This morning’s zazen was heavily influenced by a book I’m reading titled The Open-Focus Brain: Harnessing the Power of Attention to Heal Mind and Body. Les Fehmi, biofeedback pioneer and director of the Princeton Biofeedback Centre, and Jim Robbins, science journalist, are the authors.
The major premises of the book are that (1) the way we customarily pay attention is using a narrow focus on objects and details, (2) that this habitual narrow focus produces chronic stress and is useful only in limited circumstances, and (3) that there are other ways of paying attention that are immersive and diffusive — ways that alleviate physical/emotional pain and optimize performance and well-being.
I’m about halfway through reading it. The book comes with a CD with a couple of recorded trances on them, and that’s what influenced my meditation.
Simply put, one of the trances is becoming aware first of your thumbs in a three-dimensional way. Then you do that with your forefingers, then thumbs and forefingers together, then the space between them.
You add an awareness of a subatomic level in which the distances are vast. We are made mostly of space. You gradually expand to include the whole body and the space in and around it.
Doing this felt a little different from sensing my energy body. The feeling was denser, less like light, and more like pulses, currents, and vibrations. It was not chakra-centered. It was more centered on the physical layer.
John Daniewicz, a member of my sangha, recommended a book called The Alphabet Vs. the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image, which seems to have a related premise: that when humanity became literate and used our eyes for reading and writing, we rewired our brains into left-brain dominance and lost our right-brain way of awareness. Or at least that is my second-hand understanding of it.
I’m adding it — not ironically — to my to-read list, along with Buddha’s Brain. With a note that I wonder what it would be like to read and write nothing for a year. Sounds restful.