Channels of Experience

Photo of a woman relaxing against a blue background; koi fish swim around her head. Photo by kaneda99 via fotor.com.

Photo credit: kaneda99 / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

In Working on Yourself Alone, Arnold Mindell talks about channels of experience that come up during meditative states. Among these he includes body feeling or proprioception, visualization, hearing, movement or kinaesthesis, and relationships.

Mindell says that recognizing and paying attention to the channels we’re in at any given time—and they can shift rather frequently—is a way of deepening our awareness. He also suggests that amplifying a channel is a means of coming to some vision or insight about one’s life.

Developing our sense awareness can help us write more engaging descriptions, images, and characters. This meditation and writing exercise can help you explore and deepen your channels of experience.

Sit quietly for a few moments, with your feet touching the floor, so that you can feel your connection to the earth. Sit with your back straight, so that your energy can travel freely through your body and so you can feel your connection to the sky above…. Breathe deeply, and feel yourself sinking into your chair…. Inhale relaxation … exhale tension…. Let your eyes close…. When you feel calm and centered, allow your breathing to find its own rhythm … and just sit and relax and breathe.

What channel are you in right now? … Do you feel something in your body? … Do you see something with your inner eye? … Do you hear something? … How is your attention focused in this moment? … Notice how your awareness may move between channels.

Now practice amplifying your awareness. If you see something with your inner vision, see it even more clearly and exactly…. If you hear something, listen closely…. If you are feeling something in your body, feel it more intensely…. Whatever you’re experiencing, let it radiate through you….

When you’re ready, open your eyes and begin writing. You might begin by describing the sense impressions you experienced during this meditation or that you’re experiencing in the moment, as you write.

Here are a few writing prompts you could try:

  • I have seen … heard … touched … smelled … tasted …
  • The brightest thing in my life today …
  • The softest, most receptive thing …
  • The sense I cannot do without …

You could extend this exercise by going for a walk—bring your notebook and pen—and paying attention to your channels of experience and how they shift. When you notice a particular sense—a sound, smell, or texture—take a moment to describe it.