I’ve been mostly playing and experimenting with the direction my meditation teacher gave me back in late December, whole body awareness, off and on for this whole year. I’ve tried different approaches. It hasn’t come easily, and I haven’t given up.
Early on, my intuitive way to experience my whole body at once was by using the breath, just attending to the whole body sensations (or as much as I could) of each breath.
I notice how easy it has been for my attention to be drawn to this part or that part, usually because of sensations such as pain or the pleasure of my chakras opening. My attention would flit from body part to body part, switching unbidden into internal dialog and losing all awareness of my body, then deliberately returning it to my body upon becoming aware.
I’ve tried visualizing my whole body, seeing myself sitting from various perspectives and then uniting the visualized self and the felt self by having the image merge into “me.”
I’ve had a sense that “whole body awareness” is always present even if not in the foreground of attention, that it is actually much closer to my consciousness than I would have thought.
I read in Buddha’s Brain that whole body awareness is simply right-brain awareness, which is visual, spatial, and likes gestalt. Well, then, that explains why it seems so close! Duh! It’s just my right brain.
And all these experiments with whole body awareness are nice images, words, sounds, and feelings projected upon the big screen, Awareness. Or maybe it’s all shifting between Big Awareness and small. Everything is awareness!
I’ve had more of a sense of purpose in my meditation lately, more determination to be able to maintain my awareness of my whole body for longer than a few seconds at a time. Once again, breathing helps.
I learned from yoga that each inhalation activates the sympathetic nervous system, and each exhalation activates the parasympathetic nervous system. Inhaling stimulates, exhaling calms. I tune in to my whole body to attempt to discern this.
Not really, not yet, but something is different, and practicing this does hold my attention on my whole body for longer than before.
I’ve also gotten some nice Alex Grey-like images of my nervous system all lit up inside my physical body and energy body, and of sitting inside a sort of bubble of energy or light. If you’re not familiar with the name, you’ve probably seen something like this image: http://webpages.shepherd.edu/fmahooti/IMAGES/AlexGrey.jpg.
My image of myself is kind of like that, only without the grid, mountains, fire. The halo is just part of the bubble. It is from a perspective that seems to combine looking at myself and being in my body, a visual/kinesthetic synesthesia.
I have a hunch that really experiencing whole body awareness and being able to keep my attention there is going to be amazing, and it seems so close, just a tantalizing shift away…a shift I haven’t fully made yet.
Buddha’s Brain says that whole body awareness supports singleness of mind, a state in which all aspects of experience come together as a whole and attention is very steady. This is probably high-frequency gamma waves.
For once, I know a little something about the direction I’m heading toward. And once on the zafu, I can forget that. Staying open to my actual experience – being present – is still the means.