Are visions typical when meditating? My first experience with visual stimuli.
An eccentric meditation sitting : 20-minutes of the diciest silence. Focusing on breathing in and out. Lying down on a tiny blue mat peeking at the still blue sky at 7 pm. A bitterly butted butterfly, flowing into a flower, painting black inked hues in the sky. The clouds turned gray and, so did the butterfly until it rubbed into a flower. Flying high while slipping into the buttery storm of the sky. Why are tears starting to well up in the back of my eyeballs? I hold back, thinking of the six other people surrounding me. Was I lucid?
Was I meditating, lucid, or simply practicing mindful breathing?
Help, I do not know what I experienced. I’m skipping to the main event (in painful detail) since I am so spooked.
The actual event:
20-minutes to meditate said the instructor.
From there, an out-of-body experience presented itself.
A calming sound, including water and faint bells ringing, played in the background. He said, focus on breathing in and out.
Just breathe in and out. I listened and focused on breathing when looking up at the sky.
That is when I saw a charcoal painted butterfly in the sky that switched into an image of a flower. I held back tears.
My body was there but did not feel present.
I was still aware that there were people around me. However, my attention was on the sky.
Yet, I am so confused. Since I am unsure what it is I experienced.
I am unsure if I was meditating because all I was doing was following my breathing, and it led me to a black butterfly.
My eyes probably should have been closed when meditating, maybe, the sky was a distraction.
I am more inclined to believe that focusing for so long on the sky, might have made these shapes manifest.
It sounds to me more like mindful breathing, but I am a total noob. I genuinely do not understand the spiritual world.
I’m a rookie in the spiritual world. Sign me up for mindfulness for dummies.
Furthermore, I am so out of my depth in the spiritual world I wouldn’t even know how to get around to interpreting my vision.
See, I never meditated before. The time before, my eyes dozed off into a quick nap, so enlightenment was a far cry away.
So scared of the black painted skies, I first whispered to my sister, when the session ended, did the sky change for you too?
It did not.
Still spooked, I rashly asked in front of the whole class, is it normal to see visions?
He laughed and said yes. From his calm expression, I am assuming it happened to others too.
Earlier in the BODYBALANCE class (mix of Yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates)
Before I get into all that, and you possibly assume I’m insane, which I likely am, let me provide some context.
Honestly, I have always been skeptical of all things yoga, meditation, or anything involving silence.
I witnessed how yoga worked for a close friend of mine. In this vein, I believed ok this works, but just not for me. After what I experienced, I am still confused. Hence, the question marks.
At the start of the fitness class, I was fighting with a fly buzzing near my leg plus a big hole in my sock.
This was my second session, and I entered utterly unprepared.
I still thought that breathing exercises are not for me until I witnessed the visual stimuli in the sky.
In the same class, before the meditation portion, when he said, take off your shoes, I looked down and noticed my ripped socks.
Oh, crud, a big hole that fits more than an eraser engulfs my sock out of embarrassment- I take it off.
Then a move required moving to the gross ground, with a questionable brown substance on it.
So I hurried to put my socks back on, except this time, I turned the ripped part on top of my baby toe, now on full display. CAN I DISAPPEAR?
What are meditation visions? Help me decipher my butterfly vision.
To begin, uncovering an experience disturbing my sleeping patterns, I need to figure out what constitutes a vision.
Think with me. Google. That’s my answer. According to one source, meditating visions occur when you are between sleep and wakefulness.
In other words, it could be similar to a lucid state when you are falling asleep. One of the tenants of meditation is to cultivate awareness and clarity.
Visions can cover:
- Symbols/ Shapes
Visions are rooted in the mind’s spirituality at the time of meditation.
Ok, if I apply this to myself, my image included a charcoal/black color and a butterfly flower symbol.
Some analysts suggest that a butterfly symbolizes your psyche.
Whereby the spiritual meaning of a butterfly is the need for meditation and depicts the essence of resurrection.
Maybe, that explains the tears that welled up in my eyes. For the record, though, I do not feel reborn or different in any way (for now 😛 ).
Is it normal to see visions or, am I insane?
The verdict is still questionable about my being normal. See, it is normal for experienced meditators to see visions.
Advanced meditators often report spontaneous visual imagery during deep meditation in the form of fights or visual stimuli.
Spontaneous visual imagery is well-documented in the literature; however, the influence on the neural paths in the brain is limited. Mainly because it is hard to record a spontaneous vision in a lab.
One case study found that occipital gamma increases in the deep stage of meditation. That helps a bit, but I can’t draw any conclusions from that, especially- since the literature does not talk about amateurs and visions.
So, why do I think my experience was abnormal? In short, this is supposed to happen to experienced meditators, not a person who only tried meditating twice.
Further, leading me to believe that I experienced something else.
Long-term meditating and the brain
Ok, I only meditated (if that is what I did) once. Yet, that is all it took to realize that I was tapping into something different within me.
If this is something I want to continue doing, I’d like to know more about it.
After reading a lot, I landed on an interesting finding that long-term meditation can lead to changes in brain structure.
Specifically, there was higher gray matter density in lower brain stem regions of experienced meditators.
Keeping an open mind to the spiritual world
In conclusion, although I do not understand any of this, I find myself compelled and interested in the details. The imagery of the butterfly is haunting me.
However, I do not wish to try to meditate and see visions again. See, maybe my mistake was opening my eyes at the sky.
There, I was likely distracted by the images above me vs. focused on my breathing.
A few minutes catapulted me down to a lucid state, ate my thoughts away, and left me with my eyes wide open, staring at the blue sky, turning ever so slightly grey.
Still, I cannot shake the feeling that I was experiencing some form of change. Or a the very least touching base, with my emotions.
One frightful experience changed my mind. I am now a believer in the fact that sitting and breathing for a dedicated time is centering.
Perhaps, I am walking in blind. But I know I want to try again. Although I am still uncertain if I was meditating or simply doing a breathing exercise.
Did you ever sit down and listen to the sound of your breathing? Try it just once.