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Breath during meditation

I am fairly new to Buddhist, yet not new to Meditation and energy. I come from a very long and old line of healers, energy workers etc.. So I know when something happens I can't explain. Recently, about a year now, each time I meditate I get to the point where my mind goes blank, everything stops and suddenly it feels as if I'm falling into a deep pool. My breathing stops as well and I end up falling asleep later on. This has become a major issue since I started on my new life path that each time I meditate my breathing stops and once again I'm in water. Most of the times it's a deep pool, and other times it's the ocean and I'm sinking just to float up again and before I hit the surface I "wake up."

It is not a panic like feeling and the only way to explain it is falling into the deep end of the pool and everything is relaxing and you are just watching the water pass over you. When this happens it feels like my body is trying to find other ways to breath, and it feels like my current body is floating in water and trying to breathe through my skin. Like my skin is trying to open up and my body gets extremely light to the point when I finally get up and start walking from the meditation I am extremely dizzy and takes a while feel " right" again, like the proper weight. I still have that extreme light weight feeling like I can just float up from the water at any time.

The pool is always a clear yet deep aquamarine and always extremely deep, same with the ocean. There is no bottom and I never fall deep enough to even find out if I'm right or not. I'm always falling on my back ad always look the same, no different. Sometimes I'm looking up at the sun shinning down on me through the water and as I float back up the sun is coming down to meet me and other times it's the moon. I never panic, my skin is taking in water and acts as gills sort of, allowing me to breath in a way yet nothing is shown, no slits, just skin.

A bit of background about me. I'm the black sheep in my family. Everything they are I am the opposite. I therefore taught myself to the best of my ability and tried to stay true to what I knew of my culture. (mixed, mainly native, Italian and Irish/Scottish) this feeling only started after I tried to become true to myself and find my own way and just my own path basically. Embrace that which I am. All that I am.

Advice would help a lot on why I have this feeling, this drowning, and floating feeling. I am very new to Buddhism and am trying to learn as much as I can about it. I was always drawn to it and each time I looked for a sign or anything, Buddhism would pop up be it a picture on my timeline or an article I come across.

Comments

  • I have not experienced this. It sounds like a trance state. Be Interested in what others say.

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    Keep your spine and head straight. Keep your eyes open. Gently, firmly -- do not give in. Be patient.

    Many unusual things happen in meditation, but to the extent that they seem unusual, to that extent precisely, they are not the grounding you seek. Take your time. Never mind the wondrous or horrifying.

    Be patient.

    sovaElizrohitSwaroop
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    That's is quite interesting, @Medini. I'd say to develop your ability to choose what you already have the skill at for 'recreational' or psychic purposes/healing and be able to turn it off and then use regular 'Buddhist' meditation as a separate skill. Welcome, btw.

  • @Medini said:Most of the times it's a deep pool, and other times it's the ocean and I'm sinking just to float up again and before I hit the surface I "wake up."

    You might be describing the transition between awake and asleep. If so then you need to manage it a little more carefully, ie stay awake, but only just.

    seeker242Invincible_summerAjeevakDharmana
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    What Spiny said makes the most sense to me. Perhaps trying visualizations of some sort might help so your brain isn't starting to think it's sleep time? What time of day do you meditate, and in what "position"? Is it dark? Right after you ate? Laying down in bed?

  • MediniMedini America New

    I sometimes lay down and sometimes sit up. I don't really have a certain time to mediate, I just do it when I wish, so it's throughout the day, different times. I do meditate on a certain goal or visualization but no matter what I cant keep my breath and I end up back with the lightweight in the ocean/pool feeling. It never fails. This is only a recent change which I'm unsure which caused it truly.

  • Do you have any opportunity to talk with a teacher? Seems to me there are people more knowledgeable than those on this forum (no offense).

    Linc
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
    edited November 2015

    @Medini - it doesn't sound to me like you are using the breath or the body or anything concrete as a meditation object. Have you tried actually focusing on the breath? Or doing body scanning?

    Perhaps I'm just not very familiar with other types of meditation, but "meditating on a certain goal/visualization" just sounds like thinking about stuff to me... and unless there's something that you're specifically focusing on to anchor your attention (e.g. the breath, posture, body scanning), I could definitely see how you could be falling asleep and blanking out.

  • MediniMedini America New

    @Jeffrey said:
    Do you have any opportunity to talk with a teacher? Seems to me there are people more knowledgeable than those on this forum (no offense).

