Homunculus??

Serif Panfried, modified 9 Years ago.

Homunculus??

Posts: 5 Join Date: 11/8/10 Recent Posts
Hi all - Hope you are well -

Just wondering if any of you had any ideas on the following phenomena that has occurred a few times now. I had this happen a couple of times in my pre/early teens and at that time was not doing any sort of meditation practice. I have been doing shamatha for about 2 years and this same thing has occurred a few times in the last 8 months or so.

It initially starts subtly at the base/back of the throat as a sensation that sort of inflates/solidifies with the breath and spreads gradually to the front of the face/mouth and down through the hands making my face feel like it belongs to a horse or something and my hands feel like basketballs. There is also a slight rolling sensation of feeling very large to very small simultaneously. It starts, it happens then fades away without any input from me (it seems?) - but it is very different from any normal sensation. Through meditation practice, it is now quite pleasant and sitting with it is easy. When I have had these feelings when much younger back then they were somewhat disconcerting.

Even though the Wow and Why was/is not particularly important there is an interesting correlation I stumbled upon recently describing the homunculus and wondered if there was any connection. I was searching for some images/ideas for artwork and came across this caricature type rendition and the resemblance to what my body felt like at the time was uncanny, specifically the big hands and big mouth/face. I found that the image is a representation of the cortical homunculus and thats about as far as I got as my knowledge of the brain system is limited at best. There is also a concept called the homunculus fallacy which seems interesting as well. It is about the fact "that it tries to account for a phenomenon in terms of the very phenomenon that it is supposed to explain" (the watcher watching the watcher?). When I read this part it seems to relate to the "tumbling down the hole" feeling of being small then big then small...
thumbnail
Ross A. K., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Homunculus??

Posts: 123 Join Date: 6/15/11 Recent Posts
Sounds like piti (rapture) to me. Or maybe you've become "comfortably numb" you know, " my hands felt just like two balloons" !
Also do you practice or are you inquiring about actualism?Only asking because you posted in the practices inspired by actualism section. And, sounds more like concentration territory.

Anyway I've had that stuff happen a ton of times. Sometimes I'd feel like a stone other times like mist. I would picture my hands having a bad case of fluid retention, swelling to two or three times there size. My all time favorite is the samadhi shakes though.

Peace - Ross
thumbnail
Tommy M, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Homunculus??

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Hey Serif,

Welcome to the DhO,

there is an interesting correlation I stumbled upon recently describing the homunculus and wondered if there was any connection.

There is also a concept called the homunculus fallacy which seems interesting as well. It is about the fact "that it tries to account for a phenomenon in terms of the very phenomenon that it is supposed to explain" (the watcher watching the watcher?).

The homunculus metaphor, which you point to in your mention of "the homunculus fallacy" is merely used to illustrate the idea of, as you said, "the watcher watching the watched"; as if there's a little man in the middle of your head who's observing this experience. Bare sensate attention will allow that illusion to be seen through. Unless you find it helpful in penetrating the illusion of continuity and of self, I wouldn't bother with trying to align the idea of a homunculus with anything you'll encounter through samatha.
thumbnail
Daniel M. Ingram, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Homunculus??

Posts: 3214 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
The homunculus feeling is standard 1st jhana stuff, and, if there is interest, can be developed into a very strong feeling of it just by attending more to it.

It is part of the gereral category of felt body geometry distortion stuff that can occur in that terrotory through concentration or insight practice, and it used to show up often for me on my early retreats.

Daniel
Serif Panfried, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Homunculus??

Posts: 5 Join Date: 11/8/10 Recent Posts
Ross A. K.:
Sounds like piti (rapture) to me. Or maybe you've become "comfortably numb" you know, " my hands felt just like two balloons" !


Hey Ross - I am still unsure and wary of putting any specific label on anything, just beginning and still sketching in with pencil. I had a teacher to begin with and he encouraged practice being like making a basket - gradually building it up and if it starts to go a bit wonky you can unravel it a bit and smooth things out.

Haha - weird. I remember hearing this line of the song long after I had this when I was young and thought - yeah I know what that feels like. I have noticed that when I got this recently when sitting there did seem to be a somewhat "comfortably numb" starting point - the conditions were there but am unaware of the causes that lead to this? The stone like quality is familiar to. Sometimes things seem to be grinding rough a bit and then, all of a sudden, everything just sort of pops and flattens out instantly.

Ross A. K.:
Also do you practice or are you inquiring about actualism?Only asking because you posted in the practices inspired by actualism section. And, sounds more like concentration territory.


You are absolutely right (I think I signed in while in this section) - it would be great if someone could move it if possible - I apologise.

Ross A. K.:
Anyway I've had that stuff happen a ton of times. Sometimes I'd feel like a stone other times like mist. I would picture my hands having a bad case of fluid retention, swelling to two or three times there size. My all time favorite is the samadhi shakes though.


mmmm... Samadhi shakes - I have heard the samadhi fries are good too...emoticon



Tommy M:
Hey Serif,

Welcome to the DhO,


Hey Tommy - Thanks for the welcome. I have been reading (lurking) here for a while now and have been trying to throw myself in the water but to little effect - yesnoyesno - I can often be an enigma wrapped in a paradox riding a contradiction so want to avoid that if possible. There are pretty high levels of pragmatism here so dont want to muddy the waters too much.

Tommy M:
The homunculus metaphor, which you point to in your mention of "the homunculus fallacy" is merely used to illustrate the idea of, as you said, "the watcher watching the watched"; as if there's a little man in the middle of your head who's observing this experience. Bare sensate attention will allow that illusion to be seen through. Unless you find it helpful in penetrating the illusion of continuity and of self, I wouldn't bother with trying to align the idea of a homunculus with anything you'll encounter through samatha.


Bare sensate attention will allow that illusion to be seen through - I have wondered about this phrase. Is the illusion still there, can be seen and or felt etc but just known to be an illusion. Even if I know how a magic trick is done I can still let myself be fooled by the illusion?

On reflection the kind of rolling sensation seems to originate from the bodily sensation followed by an acknowledgment in "me" of it and then somehow the observation of both of those by .......? which then repeats like going down a hill inside a tyre - you see horizon ground sky horizon etc but in a relaxing yet speedy exhilarating way- does this make any sense?

Daniel M. Ingram:
The homunculus feeling is standard 1st jhana stuff, and, if there is interest, can be developed into a very strong feeling of it just by attending more to it.

It is part of the general category of felt body geometry distortion stuff that can occur in that territory through concentration or insight practice, and it used to show up often for me on my early retreats.

Daniel


Hey Daniel - Yes when the interest is applied it felt like winding up a generator and I could sit for quite a while with little to no effort. If I was to wonder about this though, when it happens, as it happens, before any thoughts or names were given to it, how did it manifest. I literally seemed to fall into it like a hole I didnt know was there. As I said above there is an overall laid back attitude and maybe a distinct lack of wanting, needing or aversion before I sit but this not unusual and mostly results in a tranquil sitting session without the "bells and whistles" so to speak. I have read many descriptions here on jhanas but am still unsure - are they a (by)product of concentration/insight, a tool to use, a stepping stone, or an interesting sight to indulge in.