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Insight = nerve decompression?

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Insight = nerve decompression? spatial 12/17/18 8:33 AM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? Change A. 12/17/18 9:12 AM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? spatial 12/19/18 8:43 AM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? J C 12/19/18 7:04 PM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? Change A. 12/20/18 8:09 PM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? spatial 12/20/18 11:42 PM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? Change A. 12/21/18 7:27 PM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? Chris Marti 12/22/18 8:19 AM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? Change A. 12/22/18 9:42 AM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? Chris Marti 12/17/18 10:59 AM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? spatial 12/19/18 8:45 AM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? Chris Marti 12/19/18 11:18 AM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/19/18 2:28 PM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? J C 12/19/18 6:58 PM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/20/18 3:19 AM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? J C 12/22/18 10:46 PM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/23/18 2:36 AM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? matthew sexton 12/17/18 12:41 PM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? Andromeda 12/18/18 9:21 AM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/18/18 1:25 PM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? Andromeda 12/19/18 6:01 AM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/19/18 8:36 AM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? spatial 12/19/18 8:54 AM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? matthew sexton 12/21/18 11:39 AM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? rik 12/21/18 6:37 PM
RE: Insight = nerve decompression? Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/23/18 2:30 AM
Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/17/18 8:33 AM
A few questions came to mind as I was sitting this morning. I'm curious if anyone else has any opinions on these issues:

  • Is it possible that moving through the progress of the insight is primarily a result of physical decompression of nerves in the spinal cord and elsewhere? I'm referring specifically to things like the perceptual shifts, the awareness of vibration, awareness of body, energetic phenomena, etc. 
  • Can much of the "phase issues" be understood in terms of how the cycle of the breath interacts with these nerves on a purely mechanical level?
  • Does progress through the stages of awakening necessarily entail improvements in posture?
  • Is the Alexander Technique a potentially faster route to awakening than is vipassana?

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/17/18 9:12 AM as a reply to spatial.
Progress of insight is a result of physical decompression of nerves in the spinal cord and elsewhere but that itself is the result of some stress release in the mind itself. 

Phase issues can be understood in terms of how the cycle of the breath interacts with these nerves on a purely mechanical level but how the cycle of breath happens has to be understood in terms of what state of mind the mind is.

Progress through the stages of awakening does entail improvements in posture. 

Alexander Technique isn't a faster route to awakening than vipassana for the same reason yoga isn't a faster route to awakening just by itself. It would be impossible to maintain a proper posture without handling the issues of the mind first. 

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/17/18 10:59 AM as a reply to spatial.
  • Is it possible that moving through the progress of the insight is primarily a result of physical decompression of nerves in the spinal cord and elsewhere? I'm referring specifically to things like the perceptual shifts, the awareness of vibration, awareness of body, energetic phenomena, etc. 
  • Can much of the "phase issues" be understood in terms of how the cycle of the breath interacts with these nerves on a purely mechanical level?
  • Does progress through the stages of awakening necessarily entail improvements in posture?
  • Is the Alexander Technique a potentially faster route to awakening than is vipassana?

My very humble opinion:
  • Probably not
  • Probably not
  • Probably not
  • Don't know, never used the Alexander Technique
During the mediations that took me through the stages of insight, I practiced in multiple body positions and with what most would call bad posture.

emoticon

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/17/18 12:41 PM as a reply to spatial.
spatial:
...
  • Is the Alexander Technique a potentially faster route to awakening than is vipassana?

I have some experrience in both but I'm not an expert in either.  From the mile high perspective of this thread, I'd say: Alexander Technique merely asks/trains the student to have good posture. Vipassana asks/trains the student to be studiously aware of the narrow and wide, shallow and deep aspects of experience.

Of course, the devil is in the details/dogma: https://ahandfulofleaves.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/satipatthana_direct-path_analayo_free-distribution-copy2.pdf

On this 'direct path' (to awakening), there are four foundations to keep an eye on (part of the broadness thing): body, feelings, mental state, and 'reality'.