    I just got into Buddhism so I have no teacher and I live in the mountains away from many others as well.

    @Invincible_summer said:
    Medini - it doesn't sound to me like you are using the breath or the body or anything concrete as a meditation object. Have you tried actually focusing on the breath? Or doing body scanning?

    Perhaps I'm just not very familiar with other types of meditation, but "meditating on a certain goal/visualization" just sounds like thinking about stuff to me... and unless there's something that you're specifically focusing on to anchor your attention (e.g. the breath, posture, body scanning), I could definitely see how you could be falling asleep and blanking out.

    Yes I have been focusing on my breath as I stated before I have been focusing and had a goal in mind. This is recent, nothing that has always happened.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited November 2015

    You could try walking meditation and see if you still fall asleep or feel dizzy or some of the other things happen :)
    http://www.wildmind.org/walking/introduction

    It is also difficult to fall asleep whilst practicing mantra (not impossible, has happened to me many times). Here is my page on mantra
    http://yinyana.tumblr.com/day/2013/08/03

    If you need some info on meditation ... here is my page, with the advice on Soto Zen from one of our resident zenniths
    http://yinyana.tumblr.com/day/2014/11/06

    Hope that is helpful <3

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Change the way you meditate.
    What 'goal' do you have in mind?

    Meditation per se, HAS no 'goal.

    Meditation is simply, as one teacher put it. "bringing the Mind home" to Calm Abiding.
    Going nowhere.
    Just being where you are, now, with no distraction, goal, aim, intention or desire.
    There IS no 'goal'.

    Meditation IS the goal.....

    lobsterInvincible_summerrohit
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    Do you keep your eyes open or closed?

  • MediniMedini America New

    Eyes closed, goal is to relax or just explore my mind for the most part. Once again, what I have been doing worked for years till now. It's a problem with the now, not how. I've tried sitting, standing, simple breathing, nothing is working. Sooner or later I'm lightweight again and breathing stops.

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    @Medini said, "this feeling only started after I tried to become true to myself and find my own way and just my own path basically. Embrace that which I am. All that I am.

    Advice would help a lot on why I have this feeling, this drowning, and floating feeling. I am very new to Buddhism and am trying to learn as much as I can about it. I was always drawn to it and each time I looked for a sign or anything, Buddhism would pop up be it a picture on my timeline or an article I come across."
    ~
    I'm taking it step by step as much as possible: You've been interested in Buddhism for some time and now you are trying to incorporate your idea of what 'Buddhist' meditation is....is that right? So you changed the way you usually 'meditate'? Meditation, incidentally as already mentioned, is NOT exploring your mind - it's more like just allowing your thoughts to come and go and not rest on any thoughts. When you say you stop breathing (?) does that mean you're afraid of stopping permanently or not?

    I'm thinking maybe you have already arrived at 'all that you are'.

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @Medini said:
    Eyes closed, goal is to relax or just explore my mind for the most part. Once again, what I have been doing worked for years till now. It's a problem with the now, not how. I've tried sitting, standing, simple breathing, nothing is working. Sooner or later I'm lightweight again and breathing stops.

    It's hard to say, as that really isn't "Buddhist style" meditation. :) "Buddhist style" is designed to prevent this sort of thing. Zen Buddhist style refers to what you are experiencing as "Makyo" and to deal with Makyo, you change how you are doing the meditation. For example, if closed eyes always causes Makyo, then you open them, etc. Although, zen people always meditate with eyes open anyway, to prevent this very "Makyo trance" from happening to begin with.

    :)

    lobsterInvincible_summer
  • @Medini said:

    Advice would help a lot on why I have this feeling, this drowning, and floating feeling. I am very new to Buddhism and am trying to learn as much as I can about it. I was always drawn to it and each time I looked for a sign or anything, Buddhism would pop up be it a picture on my timeline or an article I come across.

    The purpose of Buddhist meditation is to see things as they are ie. impermanent, stressful and without self. Once the mind reaches certain level of calm and stillness the object of attention would be all that appears before you ie. sights, sounds, smells, taste, touch and thoughts/feelings. You simply watch them arise and cease over and over again without getting involved.

    What you have described sounds like sloth and torpor, one of the 5 hindrances in meditation that stops you from seeing things as they truly are.

