The bodies' knowing



After 12 years of meditation and dharma practice I have realised that the body is not simply a foundation for practice or even a vehicle for enlightenment but actually a source of knowledge and understanding in itself. For the last three years I have been practicing something called "focusing" - in brief it involves deeply listening to sensations and images that come from the body, from this awareness many things can change and unfold.

When we turn out attention to the body, to begin with, what we find may be nothing but a few vague stirrings.but as we spend more time in this world, we begin to notice that those odd feelings of tightness, those "alarm bells" and those ever-so quiet inner voices are our bodies way of letting us know that it knows something. The body has its own language too; that at first appears as if half lit, vague and fuzzy .but after practicing it is like we learn to see in the dark and what we see is not what we want to see but what wants to be seen and here lies a significant difference. The changes that come through paying attention to the body are not directed by our conscious mind: our ideas and agenda about how we should change. They come from a deeper, more holistic, more connected place.

What we meet in our bodies is, as Reginald Ray - a Tibetan teacher put it, our "unlived life". It is as if our bodies meet life directly, without concepts and views about how life should be.and it is because our minds have such powerful and strong views that this unwanted experience gets stuck in the body, is not met with full awareness. "Focusing" brings us into relationship with this, and you could say that this awareness allows us to meet what we truly experience, what we truly feel and what we find most meaningful. We can have all sorts of ideas about ourselves and our spiritual practice but the practice of focusing shows us what is really going on for us. It grounds and embodies our aspirations and ideas in the felt truth of the body.

For me, learning focusing has been a coming home, a sometimes painful and sometimes beautiful journey, but it has always been deeply moving and satisfying. I feel more alive and whole than I have for years... and all thanks to the body.

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