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Lions Roar : September 2017
body has been changing all the time, your ideas about your body, and what it can or cannot do, have become frozen. That’s an interesting insight too. Maintaining continuous awareness in this way is called “mindfulness of body”—an effective practice for learn- ing to be bigger than we think we are, for expanding our comfort zone, and for lightening up a little bit through the rec- ognition of impermanence. Practice: Grounding Touch Grounding touch is a simple micro- practice for taking refuge in your body when you feel stressed and need a time out. It’s a method for connecting to your emotional state through your body, using the warmth of your hands and the calmness of your breath to ground and stabilize your nervous system. You can do this anywhere—sitting on a park bench, walking from the elevator to your desk, in the stairwell at work, and even in the bathroom. Stand or sit upright with your feet firmly planted. Place one hand on your chest and one at the base of your spine. Inhale through your nose for four counts, exhale through your nose for four counts, and repeat. Feel the movement of your breath beneath your hands. Let your mind ride on the breath, like a raft on the ocean. You can also place hands on heart, belly, forehead, or thighs. Taking refuge in your body is self- care with a spiritual twist that recog- nizes we cannot become enlightened without our body. We must love our body and take care of it just as we care for our friends. Then when something frightening or destabilizing happens, we can take refuge in our body as a friend, as opposed to taking refuge in eating, drinking, shopping, or any other avoid- ance technique. We can learn to trust the refuge of our own body as a place of intimacy, and this allows us to be alive right now, available for whatever is needed in the moment. ♦ or being afraid to move it at all, we can walk the middle path of intuiting what is appropriate for our body, which means what is appropriate for us. Get More Friendly We have so many goals for our bod- ies: lose weight, get sculpted, be more healthy, more attractive, keep that youth- ful glow! Like a dysfunctional romantic relationship where we expect our partner to meet our every need, we don’t relate to our body as our friend, but as the agent for achieving all of our hopes and fears. To begin thinking of our body as the place where we feel good helps to shift our goal from wanting to jump higher and run faster to feeling better and liv- ing a more engaged, vibrant life. Do this in small bites I call “exercise snacks.” Get up and move around for 10 minutes here and there. Circumambulate the house or office, do three sun salutations, walk your dog, turn on music and play. Instead of unrealistic goals that almost make failure a given, this is just about feeling good more often. This is how you can slowly redefine your relationship with your body, from something outside of yourself that needs to be different, to a refuge that is always there to provide you an experience of integration and well-being. Get Curious We can take a lesson from the physical practice of yoga. The Sanskrit word for “pose” is asana, which translates as “to sit with what comes up.” Whether you are sitting, walking, or jumping rope, notice what is coming up: joy, resistance, old memories, insights. Include it all. When your mind strays, re-anchor it via the feelings of your body, your emotions, or your breathing. These sensations occur only in the present, so the body works as a perfect home base for the wandering mind. Notice not just what your body is feel- ing, but how you feel about what you are feeling. You will discover that while your Explore consciousness through an interdisciplinary approach that includes the neurosciences, anthropology of consciousness, transpersonal psychology, and the arts and humanities. WHERE BODY, MIND AND SPIRIT MEET Learn more at goddard.edu/cs Goddard Graduate Institute LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2017 18 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE