MY BODY, MY FRIEND

by Navanita Harris

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“A miracle is happening in every moment. And each cell functions so systematically, in such an orderly way, with such an inner discipline, that it seems almost not possible: millions of cells. Seventy millions souls, each cell has its own soul. They function in such coherence, in such rhythm and harmony. The same cells become the eyes, and the same become the skin, and the same cells become your liver and your heart and your bone marrow and your mind and your brain. And how they move, and how subtly and silently they work in your body, God is manifested. You have to go within wards. You have not acquainted yourself with your temple. Don't look for God in the sky, look within your own body. You will become aware of the whole mystery of life."
Osho

Being Friends with the body is a lifelong spiritual embodiment inquiry and  a direct way to feeling good. When you stretch the fascia it secrets "feel good" chemicals. I reckon it's an ingredient, quietly installed by existence within our bodies, so we humans would keep moving.

What is written here may be fun for you to read and at the same time a practice being present with your own bodily sensations. You can jiggle, stretch, breathe, lean, roll on the floor or whatever and pause whenever you feel like it. This way you are experiencing embodiment while I share  my experience of how I enjoy the body. 

Like an aeroplane landing carefully and gently on the earth, I drop down into the body. Sensing the body awakens an experiential perception.  Inside, outside…. clarity of boundary supports orientation of where I am and where the other is. I stroke and touch my outer boundary. Leaning into the floor I contact myself through the contact of the earth. Weighted, I belong, I am an earthling, I am earth. Bonding with gravity underlies all movement patterns. Earth holds me and supports movement. As my body moves freely, spontaneously, I am relieved to remember my body is my friend. Giving it space there is joy for watching the variety of moves it makes. Natural and continuously changing. It is a conscious dance. I prepare and tune the physical body like a musical instrument. Taking time to orient, sense, be in it and consciously Invite the dancer to be danced.

The mind  beams like a light house shining  light onto the part of the body I attend to. The experience of the body begins as imagination or visualising and in its own timing unfolds into somatization, which is a direct perception of the body.  I  bring my attention to the skin that faces out. Pictures from an anatomy book help give my mind a direction. I move and touch the territory of skin, it is enlivened. Shining, breathing, transparent skin. The room touches me as I lean into the floor, the walls, different surfaces in the room and experience the skins perception of itself through the contact. I sense my shape, the outer edge is breathing, meeting the outer environment and I get a clearer picture of where is me on the outside. Safely with this awareness of boundary, my attention turns to the skin that faces the inside of the membrane, my container.

"Soma" is a word capturing the notion of understanding the body as perceived from within, from the subjective perspective... which means... through the body. Emotions,feelings, sensation of energy and the maps of esoteric understanding evolved by us as humans, can easily be hijacked for dis-embodied escape.  We ride high on waves of what we think we should feel, at the expense of listening softly and with attention to the voices of expression of our own bodies. These are the feelings, arising from the tissues, the memories, the moments held in the cells. We dive in and under the skin, into the layers of our being.

 From this place underneath cognitive functions, we develop a down under up approach, rather than a head down penetrative view. Up to down means taking my thinking into the body and interpreting it. Hence meeting it through the lens of my mind. Down under to up is a direct experience of my body happening through the body’s non‐cognitive language, my sensations, my feelings, the fleeting images that come to mind, rather than mind imposing a narrative.

It's a passive witnessing. The anatomy comes alive.   With an imaginary  picture of the body in my head , I begin to move, breathe, touch, dance and stretch and that picture I thought was me dissolves. A multi-dimensional presence arrives in my body awareness. It’s not flat, I discover unfolding space, shapes , forms within forms. I play with the location of my breath, trace the clarity and structure of the bones of my ribs, the elasticity of the gaps in between the ribs and as the intercostal muscles  move like an accordion, I dance to its music. Altogether, they create a contained shape and I experience being able to move 360 degrees. It comes into aliveness of its own expression. The rib cage hugs the lungs while the lungs hug the heart. I am tickled by the image and sensory awareness of them playing and jumping on the trampoline of the diaphragm. Witnessing the liver and stomach hugging each other and supporting the diaphragm from underneath, it becomes clear how "organized’’ the organs are.

 The dancers of the powerful life source, the heart and lungs, are protected by the rib cage. Bringing consciousness to them  strengthens their intelligence and resources. My whole system settles down, relaxes as it recognises the perception or sensation of feeling safe. I smile from within. The heart, lungs and rib cage are smiling. This radiates through to my blood coursing through the body and now, with its felt sense of safety, the blood dances and distributes love juice through the red blood cells to every cell in the body. They are vitalised. 

Entering the body through the dance of the breath, I am aware of spaciousness and lightness supporting the uprightness of my whole body. It was always here. When I remember, that space and light and wholeness are there, from conception into every moment of now, I am upright and resourced, conscious and refreshed from within. This dance of breath moves the body. The moving space between the front and back of the body expands and widens with the attention. I am witnessing an embodied place of space and experiencing meditation tangibly.

"Everything is speaking in spite of its apparent silence."(Sufi :Hazrat Inayat Khan )

 Moving deeper in the body, I move deeper in silence .Responding to the pull and support of gravity, my feet tickle and kiss the earth. This grounded attention inspires an earth dance. The body takes on a delicious weightedness and is nourished by the magnetic pull of the earth. I am aware of the body being held from the earths gravity and the uplifting space within. It is a sensation of being held by my own body. That feeling emanates through to my cells. There is a change from the self image of effort and having to hold myself together, to a felt sense of being held. This new embodied perception of being held and feeling safe affects my way of moving, which become stable, light, easy and aligned.

The image we hold of ourselves and of our bodies affects how we move in life. This image is often unconscious. It has been built up from past experiences beginning from conception and influenced by the external environment and the society we grow up in. Our natural movement development patterns have a template that affect how we perceive ourselves, the environment and our relating. While they may have been disturbed, the good news is, it can be re-patterned. Being present and experiencing sensation of the body in this moment re-establishes connection to our felt sense and natural embodied resources. It's not about trying to get it right or adopting dogmatic concepts.. To remember its language we need to relearn and  be inquisitive about its needs. Approaching our explorations from a place of openness, where there is no need to already know, is a kind way to start.

Getting to know and make friends with the body is about waiting and letting it come to you. It's like knocking at its door and in your loving way inquiring, "Can I come in? I want to get to know you and be a friend". At first, when we visit the inner body it may appear dark or feel elusive. Like a child who may not have had the attention it needs, it shakes its head stubbornly and responds "You never noticed me before! Why Now? What happens when I open... will you go away again?". Patiently you may reply to the body "I notice I can't hear, understand your language or see you yet" or say whatever is the truth of this moment and then, "I am getting to know you and I sincerely want to. I will come back tomorrow and meet you again’. Each day by seeking some contact with your body to return to its non cognitive language, a language of innocence.

Playfulness, compassion and patience, I have discovered, are useful ways to befriend the body.

Remembering the Forgotten Language of the Body is Embodied Meditation. Finding presence through the practice of listening ,watching and enjoying the body in its movement and stillness. 

Simply being natural.

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