My Vipassana Experience Part 2: Tingling, Vibrations and Sensations

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Inside meditation hall, Vipassana centre, Malaysia

Inside the meditation hall, Vipassana meditation centre, Malaysia

This is the part 2 of 3 describing my 10 day silent Vipassana meditation course in Malaysia.
SeePart 1: First 3 Days Were Torture and Part 3: Phantom Bug Bites, Insights and After the Course.

After 3 days of torture from 10+ hours a day of doing nothing but observing my breath, something amazing happened on day 4 of the retreat when the actual Vipassana meditation technique started.

Day 4 – Tingling, vibrations and body sensations

Warm tingling on my nose bone. As soon as the morning meditation started, I felt a very strong, warm, tingling, pressure on my nose. It was completely held my attention. My mind tried to wander, but was immediately pulled back to the sensation on my nose.

As we focused on other parts of our body from the top of the head to the toes, I had other sensations like tingling, breezes, vibrations, sweat and pulsing.

I experienced intense concentration on my body, yet my senses were sensitive to what was going outside. When someone sneezed or scratched, I heard it louder than I knew it was. I saw my mind try to distract me by trying to daydream or open my eyes, but I was so focused that my body couldn’t move.

It was like I was hypnotized.

We were told to observe sensations objectively, without labelling them as “good” or “bad”, and to remember all sensations are impermanent and can change moment-to-moment.

These two hours felt like five minutes. I was amazed when I opened my eyes. It felt like I tapped into a new level of concentration and discovered sensations in my body that I didn’t know existed.

Vipassana theory 101 – sensations and subconscious mind

Suffering and unhappiness due to cravings and aversions. When we crave or try to avoid something, we stop living in the moment.

A craving is any object you want more of and that takes control of your mind, for example addictions, longings or attachments. An aversion is any object you try to avoid, for example people, situations or experiences.

However, your craving or aversion isn’t to the object itself, but to the physical sensation the object brings to your body.

Specifically, we crave objects that bring pleasant sensations and avoid objects that bring unpleasant sensations to the body.

Getting rid of attachments. By observing our physical sensations objectively without liking it (craving more) or disliking it (being averse), and by realizing that sensations are impermanent, we train the subconscious mind to let go of accumulated attachments.

Through practicing awareness and objectivity towards sensations, we stop adding to our supply of cravings and aversions, causing old attachments to surface in the form of body sensations. If we continue to watch these sensations neutrally, we let go of past attachments.

The analogy the teacher used to explain this is that our supply of subconscious attachments is like a charged battery. If you stop charging it (stop adding cravings/aversions), it will slowly discharge itself (the release of cravings/aversions).

This is idea is similar to the teaching from the book The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, which talks about clearing your mind through awareness of your thoughts (after that book, my mental chatter decreased by about 80%), except you’re observing bodily sensations instead of conscious thoughts.

Being a better, more enlightened person

Being in control of your mind. This 2,500 year old Vipassana meditation technique is considered Buddha’s greatest contribution to humankind. By teaching a method for people achieve control over their minds, to be objective and understand the nature of change, people could eradicate suffering caused by cravings and aversions.

The theory is that as you progress to later stages of this meditation and build more focus, you’ll be more tuned into your body sensations to the point you’ll realize your body is made of vibrations and energy, and that you are only whole through the integration of many parts.

Finding clarity, love and compassion Experiencing the nature of you body lets you understand first-hand that we’re not as separate from other beings as we seem to be, and that we’re all connected to to what is around us. Eventually, having nothing but compassion and love towards the world.

You don’t need to be Buddhist to practice this meditation. There were no religious symbols or rituals during the course or in the meditation technique.

Days 3 to 6 – Continuing to feel sensations

We practice feeling sensations on more parts of the body at a time.

Sometimes I had random aches, twitches, or sensations that my leg or arm fell asleep, but when I opened my eyes none of these feelings were actaully there.

We learned that it’s normal for different sensations to arise during meditation, including ones that suddenly arise and go away or in different prats of the body even if we’re not focused on them.

The teacher reminded us to observe sensations objectively, without liking or disliking it, remembering the idea of impermanence that sensations will pass from moment-to-moment.

It was relatively easy to watch my body’s sensations neutrally… until day 7 when I constantly felt sharp phantom bee stings all over my body.

Continue reading Part 3: Phantom Bug Bites, Insights and After the Course →

>> Have you tried Vipassana or other meditation techniques? How did you feel when you got the hang of it?

This is the part 2 of 3 describing my 10 day silent Vipassana meditation course in Malaysia.
SeePart 1: First 3 Days Were Torture and Part 3: Phantom Bug Bites, Insights and After the Course.
Visit dhamma.org for a list of meditation centres around the world.

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  • Nice read! I’ve got some friends who have done it and they have had similar experiences/feelings. I’m in Nepal a fair bit so perhaps next time I will do it. :)

    • Meditating in Nepal sounds beautiful. I met a traveller who did his meditation course in Nepal with the mountains as the backdrop and it sounded out of this world. If you end up taking it, let me know how it goes :)

      – Lily

  • Now I have a few spare moments in Singapore, I’m catching up on blogs! This sounds incredible – it takes only two seconds for my mind to start to wander. It’s amazing how this happened to you for the first few days but then after that… What an experience!

  • “These two hours felt like five minutes.” I had to read this twice to make sure it wasn’t the other way around. 30 minutes of meditation makes me fall asleep so I’m not sure if I could ever last 2 hours! Wow.

    • Hi Graciel,

      Your comment made me laugh out loud :)

      The first three days was definitely “five minutes felt like two hours”! I don’t think I sat still for more than a few minutes at a time during the first three days. I even fell asleep a couple of times. I had no idea meditation would take so much concentration (or perhaps I lack so concentration). It did get easier after the first three days though. If you get a chance to take the course, I’d highly recommend it – even if you don’t think you could last more than a few minutes at a time. Could be a good way to test your personal boundaries :)

      – Lily

  • A fascinating read and all these teachings make a lot of sense. It has inspired me to read more on the subject.

    • Hi Inka,

      It certainly was a very interesting experience. Very different from other meditations I’ve tried, in the sense that this one looks at your body’s sensations instead of conscious thoughts or images. I highly recommend it, if you have a chance to attend a course, probably the best way to learn about :)

      – Lily

  • That was a great read. It sounds challenging. I liked it and had to go read part 1 right away. Situations like this are really good for your body as the way we live today there are so many attachments that we all have. Are these course only held in Malaysia? I think I’m going to try to find out more.

    • Hi Scott,

      Thanks for reading :) If you’re curious, there are Vipassana meditation centres/courses around the world, here’s the list of locations. The course is free, and you can give a donation any time after the course for an amount you feel is appropriate.

      – Lily

      • Dinna

        Hi Thanks a lot for the article. I have done 10 day course in Sri Lanka last Oct 2012 . I felt the same. Now I feel very calm and positive. thanks to mr Goyenka for giving us this wonderful technique…. Dinna

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