Barebones BodySensing

When there is teaching, you must follow the line free from expectation and anticipation […]. It is very deeply rooted in the body-mind that there is something to achieve, to become, to attain, and this brings us absolutely away from what we are. It takes us in the opposite direction. So we must first face our body-mind, accept it, explore it, get to know it. In this exploration there comes a moment when you are no longer interested in what you explore but live in the exploring itself. The explored is in the exploring, but the exploring is not in the explored.”

– Jean Klein, The Book of Listening, pp. 177-178

I came to the BodySensing practice somewhat serendipitously – looking for a grounding practice. Little did I know that I would come to experience the practice as far from that.

Here are some observations I wrote down after some classes to record, after the fact, what could possibly have transpired. I’m sharing these notes with others who are, I imagine, discovering the richness of the practice in their own ways.

Musing 1
First BodySensing practice ever.
I had no expectation coming in as I didn’t know what the practice would be about. On the pathless yoga web site little is explained.

« Moving the head without creating a neck… » beautiful!

Musing 2
I’m still wrapping around my mind about the “work” of the BodySensing practice. I tried to describe it to my wife who also meditates every day.
In any case, I don’t think there’s anything to get, simply to experience. The less conceptual understanding probably the better!

I loved the experiment of experiencing the sensation in the foot, without a “going-toward” the foot-sensation— just experimenting with the foot feeling itself, and the awareness of it. Pure knowing.

Musing 3
When I stepped out of the yoga studio tonight everything was so much sharper than when I came in. I realized that I was quite tired coming in and rested when coming out.

I found the poses quite challenging but there was no internal dialogue about disliking this or that. Some confusion at times for sure and a sense of physical tiredness.

I quietly walked to the metro station in a state of natural peacefulness.
I wonder if I’m falling in love with my Self and this practice?
“What you seek is seeking you”, right?

So much sweetness and gentleness… so much to dis-cover…

Musing 4
I’ve prefaced my morning practices with a few exercises taken from the class:
– Simply sitting – observing bodily sensations
– Letting the fingers raise one arm to rest on empty space, raising the other arm, raising the first arm to the vertical.

I’ve noticed that afterwards I’m more settled physically and mentally and the rest of the program flows in the direction of “more effortlessly”.

Musing 5
I am fascinated by the attempt of the mind to make sense of the practice in real-time. The class starts and quickly I realize that “it” is not making more sense than at any other time and that I won’t be able to follow along without much effort. I decide to sit back and follow the class in my mind’s eyes.

The session ends and then there is a sense of uplift. I can picture myself getting taller and then I have a very clear sense that almost all the breathing is taking place outside my body (in the front of my body). It was as if the space is doing the breathing (in the moment there is no “as if” – it IS the space that was breathing, not for itself but simply for/with me. I can observe the physical movements of breath “inside”, but it seems like a totally mechanical process – like an ebb and flow without any volition on my part). The exchange of air is outside of myself.

The experience continues by itself for a while, until the class instructions bring me back to the habitual experience of being this body-mind.

Musing 6
Another morning practice which starts with barebones BodySensing movements. As this is the first activity of the day, I can sense that the body is still in the process of waking itself up. The arms begin to rise and come to a horizontal position. I become aware that, whereas previously I imagined that they were held by empty space, this time I can feel the sturdiness of the space beneath the arms. This organic development in the practice will keep appearing most of the time afterwards.

Vincent Randy is an Information Technology professional and a budding BodySensing practitioner. He shares a home with his wife, children and two cats (Hildegard and Merlin).

*Image of painting by Elaine Despins, used with permission. “…in the absence of a body image, what is the experience of this “body”? Where does it begin and where does it end? In sensoriality, the body is now perceived from within, as a fluid mass, a space with undefined boundaries. In this series, my interest lies in the desire to perceive the body with sensoriality (without referring to the sense of sight) and to transpose this perception into painting.”

4 Responses

  1. Beautiful insights, Vincent! You shared, “…this time I can feel the sturdiness of the space beneath the arms.” I am intrigued by how I can barely breathe into the sensation of pain in an area of my body and then as the practice continues I have actually fallen asleep, my body able to rest on/in/within that space you speak of. Thank you.

  2. It’s a sweet moment to re-experience the taste of a body-sensing practice through another’s description. While I have not sat in a body sensing class in years, the experience remains imbedded in this body-mind and Vincent’s brief details reawakens the essence of the practice instantaneously. It’s a joy to receive the transmission as I sit quietly reading his words on my phone. My experience of the sunlight on my toes and air on my cheek becomes brighter as I let Vincent’s words penetrate and dissolve into This. Thank you for your share!

  3. I love how you describe the movements of your experience with body sensing, Vincent. I, too, came to the practice serendipitously. I still ask myself why and I still wonder what the practice is about. But I keep returning. The poses can be remarkably challenging, as is the observing and letting go of mind’s attachment to how I should be doing the practice. Your musings help me to remember my own experiences, in particular how one begins with imagining and somehow, by grace perhaps, the imagining becomes experiencing. Thank you for your offering to us.

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