If you're interested in awakening, and you seem to be a betting yogi, since AT seems mostly focused on 1 out of the 4, it seems like AT is not your best bet.

That said, people say that focusing very deep on only one object (like posture or breath) can 'get you there' or at least certiainly lead in the right direction, then a deep dive in AT would not be not a waste of time.  It cured my sore neck, that was worth a lot to me! Maybe that sore neck was a road block for me, in that if I just kept kevtching about my neck I would be distracted from examining the more subtle aspects of experience.

Just to add one more pithy reductive response: the posture value of AT would be almost necessary but not sufficient for awakening.

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/18/18 9:21 AM as a reply to matthew sexton.
What others have said, but I would argue that it's a great idea to do both if AT appeals to you. I have done a lot of dance, martial arts, and yoga over the years and it has absolutely facilitated insight. Posture makes a great object for vipassana, both for formal practice and off cushion. Tune into your posture, make any adjustments, then notice the impermanence of whatever sensations are present--and there you go, a quick hit of vipassana. With practice this takes just a second so you can do it over and over all day long, every free moment you can find, and it really adds up over the long haul. 

IMO making every single moment of the day into practice is the gold standard and this is one way to help make that happen. 

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/18/18 1:25 PM as a reply to Andromeda.
Andromeda:
IMO making every single moment of the day into practice is the gold standard and this is one way to help make that happen. 


Good point. Every single moment is much more than I can manage right now, unfortunately, but I try to do micro hits of meditative practice all over the day, and that makes significant change. For instance, I did it in a doctor’s waiting room today when I was stressed out, and wow... This body has so many strange habits of reacting to things that don’t matter. It was such a relief to just let that go. A whole other layer of reality showed instead. Something in the air was very playful.

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/19/18 6:01 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Andromeda:
IMO making every single moment of the day into practice is the gold standard and this is one way to help make that happen. 


Good point. Every single moment is much more than I can manage right now, unfortunately, but I try to do micro hits of meditative practice all over the day, and that makes significant change. For instance, I did it in a doctor’s waiting room today when I was stressed out, and wow... This body has so many strange habits of reacting to things that don’t matter. It was such a relief to just let that go. A whole other layer of reality showed instead. Something in the air was very playful.

It took me years of practice before I was able to achieve even a very broken version of the kind of seamlessness that is what we should all be striving for. But this continues to be perhaps the most satisfying thing about practice for me--increasing not just the continuity of wakefulness, but the depth and quality. There is room for a lifetime of refinement and I find it incredibly inspiring to read about and work on the same practices that the great masters have challenged themselves with.

And yes, the more we let go of the more layers are peeled away. Also very satisfying! And then we find more to let go of...

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/19/18 8:36 AM as a reply to Andromeda.
Yes, and I’m full of admiration of and respect for the work and devotion that so many people here and in other forums have put into their practice. It takes a lot of patience and determination and discipline and skill. I feel like I have stumbled into the classroom too late and too noicy and without the proper registration and books or even the schedule and literature list, let alone the educational background.

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/19/18 8:43 AM as a reply to Change A..
Change A.:

Alexander Technique isn't a faster route to awakening than vipassana for the same reason yoga isn't a faster route to awakening just by itself. It would be impossible to maintain a proper posture without handling the issues of the mind first. 


My questions are motivated by feeling like issues of the mind ultimately seem to be reducing to issues of the body. Do you think there is a trend in meditation discussions to ignore issues of the body? I feel like too much focus on the mind can lead to too much identification with content. 

Sometimes I wonder if "mindfulness" or "equanimity" or "investigate the three characteristics" is all just another way of saying "let your body move in the direction it was already moving in". 

Just thinking out loud here.

