Body awareness is not something that is really encouraged or taught, apart from in sports and exercise, but even then it is with the view of overcoming the pain and stiffness rather than going deeply into it and staying present with it.
If we really think about it, we don’t tend to think of our bodies that much, except to criticise too much fat, not enough muscle tone or imperfections that only we can really see. We live inside our heads, in our ever busy minds, and have very little awareness from the neck down.
Even in spiritual disciplines of meditation, the focus is on the chattering monkey of the mind rather than the body.
Here is a little icebreaker for you
I want you to look at your big toe.
Take off any shoes or socks and take a good look at it. Notice the patterns of skin and what ridges there are, hairs. Now feel it with your fingers.
Does it feel warm or cold?
Feel the spongeyness of the flesh between your fingers.
Now take your felt awareness inside of your toe.
Notice any sensations you feel there. Perhaps a tingling, a heaviness, a warmth?
I wonder if it is now occurring to you that this big toe is permanently attached to you, and it has been there since you were formed in the womb, yet you haven’t been truly aware of it until now?
What about for the rest of your body? Do you give any importance to your body at all?
The body stores memories and traumas, just as much as the mind does. The body is your best interface for processing the outside world. They say that your heart and mind can lead you astray, but your gut never lies.
So by being disconnected from our bodies, we are disconnected from ourselves.
In my personal experience, I know when something is right for me, or wrong for me, by the way it feels in my body. By cultivating a relationship with my body, and learning to interpret it’s different sensations and symptoms as messages it wants to communicate with me, I have learnt to live a life that is more in tune with who I really am, and my true desires.
The secret? Constantly checking in with my body, and trusting it to guide me.
It is something I am constantly preaching to anybody when they tell me that they struggle with anxiety, with worry or with low mood: get in tune with your body and what it is telling you. If they don’t know what the answer is: listen to your body. If they feel like they are pushing against a brick wall in life and feel like nothing is working: get into your body.
By really being present in your body, you are more HERE. More in the now. It gives you an anchor to ground you throughout the turbulences of the mind, and the dramas of life. In meditation you are asked to find that still point.
I am going to share a very basic technique to help you get back into your body, and this can be done anywhere, but preferably in the beginning in a comfy chair.
Take a deep breath in, and then sigh it out.
Now feel how your body feels in the chair.
How your bum feels against the cushion and where the skin makes contact with it. Feel your legs and where they make contact with the chair, or the floor.
Feel the position they are in.
How do your bum and legs feel from the inside?
Notice what sensations you feel.
Heavy, tingling, warm, fuzzy, tickly?
Now take your awareness down to your feet.
This is such a simple tool that can be used anywhere, and can be particularly useful when you are walking by putting your focus into your feet and how they feel against the ground. When you find your mind wandering throughout the day, practise bringing it back into your body.
The more you practise this, the more you will be aware of how your body is reacting to things happening in your life, either by making you tense or making you open up in pleasure.
You begin to notice that the situations that make you tense up are situations that are stressful and anxiety provoking. Or you notice yourself tensing up around certain people, who it turns out are people that bring you down, are sucking your energy or make you angry.
And the more you notice the situations and people that make you open in pleasure, or buzz with happiness, that is your signal that these are in tune with who you really are.
‘When you find your soul path, a team of wild horses couldn’t keep you from it. So look for the signs; look for the little corners. Look for something that gives you joy. Look for something that gives you energy. Look for something that you do even when you’re tired, even when you’re sick, even when you’re supposed to be doing something else. (She laughs gently.) Find your passion. And that will point you to your soul purpose.’
Mary Magdalene, channelled through Mercedes Kirkel
It is that simple: To get back to who you really are, and your life purpose, to be more grounded and present all you have to do is go is feel your body again!
Is body awareness part of your practice?
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