In addition to protecting me (or as one function thereof), the outer sphere regulates the admission of light energy into my system by allowing a portion of the stream to flow directly down through my body and by diffusing the rest around the surface of the sphere, like golden water dispersing around the earth, waiting to be let into the core. This creates a general surrounding glow in addition to the more intense central shaft of light. The consequence is that I can more freely and more widely open my crown before the energy will trigger a contraction. I can relax in the presence of more light.
Another thing I've noticed is a more direct sensation of contact between my third eye and solar plexus, like my forehead is directly touching my navel (even though I'm lying on my back). Thus the "bubbles" metaphor is already (at least this morning) fitting less well. This is important to notice, because I don't want the mental images that I record here and use to describe the concrete experience to start becoming too much of a template or filter for my experience. I say "too much" because I think they are helpful as descriptions of "what to watch for and what to do about it." But the metaphors must be allowed to be continually updated, replaced, and newly introduced so they don't diverge too much and get lost in imagination and thus disconnection from my experience.
What's also needed is the skill to "zoom in." The bubbles can seem to be as close as they can get, without any space between them, and yet be stuck in a pattern of interaction where contraction is still present, energy is not being transferred, and separation is still the general experience. In other words, a "stuck" feeling. However, zooming in with the third eye may reveal that there is still a gap to close—an unconscious space that is particularly tender and hidden from view. (Perhaps the bubble surfaces need to become thinner and more pliable before they can conform to each other.) Zooming in to this space uncovers pain. The impulse to turn away and be distracted becomes strong. Here's where I have to watch my tendency to "muscle it"; I don't want to create distrust by disrespecting the needs and limitations of this part. So I think I need to couple the laser-like focus of the zooming-in third eye with a heightened sensitivity to the surface of this pain. Touch and go, be very gentle, and be very patient.