With great concentration comes… interesting phenomena. I’m sure this isn’t common to all meditators, because many I’ve spoken to (most, actually) give me a kind of curious response when I bring it up, but it’s very common in my sitting and I have run into a few people who also have these experiences and I want to know more about it.
When sitting, and typically only once a steady concentration has been achieved, I can start to feel strange phenomena in my body. The phenomena feels like it is body sensation, but unusual patterns of body sensation. I often feel pressures that seem to move parts of my anatomy, when in reality, no such motion is happening. Sometimes I feel sensations that suggest items are moving *through* me – under my skin, through my skull, or opening my ribcage, for instance. Sometimes small and other times quite large. I have come to categorize these as something happening in my “energy body”, not knowing a better way to classify them.
The pressures move slowly, and aren’t painful, but they are exceedingly strange. If I open my eyes suddenly or move my body or otherwise lose concentration, often the sensations disappear completely. I truly feel that if someone were looking at me during one of these events, they would see what I am feeling, but I know this isn’t the case. For instance, I’ve had the feeling my jaw was opening very wide.. so wide that my head was tilted back at an extreme angle and my mouth was wide open. If I “peek” to see if I’m staring at the ceiling, I’m not. I’m sitting in normal posture. The checking makes the sensation disappear.
I’ve had the sense that a hole had been created between my ribs in my back and that the hole was quite large, allowing for some sort of energetic exchange in my chest.. this happened at my most recent retreat and left me feeling as if my insides were spacious and light for about a week. While I don’t think the person behind me would have actually seen a hole in my back.. I felt at the time as if they would have.. and certainly SOMETHING happened!
Other experiences include: extreme facial distortion, downward pressure on the nose, lifting sensations on my palette (in my mouth), large blocks (like a loaf of bread) moving through my chest (which happened on retreat just after my mother passed away), and other sensations often in my head (ie. my skull).
The only teacher to address this directly was Shinzen Young. He said the sensations were a form of Kriyas, an energy some cultivate in Yoga practice, and that the energies were “cleansing” my body/mind. Hearing this was good, and helped avoid any fear that might arise during these events. I know that the first rule about anything that occurs during meditation is to treat it with kind attention and equanimity, don’t get attached to it or avoid it. I know that’s the basic instruction, but I feel some understanding may be helpful. I feel these occurrences are important to my practice because they show up when my practice is strong and they seem to “operate on me” while I’m on the cushion. In short, I want to know more.
Does this happen to others? Will anyone share?
Can any teachers shed light on these occurrences? Is there a way to work with them (or just observe as stated above)?
Thank you to anyone who can shed some light on this.