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What inner movement am I performing?

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What inner movement am I performing?
anxiety tense tensing
Answer
6/29/12 12:32 PM
Meditation for me is often an reflexive shutting out of... something. Like there's a sense of having to "press down" or align my mind with the meditation protocol, which interferes with whatever my mind was doing beforehand. I didn't know how to meditate any other way.

Even with a "doing nothing" sort of meditation, or "leaving things just as they are, not starting, stopping, suppressing, or enhancing" I still had/have to enact that protocol (forming the intention to gently deny intentions and attempting to let go of that intention too), and that has the same effect of kind of "tensing" my mind.

But, I have discovered, for myself at least, that it's possible to meditate without this "tensing," in a sort of quasi-vipassana noting yet going with the flow kind of thing. It sort of feels like internal gymnastics or internal anticipation, almost a moving toward an attention seeking target or potential source of suffering before it gels or solidifies. It's a very loose, fast-moving, almost lightning-fast, continuous, fractal multi-limbed internal "movement." There's a sense of "energy" flowing downward, too, mostly on the lefthand side of my torso. There's also a subtle muscular relaxing or opening in the area of potential suffering/attention.

Doing meditation this way prevents a rising anxiety that I sometimes feel during meditation. In this new way it's like I'm meditating with all my parts, or not shutting anything out, or letting all aspects of self participate in the meditation, or making sure every part of me that wants to help guide the session is on board. Parts aren't scared or don't feel shut out or denied.

This book Self-Therapy by Earley helped me stumble on this way of meditating. Is there any literature that describes what I'm talking about from the meditation side? I'd like to find some prior language or theory to help my conceptualize what I'm doing during a meditation session.

RE: What inner movement am I performing?
Answer
6/29/12 12:54 PM as a reply to Mark Lippmann.
Mark I think that "tensing" is referred to by the Buddha as "bodily fabrication" or at least that is how "bodily fabrication" is translated(1) by at least a few modern day monks such as thanissaro bhikku and bhante vimalaramsi, learning to relax or calm it seems key to eventually reaching the " deathless" which is reached via not fabricating anything. Fabricating nothing which among other things means no bodily tension is apparently an aspect of the fully awakened state. I've found that learning to relax those tensions and investigating the way the "self" uses them to create an illusion of security is really helpful.

I think it all comes back to the anapanasati sutra "train yourselves thus "I shall breathe in/out calming bodily fabrication" but here are a couple variations focused on calming bodily fabrication.

http://dhammasukha.org/Study/Talks/Transcripts/MN-118-U-TS.htm

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/guided.html

http://www.dharmaocean.org/default/media/mediaPlayers/mp3Player.cfm?descr=1%20GM:%20Prana%20Breathing%20(lying%20down)&mp3Ref=ARC_OLA_Union%20-%2001%20Prana%20Breathing%20(lying%20down).mp3

http://kennethfolkdharma.wetpaint.com/thread/4266745/Direct+perception+mode%2C+jhana%2C+and+insight

(1) thanissaro says that the Buddha defines bodily fabrication as breath, but that tensing in the way you mentioned here is part of the breathing process and is part of bodily fabrication.

RE: What inner movement am I performing?
Answer
6/29/12 1:11 PM as a reply to Adam . ..
Interesting, thanks. This may or may not nail it. I will dig into these materials a little more deeply and reflect on my meditation experiences further.

It's frustrating to me that meditation is so hard to put into words or that there isn't a simple protocol that will take you all the way. Or, there is, but...

Like, making the shift to that "out of phase" dark night stuff that Ingram talks about, where what you're attending to is somehow outside the direct attentional focus and it takes a particular momentary stilling of attention (for me) to catch that stuff, though it's pretty automatic now.

And, now there's this "allowing of the body" that seems to be crucial for me. (Meditation at times is simply too viscerally aversive, otherwise, and at those times I worry I'm being unnecessarily unkind to myself.) And I'm sure there's a million other little bodily and attentional twists that are probably desirable or necessary as I develop to the level that allows me to even deliberately engage them.

And I feel/felt like I was getting pretty far along--meaning itself is starting to become isomorphic with bodily sensation.

HARD! And, I have to admit, often what one needs is written down somewhere, but it's hard to know what to pay attention to and when to pay attention to it.

Ok, enough ranting. Curious what other people have to say, too.

RE: What inner movement am I performing?
Answer
6/29/12 1:29 PM as a reply to Mark Lippmann.
Mark I'd like to add my support for what Adam has said. That'a a great answer.

You might benefit from taking some time out away from noting practice to work on Anapana. For this the Dhamma Sukkha instructions are great. It all gets a bit "interpretational" once you reach the 3rd/4th tetrads of the sutta (as defined by Bhante Vimalaramsi) but whether you agree with his view or not, it's still great practice.

A simpler, calm building technique would hopefully be of benefit to you.