Dissolution of the physical body during meditation is a remarkable quality of practice. However, I think it is an illusion. Have your hands ever dissolved into the air around them? Maybe your legs go to sleep? Or your face feels as though it has both expanded into infinity and contracted into the skull simultaneously. These might be common occurrences or plain old gobbledegook for you.
For myself, letting go of the physical body has been a challenging part of my practice. It just feels really good to be in a body. It’s both comforting and reassuring. The body has its own wisdom and intelligence and intuition that is comparatively superior to the mind in many ways.
So why, when deep in meditative states does my body tend towards dissolving into the void?
The question is rhetorical and the answers are likely many. Still, I can’t shake the idea that the body is still intimately connected to the experiences I have during meditation, even if it appears as though I have moved beyond the body from my internal reference frame.
I’m asking these questions largely in part due to a single meditation I had a while ago. Where I had inadvertently stumbled out of my body, taking my entire nervous system with me like a horrific cephalopod into an internal space resembling an electric underwater city. This will be a short exploration as the details are remiss.
Previously I had pondered the notion trivially, having experienced the hands disappearing while my legs almost always going to sleep at about 15 minutes in – like clockwork. But this one was different and slightly startling. Like most of these writings, the time dependent specifics are lacking as I try to not get lost in any thoughts while meditating – Except this jellyfish one was quite attention arousing so I naturally spent more time exploring the sensations.
I don’t quite remember the class but I know it was very early into my practice, my guess would be a yin/meditation combo. I might have to start this story smack bang in the middle as the details are fuzzy.
I had the distinct impression of my skeleton at first, I could sense my bones resting both on the ground and on each other. Particularly the skull; Both where and how it sits on my neck. It is a curious feeling, letting go of the strong muscles groups that hold the skull upright, I feel a pressure in the back of my brain that is comforting and sometime disconcerting. I must have had my spine aligned correctly because it felt as though my skull was perfectly balanced atop my spine.
A sensation I’ve later become familiar with, introducing a playful element by moving the weight of my tongue back and forth in my mouth and observing the waving and wobbling of my spine from the uneven load.
Often we are guided to sit up against the wall during meditation class to facilitate a comfortably straight spine, with the small caviat of not allowing our heads to rest on the wall because of sleep chemicals being activated from the slight skull pressure. Well I must have pushed some kind of button this time, because the strangest thing occurred.
First, I had a vision of my brain as a brilliant electric blue orb followed by filaments of the same lustre extending downwards from it and roughly arranged as they would be the nerves inside my body, with branches of ever smaller and smaller size. I was quite taken aback by the sudden shift in my perspective. Expanding my awarness outwards, this jellyfish thing appeared to be floating in some kind of fluid of immeasurable dimensions. It gently danced in an unseen current. In the distnace, but seemingly close enough to touch, were other electric blue jellyfish slowly meandering around in the soup. Some were arranged in constellations, their filaments joined in groups of varying sizes. They were uncountably numerous, but all equal in size and brilliance.
I’m unsure if this in an afterthought or an intuition I had in-situ but I got the distinct impression that these other jellyfish were my classmates and potentially everyone on the planet.
This encounter left a deep mark on my soul, it was my first experience with anything close to a collective consciousness. I mean, you read about it all the time but the leap between intellectual understanding and tangible experience is great. Even if this is all a product of an overactive imagination, the archetypical themes are hard to ignore.
Are our bodies here to separate our nervous systems and lock them away from each other in space/time?
Or is this a potent illusion? A necessary quirk of reality, without which the deeper understanding of interconnectedness lacks the contrast of seperateness to be fully understood.
Whenever I lose body parts in meditation I am comforted by the notion that perhaps I’m joining a purer state of being, where the illusion of separateness is just an intellectual curiosity of a source-blind mind/body in space and time.