Email August 23 2006

roo wrote:

> one is free of veils during meditation due to one-pointedly abiding within
> and as the true state itself, seeing [only] buddha nature

This brings up a point that I'm interested in, and which seems not to get
discussed often in the sutras -- i.e. 'taming the gaze, or as it is called
in Patanjali's yoga, 'tratakam.' If my eyes wander from the object of
meditation (even when closed), then my mind follows. I view the process as
similar to gentling a wild animal - a metaphor one encounters frequently.
stumbling block for beginning meditators, and this is the area that
interests me for a number of reasons, the main one being that if a beginner
does not get immediate 'results' from sitting, then they'll become
discouraged -- and I believe 'results' are immediately available as long as
one addresses some of the basics. These I regard as:

1) blockage of the relaxed, full breath -- usually having to do with a
'stiff' diaphragm that does not fully descend into the lower body on the

2) dullness of the facial nerves (also a blockage), especially below the
nose and around the mouth areas.

Just dealing with the full breath (see for example Wilhelm Reich, Lowen's
Bioenergetics, Rebirthing and Holotropic Breathwork) can unleash an enormous
amount of blocked energy. One then learns to breathe with the whole body
from the soles of the feet on up. I do this lying on the floor, knees
raised, focusing on the full breath and the movement of the diaphragm and
spine. A good -- and short reference book is "Breathing Ecstasy" by Gay and
Kathlyn Hendricks (2003) that covers exercises common to all the approaches
mentioned above. Just five-ten minutes of this breathing really gets the
flow going. Of course there are many other excellent methods, such as some
of the Qi Gong movememts, and classical pranayama. But I think many people
suffer from various stiffness and armorings that inhibit their experiencing
the intense pleasure of the relaxed breath.

Energizing the facial nerves then can be done by some very basic massage or
'tickles.' Easiest is just to 'tweak' the nostrils gently as well as the
area under the nostrils, perhaps ten to twenty times. The facial 'tapping'
on acupuncture points recommended by various energy therapies such as EFT
(Emotional Freedom Techniques) also works well. And

I've created a facial tickler dubbed the "Thwizzler" that I personally find
very helpful and actually will trigger a type of body 'energy release' that
Wilhelm Reich named 'the orgasm reflex.' This has nothing sexual about it,
but involves waves of energy coursing up and down the body itself. I think
it's the same release that earned 'Quakers' their nickname, and 'Shakers'

Other possibilities include standing and 'shaking out' the hands, arms and
legs. And I include a bottom wiggle that my dog taught me!

By now all systems on the physical are 'flowing,' and I can sit down and
either purr or snore or OM for some minutes to energize the bloodstream by
vibrating the trachea against the aorta. A slight smile helps the in and out
sounds become the same without changing mouth position.

Sitting or lying down with a slight smile, eyelids half-closed, eyes raised
towards the forehead, eyebrows slightly raised, I count breaths until the
meditation object appears. This can be a pearl-like object on the eyelids
(some paintings of the Buddha display this) or just an awareness of the
heartbeat throughout the body.

"The Tao is basically utterly open
Utter openness has no substance."


Email August 20-a 2006

Ramon Sender wrote:

Dear Alan:
Just finished listening/viewing your Google lecture - very fine!
Made me want to make an inventory of my 'consciousness study toolbox,' and
also ask you how much contact you're having with Ken Wilber. Please excuse
if I've linked you to his EEG video before, but here it is on my website:

Sure makes me interested in wiring myself up! It also led me to
sign up for
the Integral Institute's forums and on-line lectures at a $20/month
although truth to tell the forum levels of chat so far have not
been too
inspiring. The talks more so.

A recent update on the Thwizzler:
Take a pair of wire cutters and trim 2 or more inches from the far
end of
the chopstick. It thus will weigh less and not put as much pressure
on the
lower lip and mouth. If you wish, you can unbind the Thwizzles
from the
chopstick, cut even more off the stick and then rebind the
Thwizzles closer
to the mouthpiece. The lighter the better, seems a good idea.

If you're one of the lucky ones for whom the Thwizzler is almost
ticklish, take two Thwizzles off the Thwizzler and Thwizzle your
face with
one in each hand. That way you have more control on WHERE and HOW MUCH
pressure to exert. I like to lightly flick the Thwizzles against
the nose
and eyelids - sort of a peppery feeling that lingers around the
nostrils as
I start my breath-awareness meditation. In other words, Thwizzling
is a good
warm-up before this type of sitting because it makes the sensation
of the
air against the nostrils a greater 'object of interest'.

I now seem to trigger what I think Wilhelm Reich named 'the orgasm-
-- not a genitally focused reflex, but more akin to what earned
the Quakers
the nickname 'Quakers' and the Shakers 'Shakers.' More about this
as I look
into it further.

Thwizzler results do see cumulative over time, and also a reverse
sets in that is very pleasant -- i.e. more chi-prana-energy 'flow'
for less Thwizzling.

