Too often I hear someone talk about an “out-of-body” experience as if it was the greatest thing since, I don’t know, the invention of peanut butter. Astral projection is another feat persons speak of in hushed tones as if their trip from one place to another meant everything in the world.
Well, I’m here to tell you there ain’t nothing like the good old fashioned “In-Body” experience to get the blood rushing and the ecstasy flowing. “It’s your body now, stupid.” You don’t have to go chasing some Holy Grail to find the answer “out there.” It’s here and it’s now.
I was reminded of this when I suggested to a novice of the *Middle Way to try the “body scan” method of guided meditation. She sat for 25 minutes in a group, and grappled with one thought after another. It was tough, she told me, but this dear child had taken her first steps toward enlightenment. They were baby steps. With a little guidance, she made it through a sitting meditation. A brief walking meditation followed, and if her experience was anything like my first walk, she probably felt awkward, unbalanced and out-of-shape. (See: Why must this path hurt so much?)
The body scan can help with the concentration needed in meditation, I realized when I was giving advice to her several hours after our one-on-one talk. Find an instructor or a CD where someone could “guide” you through a scan, I suggested. Follow the guide’s instructions and focus on that part of the body the scan takes you.
The scan is nothing more than an attempt by a meditator to be acutely aware of one’s sensation of touch as it relates to, let’s say, your right foot. Upon hearing “right foot,” you make the foot the single-minded object of your attention. Feel the toes, focus on the big toe, now try to “sense” the toe next to it, and then the group of toes. Can you feel the pinky? The tip of the pinky?
It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out where the guide will take you next. Choose another part of the foot, say the in sole, the ankle, or the heel, and allow your mind to hover there, being aware of each chosen part. Eventually, you’ll touch on all the parts and be amazed at how much easier it was to nudge thoughts out of your way!
This, ladies and gentlemen, is what I call an “In-Body” experience. But don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself. If you’re like my new novice friend (is that a redundancy? A “new novice friend”?), you’ll probably need a little help from a friend, or at least, a friendly voice. That is, until you’re able to gently move your meandering and invasive thoughts “out of the picture,” and become one with your body.
I experience a tingling sensation, an effervescent feeling while “in focus.” It’s generated by some low-level motor-like engine running constantly throughout the body. A warmth blankets me, while providing a coolness at the same time.
All needs and desires are gone, save one. A wish to stay where I am – as I am – for as long as the peace and calm will effortlessly carry me. Amazingly, I am totally aware of everything around me. I am much more than this body “chilling out” in this space, this time. There is no past, no future, and the present stretches from beginingless time to endless time. My consciousness feeds off some Mother Entity that is all around me and in me.
I bow to this power, this divine energy. Make me your water bearer, O Divine Mother. Let me be the instrument to share your unconditional love with others. Let them sip from your wisdom and the body of knowledge that’s stored inside their empty vessels. Be still, I will tell them. Be still and know that we are God, that small part of the Creation within the body. Now rejoice in that moment!
(*The Middle Way is the path of moderation, between the extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification.)