2021-10-21-Gil-Body (4 of 5) Restoring Wholeness in the Body
2:57PM Oct 21, 2021
So yesterday's topic for mindfulness of the body was respecting the body. And respecting the body is partly also respecting the uniqueness of our own body and its needs. There's all kinds of conditions, physical conditions, challenges in the body, that you know, are challenging to be with and, and to gaze upon that kindly to be have compassion, to respect the body for what it is and to learn how to take care of it, how to care for this wonderful body that we have challenging bodies. And the care that we want to live from and Buddhist practice extends to ourselves as well. And so part of what mindfulness of the body can do is as we get more attuned to our body, we can better kind of feel what supports it and what debilitates it what's the healing for to helpful for it, how to best the best posture, the best way of being with whatever is going on in your body. And I think the first time I came across someone who was doing this was an OSA a news n student, long time ago. And there was a woman who had some kind of knee issues serious the issues, she had been a runner, and, and, and she used her, her the attention, the details attention to her body, she was learning through Zen practice, to learn to walk in a new way. And she tried the findings to find exactly the right play to angle for her feet and come down and put her weight. And with that, she found a way to walk that for her situation that prevented her from or meant that she didn't have to go for surgery. I don't know what happened to her in the long term. But I do know that I partly I think that inspired her and she went on to become a doctor. So this is, you know, care to the body. And really what is what's the right thing for the body how to be you know, I've had a bad back various times in my life. And I found it to be an exquisite time for mindfulness. Because it was such a strong feedback loop between the slightest little move, which was hurt, or kind of relieved it. And so it's right there to stay and be aware. So this mindfulness of the body and respecting the body can give us the information to guide us to find a way to live with his body more caringly and then wisely. And also one of the things that can happen as we practice is that there a there can be a restoration, of a sense of healthiness or vitality or, or harmony in the body, as we do this practice. That it's not just the practice of letting go. But the letting go is a process of becoming whole, a process of not excluding anything. And we can feel that little bit. What I'm trying to see say here is if we get settled and relaxed in meditation, somewhat calm, and a sudden we start thinking about something that has some tension in it. And we feel itself tension tensing up. And it can be some point it becomes really clear that following the tension getting involved in that tension, tensing up even more, is detrimental is not interesting. And it's in more interesting to not do it. And so to relax, to settle back, to come back to that more relaxed state. And partly the motivation to do so as we see. So clearly, the disadvantages of tensing up as we see this starting us tensing starting to happen, we let go and come back. So that's a little bit of a kind of a negative motivation. It's also possible to have a more positive motivation, that as we let go, we start feeling the benefits of that in the body. And it feels so good to feel this way. To feel whole to feel settle for the inner life to feel peaceful or calm or settled harmonious. And, and you can feel how, when we start getting tense or preoccupied by something, the horse, sometimes the whole physical system starts to lock up or get a little bit tighter, the micro muscles, some of the micro muscles in the body, tighten up
or there's a connection, we lose touch with the body. I mean, it's quite dramatic, I, you know, maybe some of you had this experience of minding your own business meditating calmly, and the mind suddenly releases some memory of, you know, from the teenage times, and, you know, some, some difficult event that happened. And, and turns out, there's still some charge around it. And, and I got to haven't happened to me. And this, suddenly this energy in the body kind of, you know, like, gets was upright that I get tense and in the energy flows into my mind, and, and I'm thinking and having conversations about what happened and reviewing it. And I've lost touch with my body, or lost touch with this settled and calm body. And, and so it's quite dramatic to see that movement. And it's an education about how easy it is to disconnect from the body. And as we develop mindfulness, we're developing body fullness, developing capacity to feel and sense the body, not only so we don't tense it, but the absence of tension gives rise to feelings of healthiness, or harmony, or wholeness. That can even be there. When there's the body's ill or, or there's pain, or there's different things happening in the body there challenges in the body, there's a whole, there's a different kind of energy, a different kind of attentiveness in the body, that is peaceful, calm, holistic, sometimes even cozy, that seems to spread and open and suffuse the body, a gentleness that has space to hold what's difficult, that's there as well. So we're not preoccupied and caught by the difficulty. But the awareness is a holding of more widely, and it isn't just a mental awareness, but there's also kind of a bodily awareness that can hold it. And the remarkable thing is the body can start feeling like it has lots of space. Some years ago, I went to a cadaver lab to spend some time looking at cadavers. And I was surprised how all the organs was all squeezed in there, and like there was almost no space in there. Because everything was packed with these different organs. And why I'm surprised me is when I sit and meditate. I feel like there's lots of space in my cavity, lots of space in, in my torso. And just that space gets bigger and bigger as I sit there quiet, that sometimes that space feels like it has no boundaries, just opens up. And so that the the way we experience the body can be different than what's actually there. Because what we're doing is experiencing the, the, it's the is the experience of the body, that's the medium through which we're really creating Rome and space, to be able to hold everything, not to deny anything, but to make more room for it. And, and as things have more room, they have more room to move, more moved to unfold, more more room to relax, but also some things are are healthy, that they flow begin flowing more and and so this the restoration of with the body of having mindful support, a restoration of healthiness, a restoration of a flowing energy, a restoration of, of, of, kind of us spacious, calm and the body that can hold the challenges that we have. And and the wonderful thing is as we have more space, we have then work capacity to be with difficulties. And one of the great contributions of Buddhist practice is to expand our capacity to be with challenges, expand their capacity to be uncomfortable and expand their capacity to be in conflict with people, because there's more space for it all. So part of mindfulness of the body is not only to be aware of the body, but also to have a kind of receiving, allowing. attitude that allows that space to grow, that allows the energy start flowing more fully. And to feel that to feel the goodness that might be there and make space for it. Hold it to be aware of it.
Not in a in a utilitarian way. Like I'm going to do this for a purpose. I'm going to make this happen or something The utilitarian approach to mindfulness has is very, very limited. But what's rather than utilitarian approach, it's an appreciative mode to appreciate rather than to make something happen, and in that appreciation to receive and hold and experience the body in a bigger way. So the restoration of the whole body and, and so it's one of the great I've been for me one of the great gifts of meditation practice is the richness of living in this body that has come from that from that practice. So May your meditation practice your mindfulness practice, help you arrest in the richness of this living, vibrating body, and to learn the wisdom of it than the healthiness of it and its capacity to hold all things. So thank you very much, and I'll do the last day on the body tomorrow.