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Skill Stories

Sense Your Body with Extreme Clarity: Stories

January 2018

From a reader who clearly got it right:

[...] I decided to try this for the first time during my daily mindfulness meditation. I usually include a body scan for a few minutes so I just scanned a lot more slowly and followed the instructions on the site eg pick a particular place on one’s body and search for qualia. I started with my head and slowly moved down in a spiral. I went really slowly focusing on patches with 3-4 cm diameters and only moving on after I got that patch of skin to acknowledge some sensation. It took maybe twenty minutes to get to my jaw from the top of my head. I decided that was enough for the first time and stopped. The next day was in a different circumstance. I was laying on a couch in front of a fireplace and figured I didn’t need to be meditating to practice feeling those sensations. I started with my face and immediately noticed a difference in the size of the area I was able to focus on. I could search my eyes with a really tiny diameter, but my lips were much much more difficult. I went back to the top of my head and noticed the diameter there was tighter. I went to my arms and chest next and searched there for half an hour before I decided I was done and took a nap.

The third day was when I realized I didn’t need to be in a special mood to have the qualia. I could focus on a patch of skin and have it respond with what felt like a small burst of warmth and sensation. I spent a lot of this day (probably around an hour) doing chores or eating while paying a lot of attention to the qualia. Later that night while I was trying to sleep I noticed that my hand was hanging off the edge of my bed and feeling something. I tried concentrating upon the sensations and thought I might have been feeling the air currents with my hand. I tried blowing near my hand to see if disturbing the air would raise the intensity of the sensation, it did. So I tried blowing on my hand to see if that sensation matched the one I was feeling, it was. I fell asleep feeling giddy at my accomplishment.

Those were the first few days of what’s been a bit over a week week where I’ve spent at least 20 minutes throughout the day practicing this. I’m going to try implementing a dedicated session for practicing this each day, not just whimsical mindful attention to qualia throughout the day. Some things that might have influenced my progress or starting point with this skill is the fact that I’ve been doing mindfulness meditation for about half a year. Directly before that I did exercises to strengthen my capacity to listen to sounds accurately (eg ability to distinguish number of individuals in a group, the stride length of said individuals, pinpointing the location of ambient sounds etc). Those are the two main confounding factors but I also did some other smaller experiments with perception and proprioception.

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