A couple of years ago I was at a silent meditation retreat with Adyashanti. During one of the morning talks he spoke about throat clearing and weight shifting during meditation. His basic message was that these things are usually not necessary, and in fact are a way to bleed off nervous energy.
He went on to say that if the body remains still, and lets the nervous, shifty, want-to-do-something-about-it energy just be, eventually the energies release and integrate into the stillness. The commitment to stillness actually provides a physical example of calm that the nervous energy can map onto.
My ears perked up at his words. I had been experiencing a hard painful lump in my throat during the week of meditation, and figured it was a good idea to swallow in order to help move the energy. I trust Adyashanti, so when he spoke about keeping still and not bleeding off the energy I decided to try it.
Then things got a little crazy, and a perfectly fantastic 40 minute meditation ensued.
I decided right as the meditation bell rang in the session that I was not going to swallow for 40 minutes. Did you swallow even just reading that? I have no idea where this commitment came from, it just bubbled up fully formed as that dang bell rang.
Not only did I commit to not swallow, I simultaneously committed to rest my attention on my throat the entire time. That is to say I would be doing nothing to distract myself away from whatever sensations arose there. Yes, I committed to sit in a tortuous hell for 40 minutes.
Allow yourself imagine that scenario for a moment. Is spit starting to fill your mouth? Is the urge to swallow mounting in your throat? It is if you're anything like me.
So I sat. For 40 minutes, absolutely still, and completely focused on being present to my throat. Let me tell you, it was something else.
The urge to swallow would mount to an all consuming absolutely-have-to-do-it level, convincing me that it was by-God beyond a doubt true that I had to swallow. And right there, at the peak of intensity I would commit, just for that millisecond, to not swallow.
The urge to swallow came in waves, and each time at the peak I would hold out, and then the urge would slowly back off for a bit. And mount again. And so it went for the entire time. I got so close to giving in, and I didn't.
There was something that just absolutely believed it was a FACT that I had to swallow, and time and again it turned out to simply not true. I never HAD to swallow, despite almost everything in me telling me that yes, yes you do.
I can't say there was a resulting amazing shift in the painful lump in my throat. This surprised me as that was what I anticipated would result. Instead shifts came about in ways I didn't expect at all.
One was this clear, moment to moment repeated experience of totally thinking I had to swallow, followed by the simple not-trueness of it. To be shown over and over that something everything in me was saying was true actually wasn't was a deep lesson.
The other gift that came from the Spit Meditation, as I have come to call it, was shown to me several days after I came home. It was evening and my children were whining just before dinnertime. I felt the same sense of mounting intensity that said I HAD to do something to stop them from whining. The sense of urgency and if-I-don't-make-this-stop-I-will-go-insane was exactly the same as the sensation in the Spit Meditation.
I was able to see this very clearly, and in that had the capacity to ride out the wave. For the first time I fully appreciated how powerful the intensity of those kinds of moments were with my children. Of course I had noticed them before, but the Spit Meditation gave me a relentless experience of sitting with that kind of energy, so it became much easier to spot it when it happened elsewhere in my life.
I also realized a profound respect for just how powerful the intense energy was, and from that realization a compassion towards my self was born, as I saw how frequently it coursed through my day to day life.
I don't have a sweeping conclusion to The Spit Meditation, yet I have seen it's far reaching impact on my life, and I am thankful to whatever bubbled up in me that day several years ago as the meditation bell rang.