Sunday, August 12, 2012

M - Focus on Feel - Beginner's Class

This is part of my meditation journal. See the first post for additional details.

Yesterday afternoon I had my first guided meditation session ever.  Shinzen led the session via conference call with at least thirty other participants, including some from as far away as India.

It was... interesting.  The session was all about bodily sensations.  Just like with the hearing-based meditation I've been doing on my own, this was broken out into Feel Rest, Feel In, Feel Out, and Feel Flow in similar, but slightly tweaked definitions.

Feel Rest was (obviously) feeling bodily rest.  This was very natural to me, and not just because I'm lazy.  :-)

Feel In was trying to sense bodily response which had emotional origins.  For example, if you think of a joke, you may feel yourself smile, or if you think of a conflict you are having, you may feel yourself clenching your fists.  I didn't have much of this type of sensation going on, except that there was a little discomfort in my knee at different times in the session, which caused me to tense up the muscles in my leg.

Feel Out was defined as pretty much any other bodily sensation; temperature of your skin, clothing against your skin, aches, itches, etc.  Just like in the Hear Out session, concentrating on Feel Out definitely increased awareness of a bevy of sensations which usually get ignored or pre-processed by your brain as being unimportant.

Feel Flow involved focusing on the dynamic changes in any of the above three sensation categories.  This was the most interesting one to me.  It's rare, at least for me, to drill down into a particular bodily feeling with that level of detail.  When I started focusing on the sensations, I could definitely sense a "rhythm" of dynamic flow in many of them.  For example, one of the most interesting things I noticed while studying Flow is that those annoying little itchy sensations that do not usually stop until you scratch them are so seductive to scratching because the sensation oscillates.  It is less like someone sticking a pin in you and holding it there, but instead more like someone repeatedly sticking a pin in you in the same location.  The nerves didn't seem to fire continuously, but rather cyclically, so that it was a new annoying sensation each time!

I was surprised that during a self-directed part of the session, Shinzen encouraged people to walk around and meditate at the same time, or to trigger and monitor Feel In response by reading or watching TV.  This seems to be at least one of the end-goals of the Mindfulness meditation methodology; that you can get to the point of living life with full awareness.  I knew that, but I was pleasantly surprised that he initiate the process of daily-life-integration on the first session.

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