Unresolved Emotion

After nearly a year of meditation, I’ve discovered that emotions are mainly just body sensations. Before, I wasn’t aware enough to notice them in my body, so I experienced them as full stories in my mind. I focused on these stories, thinking they needed my attention or action. This focus unknowingly fueled the stories, causing them to persist and resurface.

When I restarted Vipassana last year, I struggled to focus on body sensations instead of the mental stories I was used to. With practice, I learned to break down complex experiences into basic sensations like sight, sound, inner-body feelings (pressure, heat, cold, expansion, contraction), smell, taste, mental images, and mental talk. I realized that these combined to create a “life experience,” but when separated, each sensation disappeared quickly. This practice made me less interested in the content of sensations and more fascinated by their impermanence and causality. Guidance from Dhamma talks and meditation books helped me navigate this new awareness.

As I continued practicing, I learned to trace sensations back to their sources in the sensory organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body) and observe how they transformed into thoughts (mental images, mental talk), eventually creating complex experiences. I started categorizing these experiences as fear, anxiety, frustration, boredom, anticipation, or sensual craving. For months, I focused on watching how each emotion formed. If a mental image or talk triggered fear, for example, I noted it and observed its physical sensation in the body. Over time, I could drop the mental content and identify the fear’s bodily signature before mental formations occurred. This awareness allowed me to dissipate the emotion, like fear, more quickly. I know I’ve made significant progress, though there’s more work to do.

By closely following sensations until they formed mental content, I expanded my understanding of their tonalities, like fear, anxiety, and lust. As I paid more attention to these sensations, my body responded by presenting a variety of new sensations. These often remain vivid physical experiences without forming into mental images or talk. The most prominent sensation is a vibration in my forehead and the middle of my scalp, feeling like a creature moving, vibrating, pushing, contracting, and expanding as if trying to get out. This sensation extends from my scalp down to the base of my spine, like a tail. Despite its vivid physical presence, it doesn’t correspond to any known emotion or create mental content. It’s simply a pure physical sensation.

Upon advice from a friend, I started reading about Kundalini and the Chakras, beginning with a book by Swami Satyananda Saraswati. I also reached out to Daniel Ingram, who recommended books by Tara Springett. Based on the descriptions in these books, it’s possible that I’m experiencing a Kundalini awakening, but I don’t want to jump to that conclusion just yet.

Currently, I interpret the physical sensations I’m experiencing as “unresolved emotions.” Resolved emotions naturally form mental content, while unresolved emotions surface as physical sensations without corresponding mental content. This could be because my mind has no matching content or perhaps I need to explore past lives to understand them.

Sometimes, I notice my mind trying to create random mental content to match the physical sensation, only to soon give up and discard it. Watching this process is quite amusing. It’s like looking out of an airplane window and thinking you see a ship in the ocean, only to realize it’s just a cloud formation. The mind tries to guess, but often gets it wrong.

The vibrating sensation in my head persists even outside of meditation. I’m uncertain if or when it will subside, but I maintain my daily practice. Transitioning from Vipassana to TWIM, which focuses on metta, has left me with a more positive aftereffect and improved my ability to accept these sensations. Meanwhile, I’m studying books on Kundalini to explore further. I’m curious to see where this journey will take me.