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I just completed my first 10 vipassana retreat. I'm wondering if anyone has had this experience and how long it took for it to subside- I've seen the question posted by other users experienckng it, but no follow ups. Around day 5 of the retreat i started to experience a floating, swaying sensation after the meditations, during the evening discourse i couldn't look at the tv as it felt like it was moving. By day 9 i had some intense experiences during the meditations, like I was no longer in my body but merely a witnessing the body and everything around me seemed fragmented, and i was also having a hard time narrowing my focus on my body, like my awareness of my body expanded way beyond my body and i couldn't actually feel sensations in 'my' body. Also i would feel an energetic force move through me, sometimes moving my body (head would raise, arms would move) it wasn't intentional, and felt natural, and resisting it (to maintain determination) felt like it was creating stress or tension.
I'm home now and this energetic force feeling continues to pulasate in my body and gives me a swaying /rocking feeling, it makes me dizzy nauseas, unable to fcous. I try to remain objective and merely observe. But it has made day to day life impossible, i can't drive or walk, and I'm not sure if I should continue to meditate, or take a break, or not go as deep into meditation. When we started vipassana in the retreat I was very able to narrow my focus precisely and feel every subtle sensation, now it feels like if I try i don't feel much, eveeything seems very light and airy. Trying to give as much info as possible. But also very dizzy writing this and having difficulty.

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  • cheetahhouse.org is one place you can get help from. They specialize in meditation injuries.
    – triplej
    Feb 7, 2023 at 16:59
  • You've stuck your head through into the higher fetters without the possibility to acclimatize. It happened to me due to having exceptional concentration. My insight was way ahead of my body's ability to catch up, so many times I had to pull back and acclimatize in order to settle the discontinuity. This meant stopping practices and firmly rooting myself in the six-sense experience. Your ability to observe the practice should be respected, as if you've just found a wild stallion. Go easy.
    – user17652
    Feb 7, 2023 at 21:53
  • Can you elaborate what you mean by fetters and sixth sense practices. Thank you for your response
    – Defkid
    Feb 8, 2023 at 1:40
  • What kind of Vipasana retreat was it?
    – Lowbrow
    Jul 22, 2023 at 23:03
  • The Goenka one. The sensation lasted a few months, i had to stop all practices and rest and eventually it subsided.
    – Defkid
    Jul 24, 2023 at 10:58

2 Answers 2

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edit Didn't focus on the initial part of question, let's go step by step:-

  1. That floating and swaying sensation arises due to mind accumulated in air within body. Air usually travels within body and if entire focus is made via that medium, these type of observations might appear.
  2. TV felt like moving, same reason as above.
  3. Felt like outside body, observation stopped inside.. this is mainly due to focus in space surrounding body, whose counter technique been discussed below. With me, it also accompanied with some colour in mind image like that of clear sky.
  4. Arms & head movement:- yeah, with me I actually enjoyed this part the most, was amazed and wondering as how it's automatically coming back to meditation posture like a robot. Don't worry, this is just the subconscious state trying to wake.
  5. About that rocking, swaying etc... It's a mixup of observation within blood movement, air etc. So it's normal too. Make sure to stop that music playing in mind cause the feelings associated with them or such circumstances in life that alter mood, usually raise a kind of happiness and sadness enhancing rocking, swaying etc.
  6. Tricky part is don't let mind or yourself as of now, to blame others. Laugh on these, would be very easy to deal like this.
    At this state, it should be easy to divide mind into parts such that actual observer will be different and you can easily say that, "it was observed".

Hopefully, you have not been in touch (verbally too) with someone practicing at these states, and you didn't sit on any such meditator's seat. If so, ask them to give you maitri-bhaavna to make you come out of it and lower your "uneasiness" from this and practice this maitri-bhaavna via yourself too.


Previous discussion on counter technique for "infinite space state"
Incase if you don't stop practice or just wanna use meditatiom as remedy then below might be helpful.

