I Heard it Like This…
Reflections of an inspired talk by Buddhist teacher Joan Halifax.
TEN STEPS ON THE PATH OF SELF AWARENESS
There are ten steps we all can take to enlarge our self awareness. These steps are like strings on an instrument or notes on a piano. We can practice them separately but when played together, we can make beautiful music.
(if you prefer to listen & meditate – there is approx. 30 seconds of silence after the bell, before Alan speaks again; but you can fast-forward if you don’t wish to meditate)
The ninth step is BODY SENSING. What kind of body sensing? The sensing that allows us to read the visceral wisdom of our own physical being. We can use technology to track our sleep cycles, find a great place to eat, or navigate between point A and point B, but do we know when our own body is distressed, frightened, exhausted or exhilarated? Do we know when to rest, eat foods that nourish us, and navigate well socially demanding situations? Our physical body is its own technological marvel that cannot be replaced by external systems. We inhabit our bodies and our bodies, from toes to the tip of our head, provide us with an extraordinary capacity to sense what is going on inside us and what others may also be feeling.
Body sensing is a central aspect to self awareness because nothing reveals so clearly the energetic state we are in. Heart rhythms influence emotional processing, higher order cognitive functions, and possibly even how and what we perceive of reality. Our nervous system has a memory only loosely under control of our conscious thoughts. Months after a woman was in a head on collision, she flinches on seeing oncoming traffic, though she consciously knows the cars are in their proper lanes. Sensing danger or feeling pain, our bodies contract and tense up, feeling love we expand and soften, frightened we might quiver or shake. Certain forms of autism and emotional fragility are associated with disassociation from one’s body. To know and respect the body in all its nuanced forms and signals is to ground oneself in the flesh and a basis for genuinely sensing into the energetic states of others.