Meditation on Hands
The body doesn’t think the same way as the mind. Every cell is awake, intelligent, and self-aware – but not involved in discursive thought. Perfect for meditating upon! Let’s take a very simple Embodied-Inquiry™
Take the thinking mind off the hook for a moment. Sit comfortably and feel your hand. Look at it. What do you see? It has weight, density, temperature, color, texture, etc. How do you experience this? Look carefully and you will notice that you experience many things more than just the most obvious characteristics of your hand. You see a certain kind of liveliness. You notice the suppleness of differing textures, the firmness of the bones, and the fluidity and warmth of the bone marrow. With your inner sense of touch you feel the blood flow and the vibration of the nervous system. You may notice the sensation of spaces between the layers of the tissues. You feel the spaces between the cells. You feel the tissues touching one another. You “intuit” a coordination of function.
There is incredible intelligence at work here – cells functioning, communicating, dividing, and performing all manner of intelligent activities without any need for direction from the thinking mind. Intelligence is inherent in all the body tissues. You can witness this. Also, this can witness itself! Rather than you observing this – put yourself right there; be your hand. Observe from the liveliness of your hand, by the hand, via the awareness that is inherent in the hand!
Recognizing life force as the source of every physical structure we explore, we are invited into the realization that all of this – every aspect of body and mind – is this field of Creative Intelligence functioning.
4 thoughts on “What Does Anatomy Have to Do with Yoga? — Part 2”
Love this. I had a moment much like you describe (though I couldn’t articulate it as such) in this piece staring at my feet when I first started practicing yoga. As I was getting settled before class, I was deeply comforted just looking a…t my feet…feelings of gratitude, joy, contentment, simplicity, wholeness. Thank God the body thinks differently than the mind and pulls it into wholeness. When we allow, notice, and loosen the grip of the mind, we get to feel the energy and conciousness of the parts in unity!
It’s amazing how a simple exercise as the one that you suggested can be such a profound experience of the body as a field of energy in constant motion, so much in harmony—harmoniously pulsing and roiling—so much at peace. Remaining with that harmony, I easily experience the disappearance of the outlines of the body. When my conceptualized conclusions/beliefs are not there to remind me, I can’t FEEL any personal perimeter. While experiencing this, insight emerges: “I keep creating duality in order to enjoy the empirical phenomenon of relationship, the coming together of two or more”; “I love ‘coming out’ and commenting upon”; “to one degree or another, an instinctual fear of permanent dissolution arises, presumably a biologically programmed fear of death.” I also found the exercise to be a great way of experiencing the difference between conceptual thinking (chain of reasoning whose function is the making of meaning and evaluation—measurement, which is the meaning of maya [to measure]) and a state of mind whose sattvic/witnessing aspect has for its “object” (grammatically speaking) the free-flow of sensate experience and the movement of intuitive intelligence. Mostly, I enjoy how, through this kind of exercise (“the hand”), my all-pervasive, basic sentience becomes so clear, so predominant—that quiet, witnessing stillness.My only niggling concern is with talking about this in a way that lends itself to conceptually divorcing “mind” from “body,” because I would describe my experience as mind pervading body. Of course, mind has many functions; there is the citta, manas, ahankara and buddhi and their various modes of interaction. And of course there are the important differences between mind and brain (between an intelligence that pervades every cell of the body and the brain or brain function). I’m clear that I don’t want (through use of language) to inadvertently turn “mind” or “thought” into phenomena inferior to sensation, inferior to body, because that would not fit my understanding of the nature of the body-mind-sense complex.I’m enjoying the inspiration!
I am struck by what Kristin has said about observing the harmonious nature of the body energy field in motion. It is a beautiful image and something that I have experienced. I wonder also if this is always the case, whether this harmoniousness is always the case on the deepest of levels, or whether there is a disharmony at times when the body is not at ease. I am thinking about illness, emotional disturbance etc. For myself, I think this kind of inquiry is settling and reassuring in times of dis-ease, but I wonder at whether that is a constant for everyone.Is this level of harmonious functioning/existence the same for everyone, or might someone living under duress or in difficult circumstances find disharmony when practicing such an embodied inquiry. If that were the case it might be upsetting and not something enticing to do. On the other hand, it could be comforting or affirming if such harmony was there to tap into even in difficult circumstances.I suppose that observing the disharmony that might compose the body could be a starting point for awareness and then return to harmony. Or am I complicating this by setting up a dichotomy that is not necessary?
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