Noticing symptoms

There are many ways to get familiar with the symptoms of taking a story as true, of identifying with a viewpoint, identity or role, of taking our imagination as true. Mainly, it happens through curiosity and either formal/directed inquiry (the work, the big mind process) or an open and open ended inquiry.

I can get familiar with the general symptoms of taking a story as true, such as a sense of unease, of something being off or wrong, stress, physical tension, not being home, sense of separation, a sense of being a separate I located at a particular position within the field of experience, making others wrong and myself right, defending a position, a sense of precariousness and so on. And I can also become familiar with the symptoms of taking a specific story as true and when and in which situations that story tends to be triggered.

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Working with body symptoms

I have caught one of the popular germs going around these days, so have had an opportunity to explore how to work with the symptoms. (In this case of bronchitis.)

My main exploration has been in finding the strongest symptoms (headache, chest pain, fuzzy/muddled mind, fatigue, persistent cough), explore it in the sensation field, and notice what it is made of. Is it solid? Awareness itself? Nothing taking the form of something?

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Working with body symptoms

I had an opportunity to explore ways to work with body symptoms last week, this time mainly just by fully allowing the experience, exploring the sense fields, and also resting attention on certain sensations.

Here are some ways of working with body symptoms…

  • Allowing the experience, in a wholehearted and heartfelt way, as they are, as if they would never change. Can I be with what I am experiencing right now? Bringing in the heart at times.
  • Resting attention on sensations, gently, stably, over some time. This is using body symptoms as an object for stability practice.
  • Exploring the sense fields, what is happening in each, and the gestalts that appear when they are combined. What is happening in sound, sensation, smell, taste and thought? How do thought combine with the other sense fields, such as sensations, to create certain appearances and gestalts? What happens when these appear solid, substantial and real? What happens when I notice how a thought combine with other sense fields to create those appearances?
  • Noticing the beliefs I have around body symptoms, health, disease, life, death, and inquire into them, finding what is already more true for me. (The Work.)
  • Finding myself as headless through the headless experiments. Am I the content of my experiences, or that which these experiences happens within and as?
  • Being curious about the process behind the symptoms, allowing it to unfold. What is left out of my conscious awareness that wants to be seen and included? (Process Work.)
  • Explore the voices that come up, such as the body, pain, illness, health, and so on. What do they have to say? How does the personality relate to them? How do they relate to each other? How does each one contribute to and help the human self? How can they do this in a simpler and more straight forward way? (Big Mind process.)
  • Deepening into empathy for myself and others. What I am experiencing now is universally human. Shared by all living creatures. We are all in this together. It is not (only) about me, but about us.
  • And then all the conventional ways of dealing with the symptoms or illness… going to the doctor, taking pills, changing diet, get more sleep, exercise, getting surgery, going to an acupuncturist, and so on depending on the situation.

As with anything else in life….

  • We can work with the content of it in a conventional way. In this case, going to the doctor, getting acupuncture, changing our health habits, and so on.
  • We can explore how we relate to it. Do I resist the experience? What happens if I more fully allow and stay with the experience? What happens if I bring attention to the symptoms in a stable and gentle way?
  • We can explore what is already more true for us about it. What are my beliefs around it? Are they true? What happens when I believe that? Who would I be without that belief? What is true in the reversals of my initial story?
  • We can allow it to work on us. When I fully allow experience, sincerely investigate beliefs, find myself as headless and so on, I can invite it to work on me, placing myself under it.
  • And we can use it as an invitation to notice what we already are. Am I the content of my experiences? These sensations, sounds, smells, tastes, thoughts that all live their own life, coming and going on their own time? Or am I that which these come and go within and as?