(1) First, close the eyes and feel the sensations labelled ‘body’.
(2) Then open the eyes and look into the mirror while still paying attention to the sensations.
Is there any connection between the felt sensations and the image in the mirror?
Or just thoughts (and/or mental images) suggest that there is?
I tried this a few times and struggled with it. Preconceptions built up over a lifetime don't drop just like that. Then I found when, as you suggest, you make sure while doing this part of the exercise that you stay focused on the sensations, it becomes easier. I think that is the important part because otherwise thought keeps linking the image with the sensations. When focused on sensations it is easier to see that there are actually no connections between those sensations and the colours and shapes in front of me. Thought keeps arising that promotes the connection but when you bring the focus back into sensation it is easier to counter that. And interestingly while doing this I started to feel those sensations in the body quite intensely much more than I would normally feel. And the more intense the feeling the less you link them with the image in front of you.
(3) While still paying attention to the sensations move one hand and observe the movement from the mirror.
Is there any connection between the felt sensations (labelled ‘hand’) and image of movement in the mirror?
Again, quite a tough one where you are cutting across a lifetimes built up associations. Lets not play down it is not so easy to look at "your hand" moving and not associate the feelings directly with that. However, what I found worked was to consciously suspend thought, put it on the back seat as it were and see how that goes. Just focus on the raw senses that I am experiencing and kind of go deeper into them. And then what I would say is that the sensations and colours are not necessarily different, but not at the same time any more connected than anything else. For example the sensations and the moving shapes do not seem to be any more connected to each other than they are to the rain I can hear outside my window. It's all just part of a continuum.
(4) Now do the same movement with the hand, but this time look at the hand directly, not from the mirror.
Is there any connection between the felt sensations (labelled ‘hand’) and the image ‘of movement’?
Or only thoughts suggest it?
Again, not easy and the exercise seems to be building layers of investigation. Progressively more challenging. But again, while focusing primarily on sensation, I am clear that it does not exist in any location. It is just a sensation which thought tries to place. And the colours in front of me that thought interprets as "hand" are just, when left alone as they are, colours and no such thing as a hand, and also not located in a precise spatial position. So how can you put together a placeless sensation and moving colours. The only way to do that, to "achieve" that is through a thought story.
The hand is the part of our body that we see most often in daily life directly, it's our primary tool. And therefore, perhaps in some way the one we most associate with ourselves and our body - and we certainly would do so without mirrors. So it has a seductive pull. But when I focus just on the senses that I actually experience, I see that the only link between the felt sensations and the image is thought, and only thought however compelling it tries to be.
(5) Now, pay attention only to the image in the mirror.
Does the image by itself suggest in any way that is ‘you’ or ‘your body’?
Does the image itself suggest in any way that it is a ‘body’ at all?
Or are there only colours and shapes?
I spent quite a long time with this just standing in front of the mirror and this for me was an important stage. I consciously put all thoughts totally aside and just looked dispassionately at what was in front of me. After a while it took me back to my first (and penultimate) LSD experience where I had what I believe they call a "bad trip" and totally forgot everything about who or what I (or anything else) was. I won't go into that but the feeling as I stood in the mirror was, as long as I focused on the shapes and colours, of looking at something faintly ridiculous and unfamiliar. Comical. Long dangly bits from each of the top left and right corners with spider like extremities. All resting on 2 columns at the bottom on flat pieces with what look like suckers at the end of them. A gnarly ball on top with protrusions sticking out and a small bit of hair on top. What am I? Surely not this! We spend so much of our lives desperately associating ourselves with this body and judging ourselves in terms of how it appears that it comes as a shock when we strip this process of thought and just look at AE and what is there, that it's not really all it's cracked up to be, and if what we truly are is this physical contraption, which is also in a process of constant decline and decay, then that ain't too much to hang our hat on. I hope this image is not me or my body. And indeed it doesn't feel that way right now.
(6) Where the mirror ends, some parts of the body (probably legs) cannot be seen.
Just by the image in the mirror, is there any ‘knowledge’ that there must be legs, or only thoughts and mental images suggest so?