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel026.html#sloth

    Invincible_summerlobsterEliz
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran

    @Medini said:
    Eyes closed, goal is to relax or just explore my mind for the most part. Once again, what I have been doing worked for years till now. It's a problem with the now, not how. I've tried sitting, standing, simple breathing, nothing is working. Sooner or later I'm lightweight again and breathing stops.

    Ironically, it might be time to change the "how" now

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Perhaps the reason it's not working now is that it's time to "upgrade" or make a change :)

    @Invincible_summer yes, when I said visualization I meant a focus object to keep in mind. For me when my thought train is running away, checking it with "thinking" and visualizing the thought floating away makes it easier for me to let it go. It is very brief and I return to my breathing.

    OP, for me, when I meditate when it's dark, in too comfortable of a spot (the couch, my bed), or after I've eaten, my body tends to take a queue that it is time to rest and relax and I am bobbing and weaving all over. Sitting in bright sunshine or light helps, as does keeping with the 7 point meditation posture. Changes things up and see what happens.

    Invincible_summerlobster
  • MediniMedini America New

    @silver said:
    @Medini said, "this feeling only started after I tried to become true to myself and find my own way and just my own path basically. Embrace that which I am. All that I am.

    Advice would help a lot on why I have this feeling, this drowning, and floating feeling. I am very new to Buddhism and am trying to learn as much as I can about it. I was always drawn to it and each time I looked for a sign or anything, Buddhism would pop up be it a picture on my timeline or an article I come across."
    ~
    I'm taking it step by step as much as possible: You've been interested in Buddhism for some time and now you are trying to incorporate your idea of what 'Buddhist' meditation is....is that right? So you changed the way you usually 'meditate'? Meditation, incidentally as already mentioned, is NOT exploring your mind - it's more like just allowing your thoughts to come and go and not rest on any thoughts. When you say you stop breathing (?) does that mean you're afraid of stopping permanently or not?

    I'm thinking maybe you have already arrived at 'all that you are'.

    No, I use the same mediation as I have been doing before, mo Buddhism mediation. I don't even know a Buddhist way of mediation. I, ask I for advice on this mediation and just mentioning my interest as Buddhism just because.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Well, you've joined a Buddhist forum. So naturally, you're going to get feedback relative and specific to meditation as practised by those following different Buddhist traditions.

    It is difficult for us to give you advice on your own specific method of meditation, because we're not familiar with it, and it's not what we would practise as Meditation.

    So further than the feedback we've given you, if you are unwilling to change your methodology and practice, I don't really see how we can actually help......

    VastmindlobsterStraight_ManInvincible_summer
  • MediniMedini America New

    Then tell me how I should be doing it.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited November 2015

    Re-read the thread.
    @genkaku, @silver, @SpinyNorman and others have all given you excellent pointers to try different approaches.

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    There's also a "Meditation" section to this forum - you might wanna check it out.

  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran

    @Medini said:
    Then tell me how I should be doing it.

    Ajahn Lee (the venerable Thanissaro Bhikkhu is a teacher in this Thai Forest lineage) has a great book called Keeping the Breath in Mind that outlines two powerful methods of anapanasati, or mindfulness of breathing meditation. This method helps develop strong states of concentration and awareness of how it flows through your body, working with tension in the body, etc.

    Ven. Yuttadhammo teaches a Mahasi Sayadaw-style of vipassana meditation. This uses shorter bursts of "access concentration" to become non-judgmentally aware of sensations of the mind and body from moment-to-moment. It's very popular nowadays in the whole Mindfulness movement.

    Zazen is sort of a mix of the two. Posture is emphasized as the stillness of body is supposed to reflect the stillness of mind.

    The latter two are especially common and popular types of meditation, though by no means the only types. I've dabbled in all three that I've listed and have had positive experiences in all three which is why I listed these particular ones. I haven't included any of the Vajrayana or Goenka or other types of meditation because I haven't experienced them myself.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited November 2015

    @Medini said:
    Then tell me how I should be doing it.

    The important thing is to keep asking questions and then ignore the advice. This is how I have managed to learn Nothing. You seem well on your way to Nowhere.

    Happy?

    Looking forward to any further questions, which we can happily benefit from ... :)

    Meanwhile here is a story for everyone who likes a good tale ...

    Nasrudin was throwing handfuls of crumbs around his house.
    "What are you doing?" someone asked him.
    "Keeping the tigers away," replied Nasrudin
    "But there are no tigers in these parts."
    "That's right. Effective, isn't it?"

    ... and here is another now we have got rid of the tigers ...