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/19/18 8:45 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
During the mediations that took me through the stages of insight, I practiced in multiple body positions and with what most would call bad posture.

emoticon
But surely you must have developed an increased awareness of your posture, right? I have certainly noticed a difference in myself. Although, maybe as a musician, I think way more about how posture affects me than others do. 

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/19/18 8:54 AM as a reply to matthew sexton.
matthew sexton:
spatial:
...
  • Is the Alexander Technique a potentially faster route to awakening than is vipassana?

I have some experrience in both but I'm not an expert in either.  From the mile high perspective of this thread, I'd say: Alexander Technique merely asks/trains the student to have good posture. Vipassana asks/trains the student to be studiously aware of the narrow and wide, shallow and deep aspects of experience.


This is my criticism of the way AT is often done...there is too much focus on posture. However, when you read Alexander's writings (I'm no expert; just skimmed a few), it is clear that he considers the mind and the body to be an integrated system. I'm not pushing for one or the other. Just trying to understand the differences.

I'm curious to know what you attribute the curing of your sore neck to. Was it the teacher's guidance, or your own investigation, or what?

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/19/18 11:18 AM as a reply to spatial.
But surely you must have developed an increased awareness of your posture, right? I have certainly noticed a difference in myself. Although, maybe as a musician, I think way more about how posture affects me than others do. 

Yes, I have increased awareness of posture but then I have higher levels of awareness about most things. In my experience posture is not causal to the progress of insight and awakening. Increased awareness, on the other hand, definitely is. In my opinion, reinforced by what I've learned in my practice, the mind and body are clearly one integrated system. They are completely interdependent and cannot be effectively and accurately considered separately, although in the west we tend to conceive of them as somehow separate.

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/19/18 2:28 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
I feel like it is more likely that I will awaken several times than ever getting a grip of posture... unless awakening helps with posture, because then I will only have to awaken once...

I have just realized today that most people have access to visual imagery about their body posture and the space it occupies, and about their whereabouts, even when they are not looking. So that’s why others always seem to know how to move without knocking everything down or dropping anything!

I have also realized that I used to have access to visual imagery as a child and used to see things more vibrant, but as I was constantly told that I was either lying or having to vivid imagination or was shamefully weird or disordered, I learned to unsee. I killed my visual imagery. So now I need to revive my visual imagination, because it’s dead.

I’m grieving.

EDIT: Okay... I felt like grieving. I cried a few tears, and now I’m happy again. Weird. I’m not used to this new harmony thing. But I like it.

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/19/18 6:58 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I feel like it is more likely that I will awaken several times than ever getting a grip of posture... unless awakening helps with posture, because then I will only have to awaken once...

I have just realized today that most people have access to visual imagery about their body posture and the space it occupies, and about their whereabouts, even when they are not looking. So that’s why others always seem to know how to move without knocking everything down or dropping anything!

I have also realized that I used to have access to visual imagery as a child and used to see things more vibrant, but as I was constantly told that I was either lying or having to vivid imagination or was shamefully weird or disordered, I learned to unsee. I killed my visual imagery. So now I need to revive my visual imagination, because it’s dead.

I’m grieving.

EDIT: Okay... I felt like grieving. I cried a few tears, and now I’m happy again. Weird. I’m not used to this new harmony thing. But I like it.

There's a specific sense of body awareness - it's called proprioception. It's how you know what position your body is in without seeing anything. Sometimes meditation can cause changes in this sense so that you'll feel like your body is a different shape or size, tilted, or in some other position.

I don't think most people have a visual connection with proprioception - they're two different senses. But on cannabis and psychedelics I've gotten synesthetic effects where those two senses get "crossed" and it shows up visually.

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/19/18 7:04 PM as a reply to spatial.
spatial:
Change A.:

Alexander Technique isn't a faster route to awakening than vipassana for the same reason yoga isn't a faster route to awakening just by itself. It would be impossible to maintain a proper posture without handling the issues of the mind first. 


