Strange Sensations of the Body

There certainly seems to be a series of ‘bodily’ sensations, that occur in sequence, like waypoints, to form a sort of ‘road map’ for me.

It does appear to be a continuum though and different techniques, stimuli and ‘substances taken’ will throw you onto that continuum at variously different points. It definitely feels like a map to ‘somewhere’, and like any journey, the old cliche probably holds good: The act of travelling along the way is more ‘important’ than actually reaching the destination.

A ‘substance’ ingested, that magically transports the traveller to some far reach on the way, might be a good disruptor; A jarring transition. But not much can be taken away because no ‘language’ has been developed. There are no internal correspondences. No work or trial has been undergone, so it is only a ‘fairground ride’. A chaotic rush that soon fades into the half-forgotten. It means nothing because there is no continuity and no notion of how you got there or even where you were.

The foothills of ‘the way’ seem to be navigations of the body. This is our closest starting point. It is our alchemical vessel. We are looking to hold that sweet spot between the two extremes, namely mind and body. This is an unnatural oil and water mix and it definitely takes a bit of technique to make a good aioli!

I’ve been working on this via ‘zhan zhuang’ standing practice while listening to ‘hemi-sync’ on headphones. The essence of ‘standing’ is yet another balance between opposites. (such ‘places’ are the only areas ‘work’ can happen) It is a balance between the polarities of structure and release. The hard skeleton held up from above, spine stretched, neck extended and the soft flesh sinking away, releasing down into gravity’s embrace.

The sensation that ‘comes on’ first and strongest for me is a ‘new fullness’ at the base of the thumbs. There is a ‘movement’ and magnetic quality here. Any micro-movement of the thumb causes a disproportionally large ‘internal movement’ sensation elsewhere in the body. This is further strengthened by coupling it with an in or out breath. This leads to a ‘fullness’ in the jaw area. It feels like it is held in place in a vice, and yet there is also plenty of ‘movement’ and ‘energy’. Micro movements of the jaw create other stronger senstions. Another way-point becomes a lightness and cloud-like fluttering in the lower back; Like a balloon lifting off.

There might then be ‘movement’ on the soles of the feet. A bubbling and fizzing. Standing with the weight balanced at the centre of the feet, now becomes more of a challenge. The sweet spot has shrunk and become more exacting and there is a toppling feeling when the ‘will’ strays ever so slightly away from it.

Such sensations are an approach to the transition point between body and mind. There is a link here with the act of falling asleep. This is usually a hidden area, happening to us unconsciously. It is a ‘death’ of sorts. We require lulling and pacifying for the conscious mind to let go and fall away. There is a falling and rising; A dropping away and buoyancy. Waves and surges occur and we float away in a space-faring galleon, rolling through the star-netted night.

Chemicals, stimuli and meditation can get us to this ‘balancing the clutch’ point. But now with the luxury of ‘time’ being slowed (or are we sped up?)

The breath and body sink away and we dissociate. The mind in turn loses its ephemeral, fleeting quality and gains a real force and solidity.

This is a transition point on the continuum, just as when visible light turns into x-ray; The mind takes over from the body as the solid landscape to be traversed.

It is a frightening transition because we hadn’t suspected that it would be like this.

We see and live our aberrations of mind on loop, as if on rails; Habits and addictions, built into vast edifices.

These are the blockages and tensions of the body, only writ large. The same business, in a different medium!

The task is always to release. But it needs to be ‘there and back again’. We can’t release what we haven’t first made conscious.

There is always further to go.

Once the blockages of the mind have started to lose their overwhelming grip, the myriad personalities of the soul step up and formally introduce themselves.



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Head in the clouds, but really quite practical. Fine art trained, but frequently seduced by the promise of science.