by Carrie Booth
There is a common misunderstanding that meditation is about transcending the body. That it is about light and formlessness and transcendence. Though, the body is the foundation through which everything else is experienced. We experience ourselves and the world around us through our body, as every inner and outer perception that we experience is registered within us as sensation. Breathing, emotions, thoughts – they have to be felt in the body. Everything arises from what we touch or smell, see or hear, interpret, remember, etc. We are experiencing the world through our bodies. If we think about moments in our lives, each one of them, the common factor is that we gotta be in our bodies to experience what is happening. The body’s experience is the here and now of experience and when we are awake in the body we are awake in the right here and now of our lives.
Therefore, mindfulness meditation helps us to become more aware and awake to our present moment experiences through inviting us to notice and feel what is happening in the body at any given moment. So, when we settle down and close our eyes, let’s try that here together, for the first few moments we just notice. And rather than checking off each invitation as having done it, be with, breath with and feel each invitation for a few moments. Feel the simplicity of you sitting here. Feel the simplicity of the body posture. The movement of your breath. You can also have a look into your emotional landscape – to see how your emotional landscape looks today. If you feel overwhelmed, balanced, stressed, cut off, alive. And see if you can just be there without a need to change anything. And then you might move on and have a look at your mental landscape. Maybe it’s more quiet. Maybe it’s more busy. Sometimes the mind is locked in circular thinking patterns. Solving problems. And sometimes the mind is very open. Inspired. Receptive. And then there is also our outside perceptions. Maybe there are subtle sounds.
You feel the temperature of the room you are in. There’s a smell.
So, there is a lot of information that is available to us. There are perceptions from our inner worlds and perceptions from our outer worlds. And when we turn our attention to these perceptions they can become more apparent. More differentiated. And we can start to see that there is actually a lot of aliveness in the body. Although the body is sitting quietly, there’s a lot of movement. We can see body sensations arising and dissipating. Thoughts here and then gone. Emotions passing through. Sounds from the outside, changing. So, we start to see that everything is coming and going. Everything is moving. Changing. And in the middle of all of these changing perceptions, changing sensations we start to notice a presence that is unchanging. A timeless quality that is around all the time. Has no need to go anywhere or to become anything. It is just here. Holding everything that comes into our awareness and experience. Not resisting anything. Holding it all.
So, mindfulness not only helps us to cultivate greater presence in our moment to moment experiences, it also is an extremely valuable door into the room of our true nature, our essential wholeness and being. It helps us to experience within ourselves what is already whole and harmonious and complete. Unchanging. A felt sense of being that is the quiet background presence that’s always with us and that always will be with us. Being mindful, we get to appreciate our bodies as a rich source of information and feedback that is always pointing us back to our inherent ground of being, our inherent wholeness. The part of us that is underlying and surrounding it all and that is unchanging, amidst all of our changing perceptions and experiences. Changing sensations revealing unchanging awareness.
On Sunday, April 2 the Yoga and Meditation mindfulness theme at Sellwood Yoga will be just this, opening to our essential nature, our essential wholeness of being. The part of us that is unchanging. Whole. Complete. Timeless. And resting in that.
I hope you can join me on April 2. You sign up here.