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Skill Stories

Tune Your Motor Cortex: Stories

February 2018

From a reader who got initial tuning experiences very quickly (after laying solid groundwork with body sensing ability):

Day 1: I tried tuning three times. Once in the early morning when I first got up, I layed down on the ground and tried relaxing individual parts of my body. I found it really difficult and my mind kept wandering without me realizing it. After about 15 minutes of this I gave up, I think I was much too tired at this point to actually focus. Later in evening after my workout I decided to give it another shot. So I layed down once more, and tried to relax my body. I started with my traps and realized they felt tight in correspondence with being shrugged up towards my head I pushed them down and away and felt it much easier to get them to relax. I went over my whole body in this way, slowly making it more and more at ease. It began to turn into what felt like a continuous motion of relaxation that flowed over half of my body with each full breath. At this point I realized that the qualia of relaxing was just about the opposite of clenching a muscle. If I flex my bicep then that is a conscious move that I make towards my bicep, I have to exert some force mentally to get it to flex. Same thing with this purposeful relaxing, it required mental effort to deliberately push the tension out of a muscle. After doing this for about ten minutes I found I had the weird electric bubble bath sensations all over my limbs. Thinking it might just be my limbs falling asleep I decided to move them slightly to get more blood flow. This did not stop the sensations. I figured this was fine since it was what the guide said would happen, I was just surprised at how accurate the qualic description was. After twenty minutes of this I stopped. My last time was in-bed, I wanted to see if I could do it while sleepy since I had more experience now. Unfortunately, the same thing happened as the morning where my mind wandered fiercely and I wasn’t able to concentrate.

Day 2: I tried tuning once before bed. It didn’t work well, I just couldn’t get my mind to concentrate on relaxing and whenever I started to get the flow going my mind wandered off.

Day 3: I tried tuning twice in succession. Both before bedtime. The first one worked well, I managed to find that my buttocks, trapezius, and my vastus medialis were all linked together. Whenever I turned my mind to relaxing only one of them, my buttocks would tense up. It seemed to be the linking point. Upon trying it again I realized that if I put a lot of the untensing focus on that area and ‘pushed’ against my thighs and traps I felt them all relax. The sensation of untensing seems to be generally applicable to more than just relieving tension. Consider sleepiness, I noticed that during several lectures I had to sit through that went over redundant materials, I experienced the qualia of sleepiness (achy eyes, trying to think through fog, etc). Just like with the bodily tension, I found out that if I attempt to ‘unclench’ the feeling of sleepiness (this is mentally really tricky to describe). I can make myself noticeably more awake and energetic. This warrants further investigation.

Day 4-8: The thing that seems to be the most successful at unlinking my tension is focusing on a part of my body (like my bicep) and really trying to relax it. This often reveals the other parts of me that won’t relax much more quickly than trying to relax my whole body over time. Additionally this lets me relax while I’m doing things that are normally stressful, like sitting at a desk. I just have to find somewhere on my body that is tense (noted by the absence of detailed sensations) and then purposefully relax it and try to relax the other parts of my body which start objecting. This is more or less part of my daily routine now, even for just a few minutes.

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