories remain, sense of humor might remain… however, a total loss of the ego would result and I would become a very different person to those that know me. I asked him if it is realistic to think that an enlightened person could live outside of a Wat in Tampa, Florida – without the support of monks and other believers… and he wasn’t sure… he too had pondered that question…

And so – at the close of our call he asked that I write him email to give contact details and that he would recommend a Wat in Thailand to visit if I found myself there…

I wrote. He wrote. He gave me the name of a Wat here in Thailand called, Wat Pa Nanachat. There are many english speaking western monks here and I had the opportunity to speak to 2 of them. The first had the duty of speaking to all the visitors. He was the guest monk. He was from California originally and had been at the Wat for over 2 years. I told him some of what I experienced and his face beamed… he wasn’t sure what to say… he said that the monks there at Wat Pa were all trying to reach these states of mind and that I had found them…. he encouraged me to stay and complete the journey at the Wat… Hmm. There it was, two monks that said the same thing. I decided I must speak to the abbot. He was an australian guy, shaved head and eyebrows. Everyone had the most sincere respect for him there and even here in Ubon Ratchathani he is well known and revered…

so I spoke with him and told him what I experienced… and he was smiling maybe the whole time I told him… and it was like he knew when I sat down that there was something going on in me… and he too said, you were likely in the jhanas… and he went on to ask questions to try to clarify what levels of jhana I had gone through – and it appeared that I had been through 8 of them… and he too was very encouraging about staying at Wat Pa for as long as I needed… and that I was very welcome to stay as long as I wanted…

I stayed overnight… it was a full moon weekend so we had to stay up all night, listening to chanting, dharma talks… and meditating. My back hurt tremendously and I decided in the morning about 5am. that I would go digest what I had learned and return if I wanted to continue meditating… and so – i found this city and have been here teaching English for a few months.

Been in Thailand for 6 months.

(update – i’ve been in Thailand for over 10 years… and have meditated off and on during this time)

The Process – Meditation Mystery…

This a.m. while sitting on the balcony of our 7th floor hotel room in Melbourne one was not trying to meditate–but one was just experiencing and being in the present moment. After a short time one blanked out for some periods of 1-10 seconds. One felt that otherness perch on the head for a moment (for lack of a better way to describe it).

An e x p a n s e opened up–almost imperceptibly but one was very attentive–yet couldn’t describe it even as it came and was with one! Briefly the sky got a shade lighter and a presence was felt somewhere in the L hemi of the brain or head, or above the head on the left side. One didn’t look up–yet felt it there in that region.

One experienced this for a short time–and didn’t notice it leaving and so presumably it stayed or left without a sign.

Meditation Experiences Timeline 4-21-08

I was just thinking that it would be good for me to put down in writing some sort of timeline for the way things have happened for me since starting meditation. Often times people read this journal and don’t understand why I have a girlfriend (wife) and live with her here in Thailand – aren’t I close to enlightenment? Do I need a girlfriend? Do I need sex? This might clear it up a bit. The experiences started a long time ago. I quit meditating for years and then recently have begun again. Having a girlfriend or not having a girlfriend is neither here nor there. I can have one. I may not have one. No matter. If tomorrow we go our separate ways, no matter… I’ve had such a wonderful experience knowing her and we’ve had great times… but if she is here – wonderful. If not – it’s not devastating.

Whether I’m close to enlightenment is anyone’s guess. I stopped guessing as I don’t care anymore. Enlightenment, if it’s to be – will probably not be earth shattering. I’ve seen a lot already. I’ve had glimpses of it. It will likely be anticlimactic and won’t matter when it happens.

Anyway – here is a timeline of things as they occurred. Dates are there if I can remember them. It does go in succession earliest events to most recent.

1995 Read some books by Jiddu Krishnamurti, Thich Nhat Hanh, a few Zen books.

1995 December Went to visit wife’s family in Gibson City, Illinois. She’s Thai. Her dad and mother were born and raised in Thailand and emmigrated to USA so he could become a surgeon – which he did. He showed me meditation, introduced me to Forest Meditation ways, sitting meditation, Jack Kornfield books, Buddhadassa Bhikku, Ajahn Chah, and S.N. Goenka’s book about Vipassana Meditation. We meditated a few times and he taught me basics of Anapanasati.

1996 After reading Vipassana Meditation book by S.N. Goenka I started to sit regularly for 15-30 minutes on the floor in a half lotus position.

During 10 months of this I was able to find various levels of concentration… by focusing on the breath. At times I could concentrate on 100 breaths or whatever number I chose. When I got tot that point I changed the meditation to focus on what arose – whatever sensory objects occurred. Sometimes it was breath, sometimes pain, sometimes there was nothing at all – it felt as if I had died or the ego had died completely.

