Working with the Feeling Modality

I’ve been developing meditations lately which work exclusively with the feeling body. This was partly inspired by the following Shinzen Young video (The Reptilean Brain, Skinnerian Training & the Experience of God), though I was already moving in this direction anyway:


The video talks about different approaches towards reprogramming your mind and body responses. It explains that the verbal mode will barely touch the surface of the subconscious, visual images will penetrate a little into the subconscious, but the only way to really go deep is via body sensations. (As a side note, this is also why affirmations don’t work.)

So, last night I performed the following meditation for around an hour before going out. I am not sure how accessible it will be for beginners, but I’ll provide it anyway in case you want to try.

I started off by lying down on my bed. While staying absolutely still, I turned my attention towards any feeling of movement anywhere in the body. So, my instruction to myself was simply, “Find some sensation of movement somewhere in my body”. The mind will usually find one pretty quickly, but the hands are a good place to start if you’re lost. It doesn’t matter where the movement is found, or if attention jumps to some other body area. As long as the mind is focusing on sensations of movement, it’s doing its job.

What I found from this practice is that there is always some sensation of movement, somewhere. The sensations might be extremely gentle, and barely perceptible, which is a good sign since it means the mind is resolving the body to ever finer vibrations. Eventually, my mind was detecting movement on an extremely fine vibratory level. These vibrations were being perceived in the three main sense fields, “feel”, “hear” and “see”. In the feeling mode, sensations were felt as very gentle vibrations. I could also “hear” these vibrations, despite them being completely silent (I have discussed this paradoxical “hearing of silence” in other posts). The vibrations also manifested visually as waves sweeping across awareness.

I find it hard to place such states on the jhana spectrum, since I often fail to notice the ascension points. I therefore have to guess retroactively based on the jhana factors present. While there was definitely warmth and pleasure at the start of this meditation, by the time it had reached the state described above it had become strongly equanimous (upekkhā), meaning neither a preference for or against any aspect of experience arising in consciousness. I had very little inclination to do anything but continue meditating, and felt I could have lain there forever. The body was essentially non-existent at this point, too, instead being resolved to silent flowing vibrations across a wide field of awareness. Since these vibrations were being perceived simultaneously through the three main sense doors, this suggests to me one-pointedness of mind (ekaggatā). These factors taken together indicate fourth jhana.

The equanimity persisted strongly as I got up and walked to the pub to meet some friends and take part in the quiz. Despite it being extremely cold outside, this did not bother me at all. For the next two hours there was very little sense of self, and events seemed to move “through” me – though I did not feel depersonalized or manifest any of the unpleasant side effects of No-Self that meditators sometimes experience. The state was in fact pleasant in its “neither pleasant nor unpleasant” kind of way. One interesting thing is that my state of no preference for or against anything made choosing a meal from the menu almost impossible. I basically just chose something at random in the end, and it tasted neither good nor bad.

A friend of mine showed up who has a mildly annoying habit. I won’t say what, because it doesn’t matter. But he started doing that habit, and something very, very interesting happened: I noticed the exact moment that a “self” began to form on my side in response to his habit – a kind of formation developing on the border where my perceptions and his bad habit interact. Seeing this in a very, very clear way led to me hearing the words “let it go” in my mind, at which point I immediately dropped that “self” like a hot coal. A literal feeling of warmth spread across my face, which persisted for a few seconds – and his habit never bothered me again. While most meditation work happens exclusively below the level of conscious awareness, it is always nice to see the five percent or so that does poke above the waterline.

A few beers later, my self was back and my equanimity was mostly gone, proof (if we needed it) that any carefully crafted meditation state can be destroyed by alcohol. I still have no inclination towards giving it up, though.

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15 Responses

  1. Aldous says:

    Having not done much formal sitting of late I tried this meditation. It really was the high road to jhana. I sat in a chair and when searching for movement the mind went to that annoying pulse in the chest only a painful message from a girl can cause. I was in furst jhana in minutes, rocketed up to fourth as Illuminates discribed then ‘popped’ into equinimity and have been there ever since (about four hours). It’s like free phenibut. I’m no newbie so can’t say what the results will be for anyone else – I suspect this ones not for the beginer but I can’t say. I do suggest you try it next sit.

    • Illuminatus says:

      Thanks mate.

      Around a year ago I began experimenting with meditation objects which went directly for right brain modes. Some examples are listed here:


      – Soft
      – Quiet
      – Rest
      – Love
      – Dark
      – Light (more a left brain mode but whatever)
      – Space
      – Awareness
      – Free
      – Being
      – Feel
      – Silence
      – Flow
      – “Let it be”

      And probably many others. But now we have “movement” which ends up encapsulating flow and silence too.

