Phantom cold

It has been great to read the blog posts for week two both here and on Sharon’s blog. As I mentioned, body mindfulness is relatively new to me so it has been helpful to read about how others are approaching this technique. I’ve noticed that a lot of people are also nervous about week two and I love that we have an open forum for this honesty. Instead of staying in my mind, wondering why the heck I am so adverse to connecting with my body in this way, I can gain different perspectives by reaching out to this community. So, thank you everyone for being honest and sharing what’s hard/exciting/dull/beautiful.

This morning I tried a very unstructured body sensation meditation. I just sat and waited for sensations to to arise so that I could bring my attention to them. It turned out to be too unstructured for me and I started nodding off at times. However, I noticed something very striking. My experience was nowhere near how I anticipated it to be. I was sure that my mind would shoot to a pulled muscle in my shoulder and I would be writhing in pain for the duration (dramatic, yes). I think I noticed the discomfort there for about five breaths and then it slipped into the background. I was shocked. Once I realized that this wasn’t going to be the main act, I felt my body relax (I didn’t even know I was tense). Instead, what I felt most acutely was the sensation of being cold. My body wasn’t actually cold, I was under a blanket in a warm apartment, but my brain said cold. How interesting to watch my mind override actual facts to tell me “You are cold and uncomfortable and things are not right.” If I wasn’t in the middle of my meditation I probably would have had the knee-jerk reaction to curl up and close off to “warm up”. Warm up from what??

Once I recognized this mind trick, I focused on that “cold” feeling and was blown away! What my mind had labeled as one thing was actually every feeling and no feeling all at once. Was there actual sensation or was it only constructed in my mind? I think about this now and wonder how often I must be labeling sensations as things they are not or making them up entirely. It’s going to take a lot of practice to find these moments when my brain is on autopilot during the day. In fact, as of writing this post, I don’t think I have tried to hold that awareness once since my sit this morning. But I’ll start slow for now, maybe I’ll just stick with temperature. Ironically, the heat is broken in my office today and it is uncomfortably warm. Must.. stay.. awake..

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