Post: Letting the Mind Move

In a recent lecture, Koun Franz recommended letting the mind move away from the head as an experiment:

Okay… So, have your hands in the cosmic mudra, palms up, thumbs touching, and there’s this common instruction: place your mind here. Different people interpret this differently. Some people will say this means to place your attention here, meaning to keep your attention on your hands. It’s a way of turning the lens to where you are in space so that you’re not looking out here and out here and out here. It’s the positive version, perhaps, of “navel gazing”.

The other way to understand this is to literally place your mind where your hands are–to relocate mind (let’s not say your mind) to your center of gravity, so that mind is operating from a place other than your brain. Some traditions take this very seriously, this idea of moving your consciousness around the body. I wouldn’t recommend dedicating your life to it, but as an experiment, I recommend trying it, sitting in this posture and trying to feel what it’s like to let your mind, to let the base of your consciousness, move away from your head. One thing you’ll find, or that I have found, at least, is that you can’t will it to happen, because you’re willing it from your head. To the extent that you can do it, it’s an act of letting go–and a fascinating one. (1)

Koun talks about a possible shift in the location of mind to the center of gravity. In my experience, the mind does seem to find location with the center of gravity, at least some of the time. With the mind at or near the center of gravity, the weight of the body sets stretch and activity in motion that returns to the location of mind, to counterbalance the effect of gravity.

For me, I get a feeling of rotation at the location of mind, as though a ball of some kind were rotating in place around an axis, and the stretch and activity throughout the body becomes a part of a counterbalance to that rotation.

For those who haven’t tried the experiment of letting the “base of consciousness” move away from the head, I would say the best time to experience such movement is either while
trying to get back to sleep (after waking up during the night), or while trying to take a nap in the afternoon. That’s because it’s still possible to focus on the location of awareness before dropping off to sleep, at these times.


☞ PDF, A Natural Mindfulness


1) “No Struggle (Zazen Yojinki, Part 6)”, by Koun Franz, from Koun’s “Nyoho Zen” site: