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Focusing the Mind for Deeper Meditation, Part IX

In these blog posts, “Focusing the Mind for Deeper Meditation,” I speak often of “subtle currents” and feeling deeper and deeper into “subtle sensations.” My intention here is to share some things that I did not fully understand or “get” in my years of meditation practice and that prevented me from connecting with the exquisitely fine “currents” in the central core of the spine that are now so obviously apparent.

What does it mean to feel into subtle sensations, subtle currents? This is not a difficult concept to understand or to viscerally experience. An example of this approach is this: clap your hands loudly three times and then place them on your laps, palms up. Feel into the vibrations/sensations. Continue feeling as the sensations get softer and more “subtle.”

Take note of how you can track these subtle sensations for long periods of time, much longer than you would normally ever consider.

It is important to acknowledge to yourself that you have the ability to feel deeply…to feel into subtlety. Now, the following point is important to “get.” As you feel into subtle vibrations/sensations, you may find inner resistance of the mind. It wants to do what it is habitually familiar with doing…engaging with thoughts, desires, memories, etc.

So, although you may know that you have the ability to connect with subtle sensations, the mind may resist with thoughts of “So what? What’s the big deal with subtle sensations?”

Here is the big deal with subtle sensations: As you feel deeply into fine vibrations and sensations, you want to take notice and acknowledge those fleeting moments (flashes really) when the mind is not moving…when the mind is in the state of “no-thought.”

While tracking and feeling into subtle sensations, you may also notice how the mind continues “firing off,” engaging in thoughts…but you may also notice the thinking mind experienced as though from a distance…and with occasional flashes of “no-thought.” Just sensation!

These “flashes” are important to notice and acknowledge, even if at first they do not seem like a big deal. It is a huge deal, because these fleeting moments of “no-thought” that flash on and off through periods of meditation will ultimately reveal/impart the underlying “Hum” of the body that is connected with the Bliss Resonance!

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Focusing the Mind for Deeper Meditation, Part VIII

Awakening Higher Self, art by Bruce Manaka

Awakening Higher Self, art by Bruce Manaka

I spent many years practicing meditation techniques without going very deep. I chalked it up to the thought that I wasn’t trying hard enough. However, it seemed that “doubling down” on my efforts also did not help. I had some nice experiences, but it was quite evident that something was missing in my approach to meditation practice. I was not connecting with the subtle currents in the spine that now seems so overwhelmingly obvious.

In looking back at my years of meditation practice, there are some glaringly obvious points that I would like share. The intention that I held for meditating was to attain the ultimate freedom: oneness with the Divine, enlightenment, Satori, Samadhi, etc. and it seemed reasonable that dedicating my life to the spiritual path in an ashram was the quickest way to fulfill this intention.

However, I did not remain in the ashram. In the intervening years, my meditation practice of technique shifted to one that seemed to be more like a dance…a dance of micro movements, initiated by subtle sensations felt deep in the core of the spine.

These fine currents, which are so obvious now, were inaccessible so long as my meditative approach was centered in technique. Also (and paradoxically), once you are connected with the “micro” currents in the spine, then meditation technique can take you even deeper. It’s just that technique cannot seem to activate the initial connection.

For me, leaving the ashram and all that led up to that event, in a strange way provided a deep psychic “hit” that seemed to initiate my first glimpses of roiling and chaotic, primal energies previously hidden from me.

My life and spiritual world view came crashing down and in its place were wild and chaotic sensations intimating of infinitely deeper and subtler vibrations. In the years following, meditation “practice” became more and more like a spontaneous dance with subtlety…with Divine Subtlety and one in which the Divine takes the lead.

In the “crashing down” and ultimate release of my spiritual world view,  spiritual philosophy, technique and structure were no longer of much importance. There was/is only the deepening of the sublime dance, a surrendering to the flow of how the Divine Subtlety wishes to express in the body/mind/psyche!

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Focusing the Mind for Deeper Meditation, Part VII

Turtle Medicine - Live in Peace Art by Bruce Manaka

Turtle Medicine – Live in Peace Art by Bruce Manaka

The overall sensation of the body during periods of meditation practice resolves to an awareness of an underlying vibration, a gentle “hum.” This is a feeling experience that has a way of focusing the mind to moments of one-pointed attention.

