Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Meditating on Sensation

Usually, at my Feldenkrais lessons, my teacher has me work with body movements and ways to vary them. The goal is to help me figure out more efficient and comfortable ways to move.

At my last session he asked me to sit in a chair and tell him the sensations I was experiencing.
I pay good money for these sessions and I want to be rid of my pain.  But I wasn’t going to sit there and pretend that the only sensation I experience is pain.  I have 5 senses, and the pain doesn’t really fit into any of them.  It’s internal, in my hip joint.

My first thought was that my teacher was off-topic.  Perhaps I’m an off-topic person myself, but I indulged him.  The first thing I said was, “My nose is wet and runny. I just came in from the cold.”

He said, “cold and runny are sensations. ‘I just came in from the cold” is narrative. I only want to know the sensations you are feeling.”  I interrupted him to ask for a tissue. He provided one.

I mentioned the stripes of light coming in from the window blinds. The stripes I felt on my back (which I later discovered were slats comprising the chair back). The furry feel of my sweater on my arms. This went on for about half an hour.  These sessions only last an hour.  I couldn’t see how this was helping me.  Then I decided to check in with the hip pain.  It was duller than it had been when I arrived.

My teacher commented that the inner world of sensation is just as rich and varied as the outer world. It just seems to take longer to contact it.

After a while I commented that I was feeling itching at lots of parts of my body.  “Excellent,” said my teacher.  I laughed. His remark seemed incongrous.  Since when is feeling itching excellent?

He said that when the mind shifts to noticing inner sensations a person often feels itching or starts to yawn.  I mentioned the pulse I felt in my fingers. The feeling of my rib cage expanding and sinking in.

We finally got around to doing some physical work.  I felt like I had wasted half the session.

But then I noticed that the breathing pattern for observing inner sensations is the same as the breathing pattern for meditation.  But in meditation the goal is to let the thoughts go.  In sensation observation, the goal is to explore them.

And exploring them helps dull the pain.  Yay!

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