Probably it's because of focus in sky or space or void around body with perception of subconscious state as "this sky is infinite". (In my local language sky, space void usually are same).

Refer to sallekh sutta of majjhima nikaya, this is known as akashanantyayatan.

From previous experience, this might be pulled back using anapana (start from 0 always, whenever stuck). Try to pull focus within cave of nostrils. If we draw a line around head in center of forehead and remove the forehead part then that particular line and area around that should be the area of observation which would feel relax when focus is pulled back to nostril cave.

This is cave because such was the feeling when did this, as if "I am standing inside the cave (nearby forehead) and air is coming towards me and passing back like something cozy side by me".

Also, better to take a day or 2 break, give mind something where it cannot stuck itself like do too much physical hard work, could be working with daily wage workers or in open gym (outside building) without music etc.

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  • Do you know how long the rocking swaying might last. It's been several days and it is still very intense. I've ceased meditating. I tried anapana, but the focus makes everything worse.
    – Defkid
    Feb 8, 2023 at 20:19
  • This rocking swaying feeling was there even before me in contact with Vipassana. Not just inside body rather during sleep with half wake state, my bed used to rock sway together with me. So far as per analysis, it's due to mood swings, as stated before do intense physical hard work, if music or such circumstances occur then try to get rid of them using right thought process, right concentration.
    – Wonderer
    Feb 9, 2023 at 4:52
  • Last thing I remember was, inside mind -> divided body in 2 parts head( part above neck) and rest. Maintained focus within entire head and tried to expand over entire bed. Then started judging if this feeling is correct, if this is me, .. and it decreased by 99%.
    – Wonderer
    Feb 9, 2023 at 4:54
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Stopping your practice temporarily would be a good first step. I would also suggest eating something grounding like meat. Maybe even have a beer or two. What you’re experiencing isn’t terribly uncommon - especially the rocking part. My guess is that during your retreat, you were probably overdoing it with the force of your concentration. This, coupled with a lack of good sleep can cause things like this to happen. You don’t want to have your foot so firmly on the accelerator.

Overtime, you’ll get used to the sensation of a calm and clarified mind. When you get a strong dose of it immediately, it can be disconcerting - like someone who has never been high before accidentally eating a plateful of special brownies.

You’ll be fine.

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  • Yes, overdoing it. It's very common for these types of intensive practices. From a fetter perspective, they've temporarily broken through into 6th & 7th fetters (borders, space & time blend out here) That can happen, even to newcomers. Formless practices are readily available, especially in the right setting like a vipassana retreat. One then comes bouncing back, but now there's questions and a newfound curiosity about it all! Lol
    – user17652
    Feb 7, 2023 at 21:41
  • I think just generally, it’s more a matter of readapting; this happens pretty consistently when coming back from a retreat. I’m always a little spacey the first day or two back from sesshin. My mind is like - you want me to do what now after sitting for seven days?? Eventually you find your equilibrium, usually at the expense of some of the calm you painstakingly cultivated during retreat ebbs away. Such is the reality of lay practice! 🤷‍♂️. Beer definitely speeds up the process tho!
    – user24505
    Feb 7, 2023 at 22:58
  • Thanks that's so reassuring i kept feeling like i may need to eat meet or have a drink, to ground. I've taken a break from practices. Thanks
    – Defkid
    Feb 8, 2023 at 1:43
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    Give it a couple of days. If you start making a habit of retreats, it’ll still happen, but it just won’t be as disorienting. Driving is always sketchy though. If at all possible, get a ride, use public transit, or wait until you’re better at managing the symptoms before driving yourself.
    – user24505
    Feb 8, 2023 at 1:58
  • Driving has been brutal. I wish the retreat center had warned us of the possibility, it's 3 hours from civilization lol. I felt super unsafe. I've seen posts of people experiencing this for 10 days post-retreat. Thanks again
    – Defkid
    Feb 8, 2023 at 3:59

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