Perhaps a more accurate depiction is that the easily distracted and active mind is rendered silent as it is “gripped” by the inwardly felt resonance of the “Hum.” During these moments of one-pointed attention, of “no-thought,” there is only the visceral experience of the subtle currents of “Life Force.”

The mind/consciousness that is “caught” in the currents of Life Force (the awakening Kundalini), experiences a different perspective with its sense of self and the normally active and easily distracted mind. It is able to observe dispassionately the rising and falling of thoughts…with fleeting moments of “no-thoughts.”

In other words, it is able to observe the mind for what it is: an energetic vortex of energy connected with the body that in normal waking state is constantly “firing-off” thoughts, memories, desires, like/dislikes, etc. It is able to observe without attaching to them!

The mind that is held in the “current” of the underlying “Hum” of the body easily goes into meditative trance. Its perspective changes from outward focus to inward focus that locks into the ever-deepening sensations of subtle vibrations.

Although the process of connecting with the subtle currents of the inwardly flowing Life Force (Kundalini) is simple enough, it may seem like the most difficult thing to do…until you allow yourselves to simply feel what you feel in the moment…and then to go slightly deeper.

The going “slightly deeper” is important in that there is a subtle shift in the mind and body that takes place. There is a focusing affect that occurs, along with a bodily sensation. This is subtle and the mind may not want to pay attention to something so mundane and simple.

However, I believe everyone has the ability to notice this transition and my suggestion here is to hold intention to explore this seemingly uninteresting transition. The very intention and act of exploring nuances of vibration in the body allows an opening or entryway to deeper and deeper subtleties of the energetic field of the body.

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Focusing the Mind for Deeper Meditation, Part IV

You can experiment for yourselves what happens when focusing your mind on subtle and seemingly insignificant sensations in the body. There are an infinite number of sensations that can be focused upon: cold or hot hands/feet, giddiness in the area of the stomach/abdomen, tension in the scalp, etc., etc.

When feeling into any subtle sensations, take notice of what happens to your awareness and how it affects the body. When the mind’s focus connects deeply with any subtle sensation, I notice that my eyes become very still and lift slightly upwards in the eye sockets.

This “lifting up” of the eyes happens automatically, spontaneously. If you use intention or will to lift them up, as sometimes recommended in certain meditation techniques, you may miss the point of connecting with the very fine “currents” of the Life Force that flow naturally through the spine and rest of the body.

It just requires a delicate noticing. The “rising up” feeling of the eyes creates an overall “lifting up” sensation of the body. There is an important point being made here. When the mind is deeply focused on any subtle sensation, the eyes become still…and the mind also becomes still (if only for a moment).

These “moments” of focus and stillness are worth taking deep notice of, in that it offers a way for you to “capture” the visceral experience of the focused, one-pointed mind and how deeply interconnected it is with the body.

Mind holds sensation…sensation holds mind! In apprehending the delicate balance of mind and subtle sensations, there is an inner “getting,” a gentle “aha!” of how very close you are and always have been to the Divine Resonance, the underlying “Hum” of your body/mind/psyche/spirit!

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Focusing the Mind for Deeper Meditation, Part II

Shaman's Dream III, art by Bruce Manaka

When connected feeling-wise with the subtle sensations that move through the body while meditating, the “practice” of meditation technique may fall away. In its place, meditation “practice” transforms into what seems to be more a natural and spontaneous dance of “micro-movements.”

These micro-movements are guided by the connection you develop with the refined energies of the Life Force, experienced as a most delicate and uplifting sensation felt in the central core of the spine.

As you gain greater familiarity with these subtle vibrations, you will come to understand how the body is able to spontaneously adjust and “posture” itself in infinitely nuanced “micro-movements.”

These “postures” and movements can only be described in most general terms, as it is not possible to adequately describe and quantify the infinite subtleties of how the awakening Life Force (Kundalini) moves through the interior landscape of body, bones, fascia.

When I watch certain kinds of dance, especially Balinese dance and belly dance, to me certain movements of hands/fingers and spine/neck are deeply reminiscent of the movements that I feel when connecting with the energies of Kundalini.

Perhaps the movements of the dancers can be described, taught and learned, but the infinite nuances of the internal “micro-movements” can only be intimated about, poetically rendered as a most delicious, nectar-like substance in the spine!

