The mountains around this beautiful old world are real, no doubt.
The sky is spacious, and no arguments can make it otherwise.
Water flows and ice stays still, period.
We humans are part of nature, regardless of what we think, create or destroy. In the heart of our humanness dwells a basic goodness, many of the ancients say, a love and care for each other, and for the world and all its inhabitants, including ourselves.
But, in this unprecedented time of mindbogglingly complex technology, artificial almost-everything, and breakneck speeds, how do we remember this wholesome authenticity? How can we know and be this innate goodness, if it actually exists? How can we find out for ourselves if does exist, and potentially tap into the living blessings of our humanity?
It is through awareness of the body that we can connect authentically with our wholeness and, perhaps, heal our lives and worlds.
Here’s the thing: Our bodies are made of the same stuff as mountains, water and air. Fire also moves through us, just as it powers the sun.
While this may sound metaphorical, even beautifully poetic, I mean it in the most straightforward and pragmatic way. If the beauty of these ideas keeps you reading, that may be helpful, but really, what I am hoping to share with you in this post is wordless, timeless and (as the Buddha put more than two and half centuries ago) immeasurable.
For example, clearly and steadily knowing your direct experiences of the spectrum of sensations that form the continuum of heaviness and lightness (aka earth) reveals so much. Just to name a few:
- the actual connection between this body (your body, my body) and body of the world
- emotional tones such as sadness (as in a heavy heart) and joy (as in lightheartedness)
- the changing nature of everything that is palpable
To give a very specific example and something you can practice with, if you think you are spending too much time on the computer or phone, try actually feeling the smoothness of keys or touchscreen under your fingers as you type or sensing the firmness and solidity of your back.
But here’s the thing. There is a second important step. To find relief, you will also need to follow the innate commonsense, the embodied wisdom, that emerges. In other words, if your discover your back aches, can you take five minutes to stand up and walk around, maybe stretch or bounce around bit?
If you make a practice of listening carefully, your body, heart and mind will naturally remember that they belong to each other.
As one author puts it, ‘The partner of head is heart. Body has no opposite. In body, heart and head are one.’ (Georgi Y. Johnson, Nondual Therapy: The Psychology of Awakening)
So, to review.
Step One: Bring awareness to your actual moment-to-moment experiences of being embodied.
Step Two: Respond to what you experience with a trust in natural commonsense.
Now, step three may feel like a little bit of a leap, but with your body heart and mind gathered together through the first two steps, it may be possible and even enjoyable:
Step Three: remember that these embodied experiences, while perhaps unique in each of our bodies, are also universal.
We are all capable, so to speak, of back pain. And, we are all capable of responding to pain, in ourselves and others, with love, kindness and compassion. So, step three is to begin responding to experiences, whether they are internal to you or external (in other humans and world in general) by practicing steps one and two.
In this way, embodied compassion and wisdom can begin to support each other beautifully, like two hands holding something – this life – tenderly and firmly, helping you choose authentic, wholesome actions in this wild, racy twenty-first century world.