Consider the quality of being present in your body right now. What is the quality or character of that sensation? Is it in fact a sensation – or something else? Maybe you’re curled up in a chair, computer in your lap, maybe sitting on a train reading the screen on your cell phone, or sneaking a moment for yourself while at work – notice whatever posture you find your body in right now. Take a moment, this moment, and focus your whole attention on what is happening in your body. Don’t wait for the instructor in yoga class to coach you there or the teacher at the meditation center to offer guidance, you can take this trip yourself any time you want.
Sometime the simplest action can generate the deepest awareness. It doesn’t always require special equipment and herculean effort. You are, after all, in your body. Should it be a big leap then to inhabit it fully, to be totally there? If you are caught up in thoughts, don’t be thinking that you are in your mind and not in your body, because, as my former teacher used to say, “Your mind is part of your body, isn’t it?” Perhaps you can be in your mind and body at the same time, fully present to both.
Usually the act of bringing focus to the body means noticing the purely physical sensations that are happening. Pain, constriction, fatigue, hunger or sometimes what seems to be neutral or without clearly articulated qualities. I often wonder that what draws our attention are the primarily negative or neutral characteristics, not the energized or “feeling good” ones. Don’t these last speak loud enough to be heard? What might be the quietest sense you can tune into?
Now make the shift to notice what kind of feeling state is inhabiting your body in this moment. We don’t often acknowledge that feeling states are in our bodies, but they are also physical sensations and certainly manifest in the body. We don’t simply walk around with concepts of anger, sadness or joy in our minds. We experience them in a physical way. The heart can seem to be the locus of feeling for us, but is it a source or a container for what’s circulating through our bodies? Perhaps it simply feels like the center of who we are.
Imagine your heart is this center and holds you in the space between being grounded in the earth and reaching for the sky. Stand with your feet hip distance apart, your spine long and arms stretched down, held away from your sides with palms facing forward. Inhale and slowly bring your arms overhead so that your palms touch. Exhale and bring your hands down to the level of your heart, palms still together. Stay for a moment and receive another breath. Then give your breath away and stretch your arms down and away from your sides again. Breathe in and continue to bring them overhead so that palms touch each other. Repeat this sequence a few times and see where your attention goes. Does it seem that it fills your entire body?
Notice that with these movements you have created the peace sign with your body. Rest in that awareness.