Practice Instructions: Finding the Natural Body
As we have discussed, a lot of the conditioned patterns we are facing in the mind reflect in the body. Moreover, many of the ways our psychological work gets unconsciously hijacked by the ego are also at play in our work with body.
Do we defer completely inhabiting our body because it’s not the right shape?
Do we subtly hate it for the seemingly uncontrollable urges it foists up us?
Are we subtly waiting for it to change into something more acceptable before we fully welcome and love it?
These are not superficial questions. They are some of the main ways the ego prevents us from coming home into ourselves.
There is a longing to experience the natural body!
The body we knew as children. The body free from compulsive self-images. The spontaneous, wild, expressive animal that went around sticking its tummy out with no diaper on. The body capable of experiencing vivid pleasure. The body that liked to jump, squat, roll and run, not because these things were “good for it,” but because they were fun (there was simply a natural impulse to do them!).
Underneath the myriad ways we have conditioned the body, this child-like body remains, waiting to be awakened.
We just have to start emphasizing it. This happens naturally in presence because the function of presence is to heal. And to heal is to decondition.
Whenever you are able (in formal practice and in many moments throughout the day), feel the inner energy field of the body.
If you find yourself confused about that that means, do this exercise:
Ground your system and let your eyes gently close.
Without your visual sense, inquire into what your body is. What is that “something” down there? How is it to feel it? Beneath all the concepts you have about it, what is your direct experience of it right now? What is there before any thoughts or beliefs about it?
Whatever felt-sense experience you uncover, you will find that what you are left with is a field of sensation and energy appearing now. Exactly what you feel and where you feel it will be quite individual.
In the beginning, the bandwidth of feeling may be limited (just some tingling in the hands, etc.). Go with what you got. The more you give it attention, the more it will be brought fully into awareness.
This is the inner body. Practice tuning into it as much as you are able in as many different situations as you are able.
As you contact the inner body, you will notice that there are areas of the field that are vibrantly alive and areas that are either slightly numb or actively contracted.
Rather than emphasizing the contracted parts, put more attention on the overall sense that the “field” of the body is vibrating, alive and healthy. Let this vibrancy “inform” the contracted areas indirectly instead of compulsively focusing on them.
As we become more conscious of the energy of the body, we notice that if affects how we hold and use our physical body.
For example, we might notice that we initiate movements differently when we are in touch with the feeling of the inner body. Some inquiries we might try:
How does presence want to move the body right now?
How does my body use and body posture change when I emphasize presence and “track” the physical impulses coming out of that space (rather than “jerking” the body around to “do things I need done.”)?
What happens when we tell the body repeatedly throughout the day that is free to resume its natural shape and natural movements? That it can breathe how it wants. Sigh when it wants. Stretch when it wants. Dance when it wants. What happens when we don’t edit or suppress these impulses?
Conversely, jot down some notes about where/when the body is particularly conditioned, frozen or contracted.
What activities, people or situations evoke a physical shutting down?
What activities, people or situations limit range of motion and the sense of being able to take up space?
Where does the body feel inhibited?
Where is playfulness lost?
Just noting it and mapping it a little...