My mirror goes the whole way to the floor so I have done this by moving to the side so my body is bisected. The other half isn't there of course. And is exactly as real in my experience/awareness (I prefer awareness by the way) as Norway or the tree falling in a forest. Which is to say, not real at all. And only existing in thought. Half of what I have come to call my body, merges with a hardwood timber frame. I think I prefer my body this way. ;-) Just one of everything - why be greedy? And I guess while we're at it, why be greedy wanting Norway and trees, and experiences and situations and people and achievements and many other things which simply aren't there. When what is there isn't so bad really at all. The person is by nature greedy, isn't he. He wants all these things because Johnself is, by definition, what makes me unhappy with now (maybe I should correct that, which leads to thoughts of dissatisfaction arising). He is, by definition, that dissatisfaction. That ultimately is what the thought person is - desires, expectations, aversions, resistance, craving - which at the end of the day are the same thing. But as I stand here I am quite happy with half of a body which is not half of anything.
(7) Now turn away from the mirror and look forward (don’t look directly to any body parts).
Is there a ‘body’ anywhere when all thoughts and images are ignored, or are there only sensations?
Out of body experience. :) Very relaxing to stand, without a body, or a head at the window looking out at the garden. The rain has stopped now and birds are tweeting (the best kind of tweet). Just resting as, I guess, conscious presence, the only evidence of a body I can see are my glasses rims (which, before you tell me are just colours and nothing more!). In this state you have a feeling of lightness and a strong connection with what I am seeing and hearing. The body isn't anywhere because thought is silent. Sensations are felt but, again, not in any particular place and certainly not in something called a body. Floating. Nice way to be. :)
(8) Start to walk slowly.
Is there a ‘body walking’, or are there only sensations?
Is there actual experience of ‘walking’ at all?
Or just THOUGHTS ABOUT ‘walking’?
Can such a thing as ‘body’ be found OR just THOUGHTS ABOUT a ‘body’?
Can such a thing as ‘walking’ be found?
(9) Are the sensations localized in space, like ‘going through the room’; OR is there only an image that is labelled ‘room’ and appearing sensations without any location?
Walking around my house from room to room. Seeing colours pass and merge into me. The strongest sensation that I get while doing this is that I'M NOT GOING ANYWHERE AT ALL. Not moving and not located anywhere, but definitely not moving. Rooms are just colours, space, at the end of the day, is just colour that mind interprets as space. I still can's see the body so there are no thoughts about that and thoughts are not prevalent. Interesting each time I pass a mirror and a strange non-recognition of what is in my vision. Then thought tries to grapple free and something knocks him down again. And when I finish walking around I end up at the full length mirror and what is presented in front of me doesn't look any less strange.
Before going I just wanted to say a couple more things. Recently I have been struggling with ideas of being a bit stuck, a bit in limbo. I really thought a few weeks ago that I was on the verge of a breakthrough and it didn't happen and I have this strong feeling of being stuck on a plateau. All of this stuff is now part of me and strongly influences my perspective and yet there is a feeling of having missed the boat and not grabbed my chance. And, yes, I guess of kind of letting you down, which I know is ridiculous and not the way it works, but the whole point of this is about being honest and so I can do nothing but say how I feel. It kind of feels as if something got dislodged around about that exchange when we had our little disagreement about how thought sucks you in. I'm not sure if it's just because that made me lose a bit of momentum. And now these recent days I'm not sure if my push should be to get up some momentum again or perhaps ease off a bit and just take things as they come. I know of course this is all about expectation and how it works and perhaps the best thing to do is just notice that expectation and not be drawn into it as a real thing. It's just what is arising. And yes I guess there are also fears arising about being stuck in this incomplete state (I know, I know you don't have to tell me) for a long time and you hear stories of people being stuck there for years. And yet for me there is definitely no going back to "the way I was". I have changed. You've heard of "I'm a Celebrity get me out of here", well this feels more like "I'm Awareness itself, get me out of here!". Actually that's quite funny.
Anyway, any pointers or comments you might have, would be much appreciated. I know this process is something that can't be forced. And yet you read stuff saying you have to want it desperately to get you there. I feel like I'm 80% there and I suppose, on reflection, I wouldn't give back anything I have learned because it has enriched my life enormously. I'm just not there.
Lots of love, John