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Focusing the Mind for Deeper Meditation, Part I

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What happens when we normally sit for periods of meditation, with intention to focus the mind one-pointedly on the Divine? I know for myself that I spent years practicing techniques without going very deep in my meditations.

I had some nice experiences, but for the life of me, could not seem to make any headway into truly focusing the mind. I did not “get” the significance of feeling into the vibration of the “Life Force” and how the vibration itself, when experienced as an overall sensation, has a way of holding/gripping the mind in one-pointed focus, even if initially for just moments at a time.

I find it ironic that I had spent years practicing meditation techniques for purposes of focusing the mind and connecting with the subtle (Divine) currents, but with little improvement in my ability to focus!

I learned to sit for long periods of time, but with mind more oftentimes drifting into subconscious realms of memories, desires and even sleep!

To me it seems that I kept my meditation practice on the surface, focused on techniques and mental discipline, keeping the body seated in meditation posture for long periods. I did not consider the importance of listening and feeling deeply into the subtle vibrations and sensations that were there from the very beginning!

Apparently my regular practice of meditation techniques did not give me the focus of mind that I wanted in order to connect with the subtle currents. I believe now that although meditation techniques may not be enough to connect us with the subtle currents, they are very helpful once we have connected with them!

Here is what I believe happened in my own experience. The techniques and forms of my meditation practice kept me within a certain range of habits and patterns of consciousness.

I sat still during meditation, maintained a disciplined lifestyle in the ashram, adhered to a certain philosophy, etc. When things started to come crashing down in my life, I was given the first glimpses/impressions of very subtle sensations in the spine, connected with the not-so-subtle feelings of fear, panic…free fall!

It took years to gain deeper and deeper connection with these subtle sensations, which dramatically shifted the relationship with my Life Force and with my sense of Self.
My practice of meditation techniques has also drastically shifted and now seems more like a dance of “micro-movements.”

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The Paradox of Subtlety—When Kundalini Comes Like a “Thief in the Night” Part VI

Butterfly-Expansion

Artwork by Bruce Manaka

The play and dance of Kundalini is a most delicate feeling connection with finely nuanced sensations inside what seems to be the central core of the spine. We all have the capacity to feel these “currents” of vibration but miss them for want of “tuning in” slightly below the dense and heavy vibrations of the five senses, as well as with the habitual patterns of thoughts, desires, memories, etc.

There is so much that keeps us “busy” and distracted…engaged with all manner of outer distractions! Even with the intention to turn the attention within during periods of meditation, distractions and patterns of mind can distract us from connecting with the subtle vibrations.

When I look back on all the years of my meditation practice, I believe now that it just did not occur to me how important it was/is to feel into the overall sensation of the body…composed of all the seemingly insignificant sensations.

Now, the “overall sensation” of the body seems to resolve to a resonance or “hum” that, when focused upon, opens the awareness to extremely subtle sensations…the awakening of Kundalini!

As you gain greater facility and familiarity with Kundalini, it becomes more and more a play and dance with subtle forces, a most delicate balance of stillness and movement, of thought and no-thought!

My suggestion here, when feeling into the overall sensation/resonance of the body, to pay special attention to the subtle feeling of sweetness…even if it is just a “grain of sand’s” worth! Remember the paradox of subtlety: what seems to be so small, insignificant, can have huge impact on the consciousness!

The smallest feeling of sweetness, however it shows up for you, can be latched onto and followed to its source. There you will begin to understand and “get” the power (and paradox) of subtlety!

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The Paradox of Subtlety—When Kundalini Comes Like a “Thief in the Night” Part IV

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In these posts I am suggesting the use of the sensitivity of your feelings to focus the mind…on finer and finer sensations, on the sensations that can be tracked to their “activating center.”

What I mean by this is that, as you continue to follow the trail of sensations to deeper and deeper levels of subtlety, at a certain point you will begin noticing your sense of “center,” the overall resonance of the body. Your activating center.

You will then get glimpses, flashes of yourself as an expansive wave of vibration…and this comes with a vastly different perspective and relationship with your body, mind and life force.

You will notice how it is easier to focus the mind when it is “held” by the sensation/vibration of the Life Force. Here is what happens: As you follow sensations in the body to deeper and deeper levels of subtlety, you will notice how the mind can focus upon extremely fine vibrations…which creates sensations that are exquisitely delicate…and which seem to have a kind of gravitational pull on the mind’s attention…because the sensations have an innately fine sweetness that spreads through the body the more you focus upon it.

