Subject: Re: [jhana_insight] Re: Michael's journal
To: "Liu Yunchang"
Date: Thursday, July 30, 2009, 6:13 PM
Everything you have described here is quite normal in meditation. As the concentration begins to improve, it is not unusual to start becoming aware of enery or Qi. What you can expect is 1) it will become stronger, 2) it will be uncomfortable until it starts to move, 3) you will become aware of it moving, and 4) when it moves freely it will become pleasurable and your mind will also be very clear and very focused. Even though there is still some drowsiness and wandering, you are probably becoming aware whenever they happen much more quickly than before, and find they are easier to correct. This is an indication that your mind is becoming more calm and your introspective awareness much stronger.
If you lay very still for a long time, you will find that you completely lose awareness of your body, or if not the whole body, at least you will lose awareness of your limbs. This is the result of the sensory nerves that ordinarily inform your brain of the position and location of the parts of your body becoming dormant, what is called adaptation by physiologists. It is exactly the same thing that happens when you no longer feel your clothes against your skin - the nerve endings adapt and stop responding. If you place an object against the skin of your arm and are careful to avoid any movement, very soon you will not be able to feel it anymore. The sensory nerves that detect body position and movement, which are called proprioceptors, adapt in the same way that the touch sensitive nerves in your arm do, it just usually takes them a lot longer. When you sit very still in meditation, this often happens, and awareness of the body will disappear. If concentration is good and Qi is moving, the Qi will often feel like little bubbles under your skin, like the bubbles in a carbonated soft drink that form and then move up the inside of the glass. If the awareness of the Qi also disappears, then it will seem that your body has disappeared or 'evaporated'. Sometimes people feel like they are floating and become convinced they are up in the air. Other times your mind will supply images to replace the information that is usually provided by the proprioceptors, so you might feel as though your body is in an unusual ot even impossible position. I often feel as though I am standing when this happens, even though I am cross-legged on the cushion.
As Qi sensations become stronger, they often feel electrical. I remember being on retreat one time when every night when I went to bed I would feel an electrical tingling that lasted for a very long time, often until I fell asleep. The first night or two it was mainly in my chest and shoulder on the left side, and I thought to myself, if I didn't know better I would be worried that something was happening to my heart. As the retreat went on the electrical feeling spread and moved about. Then after about a week it stopped, and I felt disappointed. These novel sensations are often frightening at first, and then after they no longer disturb you, then you become attached to them.
As you say, the correct approach is to simply observe them and continue your practice. Their arising is an indication of improving concentration and mindful awareness. Their passing away only makes way for far more interesting things to experience and observe.
I hope you find these comments helpful.
--- On Fri, 7/17/09, Liu Yunchang
From: Liu Yunchang
Subject: Re: [jhana_insight] Re: Michael's journal
Date: Friday, July 17, 2009, 10:56 PM
Thanks for your insightful inputs.
I am just thinking to write to you about my recent experience of practice and that seems also echos Micheal's experience.
First, as I have told you last time, a very strong(and it is getting really stronger recently) feeling of Qi is kind of leaking out of the body, traveling, tingling around the body(typically places: face, skull skin, neck, ears' area, the center of the sole and palm, anus, toe). Nowadays, I start to feel not so comfortable: the nerves and muscles feel like they are pulling each other and there are tensions. The mind still is easy to get into drowsyness and wandering, but I feel I can concentrate a lit bit longer.
Second, there were two unusual body experience, which I believe, somehow relate to my medition practice:
1. One day, after nearly two hours' siting (I usually have two sessions in the morning and in the evening respectively [1-1.5 hours each]. Before I go to bed, I usually try to remain the focus on breath and I fall sleep very soon), I went to bed. Few minuters later, I suddenly felt that my body, below the neck, had nearly no senstion, and the body like the water bubble vaporating. I was scared and soon I reminded myself just to be aware of the process and observe that. It didn't last long-probbaly less than one minute.
2. Last week, also soon after a hour or so sitting, I lied in the sofa and I felt there had sort of electricity connecting the whole body, also lasted like one minute.
I know I should just be with these sort of thing and keep doing my pratice. But, do you have simlar experience or testimony stories from other people, and what is the explaination of that? I know Daoist has a lot of literature explaining this sort of stuff. I am just curious.
But if you have any advices to my current pratice, I would be happy to hear.
Thank you very much.
I am very glad to hear from Peggy that you are doing very well recently.
I will not be able to join August retreat-I am applying the new chaplaicy program in UWest and that is the time for the new semester begining, but I definetly want to see and talk to you.
My warest regards to you and Nancy.