The Body of Happiness
"So, whether or not this profound experiental exploration of the body takes place before so-called awakening or after so-called awakening makes no difference. The sadhanna has to be done at some stage if we want our understanding to be fully realized at the level of the body and the world, not just the level of the mind."Rupert Spira
We all know the Body of happiness
All of us who come to Awakening Clarity share a great love and interest in our true nature. Our heart and our mind deeply resonate with the understanding that what we are is unlimited, open, universal, infinite, divine and ever-present awareness.
Furthermore, we all know or remember moments of happiness and peace, during which our body is transparent, joyful and highly sensitive, harmonizing with the invisible substance of peace and happiness itself.
In those moments the conceptual belief in separation is absent along with the felt experience of a physical, solid, limited and located body. The body resonates and vibrates naturally and effortlessly with its source. It is experienced in line with its natural state of transparency weightlessness flow and expansion. Its music is pure openness, spaciousness and love.
The conditioned Body
However for many of us most of the time, this understanding is not established at the level of feeling and sensation.
Our felt experience of our Self has been distorted by decades of "I" "you" "mine" "yours" endlessly projected onto our body-mind by parents, teachers, peers and culture in a self-perpetuating, collective and subconscious conspiracy of ignorance.
Consequently, our body is conditioned to mirror the belief that what we are is a limited and individual awareness, separate from the whole. It becomes the physical anchor and expression for this deep-rooted illusion that "I" am a physical body apart from all other bodies and the world.
As far back as we can remember we have been taught to interpret sensations such as hunger, pain or pleasure, feelings such as sadness, fear or joy and thoughts whatever they may be, as happening "inside me" an individual physical form: Thus: I/my body am hungry, tired or relaxed; I/my body am angry, sad, afraid or happy; I/my body am thinking, standing, sitting sleeping, waking; I/my body was born and will die.
Feelings and sensations inside the body are experienced as intimate, alive and unquestionably personal, while other perceptions such as touch, sights and sounds refer to objects belonging to a world seemingly separate and outside of me. Some of these objects like I/my body are human or animal with their own separate awareness, other objects like plants are living organic things and yet others like chairs, tables, the space all around and even the earth under our feet are thought and felt to be dead inert matter.
I/my body becomes a repetitive set of psychosomatic habits designed to perpetuate the projected image that seems to operate at its centre. Its dynamism is ruled by the restrictive impulse to protect and defend itself. With the passage of time and the help of memory, I/my body claims its individual story, its preferences, its attractions, its aversions and its overall personal identity.
And thus the real "I" that is pure Open, Undivided Awareness appears to be confined, limited and fragmented. Meanwhile, the body’s harmonious and natural functioning seems to be compromised by an unnatural, complicated and in the end impossible mission.
Exploring the body as well as the mind
Both activities of investigating the mind and the body are sacred and natural. Neither come from a person. They come from Presence and are the beautiful gesturing of Presence back towards Itself.
During Satsangs, in non-dual meetings or when we read books on non-duality, we explore our unfounded conceptual belief in being a separate consciousness. With silence as our reference, we submit the rational instrument of our mind to the pure light of intelligence that is its source and substance. This level of exploration includes conversation, questions and answer and higher reasoning. It is deeply experiential at the level of thinking and reverberates throughout our whole being.
During the yoga of non-duality sessions, we investigate the unfounded feeling of separation at the level of the body. With openness as our ground, we use sensing, tactile explorations, visualizations, postures, movements, and breathing and submit the sensitivity of our body to this pure openness. We allow the felt belief in separation that lives as crystallized energy in the cellular, muscular, skeletal, lymphatic and nervous systems of the body to be experienced directly.
In time, this allows a gentle and natural realignment with the felt understanding that the body’s true nature and substance is this very openness.
This second level of investigation is mostly overlooked in contemporary non-dual teaching. For in a culture that favours analytical thinking and conceptualising we are more readily conditioned to examine our experience using our mind rather then a less rational, directly tactile, sensate approach. Yet the body-mind can only be fully re-orchestrated by this understanding when all layers of unseen identification have been fully allowed to surface and to be seen in the light of Awareness.
How do I engage in this exploration?
‘I open myself to Presence. Heart, body and mind turned towards this open limitless luminous space.
This Presence is pure welcoming. It is like the vast blue sky, allowing each cloud to appear, unfold and dissolve within Itself. This Presence is what I long for the most until I recognize that it is my true nature, what I always and only am.’
To begin with, we come to kneel at the altar of Presence. We come as open as possible allowing our love and longing for the truth to prepare our minds, our bodies and our hearts. And we open to the possibility that what we are, here and now, is this very Presence that we are turning towards, unlimited, open, universal and divine.
Unlike most of the conventional yoga practices that are taught in the world, these non-dual body sessions are not pragmatic explorations of states of the body, states of energy or vibration. They are not meant to point towards something or to achieve a goal. We are not meant to leave a session feeling more expanded, relaxed, aligned or flexible. These sessions are sacred and draw us back towards no-thing, just the empty transparent truth of what we always and only are.
‘I taste my body directly as if I had never known it before, utterly fresh and new. I am open and innocent like a baby in her cradle, fully awake and sensitive.
A flow of cool air through my nostrils, my belly moving up and down, my weight melting into the ground, tingling in my palms, pressure behind my eyes… My body is a river of sensations flowing in pure sensitivity and openness.
Having established Presence, we begin to listen to our experience of the body directly without the usual mediation of a concept, memory or image. We take our time, descending below the threshold of rational experience, allowing thought to relax into the background and opening to the flow of tactile sensation that is our actual bodily experience. We are invited to truly see and feel that the body is a patchwork of sensations flowing trough myself, this open sensitive limitless space of Presence, as does everything else.