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The Paradox of Subtlety—When Kundalini Comes Like a “Thief in the Night” Part II

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There is an aspect of the awakening Kundalini (the subtle current of life force in the spine) that is anciently familiar. It imparts a sense of wonderment that a sensation so close and intimate could have remained seemingly elusive for so long!

Here is my thinking about this: for years I sat in meditation practice with intention to connect with Kundalini, with the fine currents in the spine. The connection did not come with a “Big Bang.” Rather, it came more like a “Thief in the night.”

It is now somewhat baffling to me that it took so long to make this connection, considering how very close and accessible the subtle vibrations have always been! I believe that, perhaps, I did not give due importance to simply feeling into the overall sensation of the body…in the moment…and then going slightly deeper…and then deeper again.

At a certain point while simply noticing fine sensations, my attention was drawn to extremely fine forces at play in what seemed to be in the spine…a push/pull/play of subtlety!

Again, to me, it seems to be a grand paradox that a vibration so intimate and accessible could remain elusive for such a long time! Another way that I think about this mystery is that, metaphorically, I was walking in “lock-step” with a certain drum-beat that aligned with the vibratory realms of the world and all its drama and distractions.

All the while, beneath the din and turbulence of the worldly drumbeat, there was/is another drumbeat that is in resonance with the heart…so very close! It is not that this subtle vibration was less accessible or more difficult to connect with. Rather, for me, I believe it was just that it did not occur to me to simply feel deeply into subtle sensations!

Is that all? In looking back, it seems that, even with all the meditation practice and spiritual “seeking,” the momentum of my routine, day-to-day state of mind, created a resonance of being that did not take the time or bother to recognize the underlying vibration/resonance just below the busy-ness of my spiritual seeking!

This deep and wide “underlying vibration” was always there, readily accessible, because I now recognize its “on-the -surface,” entryway “signature” in the familiar sensations that I had not given much attention to: the gut feelings, of giddiness, of nostalgia, etc.

Another important point to consider: in order to “shake” me out of the patterns of my day-to-day way of thinking and being, in my estimation I believe I needed something that was strong enough to shift the resonance and pattern of my limited perspective of feeling and being. I needed a “pattern disrupt.”

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Learning to Transmute Desires, Part IV

BruceManakaArt

What do I mean by the “underlying vibration” of the body? When sitting in meditation pose, the mind can easily focus upon the overall sensation of the body. Now, with the intention to feel slightly deeper into subtle vibrations, the overall sensation of the body can be felt as a “wave” or “field” of vibration.

This is a delicate balance point, during which the mind, if it does not “get” the importance or significance of continuing to feel into finer and finer vibrations, may lose the connection and momentum to experience the primal “magnetic/contorting” flow of Life Force that lies just below the surface of our familiar states of consciousness.

By going slightly deeper into subtle sensations, there is a visceral experience of exquisitely fine forces at play in our bodies and especially in the spine. The paradox is that, in my opinion, it doesn’t require years and years of meditation practice or any superhuman feats of concentration.

However, in my experience, I spent years and years in meditation practice without making deep connection with the subtle Life Force (Kundalini) because I did not truly “get” the importance of feeling deeper and deeper into seemingly insignificant sensations…until they resolved to the overall resonance of the body.

My mind was busy with meditation practice/technique…disconnected from truly feeling deeply. Of course, the purpose of meditation technique is to connect the awareness with subtle vibrations/sensations and the Divine Spirit…but in looking back at my “practice,” I realize now that I created a thin “veil” that insulated me from feeling deeply.

Perhaps it was not so much a problem of meditation technique, but rather my non-consideration of feeling deeply. I believe there was also an issue of my “day-to-day” mind and habitual patterns that stayed within bounds of what was familiar and safe, no matter how much and how long I meditated.

I am also very much aware that it is not enough to instruct myself or anyone else to “feel deeper and deeper” into subtle vibrations. The connecting piece, the “Aha!” moment occurs when you truly “get” and viscerally feel that any sensation (no matter how seemingly insignificant) can be felt in relation to a wider and wider vibration or resonance of feeling. There is also a noticing of how the mind will automatically go into trance states…that focuses upon finer and finer vibrations/sensations.

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