My questions are motivated by feeling like issues of the mind ultimately seem to be reducing to issues of the body. Do you think there is a trend in meditation discussions to ignore issues of the body? I feel like too much focus on the mind can lead to too much identification with content. 

Sometimes I wonder if "mindfulness" or "equanimity" or "investigate the three characteristics" is all just another way of saying "let your body move in the direction it was already moving in". 

Just thinking out loud here.

I think the opposite actually - I see a trend of being overly focused on the body and not enough on the mind. I don't think the mind reduces to the body - in fact the Mind and Body stage is all about noticing the difference between the two and the way attention alternates between the two.

For me SE was mostly about the body and senses and subsequent paths have been more about dissolving large chunks of identification with the mind. You've got to disidentify with and see the 3Cs of both body and mind separately.

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/20/18 3:19 AM as a reply to J C.
J C:

There's a specific sense of body awareness - it's called proprioception. It's how you know what position your body is in without seeing anything. Sometimes meditation can cause changes in this sense so that you'll feel like your body is a different shape or size, tilted, or in some other position.

I don't think most people have a visual connection with proprioception - they're two different senses. But on cannabis and psychedelics I've gotten synesthetic effects where those two senses get "crossed" and it shows up visually.


I can relate to proprioception being changed during meditation. I have had the sense of being a griffin, with the strong lion’s body firmly on the ground while reaching for the sky with my wings. I have also had the perception of being seated upside down.

I don’t know whether or not the visual images of the body and its whereabouts that so many people seem to have is connected with proprioception, but it seems very handy to be able to automatically have a sense of how you occupy space and to be able to visualize your body parts to adjust your posture. I have to trust my muscle memory, but first I need help to get into a certain position so that I can memorize the feeling of it. Mirrors can help, but often they are not sufficient either.

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/20/18 8:09 PM as a reply to spatial.
spatial:

My questions are motivated by feeling like issues of the mind ultimately seem to be reducing to issues of the body. Do you think there is a trend in meditation discussions to ignore issues of the body? I feel like too much focus on the mind can lead to too much identification with content. 

Sometimes I wonder if "mindfulness" or "equanimity" or "investigate the three characteristics" is all just another way of saying "let your body move in the direction it was already moving in". 

Just thinking out loud here.

When issues of the mind start reducing to the issues of the body, then it has started to get to the level of the animal instincts of the mind. 

There might be some trend in certain meditation discussions to ignore issues of the body but not in others. Like in Tibetan Buddhism, 6 yogas of Naropa are considered as completion stage yogic practices. 

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/20/18 11:42 PM as a reply to Change A..
Change A.:
spatial:

My questions are motivated by feeling like issues of the mind ultimately seem to be reducing to issues of the body. Do you think there is a trend in meditation discussions to ignore issues of the body? I feel like too much focus on the mind can lead to too much identification with content. 

Sometimes I wonder if "mindfulness" or "equanimity" or "investigate the three characteristics" is all just another way of saying "let your body move in the direction it was already moving in". 

Just thinking out loud here.

When issues of the mind start reducing to the issues of the body, then it has started to get to the level of the animal instincts of the mind. 

Could you elaborate a bit more on what you mean by this?

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/21/18 11:39 AM as a reply to spatial.
spatial:
matthew sexton:
spatial:
...
  • Is the Alexander Technique a potentially faster route to awakening than is vipassana?

I have some experrience in both but I'm not an expert in either.  From the mile high perspective of this thread, I'd say: Alexander Technique merely asks/trains the student to have good posture. Vipassana asks/trains the student to be studiously aware of the narrow and wide, shallow and deep aspects of experience.

...
I'm curious to know what you attribute the curing of your sore neck to. Was it the teacher's guidance, or your own investigation, or what?

I took an 8 week 16 hour course at a theater school as a general experience exploration but also because I'd had sore neck/upper-back muscles forever.

