In the last two days I have experienced bodily sensations that have both amazed and scared me in equal measure. The experiences, particularly the fear associated with it, has left me in no doubt that I am starting to connect more deeply with my body and in turn bind together my mind and body and one unified entity.
Since starting this mindfulness journey, I have been much more connected to how I “see” the world through thinking and my mental processes around my existence itself. However, lately I have become much more aware of how my body also “sees“ the world that I live in and how I actually process real experiences.
Fear and doubt have played a big part in my life and I have built barriers and sub structures around how I relate to the world. Part of these structures include physical sensations and bodily awareness of any arising experience. There are some structures that have been formed over a lifetime, that are often misplaced, misinformed or completely wrong in their analysis of the present moment expereicne. And recently I have started to see their existance more clearly and moreover any deeply entrenched thought-based analysis of the experience is also being seen with open eyes. What has come out of all of this is that these thoughts can be “reframed”and long held thoughts and ideas are indeed not fixed and permanent. There is play and flexibility built-in to our lives that can be explored.
The two sensations, refered to above, were very different and arose in very different situations. However there was a common reaction to both that led to a much broader and loftier view of the experience itself.
The first occurred when I was listening to the track by the group The Band. I was listening to a song called ‘the Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’ and I started to feel goosebumps upon my arms. Not an usual experience per se, when something just cuts deep to your core and ‘catches’ you emoionally. However, what was particularly unusual about this is that the goosebumps did not stop merely at my arms. They radiated from my arms to my legs and from my legs completely cross my whole body; head to toe. The feeling was like million prickly ants all nipping at my bare skin. Now, I know my reaction to that, usually, would be to try and brush myself down, perhaps roll my shoulders and shake my arms however this time I simply stayed with it and a number of things happened at this point.
Firstly, the experience, although continuing for a minutes or so, did pass. The experience itself was impermanent and had a finite amount of energy to it.
Secondly, the experience was bearable and I was able to sit (in this case stand) with it. for the full duration of its arising and passing.
Lastly, the experience was felt purely as a bodily sensation and little or no analysis was done as to the reasons why it had occurred.
This to me perhaps was the biggest insight as previously I perhaps would have analysed “the hell” out of the experience itself. I had seen, for the first time in my living memory, that experience could simply be felt and not just thought; even uncomfortable ones. This for me was insight.
The other situation was slightly harder to sit with nevertheless insight from this experience was also gathered.
I was in bed dreaming, what would appear to be an upsetting dream, the details of which I can’t really remember. One thing I do know was that my body became rigid with fear. At that point my memory bank fired up and I started to have thoughts of fear-filled memories. These came flooding in to my half awake awareness and again the sensations and feelings of Fear were triggered.
Again something different to the usual rote response occurred. I felt that this time, rather than being being taken off by an emotional Jet-fighter and slung around in the open ‘airspace of my mind’, I found that I was much more detached and aware of the arising physical and emotional experience. This time I was the spectator of the airshow and not the pilots themselves. This was a unique position and one that enabled me to get a much wider and broader view of what was happening. Like the previous episode of the goosebumps I was able to sit with the sensation of fear and to stand within the experience itself in such a way that I was not emotionally caught up in sensations. The drama was going on but I was not part of it. It was happening to me but I was not wrapped up and blinkered by the layering of past experience. The experience was arising, but it was as if it was happening for the first time. That was exciting and unusual.
Again for the first time experience was as if the Seer was seeing and I was no longer feeling as if experience was happening to me and that I had no response available to afford it. I was neither in control nor had control of the situation, I was merely observing the situation arise and due to the fact that there was very little analysis occurring, the sensation and the experience was allowed to play out it’s full scene.
Sensation and emotion came
Sensation and emotion occurred
Sensation and emotion passed
And all the time I was present for it, but not trapped ‘by’ it. These two examples have been revelatory and have opened a whole new way of seeing any experience. This would not have been possible without having spent some time in meditation and contemplation and it’s through mindfulness as well as self awareness practices that these two situations were seen in a whole new way. I don’t expect any miracles, and I don’t expect that every situation will be seen in such a clear and focused way. However, I do believe that the instances of clear site will occur more frequently and that any trapped emotional response will be like the goose bumps, fleeting and impertinent. In that simple fact alone I can take take a great deal of solace and I know that I am on the right path.