A friend wrote me this:
Waking up this morning I had the clear realization of something rising with awareness from the lower dantian through the middle dantian, to the upper one as consciousness arose. I had precise awareness of the sensation moving through these points of reference. What was it? That’s not happened to me before! I had been dreaming, then transitioned to this rising awareness to wakefulness. By wakefulness I mean I realized I was not dreaming any more and this understanding arose as described along with awareness arising toward full consciousness along w the bodily sensations.
I quoted in reply a similar experience from one of my writings (Kobun Chino Otogawa on Zazen):
…I had a dream where Kobun came walking up to me as I was sitting at a cafe table reading a newspaper; he was in his robes, carrying a short stick. I told him I had new shoes; he said nothing, but he smiled with a big grin. I looked at the newspaper, and wondered what I could tell him that was new. I thought about what I had written, and I thought to myself “Kobun wouldn’t want to hear about that”, but I started… to feel my sense of place. I woke up…
I then continued to my friend, as follows:
Ok, so, I would describe the sensation with awareness as the location of mind, or as the Chinese put it, the heart-mind. That the heart-mind can shift location in the body- a simple acceptance that it can shift is often a god-send to me, and I am always amazed that my activity goes on, takes care of itself, while the freedom of my heart-mind has me in the zone.
My friend replied:
I read one account that called the heart-mind concept “Spirit” and that was what I wrote originally before editing it out- just after “What was it?” down there… That seems to be a pretty good descriptor because I actually felt awareness moving, like mercury through a crack. We tend to think of our “self” conception as awareness, as “all of a piece”, when in fact it moves around as you say. I have experienced this while doing labeling practice meditation but it’s more cerebral, more of a sense that the sensation is happening in the mind because it happens so fast.
I would add to what my friend said only that, of course, finding the movement of awareness while asleep is not something a person can practice. What I have found, though, is that it is possible to practice finding the movement of awareness just before sleep. I look to where awareness is at the moment, not where the object of awareness is, but where the awareness that perceives the object is. I return to that, moment by moment, and relax. It’s a great help to me in falling asleep, and the surprise is that it can also be a great help in waking up, if that’s the way things are going for me.