Author Topic: Sudden Realisations/Epiphanies while Meditating  (Read 2279 times)

Offline moSh

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Sudden Realisations/Epiphanies while Meditating
« on: July 09, 2016, 05:56:43 am »
One of the primary influences that spurred my meditation practice when I first started, around three or four years ago, were sudden realisations I got while practising single point of focus meditation (I called them epiphanies). They could be about anything, from my personal habits to relationships to psychological understandings to what to do next with a piece of music I was working on, and they'd seem all the more valid from the fact that they'd come seemingly out of nowhere. I'm sure many of you--if not all--have had these. They would fill me with incredible excitement, the sense that I was making large steps forward in developing myself, in understanding myself and the world.

However, as time went on, these became less and less frequent, and now they come very rarely. I'm trying to work out what's caused their decline, and was wondering if any of you had any experience in/knowledge of/suggestions for this. I should point out that they aren't the reason I meditate, but I do miss them!

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Sudden Realisations/Epiphanies while Meditating
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2016, 08:34:02 am »
However, as time went on, these became less and less frequent, and now they come very rarely. I'm trying to work out what's caused their decline, and was wondering if any of you had any experience in/knowledge of/suggestions for this. I should point out that they aren't the reason I meditate, but I do miss them!

The answer might be related to your other recent query on meditation.
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Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Sudden Realisations/Epiphanies while Meditating
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2016, 03:38:42 am »
I think that it raises an interesting point about meditation- expectations. To relate 'progress' to meditation is to raise expectations about individual meditations, but that's not really what meditation is about. Which raises the question, 'So why should I spend years meditating if nothings going to happen?' For me, one answer is that when I don't meditate, the quality of my life kind of takes a dip, and so I start meditating again. Another is my understanding is that meditation is like trying to break a rock with a hammer- the rock may take thousands of hits before it breaks, but which hit actually broke it? The last one split it, but without the others nothing would have happened.

These are two sides of the same coin, that meditation should be carried out without expectations, but be prepared for when something arises during a meditation. If you are not meditating in order for stuff to happen, then be warned. It does!
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Sudden Realisations/Epiphanies while Meditating
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2016, 04:56:34 am »
I think that it raises an interesting point about meditation- expectations. To relate 'progress' to meditation is to raise expectations about individual meditations, but that's not really what meditation is about. Which raises the question, 'So why should I spend years meditating if nothings going to happen?'

I don't see a problem with having expectations of a meditation practice, it's actually quite reasonable.  If for example one is focussed on developing samatha ( tranquillity ) and there is no tranquillity in evidence over a period of time, then it might mean one is doing the practice incorrectly or that a different approach is required - this is not uncommon.  Similarly if one is focussed on developing vipassana ( insight ), and there is no insight.  It's rather like doing physical exercise to get fit, getting fitter is a reasonable expectation to have!

But yes, it's usually small steps, and at times it can feel like one step forward and two back.  But things should change.  ;)
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Offline moSh

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Re: Sudden Realisations/Epiphanies while Meditating
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2016, 08:58:34 am »


I think that it raises an interesting point about meditation- expectations. To relate 'progress' to meditation is to raise expectations about individual meditations, but that's not really what meditation is about. Which raises the question, 'So why should I spend years meditating if nothings going to happen?' For me, one answer is that when I don't meditate, the quality of my life kind of takes a dip, and so I start meditating again.

I agree, and I do try to meditate without expectations. I remember discovering the hindrance of it when I used to meditate for that sensation of bliss that can often arise: when that became my expectation, it affected my focus and I ended up rarely reaching that state. I meditate for the same reason as you, I notice the benefits to my wellbeing most when I've not meditated in a while and they start to diminish.

I don't meditate expecting to have these realisations--particularly now that they've decreased to a low frequency for at least a year--so I don't think this is likely to be the problem. Thanks for your input though!

Offline moSh

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Re: Sudden Realisations/Epiphanies while Meditating
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2016, 04:54:19 am »
So I've been browsing through accesstoinsight.org and found a very convincing potential reason for my query. I've been very interested in mindfulness and self-awareness recently, but have noticed that the two terms are hugely loaded in Western language nowadays, meaning I don't actually know the real definition(s).

This led me to this article, which goes into the dangers of being too complacent in mindfulness on its own, of merely 'resting' in mindfulness. I noticed that this is exactly what I do--I practise being mindful of the breath, or the present moment, rarely developing other skillful mental qualities. Two that the article mentions primarily are alertness and ardency: alertness to what feels good or right and what doesn't, and ardency (i.e. enthusiasm) to change these and progress one's mind along the Path. Mindfulness on its own, passive mindfulness, is therefore not enough to develop oneself.

So, what this leads me to believe is that my initial epiphanies were from when mindfulness meditation was enough, as it was still new to me and my mind. However, is my practice began to stagnate with my overemphasis on mindfulness, so too did the epiphanies.

I just thought I'd share this with you, and anyone else that may happen to visit this thread in the future with a similar issue.

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Sudden Realisations/Epiphanies while Meditating
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2016, 09:34:42 am »
Mindfulness on its own, passive mindfulness, is therefore not enough to develop oneself.

Yes, mindfulness is much more than just being in the present, and it works in conjunction with the other factors of the 8-fold path.

