Stef (firecat) wrote,

insight meditation thoughts, #2 in a series

At IMC Gil Fronsdal's talk was about "mindfulness of the body." Some points from the talk:
  • Some Buddhists believe that the "awakening" that occurs is an awakening of the body more than of the mind.
  • Western cultures separate the body and mind more than Eastern cultures do.
  • The body is always in the present and the mind only rarely is.
Some ramblings based on points from the talk:

One thing he said puzzled me and I felt dubious about it: "The body doesn't lie." It's not that I disagree with this, but when I try to think about it, I think about how my body and mind frequently feel in conflict, and about how I frequently feel confused about what my body wants/is feeling, and about how I am frequently worried about what my body is going to feel like at some point in the future if I do or don't do something right now, and about how I frequently notice that my body is feeling something unpleasant and I suspect it's because of something I did or didn't do in the past. When I hear "The body doesn't lie" I imagine it means I should go with whatever I think my body "wants" right now, but I know that, for example, if I feel sluggish and don't want to move, sometimes getting up and moving is exactly what I need to do to stop feeling so sluggish. Which could seem as if it is the body "lying." And it could also be said that it's really the mind making the body feel sluggish, but somehow that feels like forced interpretation.

He went on to say that the mind, on the other hand, is full of deceptions. Then he said the body is simple and the mind is sophisticated, with the implication that the mind is too sophisticated for its own good.

What all this brings up for me is that I believe states can arise in the body for no discernible reason (unless you're more subtle at discerning than I am) and the mind can get itself tied up in knots trying to interpret them. In Destructive Emotions by Daniel Goleman, some evidence is presented that the body's states arise first and the interpretations and feelings come afterward. This is also corroborated by some psych experiments. I have found it freeing to believe that some of my moods "just are," and are not "because of" something that I or someone else "did."

Some ramblings based on my meditation experiences today:

Body sensations and sensory experience are mostly what I can concentrate on, when I can concentrate, during meditation.

It so happened that I was fairly body focused in the meditation period just before this talk. I arrived late and sat near the door, and people kept coming in all through the meditation period, so I kept getting semi-distracted by noises and the sensations of people walking near me. I decided to focus on the noises and the sensations. For a while I noticed that things would be quiet and calm for a second or two and then someone would cough or move or walk or there would be a car noise or a dog noise
outside. From that I got a sense for how nothing stays still—I would keep going back to a still place just briefly and then another sensory experience would arise.

For a second time during meditation a state arose where I love my body, in a particular way that doesn't arise in my ordinary life so far. I feel protected and surrounded with a wonderful blanket or maybe like I am in the womb. That is a poor description because it's not a me-separate-from-my-body feeling at all, but I don't have words to describe it better. Prior to these experiences I have sometimes felt pleasure in and love for my body but not from the inside in that way. That pleasure is more about liking the way parts of my body feel to the touch, or the heft of them.

In the comments to my first post in this series, some folks wanted a link to the podcast of Gil's talk on the Seven Factors of Awakening. A podcast of that particular talk has not been posted, but if you look on the Audio Dharma web page for Gil he did a talk about it on 10/22/07. Maybe it's similar.
Tags: insight meditation thoughts
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