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Commentary on The Method of Sitting Meditation
: : The method of sitting meditation is extremely simple and easy¡¦
8) When first beginning sitting meditation, you may find your faces and bodies feeling itchy, as if there were ants crawling over them. This sensation is evidence of the blood flowing more actively through the capillaries. Be sure not to touch or scratch.
There are two ways in which sitting meditation promotes more active blood flow through the capillaries. One is that, by straightening the back you are straightening the spine, your main neural cable system connecting the entire body. This eases the various neural flows and promotes blood flow in the capillaries. The other is that, by repeated breathing deeply, you increase your pulmonary capacity, thus helping the blood to flow more actively through the veins.
There are, of course, other causes of itching skin. Infection and healing of wounds in the skin can cause itching. But the itching discussed in the passage occurs when blood flow which had been blocked or slowed is suddenly released, inducing the blood to actively flow. This is not associated with disease or injury, but is a phenomenon of sitting meditation. Itching caused by infection or healing may be hard to endure, depending on the severity of the affliction, but the itching associated with sitting meditation is not too hard to endure and one should not pay much attention to it through either touching or scratching. It¡¯s only a natural phenomenon. You should ignore it and simply hold on to fulfilling the sole task of resting in the Danjeon.
On the other hand, you must not prematurely greet a little bit of itching as having completely achieved the full blood flow. Becoming attached to this idea may cause mind-disturbing thoughts to surface, one right after another.
In addition to what is specifically described in the passage, other changes in the body may occur. By unblocking the flow of energy which had been obstructed earlier, you may experience burping or flowing of clear and smooth saliva, and such. When met with these bodily changes, you must look past them and not be overtaken by them.