Meditation/Beginner

Advertisement


Question
Hello! I hope this question is acceptable to you.
I just started the practice of mediation and I was wondering if you could help me. I am not Buddhist and do not know much about it, but I started to mediate because I heard it can assist me in my goal of becoming less stressed, more focused, and gain some self discipline.
When I attempted it for the first time last night I became startled with the experience. I felt sensations and saw images with my eyes closed. It felt really weird! Once I was beginning to feel relaxed I would try to snap myself out of it because I was scared...and then tension followed.
My question is, do you know what is going on during this process? Why am I seeing things and feeling things?

By the way, I have done some research and all I find on this is spiritual explanations (third eye, chakra).

Thank you for your time! This is definitely a new experience for me! :)

Answer
Hey Debra, I just answered another question here in a related category and said this, which I think also applies to you:

"I suggest you always follow your own better judgment and never do anything that doesn't feel right or which makes you feel uncomfortable."

I don't know what was happening in your case but when people meditate I believe they can open themselves up to all sorts of spiritual influences that they're not familiar with. And IMHO it's a popular misconception to believe that all things spiritual are necessarily good for us.

I was once a beginner and I soon found out, in my case, that as the proverbial river of the spirit widens, all sorts of unusual experiences can arise. The psychologist C. G. Jung called this an encounter with the "collective unconscious." You might want to look Jung up if you haven't already. I think he's useful in that he cautions us to not get lost in the depths of the psyche. Jung advocates a controlled descent, always keeping the thinking ego intact. And I think that's important.

One way I guard against any possible dangers of the spiritual life is through prayer. Instead of puffing us up and making us feel like all-important, self-realized gurus (which I think is misguided) genuine prayer emphasizes our humility before God. I believe there's a difference between the two approaches. In the once case, people try to *become* God. In the other case, people try to *relate* to God. I think you might like to keep this in mind if you continue on your current path.

Meditation

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Michael Clark, Ph.D.

Expertise

I'd prefer to answer questions from seekers rather than those wishing to get into in an academic debate. I do, however, have a considerable degree of scholarly knowledge that may be applied to the inherent complexities - or simplicities - of the contemplative life. But the key word here is "applied."

I tend to agree with these sentiments as expressed by the woman writer on mysticism, Evelyn Underhill:

"Now meditation is a half-way house between thinking and contemplating: and as a discipline, it derives its chief value from this transitional character."

Source: Practical Mysticism: A little book for normal people (1914), p. 46.

Moreover, I strongly believe that all persons possess an essential individuality--not just a superficial, conceptual or constructed sense of individuality. So if you're looking to lose your essential self in 'nothingness,' please ask another expert. I don't believe in that idea.

Experience

I began to meditate in the 1980s. I did hatha yoga and studied and taught Tai Chi. I then lived in India for two years where meditation was a way of life. Although my methods have changed over the years in keeping with my personal development, I still consider myself a contemplative person.

Publications
Print Media:
My table from "Religions and Cults" at earthpages.org is reproduced with permission in L. Lindsey, S. Beach and B. Ravelli, Core Concepts in Sociology, 2nd ed., p. 157

World Wide Web:
My online article "Letter to God" coauthored with Buddhist monk, E. Raymond Rock, appears on several different spirituality-based websites, including http://tinyurl.com/db7a5o

I've interviewed, as a Christian, a self-proclaimed mystic: http://tinyurl.com/cawykr

My articles appeared at the former New View magazine nuvunow.ca and are published at earthpages.org.

Education/Credentials
Ph.D. in Religious Studies
M.A. in Comparative Religion
B.A. Hon. in Psychology/Sociology
For more info, please see my CV and letters of recommendation and my blog at michaelwclark.com.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.