I am very sick and as such I have tried meditating a lot, and reading about the heart mantra, as far as studying meditation. When I was meditating I was going into a trance like state for about 3-4 hours, my first question was, is 3-4 hours, deep meditation or beginners meditation? My second question was, in at least one trance state I suddenly looked down and saw myself sitting, I was out of my body, I tried to look around and I saw what I can only describe as many beautiful places/doors, Could this be any beginning to becoming realized, maybe a step in the right direction or not? Please excuse me if these questions are stupid.
I suddenly looked down and saw myself sitting, I was out of my body, I tried to look around and I saw what I can only describe as many beautiful places/doors
This is an effect of certain Samatha meditations. It is called out of body experience. I remember reading something similar in a book by venerable Ananda Maithriya thero. He would start the meditation(Samatha) while lying on the bed and after sometime he'd be standing next to the bed looking at his body.
At one time he wandered out of the room and started exploring. Then he came to a gate/door that was guarded by a huge demon like figure. It told him something like "What are you doing here? Go back!". So he went back to the body. Later he discussed this experience with the head monk of the monastery. The head monk advised the Thero not to do that without proper preparation. Because if something else gets in while you are out, you will be locked out of your own body. People have died trying to do that.
Venerable Yuttadhammo also speaks about a similar experience in this video
is 3-4 hours, deep meditation or beginners meditation? Could this be any beginning to becoming realized
No, this has nothing to do with Nibbana. You have to do Vipassana meditation for insight knowledge. But being able to sit for 3 hours and focus on one object is good progress in terms of Samatha meditation. Also, having such focus is a good starting point for Vipassana.
What you're describing is one of the many superpowers you can develop when practicing meditation.
In the Kevatta sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.11.0.than.html the Buddha describes the superpowers:
And what is the miracle of psychic power? There is the case where a monk wields manifold psychic powers. Having been one he becomes many; having been many he becomes one. He appears. He vanishes. He goes unimpeded through walls, ramparts, and mountains as if through space. He dives in and out of the earth as if it were water. He walks on water without sinking as if it were dry land. Sitting cross-legged he flies through the air like a winged bird. With his hand he touches and strokes even the sun and moon, so mighty and powerful. He exercises influence with his body even as far as the Brahma worlds
Try it yourself. Go out of your body and do everything the Buddha described. Have fun.
What you're experiencing can be the beginning of becoming realized. But, on the other hand, it can also be a big distraction for becoming realized - the Buddha confirms it:
Seeing this drawback to the miracle of psychic power, Kevatta, I feel horrified, humiliated, and disgusted with the miracle of psychic power.
What the Buddha meant by this statement is that superpowers are not the fastest way for becoming realized. They are usually (but not always!) a distraction that propels beings on a longer path towards realization.
This doesn't mean that you should stop cultivating your superpowers. Cultivating superpowers can sometimes be the fastest way towards realization. What is this way?
Firstly, explore your superpowers thoroughly. Play with them. Find out how they work. Be a little kid. Be curious. Be extremely curious.
This is very important: forget about your fear. If fear is present, this is not the right way towards realization! If you can be curious about your superpowers without fear, then do it - explore them. A little fear is ok, but if it's too much, be wiser and stop. Such experiences can have a really big impact on your life, to the point where you can't function normally in your daily life. Be smart and know your limits.
Once you know you're safe and curiosity is the main theme when exploring your superpowers, strive to have complete control of your superpowers. Sooner or later you'll come to the following realization:
"In order to access my superpowers and have control over them I have to be in the right state of mind"
With the above realization you'll realize that your mind plays the most important role in accessing your superpowers. From this realization, you'll naturally want to explore your mind and you'll start to ask yourself the right questions:
"How does my mind work? What is my mind? How can I know my mind?"
When asking yourself these questions, meditation will come naturally as this is the only way to correctly answer such questions. You'll start looking at your mind. Dissecting the inner workings of your mind. Analyzing every little nuance of your mind. You'll go deeper and deeper.
New questions will arise:
"What is the first cause of everything in my mind?"
You'll try to search for this first cause, but no matter how deep you'll search, you'll see the following:
"The cause of the first cause is always the same cause, but more subtle."
It will be like you're searching for the bottom of an infinitely deep ocean.
Then, one day, when you'll search long enough and ask yourself the right question, you'll find the bottom: ignorance. You'll realize dependent origination https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prat%C4%ABtyasamutp%C4%81da . You'll go beyond your superpowers and you'll become fully realized.
See, with your superpowers you can't become realized. But you can use them to motivate you to start exploring your mind. This is the way of becoming realized with the help of superpowers.
The proper way, preached by the Buddha, is to let go of the superpowers and ignore them. What are you going to do? Can you let go of your superpowers and ignore them? If so, then do it and go into meditation with the right questions to explore your mind. If you can't, then you can follow the way I described. Once you explore every corner of your superpowers, meditation with the right questions will come naturally and the rest will follow.
is 3-4 hours, deep meditation or beginners meditation?
It can be deep meditation or beginners meditation. The important factor is the quality of meditation. That's what differentiates beginners from advanced meditators.