The body flows through me, reflects me, resembles me, sings me, is made of me. Sensations and myself are inseparable. My body’s invisible substance is myself.
As we continue our investigation, we see that in truth we cannot say that a sensation appears in my body, just as a sound does not appear in the world and a thought does not appear in my head. We see rather that sensation sound and thought all appear in myself without any separate or individual existence of a body, a world or a mind.
We realize that like the sounds that we perceive, like the thoughts that we think, the bodily sensations are subtle in nature. They are not solid or tangible and cannot be held and measured. They are like waves appearing in myself and made of my own invisible substance. And so we come to know that the very substance of a sensation is the openness that I am.
‘I feel the areas where head, back, arms, pelvis, legs and earth are meeting and I open myself to the tactile sensation. I am invited to patiently and persistently surrender the weight of my body into the earth. Can I feel that the earth is alive and friendly under me? Can I truly experience that it is safe and natural to let go, and that ultimately earth and body are made of myself.
Now I sense the surface of my whole body, skin, air, clothes, and invite that sensation to expand into the space all around and to be light as a cloud floating in openness. This open space is alive, inherently welcoming and cradling my body in its transparent support…’
By creating and simultaneously holding on to the feeling of bodily weight we successfully and subconsciously manufacture the sensation that we are made of solid matter, separate from earth and space.
In the beginning, as we attempt to release the weight into gravity, or expand the global sensation of the body into the surrounding space, we encounter unpleasant sensations that seem to oppose this knowing of ourselves as pure openness. We experience sensations of being solid, heavy and compact or sensations of being limited and separate from the earth or the space all around. With this unpleasant quality, the process of letting go seems effortful. But if we persevere gently and courageously, it is soon understood that the real effort all along was the subconscious energy that was necessary in order to create and maintain this sense of weight and limits.
In time, our feeling of being a tangible, solid, well-defined object melts away. The body loses its well-defined contour, its heaviness and its repetitive mechanical qualities. Its natural intimacy with earth and space is recovered. Energy is once again free to grow roots, to seep up, rise and expand, to melt and to gather, to dissolve and arise again, according to the natural laws of the universe.
Yes I see that the body has no borders and no centre that I can touch. Yes it’s true I cannot find where the sensation called my body becomes the sensation called the earth. And yes, the space all around is alive, open, friendly and permeates all sensations. The body naturally expands into it. My body/space, my earth/body!
But there are still these persistent sensations and feelings that seem to locate me here inside this cage, as this body…
During the sessions we encounter familiar and intimate sensations of being located inside a body-part as a thinker, a feeler, a mover a doer. We face feeling states that express the victim, the bully or anything in between that we may have identified with, along with all the conditioned habits of collapse, need, defense, inflation, pride and aggression.
Furthermore, as we allow deeper layers to surface, we encounter raw feelings of lack, insecurity and fear that are lodged deep inside the tissue and somatic chains of the body.
If I feel chronically insecure for example, this triggers certain physical mechanism such as a protective posture or an attitude of submission. An active sense of anxiety may find its roots in a deep fear of disappearance and is often anchored in habits of shallow breathing, rigidity of the spine or tightly held shoulders.
I may experience a recurrent sense of lack within, which comes with habits of grasping, agitation, boredom all of which when explored more deeply are revealed to be sensations that seem to locate me inside the body.
For most of us these habits have become subconscious, chronic and either so habitual that they are no longer felt, or so intimate that they are taken for granted as myself.
During these sessions, we become familiar with all these feelings and sensations that prevent the natural flow of energy. We do not reject them, but rather welcome them as they surface and allow them to unfold and be experienced directly.
We have no agenda with them but remain open, loving, listening yet indifferent to the story embedded within them. In a very gentle way, we realize that this openness and allowing is and has always been our very nature. No effort is necessary. We abide as this openness.
In this open contemplation comes a spontaneous cooperation at the level of the body, as if each sensation willingly offers itself back to Presence. Naturally and effortlessly, the me-ness that suffused the sensation dissolves back into the universal, transparent, un-located and ever-present Me.
‘Movement appears in the openness… a barely visible trace in the empty aware space. There is no mover, no origin no destination, just this transparent gesture permeated with stillness…
Breathing appears in this openness… but there is no longer a breather. Just wave after wave of gentle, even breath, born in Presence, made of Presence and dying into Presence.’
We explore movements, postures, visualizations and the breath. These are gentle opportunities to realign the feeling/sensing/moving modes with our newfound infinite and transparent identity.
We evoke movements without a mover, and explore the innate qualities of fluidity, weightlessness, poroussness and lovingness.
We visualize an expanded body made of transparent space that naturally extends into the limitless space all around and we contemplate it as it grows in all directions, to gradually fill the room, the garden outside and the entire universe.
We invite gestures with no origin or destination, a breath that requires no pushing or grasping.
And all along we courageously face the contractions, resistances and old habits of feeling oneself as a limited mover, a located Awareness, or a contracted breather to surface and to be seen. In time these residual habits loose their momentum and the unpleasantness diminishes.
The body is expanded to the size of the universe and contains all things tangible and intangible in its heart. Nothing is external to it. We all have this body of joy, this awakened body, this body of universal welcoming. We are all complete, with no missing parts. Only explore your kingdom and take possession of it knowingly. Do not live any longer in that wretched shack of a limited body. Francis lucille
When we explore our body deeply like this, we re-discover that its very substance is pure openness, limitlessness and joy. We allow the free flow of energies thatWe discover that our true body is the body of joy, whole complete, expanded, easeful, open loving…the very breath of being. Sacralisation of the body… we realize that it need not be a physical cage or prison… we begin to knowingly live there…