    Nasrudin was traveling by train to a neighboring village. The conductor came to Nasrudin and asked for his ticket. Nasrudin began to search all his pockets for his tickets. When he couldn't find it, he began looking through his luggage. Then he frantically began looking in everyone else's luggage.

    At that point the Conductor got impatient and said "Nasrudin, you always keep your ticket in the top left pocket of your jacket. Why don't you look there?"

    Nasudin stopped his frantic search and said to the conductor "I can't look there. If it's not there, then I have no hope".

    silverWalker
  • TravellerTraveller East Midlands UK Veteran

    @Medini you may find this series of videos on breath meditation useful:

    seeker242
  • rohitrohit Maharrashtra Veteran

    Why you are setting goal while meditating?

  • It does sound like a common problem with meditation, if you can even call it a problem. In Western terms, meditation is conductive to a self-hypnotic state from the focus and relaxation and repetition of chanting or breathing. Really, the only thing any hypnotist does is guide you into the same meditation you get on the cushion.

    A Buddhist meditation teacher will know this and make sure you understand it's no big deal and not to get caught up in these altered states of consciousness and visionary imagery, although some meditation heavy schools have learned to use this instead as aids in self-understanding.

    For myself, I can enter a state where it feels like my body is shrinking and disappearing until I'm just a floating set of lungs breathing in and out. If it was a Zazen hall, that's when I'd bow and get a tap with the stick to remind my mind that my body does indeed exist. If I'm by myself, it rarely happens. No biggie either way.

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    @rohit said:
    Why you are setting goal while meditating?

    Because she doesn't know any different...she seems a little bit stuck on her own type of meditation that she's used to, and even though she seems to be reaching out for help understanding a new way, she seems attached to the old familiar way. Just my 2cents.

    rohit
  • Much can happen when there is too much emphasis. Try going into the meditation relaxed and not expect too much. Mentally note everything including the breath but don't react to anything. It's just the mind trying to squirm its way out of awareness. When you stop or come out of meditation it is not suppose to feel like you just suffocated or sprinted a quarter mile. Its suppose to feel like "nothing" just happened. :)

    lobstersilver
  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Canada Veteran

    Most likely you are falling asleep, and that explains the experiences you think you are having.
    My teacher tells us to be more attentive during our meditation and if we start drifting off, to get up and walk around, open the window and breathe some fresh air, splash some cold water on our face, etc.
    Then go back to the meditation cushion.

    He says that "experiences" are a distraction from our path.

    lobster
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran

    @namarupa said:
    When you stop or come out of meditation it is not suppose to feel like you just suffocated or sprinted a quarter mile. Its suppose to feel like "nothing" just happened. :)

    The phrase "suppose to" is pretty problematic, as it pushes judgment on anything that is not your conceived notion of the fruits of meditation. While the goal of Buddhist meditation does not involve that sort of exertion (as you noted), the path is lifelong and many experiences can come out of meditation along that path.

  • rohitrohit Maharrashtra Veteran
    edited November 2015

    @Medini
    When i was first time learning vipassana
    . Teacher asked us to leave our other practices apart and just follow the steps which they were telling us. If you want to realise Buddhist practice of meditation then you should join near one reliable institute to learn vippasana.

  • @Invincible_summer said:

    @namarupa said:
    When you stop or come out of meditation it is not suppose to feel like you just suffocated or sprinted a quarter mile. Its suppose to feel like "nothing" just happened. :)

    The phrase "suppose to" is pretty problematic, as it pushes judgment on anything that is not your conceived notion of the fruits of meditation. While the goal of Buddhist meditation does not involve that sort of exertion (as you noted), the path is lifelong and many experiences can come out of meditation along that path.

    I agree. Sometimes it's a struggle to just relax. Whatever the method one uses to relax "struggling" should not be one. Of course it may take some time for some to get to that point, but that's where practice comes in.

    Invincible_summer
  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    It could be a physiological change in the body. I have low blood pressure and find that if I meditate with my eyes closed all the time (as I used to do), I get nauseous or a headache and sometimes light headed. I never lie down now and meditate with my eyes open. It has made a marked difference for me.

    Just my 0.02.

    _ /\ _

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Medini's final comment was on the 22nd of November, and she has not returned to the site since then.
    I'll close the thread - always the risk of it running away with itself! - and re-open when she requests, for further input.
    Thanks to all who contributed.

This discussion has been closed.