“There is one thing that, when cultivated and regularly practiced, leads to deep spiritual intention, to peace, to mindfulness, and clear comprehension to vision and knowledge, to a happy life here and now, and to the culmination of wisdom and suffering. And what is that one thing? Mindfulness centered on the body.” The Buddha
When we think about the mind, we understand the mind can take us to the past where we may experience sadness, grief, or a lost love. But it can also take us to the future where we may experience anxiety centered around not knowing what’s to come. I’d like you to think about the body for a moment and how the body only has the capability of being here now in the present moment.
Being in the present moment is a gift our body gives us in the way of experiences. Think about the experiences in your life you are most grateful for, your most happy or gratifying moments, those times that were most enlivening, or meaningful. Think in your mind about those times. Perhaps moments in nature or being with a loved one. Real moments of intimacy and connection.
Or think about moments when you meditate, where you really connected with that sense of peace or moments of serving where you really felt moments of surrender. The common denominator of these experiences is – you have to be in your body to experience it and understand what’s happening in the moment.
If we reflect on moments when we were really suffering – moments that were really difficult, perhaps when you were in conflict with someone else, or fear, or self-aversion, the common denominator of suffering there is that in some way we are disconnected from our body.
We understand that everything that we experience in our lives is experienced on a physical level. Everything arises from our 5 senses of touch, smell, seeing, taste, or hearing. Our bodies are the foundation of our emotions, thoughts, and perceptions. The goal of our practice is being here present in the moment with a full and engaged presence inhabiting our bodies.
When we are stressed, we can notice we pull away from the present moment even more. And that is a universal thing that happens to everyone. We can also see that when something pleasant is happening, we want to hold on and stay in that moment, which is a kind of contraction of the aliveness of the moment.
When things are unpleasant, we push away or run away from the present moment. The bottom line is that our bodily experience is out of control. Still, our survival instinct is to try and control things. To inhabit our bodies, we must be willing to surrender to what feels out of control.
What we are doing in mindfulness of the body practice is including more and more in our awareness, things that we’ve habitually pushed under. This is the waking up part. Establishing an anchor, a sensory anchor, meaning feeling touchpoints in the body or feeling the breath, or it could be sound that helps us to come out of our mental control tower. Come back here now in the moment and feel the peace and serenity of being present.
Another way to call attention to embodiment would be an inquiry. Ask yourself what is happening inside me at this moment? What is it really like right now in this moment? Can I be with this, or can I let this be?
The gift is having the sense of being able to come back into the body when we get dissociated when things are blocked, frozen, and stuck. When we come back in, that presence is like the sun on ice, which allows for melting and movement of sorts. This movement is a sign of healing.
Coming back into the body allows for a visceral experience in the heart, which opens up to forgiveness and compassion. It’s our portal to wisdom.
When we are inhabiting our bodies, we are alive and moving. There’s no veil of concepts. There’s this formless presence that is a fantastic gift for ourselves.