      For your next sit, try finding movement at the columella (tip of nose) / top lip area. Thank me later.

      This movement thing is the fastest route to jhana I’ve ever come across. Kind of blows “breath awareness” out of the water.

  2. EcoTexan says:

    Classic Satipatthana.
    The Body as a Frame of Reference.
    This has been my main lens for ~2 years.
    Tremendous fruits.

    Burn On, Friend.

    (but srsly, drop dat alcohol. clinging, brah)

    • Aldous says:

      I’d have a look around Personal Power Meditation mate – alcohol is the least of our concerns. We like our gurus right wing and ripped to the tits ‘brah’.

      • Stephen Torrence says:

        Apologies. I’ll own my projection here. I don’t want to intentionally harm this Body \ Being unnecessarily, and alcohol very clearly harms it. Alcohol is literally poison, like sugar.

        I’m genuinely curious what benefit you see in consuming alcohol (beyond the social lubricant aspect, as you’ve spoken to here and elsewhere), that outweighs its harms?

      • Xer says:

        An interesting question is whether you could practice meditating ‘drunk’ to see whether you could learn to resist the effects of alcohol, at least the effects on the meditative state. Not sure this would be worth it to actually try, and I don’t personally drink enough to make it do-able for me, but it is a question that maybe has an answer in the ‘Tantra’ literature?

        • Illuminatus says:

          I have maintained mindfulness at all times for the last 11 years, including while drinking alcohol. Your hypothesis is correct — as long as mindfulness is maintained, alcohol has progressively less power to challenge the stability of that mindfulness. The result is that it has been many years since I was “drunk” (in the sense it is commonly understood, meaning an intentional loss of inhibition, uncoordinated movements, memory loss etc.)

          The only slip-ups have been when another substance is involved (such as phenibut, which compounds alcohol’s effects). Since I no longer take those substances it’s not a problem. This means alcohol is a mild and easily dismissible “buzz”.

  3. Vinicius says:

    “Any carefully crafted meditation state can be destroyed by alcohol. I still have no inclination towards giving it up, though.”

    I wonder why not give up on alcohol…

    • Illuminatus says:

      Good to see you all trying the powerful meditation outlined in the post and not being distracted by an irrelevant side-point about alcohol.

      • James says:

        I don’t know if you read black dragons blog or not but an entire article was hijacked because of the way Caleb said he ate Tuna… heh.

        This is the same technique I learned at the Vipassana retreat they teach for when you are going to sleep.

        • Illuminatus says:

          Did they have you seeking movement specifically, or just general body sensations? It is the sense of movement which turns on the vagus nerves and creates flow states conducive to jhana.

  4. James says:

    movement and body sensations are the same thing to them. A sensation is movement, you lay totally still and treat any and all sensations with a keen mindfulness.

  5. Jajaru says:

    Today was the 3rd day of trying this way.
    There were times my mind drifted away but I just gently brought it back to just feeling the body.
    I felt an old feeling, a feeling I had felt as a child and I have totally forgot about all those years.
    It’s hard to explain it, it’s like I feeling my whole body being made from a hard material, I feel like a statue and as time goes on my body softens.
    My mind is also in a trance during this time, not a bad nor a good one but a strange one, I feel like strange is going on, there is a bit of fear in there too but I surely want to continue.
    Thank you for posting this.

    • Illuminatus says:

      Thanks for your report Jajaru. This meditation will tend to pull up lots of feelings/memories from childhood since the feeling mode is first to develop.

  6. Andrew says:

    Everything is movement. All fears/stories/”ills” are simply restricted movement within the “body”. Our brain assimilates information coming in through the senses, scans the “hard drive”, cross references said information to then project your “reality”. A decision is then made about whether to move and if so, how – that message is sent to the psoas (via the nervous system) and movement is initiated. If you wish to “fix”/optimise “yourself” then find the areas where restricted movement exists by turning up the “volume” and focussing where you are shown by sensations. You can utilise movement/postural modalities, lying on a hard surface and/or reducing external inputs so that the “volume” is effectively turned up so that you can feel/”hear” those signals and then do as the system is asking. Bring your awareness/focus to the area that sensations bring you to – sensations/discomfort/pain are calls for attention as energy follows thought. Energy then fixes said problem utilising the bodies owns mechanisms, whether that be neurogenic tremors or otherwise. Slightly over simplified but that about covers it from my experience. It can be put many ways and often requires a little guidance but once you get the hang of It, you have a healing friend for life. Have the humility to ask the system to show you and all shall be revealed.

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