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[ Sitting Practice ]

H: One time when I was meditating very deeply for the first and only time I discovered a connection between my legs and my inner attachment. I was sitting there thinking of stupidities and nonsense, then all of a sudden I released those concerns and instantly a muscle was released in each one of my legs. So, from there I thought since I have cleared my mind of those downbound subjects, I would then consider them merely tight muscles in my legs. This new level of thought seemed utterly detached and above the other. Then with the knowledge that the things of basic attachment where merely muscles in my legs, I proceeded to try and release myself from those thoughts entirely. I only was able to achieve this for a few moments but when I did it I again felt that same release of tension within the legs. Only this time the release was like an explosion and it shocked me back to the previous level of thought. After this I fell instantly asleep or passed out, whichever. Is this a legitimate road to take in freeing my mind? Have you ever experienced a connection between the legs and the attachment to the world? And what would you say those releases and explosions were?



Check out Getting Started: High Getting High, the beginning of the section of the Gradual Course where I describe the relationship between the sense organs located in the face and the muscles connected with them and their relationship to the rest of the body. This is really the way you should begin every sit-down session.

Yes, there is a one-to-one relationship between "mental stuff" and "bodily stuff"...not just the legs. These "pops" or "explosions" are a common occurrence with people who actually sit down to meditate and make a little headway. Depending on the individual's prior degrees of attachment and effort at practice this can go on for quite a while. Different people experience different phenomena and in different ways and for different periods of time. Your subsequent reaction is also common: the self-conscious awareness that you might be actually making some "real" progress will bring you down super fast.[1] You need to learn to let that go. You are not really "accomplishing" anything here, you are getting rid of obstructions to a higher natural state. "Passing out" or going to sleep, is also natural.

Here's the real trick: What you need to do is to focus down a little more. There is a period before the release of the tensions in the body where you have control over the "pop" or "spring-back". If you can, develop an awareness of this point and "release" with control so that the release is smooth. This accomplishes several things, most important of which is that it is much less likely, if the release is smooth, that it will interrupt your concentration. Another is that these "pops" can become a source of pride (that you are making real, tangible progress) and that can obstruct your real, tangible progress for years if you are not careful.

When you ask: "Is this a legitimate road to take in freeing my mind?" I am hearing you describe a method in which you bypass the mental stuff and concentrate on the release of the tensions in the body. And the answer is yes, this is one method. "There is Nama and there is Rupa." It is by the joining up of nama (mental stuff) with rupa (physical stuff) that a being manifests individuality. (The second lesson). So one can approach attaining liberty by either the physical path or the mental path or a combination. (The truth is, it will always be a combination no matter what the subjective approach — the one who takes the strictly physical approach is really taking the ultimate mental approach: all that mental stuff here is just dukkha and can and should be let go of — so by arriving at the letting go of all physicality, one is also letting go of all mental stuff downbound to the world. Remember the ones: "He who pays attention to the body partakes in the deathless."[2]).


[1]See: Dhammatalk: Entering the Second Burning, paragraphs on self censorship, and Temporary Vimutti, for other things that will bring you down.

[2]Ones, On Recolection of the Body

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