Now when I go for a walk with my dog Riqui, I realize that all of
Nature is
eager to caress my face, so I walk under overhanging branches or
stop to
smell (thwizzle) my nose at a blossoming rose. A number of times
when I've
wanted to demonstrate the effect (and not had a Thwhizzler handy)
I've used
a leafy twig or a flower from a flower arrangement with good
results. I know

Mylar thwizzles are politically incorrect, but at least they
don't dry
out and shed. What are they made for anyway? To decorate Margaritas?

I'd love to have more critiques and/or feedback before going into a
production mode! Sometimes I think the 'no-hands' model is really
complicated, and just manually twirling two Thwizzles across the
nerves before settling down to meditate is all that's needed.
Let me know your thoughts.

"Imagine that you have nostrils in the middle of your chest." Ram

What about on all your pores? Or the bottoms of your feet? - RS

P.S. Also hope that you might have an answer for me regarding what the
Buddhists and -- well, all the forest sadhus -- did about flies,
etc., before the advent of mosquito nets. As I wrote earlier, I
meant to
ask you about this at the workshop, but time flew by and I decided
to wait
and ask you via e-mail. Also it didn't seem a question that would
the audience.

Of course these days we have mosquito nets, which I'm sure have
been greeted
as heaven-sent in various parts of the world. But what about
BEFORE? I have
a theory (and from this evolved the Thwizzler) that earlier
meditators would
break off a small leafy twig and place the end between their teeth
so that a
slight movement of the jaw would 'swish' away the insects. Just a

I also can correlate this with some Ancient Greek rituals involving
twigs of
laurel and olive used in ceremonies to Apollo and other gods. These
also held before the face and 'shimmered' in a way that touched the
facial parts as well as 'strobed' the sunlight on the eyelids.

Thanks Again,


Email August 19 2006

Bill Ruth wrote: > Understanding is more useful to me than bliss.

There's a place where understanding and bliss merge, at least from my POV.
I even think that bliss 'creates' understanding, that in Buddhism it's
what's meant by equanimity.'

The trouble with 'understanding' without first 'bliss' is that it tends to
become overly mental. There are two main tracks in Buddhism, samatha
(one-pointed concentration) and vipassana (mindfulness without reaction).
Vipassana,, has been especially stressed in the USA and the bliss states of
the lower absorptions (jhanas) available through samatha de-emphasized.

Personally I think this is a mistake and makes for a less body-centered
experience. Without the one-pointedness - fixation of the mind, one cannot
experience the sheer ecstasy of absorption. Of course there's the so-called
danger of getting attached to the ecstatic state, but I think - well, I
don't know what I think except that I prefer dealing with 'grasping' as it
occurs while continuing to experience the showers of bliss.
I'm not a Buddhist nor an expert, so take my views with a cup of s.d. tea,
but I do think that bliss states tend to be sidelined in many spiritual
circles, and those people who emphasize them marginalized as 'bliss

Quoting from the first Googled Buddhist site:

Vipassana Meditation Preceded by Samatha

When a samatha meditator has attained deep concentration of mind, he should
switch his noting mind to vipassana meditation. Any mental process or
physical process will be observed with the concentration attained through
samatha meditation. Such meditation is known as vipassana meditation
preceded by samatha meditation.

Vipassana may be preceded by samatha meditation or we can practice pure
vipassana meditation. If we have enough time, say a year or more, we can
start with samatha meditation to attain higher concentration of the mind.
After that we should practice vipassana based on that powerfuly concentrated

I can see where just jumping into vipassana without samatha also has its
drawbacks, because the mind has not been trained to stay on the meditation
object. And for me, if the eyes wander, the mind follows. So I first must
learn to keep the closed eyes centered on the tiniest 'dot' that I can see
against my eyelids.

If I get too excited, I lower the gaze behind my eyelids towards the nose.
If I get dull or drowsy, I raise the gaze towards the forehead. Over time,
the 'meditation object' will appear, and its shape and color varies from
person to person.

At the beginning, this centering takes a certain effort. To me it's like
'gentling a horse' (I don't like 'breaking' for obvious reasons -- it's too
violent). The eyes/mind have to be 'charmed ' into staying centered, and
that's what bliss is for, in my opinion. But there comes a point when this
one-pointedness just 'sticks' and one can relax into it. This preliminary
level of 'effort' could be understood as a kind of 'grasping,' but I think
it's necessary for starters.

On another topic, I've just been reading Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks' little
book "Breathing Ecstasy: Finding Sexual Bliss Using The Incredible Power Of
Breath" It give some basic deep-breathing exercises similar to what Wilhelm
Reich, Alexander Lowen's Bioenergetics and the Rebirthing/Holotropic
Breathwork folks evolved. It's always good to be reminded of the importance
of the deep and natural breath, and I'm going to start doing some of these
as warm-ups to the facial-nerves stimulation prior to breath meditation.
Unless the touch of the air below the nostrils isn't truly blissful, what's
going to hold my attention there?

Speaking yet again of the facial nerves, if you don't want a try-out
Thwizzle stick mailed to you at my expense, at least find something with
which you can tickle your face (around your mouth, nostrils, eyes, forehead)
the next time you commune with the Lady. A stem of tiny flowers or leaves
works. "Nothing like a good facial tickle to get the body energies flowing!"
is what I've found!