We are living a worldwide emergency. How can we contribute to more peace, more sanity, more balance? Certainly by coming closer to the depths of ourselves, to care for the natural world, and learn to accept others and even help them grow and prosper so that we may grow and prosper too. It’s time to confess to the human vulnerability that we have perhaps glossed over in our single-minded efforts to surpass ourselves. To recognize that we are a community, not an ego in search of its own affirmation.
To help in this new aim, I would like to introduce you to age-old wisdom you may already be familiar with, as well as the pioneering new field of body-to-mind awareness that has upended 400 years of Descartes’ ‘I think therefore I am.’
Let me invite you to come alive to your Body Being — the multi-faceted container that takes us everywhere we want to go and helps process everything that happens to us. Whether you wish to explore spiritual development, practice your own presence in the world, or simply live more richly, Awakening Body Consciousness is the path to a new level of body awareness. What is my expertise in this? I have experienced, taught, and experimented with the Gurdjieff ideas and sacred dances, Tai Chi and Daoism for more than fifty years, and Qigong and the Alexander Technique for twenty.
Why seek spirit through the body? Because it is the nexus where soul and spirit connect with the ever-thrumming energy of life within us. Our DNA, our psyche, the hands that create and the minds that invent — all are aspects of the living body and are dependent upon it. Awakening Body Consciousness combines ancient wisdom with cutting-edge science to reveal how our bodily presence, our sense of everyday presentness, can serve as a bridge toward the I-consciousness within us. Through the practice of attention to our own presence-in-the-world, we are able to open ourselves to the experience of unity in body, mind, and heart. You can find more on my website at pattydellosa.com.
ARE YOU TOO BUSY TO BE HERE RIGHT NOW?
Got to get so much stuff done?
Thoughts leaping ahead to the next thing? Emotions caught up in what happened just now or yesterday?
STOP FOR A MOMENT WHENEVER YOU BECOME AWARE OF IT AND TAKE THREE DEEP BREATHS.
FIRST, ASK YOURSELF WHAT GETS IN THE WAY OF ENJOYING THE LIFE YOU HAVE?
In a recent Harvard study by Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert, more than two thousand people were called in the middle of their workday and asked what they were thinking about? 47 percent of the time their minds were not focused on what they were doing. Even more striking was the fact that they felt less happy when their minds wandered. When we learn how to focus our attention on the present moment we become good athletes, good listeners, good thinkers, and good workers at anything we do, because this gathering of the attention moves mind, heart, and body toward a more balanced state of awareness, of readiness to act.
Sure, we may be distracted a lot of the time, but the minute we seriously ask the question, “Where am I?” we are right here and now. We could ask, “where is my body in space? How is it poised or not poised?
Problem is, as soon as we stop asking, we’re back in our habitual ways of thinking and acting.
SO WITH YOUR FIRST BREATH, remind yourself that your to-do list will live on long after you are gone.
In FACT, EVERY EVENING YOU COULD STUDY TOMORROW’S LIST and BRING YOUR VALUATION TO IT, YOUR HEART SENSE.
What is the most important?
What is the least important?
Then put off 1/3 of your list to the next day or remove it altogether.
SECOND: WHAT CAN HELP FREE YOU FROM THE HABITS THAT INTERFERE WITH BEING PRESENT TO YOUR LIFE?
SO WITH YOUR SECOND BREATH, ASK YOURSELF WHAT GETS IN THE WAY OF ENJOYING THE LIFE YOU HAVE?
Not all habits are bad, but living like an automaton threatens our very existence.
So you might try to do something new each day.
ABOVE ALL, NOTICE YOUR TENDENCY TO PRE-JUDGMENTS about what’s going on or INNER CRITICISMS of the people you are with.
Neuroscientists say we can change the way the brain works by changing our attitudes. That includes fixed attitudes that don’t permit you to weigh and consider SHIFTING CIRCUMSTANCES or new understandings.
You can find my article for Parabola magazine, Changing Ourselves by Changing the Brain, on the internet.
THIRD: ASSESS HOW MUCH OF YOUR INNER MONOLOGUE IS ENGAGED IN CRITICIZING YOURSELF, EVEN RUNNING YOURSELF DOWN. According to Wendy Suzuki, professor of neural science and psychology at New York University, if you remember an incident in which you failed in some way and immediately add the thought that you were stupid or inadequate—in other words, attack yourself at the moment you remember the incident—you are connecting two formerly unrelated mind events and their respective neuronal activity.
She says, “What’s bad about this is that I’m emphasizing or demonizing my failure out of proportion to its real effect and making that connection, that negative self-attack, part of the memory of the incident. But if I could bring a modicum of reasoning or self-forgiveness to it, acknowledging that I’m human, or forgot, or didn’t know enough, or was unprepared to make the right decision, or whatever is appropriate, over time my new thinking will affect the neural structure of my brain, synapse by synapse. This is an example of the neuroplasticity scientists speaks about in the brain, synapse by synapse. “This is an example of the neuroplasticity scientists speak about so much these days—your brain has been forming and changing ever since before you were born and will continue to do so until you take your last breath.”
HERE’S A NEW APPROACH: LET YOUR HABITS BE YOUR TEACHER RATHER THAN DRIVING YOU ALONG ON AUTOPILOT: That means you need to see them first. Anything habitual lives a life of its own under your radar. It can send you where you didn’t want to go.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT THAT?
