Reflections of stillness- PART 2 [Journal entries from a Zen retreat]
After writing that brief description of my Sesshin experience yesterday I realized that I should try and capture what has been going on since getting home. I believe that this specific moment in my life is incredibly important and I would like to look back on it someday…
After leaving the center and returning to my normal life, I figured that the opening which if felt during all that intense Zazen would diminish and I would quickly return to the way I felt before. I knew that what had happened was profound and had changed me in some way but I figured it would only have subtle effects on my day to day experience…I was wrong. I don’t know how long this will last but I have been consistently feeling charged and connected to life since that moment and it only gets stronger when I return to the practice. As a matter of fact, I really haven’t been able to stop practicing. Every time I return to “Mu” or just focus on the feeling it produces in the pit of my stomach, I immediately feel that sensation of intimacy and connection with all life.
The feeling is like a strange sort of electricity. It’s almost like a sickeningly sweet current that surges through my Hara (energy center in the gut). Its kind of like the feeling you get when you are right on the verge of eating too much candy or ice cream. It’s so good that you just want to keep eating more but you are also toeing the line of getting sick. This is a poor analogy but it’s all I have to compare it to. There is actually nothing at all that is unpleasant about this feeling; it just has a similar psychosomatic sensation. It feels so good that the mind is almost afraid of it and involves the body in that fear.
Walking in nature has become almost over-whelming because of my intense focus. I am so attuned to the freshness and the beauty that it makes me want to run or weep. It energizes me in an indescribable way.
Yesterday I hiked out to a waterfall and the power and force of it totally consumed me. I wanted to bow to it and give thanks for its presence…and so I did. I bowed to the waterfall like I would bow to an image of the Buddha or of any other container that stands as an incarnation of the divine source. It was totally genuine and uncontrived. I saw the entirety of the universe in that cascading water and those slippery, moss covered rocks.
Every time I sit I go a little deeper. It takes a minute to stop thinking about the feeling or having desires for it's presence but when I finally get centered and let go, I fall into like a coin into a well. The only difference is that there is no splash at the bottom of this well, its just more mind, more “Mu”.
Possibly the craziest thing I’ve experienced since getting home is what happens when I try to sleep. First of all, I haven’t slept more than a couple of hours a night but still find myself with enough energy to wake up an hour earlier than I usually do and sit for forty five minutes to an hour. The reason I haven’t been sleeping isn’t because of restlessness, it’s because when I lay down with “Mu” and get to the edge of sleep, crazy things start happening. I start going super deep inside myself. I’m not sure where it is I am going exactly (or who it is that is actually moving) but it feels like I’m sinking into my body somehow. My whole body feels like it’s opening up and my mind (or spirit) seems to be floating inside of it. There is a vast feeling of spaciousness when this happens. It feels like the edges of my physical body are dissolving into the universe. Then, after riding “Mu” like an elevator into the far off reaches of my interior landscape, my heartbeat seems to slow to the point of stopping. This is interesting because even though it feels incredibly good to slow down and go into the dark corners of my being, there is a sharp fear the slams into my consciousness like a tidal wave when I get to this place. I feel like I am going to die and it seems like my nerves are kicking into fight or flight mode without any conscious effort. I’m pretty sure this is just a defense mechanism coming out of my ego because of its desire to hold on but it is still quite scary.
The only upside is that along with this surge of fear comes a surge of euphoria that is really difficult to explain. It feels almost exactly like the onset of a DMT trip. It’s like an explosion. It only lasts a moment but every time I let go enough to reach this point it feels like my spirit is coming a little closer to the surface. I welcome it but I am also kind of afraid of it.
Last night this feeling went even further because it didn’t just sit in my stomach, it felt like it moved through my entire Chakra system. When it was in my head and face it was psychedelic and colorful but it was uncomfortable because it caused extreme pressure that started to give me a headache. When it moved down into my throat and chest it was more pleasant but it made my heart race and I found it hard to concentrate. In my sternum and stomach areas it felt like I said before. It was sweet and a little sour but peaceful and comforting. The strongest sensation, as far as a physical reaction, was when it moved down into my lowest energetic centers. I guess it was probably just my perception of it moving down further because when I looked into the Chakra centers the sexual energy is actually stored in the second Chakra, which would be the Hara region but it definitely felt like it went down into the root; the paraniem region. Either way, I clearly felt a shift and when it happened I was totally consumed by sexual desire. It was incredibly powerful (as well as distracting) and I really wanted it to stay there but I knew it was taking away from something greater.
I eventually moved it back up to that area of peace and comfort until I must have fallen asleep. I don’t actually remember sleeping at all but the next thing I knew it was morning.
My fear now is that I am getting attached to this feeling. I really don’t want to see it go away but I know this is not a helpful state of mind to have about this whole thing. I know I need to let go of my desire to feel this way. I need to live in the moment and find peace within whatever arises. I am trying.