It's perhaps worth also mentioning that the first two factors of enlightenment are mindfulness and investigation.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Factors_of_Enlightenment
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Offline moSh

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Re: Sudden Realisations/Epiphanies while Meditating
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2016, 09:38:34 am »
It's perhaps worth also mentioning that the first two factors of enlightenment are mindfulness and investigation.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Factors_of_Enlightenment

Something I've only been made aware of relatively recently, having attended a retreat in India and learning about analytical meditation. And there I was, self-taught, knowing only to follow the breath. Making progress at last!

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Sudden Realisations/Epiphanies while Meditating
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2016, 02:20:14 am »
Quote
Solodris:  "Having no attachments and practicing compassionate cultivation in the realm of humans is becoming the path towards liberation."


Not sure about the "having"...and "becoming" parts of your summary.

We never really "have" anything, nor would having anything, which is impermanent ever truly result in unbinding and release.  "Becoming" is what led to this samsaric cycle of existence in the first place.  It is a trap resulting in the bonds and fetters of samsaric existence:  turbulence leading only to more turbulence as Buddha discussed regarding Dependent Origination:

source:  http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.15.0.than.html
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Offline Rahul

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Re: Sudden Realisations/Epiphanies while Meditating
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2017, 04:14:36 am »
One of the primary influences that spurred my meditation practice when I first started, around three or four years ago, were sudden realisations I got while practising single point of focus meditation (I called them epiphanies). They could be about anything, from my personal habits to relationships to psychological understandings to what to do next with a piece of music I was working on, and they'd seem all the more valid from the fact that they'd come seemingly out of nowhere. I'm sure many of you--if not all--have had these. They would fill me with incredible excitement, the sense that I was making large steps forward in developing myself, in understanding myself and the world.

However, as time went on, these became less and less frequent, and now they come very rarely. I'm trying to work out what's caused their decline, and was wondering if any of you had any experience in/knowledge of/suggestions for this. I should point out that they aren't the reason I meditate, but I do miss them!
Yes... And I thought it just happened to me.

When I started meditating seriously, a year and a half ago, within a span of first couple of months, I had realizations - vivid like a movie - on emptiness, non-self and impermanence. Those were so strong, so vivid realizations, they seemed otherworldly. Period. Since then, until today, not another single experience like that. Not only that, but during those months I used to get strong overwhelming experience of pitti during meditation. So overwhelming that all I could feel was pitti, and couldn't feel my body at all, felt like I had no body at all. Now, such feeling rarely comes, and whatever feeling of pitti I get during meditation is faint to moderate.

I still wonder what's the reason for such stagnation.

Offline zafrogzen

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Re: Sudden Realisations/Epiphanies while Meditating
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2017, 10:21:54 am »
Hi Rahul,

Excuse my ignorance, but what is "pitti."

As for your lack of epiphanies. I'm not a teacher so I can only relate to my own experience. A year and a half of serious meditation is barely a start.

Perhaps you're overthinking it, trying to fit it into some scenario or expectation of how you think it should be, rather than having faith in it and letting it be what it is at that particular time.

If you haven't started doing short retreats (sesshins in zen) with a group and a teacher, that might be helpful.

Here's something I wrote that might be interesting-- http://www.frogzen.com/meditation-basics/

My first formal meditation training was with Shunryu Suzuki in the 60's and later with Kobun, Robert Aitken and many other teachers (mainly zen). However, I've spent the most time practicing on my own, which is all I do now. I'm living in a rather isolated area so I miss connecting with other practitioners. Despite my interest in zen I've made an effort to remain secular. You can visit my website at http://www.frogzen.com

Offline Pixie

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Re: Sudden Realisations/Epiphanies while Meditating
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2017, 12:53:45 pm »

Excuse my ignorance, but what is "pitti."



I think he probably means " piti" = rapture/ bliss.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/glossary.html#pq


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Offline Rahul

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Re: Sudden Realisations/Epiphanies while Meditating
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2017, 09:30:41 pm »
Hi Rahul,

Excuse my ignorance, but what is "pitti."

As for your lack of epiphanies. I'm not a teacher so I can only relate to my own experience. A year and a half of serious meditation is barely a start.

Perhaps you're overthinking it, trying to fit it into some scenario or expectation of how you think it should be, rather than having faith in it and letting it be what it is at that particular time.

If you haven't started doing short retreats (sesshins in zen) with a group and a teacher, that might be helpful.

Here's something I wrote that might be interesting-- http://www.frogzen.com/meditation-basics/

Yeah, maybe 'piti' is popular spelling in English: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C4%ABti

So far I am meditating alone, on my own, and I rely on instinct as my teacher.

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: Sudden Realisations/Epiphanies while Meditating
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2017, 01:57:02 am »
...so the immediate thought process followed: "Who said that!?"

I sometimes ask myself "who is being mindful?"  It makes my brain hurt!   :teehee:

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Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Sudden Realisations/Epiphanies while Meditating
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2017, 12:55:24 pm »
Hi Rahul
The bliss thing can be a problem. If you aren't able to experience it, then it's difficult to describe. If you have experienced it, then it's not surprising you want to to experience it again and again. We have the term 'bliss bunnies' for those meditators who just want to bliss out whenever they meditate. There's nothing wrong with that, but it is a holding back kind of experience rather than something positive that moves you on.
I went through a phase of not being able to meditate without bliss happening, and I found it rather distracting and a relief when that episode, which lasted a few months, waned somewhat. Although I can now get back to the bliss whenever I want to, I rarely do as it becomes too much of a distraction. Maybe you are just moving through a somewhat quiet episode in your practice, one that it is important for you to experience before moving on to the next.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

 


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