For a few weeks in a row, I was meditating by focusing on my breath, mostly around my diaphragm. Inevitably after some time (exact amount hard to determine because, meditating), my attention would be drawn to some patches of skin around my neck. If I focused on them, something good happened, although it’s been long enough since I did this that I don’t remember what. Probably I relaxed.
Several times I tried to get ahead of the system by focusing on those neck patches from the beginning. It was always the same patches, so the problem was not that I was focused on the wrong area. This never worked. Something necessary was happening during the focus on diaphragm.
“Skipping ahead to the neck” feels like a pretty good metaphor for my failure mode in meditation and introspection in general. I identify the thing that happened most directly before something good, and try to replicate that, then am disappointed when I get the same results. I have a lot of resistance to going through the longer process.
Some of that is Drive For Efficiency, but I think a lot of times I genuinely don’t know what the whole process was, only the last step or two. I spent a week in July drawing body map after body map and hit the most enlightened I’ve ever been, by which I mean I was getting the promised benefits of meditation. Even very negative emotions didn’t bother me, they were just another kind of sensation. I was able to see a lot of things I’d previously labeled as emotions were better considered reactions to emotions, or attempts to mitigate them.
This went away after a few days. I tried desperately to get it back by drawing more body maps, but nope. That has never worked again. Either I solved all the problems body mapping can solve (unlikely), or there was some precursor I haven’t identified. Actually I generated a new guess writing this out. Thanks guys.
For a few weeks I was very frustrated by my inability to recreate the feelings at all. Then someone told me to stop striving (duh), and I got back maybe 40%, which is not bad at all.