I started meditation with Headspace app and have experienced a lot during meditation such as irrational fear of someone breaking in to the house and killing me while I was meditating , fear of snakes etc.
I am off headspace for about six months now and my Vipassana practice has improved a lot. The chattering in my head has subsided but now I see lot of random images flashing while I meditate. These images don't have to mean anything but these images are nothing I have seen or imagined in my life so far. Should I wonder about their meaning or should I continue to the adage of letting it all go and focus on the moment?

6 Answers 6


Everyone’s answers on here are speculative at best (though @Codosaur does offer some useful information that is scientifically grounded). The truth is, it probably doesn’t mean anything at all. That said, the mind is a potent machine, and you would do well to be wary of any experience that is overly unpleasant and/or dramatically pleasurable or “spiritual”. If it becomes something that interferes with your practice, I would advise consultation with someone at a more intimate level, e.g a doctor, teacher, etc.

Assuming it’s not something to be concerned about (it probably isn’t), your best bet is to let it be and treat it like any other mental mischief. Something to be noticed, accepted, and then forgotten. It is almost certainly not something that has any cause or meaning that will be useful for your practice.

  • the neural correlates for concentration have been sufficiently mapped in the past 2 decades to establish that a normal person will manage 2-4seconds at a rarefied max. this is compared to what is scientifically measurable in legit meditators who are confirmed to maintain it for 2-3 hours effortlessly. you need to get a clue and stop your physicalism which for most of you turns you automatically into worshippers of scientism.
    – bw tho
    Commented Jul 22, 2021 at 10:58
  • @bwtho I’m sorry. I don’t follow.
    – dgo
    Commented Jul 22, 2021 at 11:09

It is normal to have some "hallucinations" and is akin to a movie scene or a song coming to mind due to past giving of attention. As one is relaxed one's concentration is stronger than usual and it then upholds these unordinary states of percipience.

If one is successful in relaxing & stilling then one will eventually perceive subtle feelings, colors & visions before moving on to more refined states of perception.

The visions can be fleeting akin to a fleeting dream or vague visualization, without much sense to it or it can be stable & as vivid as can be.

Either way one should avoid making more of it than it is and one should be taking note of the general theme and it's arising, persisting & cessation.

If it is distracting one can try to relax it's mental fabrication by redirecting of attention to a different theme.


Images arising are just subtler distractions than outright thoughts. You should try to increase your skill, so you are not pulled off your chosen object of fixation

Later, when you no longer deviate off or away from your object for even a moment over the course of 30 minutes, you will need to learn to keep your sustained attention - not just uninterrupted but then also blazingly fresh and alert for each moment of attention. Normally, the freshness of our attention is lacking greatly, despite having gained the capacity to not lose our meditation object. This is called the 9 stages of shamata.


Scientific research has linked this to occipital brain wave activity during meditation. At these frequencies, the occipital lobe is stimulated in a way similar to the REM phase of sleep (which is when we dream). It is completely natural and normal for this to occur.

Just like images arising during dreams, they have no special significance.

enter image description here

See here for extensive research results and neurological explanation

Studies are currently underway that could indicate a possible link between this phenomenon and the brain state during lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is a state of awareness that one is dreaming, and is often associated with "taking control" of the dream, i.e. being able to evoke specific visualizations.

enter image description here

As you can see on the images, this points to the same regions of the brain as the first study.

  • imagine still dealing with measuring lucid dream correlates and not having a clue at how to infer lucid awareness of dreamless sleep which is not conditioned by neural activity or any other physical interactions. its a gift to be shown how inept one is, don't you agree.
    – bw tho
    Commented Jul 22, 2021 at 9:26
  • I'm not sure where you're going with this. Dreamless sleep is conditioned by neural activity. Any mental or physical activity, conscious or unconscious, requires neural activity.
    – Codosaur
    Commented Jul 22, 2021 at 12:29
  • full lucidity in deep dreamless sleep is standard practice wherein there is essentially no brain activity ie. no regular function, which your article also partially mentioned. you should stick to the confines of your engineering scans and inferring their relation to mental reports.
    – bw tho
    Commented Jul 22, 2021 at 17:44
  • "full lucidity in deep dreamless sleep is standard practice wherein there is essentially no brain activity" - care to back up that assertion with some research? As long as you are alive, there is always brain activity.
    – Codosaur
    Commented Jul 22, 2021 at 22:57

It's faster mind because of the simple meditation.

Normally, people live their lives switching with sleeping mind rapidly, more than trillion times per sec. The sleeping minds will arise lesser after the collective meditation power is better because the stronger minds are creating the very better physical body if no stronger past unwholesome karma to effect on the practitioner's physical body.

However, the newbie practitioner still can't control their speeder minds, so the uncontrollable minds will randomly recall the past or future memory which collected by perceptions more than before the meditation.

The Buddha give the next step to hold mind in control by 40 meditations in 4 main postures and 7 body movement and posture, such absorbing anapanassati jhana in 4 postures, then absorbing kayagatasati jhana in 4 postures, etc. It's called Vasi, 5 Mastery to absorb Jhana quickly under mind's control.

After above step, the practitioner can recall the memories sequentially, no random, no doubt. And it will more powerful if the practitioner practice 14 methods of mastery in 5 Abhinna.

The powerful insight meditation is after above all steps.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5xyx4c3NBk

  • Is there a pali term for the one unit of mind that arises a trillion times per second? If so, what is the English translation of that unit? Thanks.
    – user17652
    Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 20:19
  • Please, ask as new question for easier making reference, I think it is very long answer.
    – Bonn
    Commented Jul 24, 2021 at 11:59

Such images are generally caused by sloth & torpor or 'sinking mind' occurring due to wrong concentration.

Wrong concentration means one concentrates on a single object, such as breathing, with too much effort. This causes the breathing, body & mind to become tranquil but also sleepy. Thus the mind 'sinks' into head nodding, fuzziness, etc, and these images, such as green dragons, claws, etc, flash, like in dreams.

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