I had meditated Vipassana for about 8 years up to about an hour and a half a day, had an experience, and for no reason related to the experience, I stopped meditating for about the last 10 years. Within the last year (after about 10 years) I started meditating again. My practice has gone from about a half an hour to about 2+ hours a day for the last several months. Not long after ramping up to about 2 hours a day I had several experiences, one didn’t really fit the mold of anything I have read about with Jhanas, etc. So I was hoping someone experienced might offer a few words on what it might be. I understand I am not supposed to grasp or try recreate this, and though I know I had this tendency for a week or two following it, I’m long over it – if I never have another experience again I’m just fine with that. I’m content just sitting and going nowhere as that’s a great place to be in itself. But I still would like some context to understand what it was. I think not having had a real knowledge of jhanas or other altered states until AFTER the second experience happened (I’ve read a few books since then) gives the “uneducated” brain some latitude as my experience hadn’t read those books either.
I had read Ajahn Chah say not to worry about what the books say as it never happens that way anyway, from what he said he didn’t know much about jhanas or altered states either until it happened to him and what he described. Though Ajahn Chah’s experience sounded like a far more powerful and deeper experience than mine, there were some similarities. He never described (named) his experience into any traditional Buddhist context in his narrative, and I have none for mine as the closest thing I am aware of is the 5th Jhana – but from what I’ve read you can’t “jump” Jhana’s more than one or two levels.
I had been doing samatha meditation, unlike the more normal long slow quieting of my mind, I got into a deep concentration quickly. I found that unlike normal, I was tight; I had to continuously make a conscious effort to relax my arms, hands, and legs. I began rocking and turned my concentration from breath to my mind and the peace that was there. I made a mental effort to remember that all of the small very quiet thoughts and images left (vapors of thoughts) were just mental constructs and were not real until the thoughts were vapors of vapors. I knew intuitively that absolute peace was almost uncovered and made a very slight mental exertion to push into it.. The state was very near total quiet and peace. It was at the most peaceful place a consciousness could be within the realm of my experience. I sensed a piece material comprising a wall, and they started vibrating very hard and as it vibrated it cracked and intuitively I pressed on that and it shattered. . I know the material, pressing, and shattering I experienced was also a mental construct and not real.. I think it was my thinking mind trying to create something to make sense out of something that doesn’t work in a thinking world, a portal to something beyond thinking. Things completely flat lined, absolute peace, incredibly vast space, just a consciousness in space without limit. I had a meditation timer on and it made a chime so I know that I was in this state for about 20 minutes which I did hear from what seemed a great distance away. I had no sensations of my body, no pain, physical sensations, no breathing, and almost no sound. Then my mind just took itself back, I made no effort to stay or go.
This experience was almost identical to the one that happened to me about 10 years before. The difference was with the ten years old experience I remember coming out if it with a powerful epiphany “It’s all true” about the dharma as I had experienced some doubt that “all this Buddhist meditation stuff” could be some clever parlor mind game and that I had wasted years practicing.. I had no doubt of the truth. This time I didn’t have that epiphany, but a whole lot of the permanent deep seated stress (PTSD) of many events events of the last 10 years were gone (2 long term unemployment experiences, complete loss of wealth, near homelessness, the drug addiction of one of my kids, and divorce). The persistent stress that was a part of my identity had vanished and has now been gone for months. Knowing where you are on the path and to put things into some type of context, are good to know. If you have some wisdom to share about this I would appreciate it.