Thursday, July 30, 2009

Back to the body - honoring mystery

It's fascinating how when you take a step in a direction, the universe shows off so many more opportunities. Some seem coincidental, meeting people randomly(?) who know my closest friends. I'm starting to doubt coincidence.

I've read and posted about Eckhart Tolle, which led me to more conversations about living in the moment and what to do with the past. Today I found an article from The Sun entitled "The Prayer of the Body," in which The Sun's editor Sy Safransky interviews Stephen R. Schwartz. Schwartz focuses on what feelings are in the body, rather than the mind's way of judging, compressing and compartmentalizing. I'm highlighting just a bit of what resonated with me while reading. Read the whole interview here.

Safransky writes that "at his workshops, Schwartz asks people to sit in a circle with their eyes closed. Then, through a process similar to meditation with its focus on the breath, and to therapy, with its emphasis on feelings -- but dramatically unlike either -- he gently but persistently encourages them to turn to the pain, not the ideology about the pain; to the truth of the body, not cliches about the truth; to the actual feelings, not the words that wrap feelings in too many layers...

"Our fears and mental turmoil, he says, are the result of trying to place limiting labels on the innocent feeling life. Therefore, turning to the body, with compassionate attention, is the first step in really caring for ourselves."

(How sad, and telling, that reading this article, I thought "I wouldn't be able to identify the place a feeling resides in my body! I'm too much in my head, I'd get frustrated, and I'd fail." Talk about a self-defeating mind having too much control.)

Similar to Aqeela Sherrills' perspective on the Reverence Project and finding the gift in the wound, Schwartz says that "heroism is not overcoming what we perceive to be negative about ourselves or anything else, but rather facing right into those things -- finding the core. A heroic act is a naked encounter with what we've judged to be dangerous and then, perhaps, discovering that it is something else entirely."

Turning to our bodies and our feelings in this way is not selfish, he says. "When we turn toward ourselves in a certain way, we end up turning toward the universe. As we deconstruct emotions, we are taking apart our intensely introverted sense of identity, which is always caught in its own confines, and coming to something much broader, much more encompassing. We can give love to the world only when we know ourselves to be much bigger than a complext string of memories, ideas, and beliefs."

And what rings most true to me is that nothing in this life is static, and to embrace change. "As long as we keep looking at ourselves in the same old way, we lose sight of the ever-changing process of life. We are not static, framed, or caught. We can't be boxed in for long. Insight and conceptual analysis relate to still frames. But this life is all change. Nothing ever remains the way it was even a few minutes before. Here lies the beauty and the fear, the adventure and the desire to hold back."

Complete story here.

(Photos: human yoga courtesy yogi_johann, flickr, lizard yoga courtesy Tony George, flickr)

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