I recall the teacher did have a broader presentation than just 'better posture', but at that time posture was the only thing I could really get a conceptual handle on. They simply gave advise about alignment, an occasional touch here or there to increase a connection to bodily feelings, mysterious exercises to increase awareness/access of/ proprioception. So I'd say that the teacher guided me into an investigative frame of mind with words and experiential activities. I still today have a tendency to jut my chin out which puts a curve and stress in my neck, but I often detect and correct automatically, and the chronic discomfort is about 5% of what it was 15 years ago.

I recall ending the course with a general 'that was woo woo bs' attitude but within a few months I started 'getting it' and realized that something helpful was happening to my comportment.

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/21/18 6:37 PM as a reply to spatial.
I've had many instances of muscle groups "coming online" during sits, mostly all in the face or neck. It's usually during noting once sensations really start to bubble up and my body shakes/twitches and suddenly I would clench a muscle that I wasn't even really aware of before.

For example now I can wiggle my ears using the small muscles at the back of my neck. This just spontatneously happened one day while meditating and the ablity stuck with me. In my experience insight experiences have been closely related with tension in the body but it should be noted that along with mediation I was doing regular yoga/massages/lifting/mobility work.

But I think that physical tension being released has the potential to spur on moments of insight and vice versa even if it isn't a one-to-one relationship.

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/21/18 7:27 PM as a reply to spatial.
When issues of the mind start reducing to the issues of the body, then it has started to get to the level of the animal instincts of the mind. So when anger arises in the mind, it's the reptilian brain that instantly makes the body act accordingly. That's when there is union of the body and the mind. But then you have to come to terms with that mind. When that starts to happen, that's when the nerve decompressions start to happen. Muscles start to relax. Mind starts to get still. In the seeing, there's just the seeing and so on and so forth. Enligtenment is ever progressive relaxation of the body. 

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/22/18 8:19 AM as a reply to Change A..
Enligtenment is ever progressive relaxation of the body. 

So we should be taking more muscle relaxers?  emoticon

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/22/18 9:42 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
They will numb your brain.emoticon

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/22/18 10:46 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
J C:

There's a specific sense of body awareness - it's called proprioception. It's how you know what position your body is in without seeing anything. Sometimes meditation can cause changes in this sense so that you'll feel like your body is a different shape or size, tilted, or in some other position.

I don't think most people have a visual connection with proprioception - they're two different senses. But on cannabis and psychedelics I've gotten synesthetic effects where those two senses get "crossed" and it shows up visually.


I can relate to proprioception being changed during meditation. I have had the sense of being a griffin, with the strong lion’s body firmly on the ground while reaching for the sky with my wings. I have also had the perception of being seated upside down.

I don’t know whether or not the visual images of the body and its whereabouts that so many people seem to have is connected with proprioception, but it seems very handy to be able to automatically have a sense of how you occupy space and to be able to visualize your body parts to adjust your posture. I have to trust my muscle memory, but first I need help to get into a certain position so that I can memorize the feeling of it. Mirrors can help, but often they are not sufficient either.

Are you Gryffindor house?

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/23/18 2:30 AM as a reply to rik.
rik:
I've had many instances of muscle groups "coming online" during sits, mostly all in the face or neck. It's usually during noting once sensations really start to bubble up and my body shakes/twitches and suddenly I would clench a muscle that I wasn't even really aware of before.

For example now I can wiggle my ears using the small muscles at the back of my neck. This just spontatneously happened one day while meditating and the ablity stuck with me. In my experience insight experiences have been closely related with tension in the body but it should be noted that along with mediation I was doing regular yoga/massages/lifting/mobility work.

But I think that physical tension being released has the potential to spur on moments of insight and vice versa even if it isn't a one-to-one relationship.


Cool. I have noticed a tendency of my posture correcting itself with a twitch. No ear wiggling so far, though. That would be fun.

RE: Insight = nerve decompression?
Answer
12/23/18 2:36 AM as a reply to J C.
Haha, that would be something, wouldn’t it?