I had many weird experiences during these months – and no teacher. I wasn’t Buddhist. I wasn’t anything. I was a guy that was just trying meditation by himself – along the lines of what the Buddha did. I didn’t have any ideas about becoming enlightened or progressing far down the path toward nirvana… I sat mostly to relax my mind from stressful days working.

I became a bit concerned by the bizarre experiences. They were fantastic and bizarre and I didn’t know – was I becoming mentally unstable – or was this natural? Normal? I looked for answers from monks living in the USA at Thai Buddhist temples (Theravadan monks) and many other resources. Nothing explained the depth of my experiences. I could find nothing written about the detailed experiences of jhana and other things that were going on inside me.

Scared I was “losing my mind” – which I was, but in a good way I found out later – I abandoned all meditation practice and ran AWAY from it. I read nothing. I didn’t sit anymore. I practiced no mindfulness.

Immediately the process that used to happen ONLY during meditation sessions began happening at any time I was awake. I’d be walking in the park, driving a car, working, whatever – and I’d slip into a state of pure experience – where the mind was absent. It stopped. There was no naming of anything – just pure experience of things as they were. The process seemed to be going on by itself. The “Letting go” or running from the process seemed to have started it in earnest – much more intense than it was before. This went on for months – well, years – but for months very often a few times a day down to it’s present level of once every couple days on average.

1997-2004 No meditation or mindfulness practice. Well, very, very little. I was afraid of it. The process still came sometimes and I didn’t push it away – but I didn’t encourage it – I just ignored it and let it happen and go away. It came and went over the years as it did without any input or reaction from me.

2004. I finally found Santikaro – an ex-Buddhist monk that told me he thought my experiences sounded like Jhana. They were normal experiences. I was amazed that the experiences were normal. I meditated a couple times to see – could the mind easily stop like before as I sat? It did. It came very easily compared to when I first started to meditate so many years ago.

2004 November I moved to Thailand. I met with some senior monks who told me the experiences were jhana and that I could continue to practice with them at the temple. I declined. I started meditating a little bit – nothing regular – but if the process came to me – I’d sit and watch what happened, not attaching to it – just watch. Sometimes I’d sit and focus on breath. When the mind calmed, then stopped I’d watch other sense objects – pain, heat, thought if it popped up, sounds, etc.

2005 I visited Wat Pah Nanachat and spoke with the abbot of the temple who told me the experiences I had sounded like jhana – and why don’t I stay at Wat Pah as long as I like?

2007 I was living near a temple in Krabi Thailand that had a long flight of stairs to walk up. So, I’d walk up for exercise a couple times a week. Then daily. Sometimes I’d meditate at the top. I began having some intense experiences, one of which was a period of over 6 hours of no thought – no ego – no emotion – no drives – no ambition – no anything… It occured at the top of the mountain – and lasted the whole day and evening. I’ve detailed it here on the journal somewhere.

Recently (2008) when I’ve sat to meditate I notice that there is no ‘watcher’ to watch the breath at all. To watch the breath – to focus on it requires something that isn’t inside anymore. It’s gone for some reason. There is none of the usual thing that watches breath when there is silence.

When there’s silence now – when I let the mind stop – and just watch – there is nothing watching. There is just silence – the most profound silence. Stillness.

It’s as if I’m in that state – where there is no time, no wanting, no being, no happiness or unhappiness – no dichotomy. Nothing is running through the mind filter – it’s just pure. Nothing is changed by the mind – just experienced as it comes up and goes away… rising and falling of different objects are noticed…

That can go on as long as I let it – but usually I just sit 30 minutes or so and then get up and do whatever I felt like doing.

That’s the state I’m in now. While the mind is working – doing things during the day – it is active and does them. When I stop mind candy coming in – music, computer, doing something – there is absolute stillness of the mind immediately. It’s quite odd!

I’ve been thinking to get a bicycle and roam around to temples here during the day and sit when I felt like it and be mindful of the stillness the rest of the time. I’d like to keep a journal of some sort – but usually when I get in any kind of regular practice the desire to keep a journal of any sort disappears quickly. There’s just no motivation in that state to be recording anything – to be doing anything – what is it worth? What is the purpose? Now I can see the purpose – to share it – but, in that state – when it’s so silent and any doing – is not worth it – it’s impossible to contradict it and record something consistently.

I went for months without writing in my journal after about 5 months of meditation because the urge to record disappeared. I think the same would happen this time.

😛

So – as it is today I’ll use the restroom and eat my bananas, drink my instant coffee and walk up the temple steps. That’s what’s planned. If it happens – great. If not – no matter.

Not sure if there will be any decision to go mobile and live at the temples for a while, guess we’ll see what happens. There’s no feeling that I need to. Yet no feeling that I need to continue in this way – working on internet and going about life in the way I have for the past year either. Sometimes I think that this might be a good chance to let it all go for a few months and see what occurs. Sometimes I think – no matter, can do that anywhere.

Sometimes I think – and sometimes I don’t.

What if I was just quiet for an entire day? 2-weeks? 10 months?