Restoring Balance

August 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

The cure to Zen Sickness

In my own meditation I’ve noticed a tendency to focus my attention a little too intently just behind the eyes.   I usually do this because it seems to bring my attention to a deeper focus but it invariably ends in eye tension and sinus irritation.   When I notice the beginning of this side effect I switch my center of focus away from the head to the solar plexus.  The solar plexus is about where the stomach is and to me is associated with the adrenal glands.  The reason for this association is that the adrenal glands are related to the energy of stress and there does seem to be a bundle of energy tied up in that part of my body.  I cannot help but think that Awakening will release this energy in ways I cannot predict.

I’ve heard other references to tension build up via various meditative techniques such as attention to the breath and solutions usually recommended are similar to mine.  That is, to return the attention to the lower body as this seems to ground the meditation.

In “Idle Talk on a Night Boat” Hakuin Ekaku wrote of his struggle against “Zen sickness” and it’s cure.  In part that cure was to concentrate the ki-energy in the lower abdomen or just below the navel.  Hakuin’s zen sickness became so debilitating that he had to abandon his standard meditation for a time to concentrate on this cure, which he called the butter method.  And there may come times when you, too, will find your energies out of balance such that you will have to stop your meditation in favor of a technique that rebalances your ki.  In my case, turning my focus to the solar plexus, or at times to the area just below my navel, does restore my balance.

I recommend you keep aware of any build up of tension associated with the techniques you use in meditation.  And when you find yourself getting out of sorts, put that particular technique aside and direct your attention via the breath to the lower abdomen.  If you are like me, you’ll find a resistance to setting aside a meditative technique that seems to work. But from experience I can tell you that it’s better to switch techniques for a short time, than end up having to abandon it for a longer period due to illness.


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