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Unusual happenings in sleep and meditation

JeroenJeroen Do it with a smileNetherlands Veteran

When I was sleeping last night there were some unusual happenings. First I went to sleep, then I woke up and I felt as if I was in an endless warm softness, without any of the usual sensations of having a head. Then various things happened. Eventually a glowing thing seemed to come up from underneath and touched me. Later a voice from my forehead asked, very softly, how my attempt to commune had gone. I was in and out of sleep last night and it was unusually warm, but these sensations persisted, it was all very tactile, a lot of being touched.

Then when I was meditating today there was further strangeness. When I was concentrating on the breath there was a rising tide of tinnitus, which stayed up to now, and there were sensations of shifting beneath me and around me as I was trying to settle down. I had a pretty good connection to watching the breath though.

I’m not putting this down to hypnogogia, it was too persistent and too lengthy. I do wonder what it was that I was communing with. It wasn’t any kind of experience in words or understanding, more a kind of experience, and it seemed to leave something, a kind of presence near my head, which vanished as soon as I touched it.

Very strange.



  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran
    edited June 2019

    In another place, I came across a reference to makyo — interesting and relevant.

    The term makyō (魔境 makyō) is a Zen term that means “ghost cave” or “devil’s cave.” It is a figurative reference to the kind of self-delusion that results from clinging to an experience and making a conceptual “nest” out of it for oneself. Makyō is essentially synonymous with illusion, but especially in reference to experiences that can occur within meditation practice.

    In Philip Kapleau's The Three Pillars of Zen,[1] Hakuun Yasutani explained the term as the combination of ma meaning devil and kyo meaning the objective world. This character for “devil” can also refer to Mara, the Buddhist “tempter” figure; and the character kyo can mean simply region, condition or place. Makyō refers to the hallucinations and perceptual distortions that can arise during the course of meditation and can be mistaken by the practitioner as "seeing the true nature" or kenshō. Zen masters warn their meditating students to ignore sensory distortions. These can occur in the form of visions and perceptual distortions, but they can also be experiences of blank, trance-like absorption states. In the Zen school, it is understood that neither category of experience – however fascinating they may be – is a true and final enlightenment.

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