IMG_6709A question came up from a previous post, and It is such a good question, I thought I’d make it into a new post. (Thank you Peter)”

…I have some questions surrounding the physical sensations experienced during meditation. Sensations such as the following:

-Buzzing or throbbing feeling around the forehead or top of the head -Tingling sensations that seem to trickle down across the face, the lips, the neck -Pulsing or contractions of the lower and upper back of the head, behind the ears. Initially, I did not experience these sensations. Then over a period of time, many of these sensations began to arise frequently. However, overtime as I continue with the practice, these sensations are slowly subsiding and occurring less as I approach of state with fewer thoughts. Any insight on this?”

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These experiences all indicate you are progressing. As your sense of awareness becomes more apparent, you will most likely experience even more varied sensations, many pleasant and many unpleasant.

And that is as it should be.

There are so many experiences we pass through when we meditate – the gamut of everything our mind and body is capable of,  from total unconsciousness to the most sublime sparkly, brilliantly blissful feelings you can imagine – and none of them are worth anything. They are simply the experiences of a mind playing with an unfamiliar environment.

Because nowhere, in our entire life, have we ever done this  – sit still, do nothing, eyes closed, keep the attention detached from everything – so the mind, finding itself in that unfamiliar place, conjures up all kinds of things – sensations, lights, weird imaginings. And the trouble is, meditators think these experiences mean something.

But they don’t. They are just a hyperactive mind playing with itself.

This is one of the first and most difficult lessons a meditator has to learn – never ascribe meaning to any experience. Because that simple act of describing and imagining will itself only begin to sabotage the continually evolving, unlanguaged experience that meditation has to be.

So if we point to a certain experience and begin describing it and speculating about what it means and so on – ascribing significance to it – what do we find? We find that next time we meditate, we are looking for it to happen again. And if it doesn’t, we think we’re doing something wrong, or that we have lost our way. Or, if it was an unpleasant experience, we’re thankful it’s not happening and we think we’re doing the right thing. And all of this creates more thinking, more judgement, more commentary and more anxiety-  and suddenly we’re not meditating anymore – we’re sitting there trying to make an expectation come true.

So if you are using the Mental Noting Method (which I advise you do) then use the method to let go of everything.  That is what it is designed for. And I mean everything, whether it is pleasant or unpleasant. Every sensation and event the attention gets stuck on and begins to wonder about – note it and let go immediately and return your attention to the main object of the breath and start again.

Let go of everything, even, eventually, the conscious act of letting go itself.

Why do I advise against ascribing meaning to things?

Because the meaning you are ascribing is itself, an intellectual act – an act of thinking, conceptualizing, liking, disliking and so on. And these are exactly the conditioned aspects of mind we are seeking to transcend. Because when we speculate and wonder about what is happening,we fall back into the illusion of the same anxious conditioned views we have spent our life in. And our purpose in meditation is to let go of that conditioned view and just be aware – unconditionally aware.

So as I said, keep it simple – don’t think about what’s happening, just meditate. That’s what the method is there for. Hope that answers your question. And thank you so much for being engaged enough with what you’re doing to ask the question. May your practice lead you to the right place.

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