FOURTH: INVITE A CONSCIOUS SHIFT AS YOU STAY IN FRONT OF WHAT YOU DISAPPROVE OF IN YOURSELF OR OTHERS RATHER THAN IMMEDIATELY TRYING TO CHANGE OR IMPROVE YOURSELF.
This is similar to the effort of Deep Practice that professional athletes and other top performers employ to perfect their skills. Rather than attempting to better what’s already pretty good by repeating it, they go to the area of most difficult and work where they tend to stop, fall down on the job, or give up in despair. They accept that the work is slow, deliberate, and awkward and that it demands complete commitment from an active body and brain. But they know from first-hand experience that it works. Here’s why: deep practice builds myelin, a sheath that wraps around and insulates your nerve fiber chains to make your living circuitry faster and more accurate. It is behind the growth of both mental and physical skills. While it increases more rapidly in childhood, it is ours to develop all our life long.
Neuroscientist Daniel Siegel says it is three thousand times faster in soccer players. “Deep Practice is the opposite of going to what’s already good and repeating it over and over to make it better,” he explains. “The best athletes go to the area of deficit and work in the hard places!” That is what we are doing any time we go against the habit of running away from our own truth. As we stay with the impression of how we have lost touch with ourselves, we approach the reality we are living through.
FIFTH: LET’S TALK ABOUT EARTHING.
HOW TO HELP YOURSELF IN THE MIDST OF DAILY DEMANDS ON YOU?
THINK ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS TO GROUND YOURSELF ON MOTHER EARTH
1. Practice going barefoot out on grass or beach whenever you can. Scientist James Oschman explains that The water in your body acts as an electrical conduit to earth’s negative ionic charge so when your bare feet make direct contact with the earth’s energy field, your body becomes equalized to its energy level or potential. That will gradually synchronize your internal biological clocks, hormonal cycles, and physiological rhythms.
2. Acknowledge and learn to recognize the powerful cosmic energies that come up from below, even as you seek the finer cosmic energies from above.
3. EXERCISE: Stand like a tree….BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH
DAOIST TRUE PERSON
SIXTH: PRACTICE QUIETING THE MONKEY MIND BY LIVING YOUR QUESTIONS RATHER THAN SEEKING QUICK ANSWERS.
We are never rewarded for being confused or uncertain. We are expected to state our opinions firmly as befits citizens of a free society, brought up to honor answers more than questions. Problem is we mostly depend on the head-brain alone for the answers. my objective world. Understanding needs more. It needs experience.”
IN FACT, WHEN WE LISTEN TO THE INNER QUESTIONS THAT ARISE FROM OUR EXPERIENCE, LIFE BECOMES A SPIRITUAL PATH.
When we stop listening, we have lost our way.
HOW CAN WE GROUND THE QUESTING MIND IN THE EXPERIENCES OF DAILY LIVING?
YOU ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWER BY NOW. DEVELOP BODY
I GUARANTEE FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE THAT WHENEVER YOU TURN TO AWARENESS OF YOUR BODY BEING YOU RETURN TO THE PRESENT MOMENT.
SEVENTH: LEARN TO ACCEPT IMBALANCE BEFORE SEEKING BALANCE.
We all seek balance, inner and outer, IN BODY MIND AND HEART.
BUT BALANCE ISN’T A FIXED PLACE like a solid sofa back.
We are always tipping forward or reeling back, ever since we got up on two feet. Our ancestors went around on all fours, totally engaged in where the next meal is coming from or where the danger lies.
What can help?
CULTIVATE YOUR THREE TREASURES AS YOU OPEN THE HEART TO ACTIVATE A NEW, MORE POSITIVE FEELING.
1. find your emotional tone. We all have one we may be unaware of that others can recognize.
2. Learn not to lose your precious energy in large reactions or negative emotions.
The first step is to become more aware of the sensation of your energy building up into an explosive reaction. Learn to distinguish the taste of self-pity or rage or other large emotions in their early stages. Remind yourself that this force can drive you where you don’t want to go.
Then, if you want to avoid a meltdown, try to refocus these negative feelings before they reach full blast.
Here’s how it works: at the earliest moment, you become aware of a negative feeling growing inside, consciously change the direction of your attention. Turn away from self-pity, complaint, criticism, outrage, or whatever is building up a head of steam. Instead, focus directly on the physical sensations of the forces at play in you. Such efforts are at the very heart of change.
It’s important to make this effort as soon as a strong emotion begins to invade you because once it is in full flood, you will have no control over it. Shift your attention right away to what’s going on in your Body Being. Even say out loud,
“don’t give me a headache!”
“this emotion is roiling my stomach,”
or “that thought makes my neck muscles stiffen,”
or “Feeling this way isn’t worth it if it’s going to give me back pain that lasts for days!”
When you show respect for your Body Being and acknowledge its autonomous existence, you are activating the possibility of help from another direction. Appreciate the cooperation that can be yours when you honor this intimate partnership. Your Body Being is your best friend.
THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO GO ON THIS JOURNEY WITH ME. MAY YOU LIVE IN GOOD HEALTH AND FIND YOUR HEART’S DESIRE.
Patty de Llosa
“Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, a human cannot live without a spiritual life.” ~Buddha