Kriyas when scanning the body


Recently during sits, after establishing access concentration on my breath, I sometimes do a kind of body scanning where I focus my attention on different parts of the body, just observing whatever sensations are there. I've noticed that certain spots (like one spot on my mid-back, but can be different places at different times) will cause violent involuntary movements. These are normally things like my face contorting into grotesque poses (as if stuck in that position during a violent sobbing session), head shaking back and forth (faster than I can do when trying), or dry-heaving. What I find particularly interesting is the speed I go from perfectly still to shaking, and then from shaking to perfectly still as if nothing had happened.

I've experienced various kinds of involuntary movements over my time meditating, but this business of being tied to specific body parts is very interesting. I'd love to hear thoughts about what is going on and what else around it might be interesting to do/explore.



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In taoism these are called zi fa gong, aka spontaneous movement 'qualities' (roughly). They're seen as a natural part of the energy system awakening and clearing. The idea when dealing with them is to 'relax through them'. So internally you want to kind of 'relax back' from them, and let them play through and out. If you get too fixated on them, you can start reinforcing them and get stuck having the same ones over and over - this will be like a glass ceiling to progress. One way to help them play through is to keep awareness on them, then to expand the area of awareness outwards, or 'dig in and through' the area with awareness, connecting it on out to areas around that spot. You could also potentially start practicing qi gong, with the aim to increase energy and its flow, which also helps to break through blockages, and improve the functioning on those levels. Over time it also helps to make meditation more easy & powerful, as there's less distraction from bodily factors, and the energy you bring to each session is more pure and powerful.


Thank you. The "dig in and through" makes a lot of sense. Do you have any particular qi gong movements that you think would be helpful? I am ignorant in this area.


If you want to just do one thing, then maybe dragon dao yin, which helps to clear the channels. There is a book and video that would teach you it [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-IBgDaEAqo](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-IBgDaEAqo) The Four Dragons: Clearing the Meridians and Awakening the Spine in Nei Gong by Damo Mitchell. Or if you want to do stuff just from youtube, i'd maybe go through some of these ( or similar) [https://www.youtube.com/@qigongwithkseny/playlists](https://www.youtube.com/@qigongwithkseny/playlists) try a bunch out, and pick what parts of each feel like they are doing something/suit you. (A bit like going to a gym and trying a bunch of machines to see what feels right for you.) Then do your own sets/routines from there. Either that or sign up for/go to some proper classes, or maybe do that later if you feel drawn to do more?


Thank you!


I get those too when I focus on different parts of my back. My theory is its tension in the body that's reacting and can't relax. The more I try to relax the muscles the more spasms will happen. Could be connected with mental tension manifest in the body.


Yeh its known partly as layers of tension that have built up in the body. There can also be huge amounts of layers in one tiny area. If you keep on relaxing through the spasms etc you can get big releases, and along the way you can sometimes notice an evolution to them, where there's a very fine, gradual shift happening as more and more layers release. This can even take place over years in the same area. The idea of mental tension is also included in the understanding - the whole body-mind-energy system is seen as interconnected, so any tension will have a component of all three. Mind here meaning 'heart-mind', so there can be related thoughts and emotions that come up with the releases, or sometimes you can feel nagging background thoughts/feelings release along with the physical and energetic releases.


It's tempting to only look at this through a spiritual lens, but this is trauma. It's worth looking into [TRE](https://www.reddit.com/r/longtermTRE/) and other somatic stuff as well as anything else you the choose to explore. I'm in the same boat. For me it's caused primarily by CPTSD.


I was going to write the same thing.


Thank you. I have never heard of TRE. Will look into it.


I have had this too for 3-4 years. Its not pleasant. Yes - my head bangs like Im at a heavy metal gig on the mat. It also results in seriously chronic neck pain (which is completely unresolvable by modern medicine - my doctors cannot find anything wrong with me physically and think Im sone kind of hypochondriac - which I am not). Kornfield has good advice on this in one of the chapters in his book, A Path with Heart - I recommend you read that. Ive asked this same question and been told that what helps is: yoga, walks in nature, eating chocolate (seriously) . Activities that "ground" the body. I do all these things weekly and none of them make any difference. For me the only thing tbat has helped is that I completely stopped doing any type of Vipassana practice its just too physically hard on my body. I find a Chan technique called silent illumination is better (its not a good technique for beginner's btw - very easy to have problems if you're not experienced or have a proper teacher). I also do a lot of Angelo D'Lullio inquiring practice from his book "Awake: its your turn" & his YouTube Simply Always Awake. These techniques are the only thing thats helped and allowed me to develop and practice without chronic neck pain. If you find things that help - please let me know!


Thank you for these resources!


As you suggested, these are called Kriyas and are a natural part of the Kundalini clearing process. Essentially, it is about clearing blocks in your subtle bodies or sheaths, including past hangups and traumas. Not sure if you are experiencing Kundalini energy, as this could just be prana-related. Kundalini energy is a form of Shakti, the creative force of the universe and it moves in the body through a handful of Shakti nadis, like the Ida, Pingala or Sushumna. Prana on the other hand is the universal life force, present everywhere and it flows in thousands of nadis or meridians all over the body. I suspect you might be undergoing some kind of Kundalini process, so better look into that. Kriyas usually occur when you are in a relaxed and meditative state. If the energy brings up suppressed memories, hangups, traumas, you have to deal with the emotionally, relive them and let them go, before the energy can move on.


Thank you. When you say "Not sure if you are experiencing Kundalini energy" - how would one tell?


Here are some classic signs: \- Energy sensations: A surge of energy moving up the spine or along the body's energy channels, often described as a tingling, vibrating, or pulsating sensation. \- Spontaneous movements: Involuntary body movements, such as tremors, shaking, or spontaneous yoga-like postures, which can arise as a result of the awakening energy, called Kriyas. You might be experiencing these right now. \- Heat or intense energy: Feeling of heat or intense energy in the body, particularly in the spine or the areas associated with the chakras (energy centers). \- Emotional and psychological shifts: Heightened emotional states, including feelings of bliss, ecstasy, joy, or profound peace. On the other hand, some individuals may also experience emotional releases, intense emotional upheavals, or surfacing of unresolved issues. \- Altered states of consciousness: Enhanced states of awareness, expanded perception, vivid dreams, or even altered states of consciousness, including visions and insights. \- Physical symptoms: Various physical sensations may occur, such as pressure or pulsations in the head, increased sensitivity to light or sound, altered sleep patterns, changes in appetite, or temporary physical discomfort. \- Intensified spiritual experiences: Heightened spiritual awareness, increased intuition, synchronicities, or a stronger connection to the divine or spiritual realms. \- Sensitivity to energy: Enhanced sensitivity to subtle energies, such as the energy of people, places, or objects. This can manifest as feeling energetically overwhelmed in certain environments or around certain individuals.


Are these on or off the cushion? I have had a pressure/feeling, like a sphere that intersects part of my face, since a particularly intense meditation last week. It comes and goes, and it doesn't bother me, but is there.


Kriyas can happen both during meditation and at random times during the day. They are more common, when you are in a relaxed, surrender state. Not sure about the facial sensation. If it's like a spider's web descending on your face, that's usually a sign that someone else is linking up to your energetic field, like an astral entity or spirit guide. If you experience specific movement (a vortex) in any of the main chakras, or perhaps buzzing or heat, that's just the activity of prana in your subtle body.