First - this is a question directed towards advanced practitioners of mindfulness or similar meditation.

I have been meditating and practicing other transformational work for about 17 years. Throughout the work, I've had many peak experiences, many "aha" moments, and I've experienced the deepening and expansiveness of my awareness and understanding.

I've learned to be suspicious of any type of insight or experience that presents itself as "the answer" - in other words; I've had thoughts like "this is finally it! I got it!" So many times that I pretty much ignore that type of noise as soon as notice it.

Lately while meditating, I've become increasingly aware of physical sensations (neither pleasant or unpleasant) in my body, particularly around my upper chakras; and the overall - for lack of a better word - intensity of my experience is elevated.

As I allude to - I've never had a transformational experience that I considered "real" that came about with a bang - the worthwhile experiences are usually quite subtle - if fact my sense is that the essence of transformation is increasingly subtle rather than the other way around.

My question is, what do I make of my recent experiences? It carries with it an intensity that seems well, intense.

I recognize that more information is probably necessary to answer this; but in general terms, is this par for the course? Is it just something to notice, and let pass? Is it a symptom of something and/or, is there anything to do about it?

  • Which type of meditation are you practicing? Anapana or some other type of meditation?
    – Francesco
    Jan 5, 2017 at 16:43
  • It is essentially Anapana - attention on the rise and fall of my chest.
    – dgo
    Jan 5, 2017 at 17:00

4 Answers 4


Is it just something to notice, and let pass? Is it a symptom of something and/or, is there anything to do about it?

Treat the object according to your practice, i.e. for

Samatha meditation:

  • when mind wanders, bring it back to the breath.

Vipassana meditation:

  • every object is treated in the same way, there is no discrimination, i.e. no object is more or less important than the other. Note the object and return to the rising and falling of the abdomen.

In meditation you get experience Pīti, Sukha, Passaddhi which can be intense, pleasant and stubtle. If you dwell on these too much you get attached to them and crave to them, causing regression in your meditation. Also if you think this is the final goal you stop short half way.

So do not give much importance to them and continue your practice.

Also see: That "Electric Feel" body sensation during meditation

  • Pleasant and stubble - I assume you mean subtle?
    – dgo
    Jan 5, 2017 at 16:57
  • Yes. This was a typo. Jan 5, 2017 at 17:00
  • Thank you. That is the sort of answer is was "hoping" for.
    – dgo
    Jan 5, 2017 at 17:03

In meditation, you can consider these three:

  1. Mental factors that you cultivate, a bit like a sportsman. For instance, mindfulness, alertness and concentration.
  2. Experiences of yours (that are also mental factors, in fact) that indicate something about the quality of your mind. For instance, Prasrabhi indicate the achievement of śamatha. Each dhyāna has its branches as well. In this respect, each branch indicate something about the quality of one's mind. For instance, if you abide in neither-pleasure-nor-pain, it shows you abide in the fourth dhyāna.
  3. The objects you pay attention to. This is because the purpose of meditation is to get to open one's eyes so as to see things the way they are. Another way of saying is that the purpose is to directly realize the sixteen aspects of the four noble truths.

Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu and others point out that samatha and vipassana are aspects of the same practice ("practicing dhyānas"). It is impossible to achieve even calm abiding without having contentment, few desire, and ethical discipline, and these three do not come about without a good deal of understanding to start with. Such an understanding comes about through studying, listening to the teachings, and engaging in vipassana. Without understanding, one's practice of samatha will be forceful, fruitless and might even be harmful. In turn, whatever one gets to see with a still and clear might will be more beneficial.

What you experience might indicate the quality of your mind. Either way, you have to get clearer about it, to know what to do with it.

  • Without understanding, one's practice of samatha will be forceful, fruitless and might even be harmful. - In what sense could it be harmful?
    – dgo
    Jan 5, 2017 at 20:18
  • @user1167442 When there is no joy in applying alertness but one brings the object back to mind in a forceful manner, one can come to feel pressure or pain, usually in the chest. It's like mental strains. In Tibetan, we call it 'lung'. A greater harm is in the case of he who focuses on the breath to suppress or bury things, not to shed light on anything. It's a form of escapism, and everything that's buried will eventually come up... Jan 5, 2017 at 20:33
  • Experiences of yours...indicates the achievement of samatha This is very dangerous stuff to say. As with the statement about neither-pleasure-nor-pain, you should clarify the technical meaning so that people don't think they have attained realisations that they haven't. Jan 5, 2017 at 20:43
  • @DavidRawson It is precarious to say indeed, and that's all the more reason for people to study never stop studying. I will take your advise and clarify briefly, adding a reference or two as well. Jan 5, 2017 at 20:49

The title and the question are a little different, but I'll try to address both. I think of meditation as a way to practice paying attention. When I meditate, I try to focus more on paying attention and less on whether the experience matches my expectations.

Asking "What to expect from meditation?" is kind of like asking, "What should I expect what I stand outside and listen?". If you pay attention, you may notice things. What you notice will depend on your own circumstances. Some times nothing may seem to happen; other times, you may notice something dramatic.

An idea you may hear about in Buddhism is taking refuge in the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. In addition to asking questions here, if you're curious about the sensations you notice in meditation, you might consider seeking out a Sangha where you can share your experiences with others in a more intimate way than you can on an Internet site. I think a Sangha will often have a teacher who can help you investigate what you notice in meditation.

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