Stefano Provenzi

The Tao of Body-Awareness

21 posts in this topic

This is a crucial topic. The way of body awareness can boost your growth like few others. I will now try to make a case for it, but really you just have to make it a priority, a constant focus, and trust me, you will see the fruits, in abundance, I've seen them, and keep seeing more every day that passes.

Someone once said that the body is the temple of the soul...

 

Here is are various aspects of what I define as body-awareness, and some of its benefits (not in any particular order):

  • Being aware of the force of gravity pulling you down, rooting you, gives you stability and security; it grounds you.
  • Open your body, do not close up - it will reflect the way you face life situations: are you willing to drop resistance and denial, and accept and deal with your current circumstances?
  • Notice that your body, even in psychologically and emotionally challenging situation is always fine. Get it. Unless you get physically injured, your body is mostly doing just fine. If you can realize this, it will show you great freedom.
  • While exercising, be aware of your bodily sensations: especially of your joints and breath. It will ensure that you do not hurt yourself, after repetitive unconscious movements.
  • RELAX. Let the energy, the emotions, be. Feel into your chest and belly. Stay with whatever arises. It is a way to clean your suppressed emotions; in fact, once allowed and listened to, they will gradually bubble up, and release.
  • Be conscious of the breath, and breath fully. Progressively inhale expanding: diaphragm > lower ribs > upper chest. And then, exhale, emptying the lungs in the opposite order. It is optimal to massage with your breath your internal organs, and to allow the oxygen to clean all the waste.
  • Relax your shoulders while typing or working at the desk (easier said than done!!). It will reduce your stress, and as a consequence you will be less drawn to waste hours on the internet.
  • Flow like water, be gentle and yet firm with your movements: the body reflects the mind, and viceversa.
  • Feel into pain. Being deeply aware of unpleasant physical sensations, such as tension and pain, will greatly reduce both the pain itself, and also the mental suffering which is created and attached to the unpleasant sensation.
  • Focusing on bodily sensations will greatly reduce your futile thoughts and monkey-mind. It will anchor you in the now, so you can witness them easily. "Until the cup will be empty".
  • Paradoxically, at a certain point you will develop a certain detachment from the body, distancing yourself. You will slowly realize that all that you know about this body are the sensations, and in the same way you witness your thoughts and realize they are not you, you will witness bodily sensations and slowly realize that you are not limited to them.
  • Awareness of your body and emotions while eating will be enough to tell you when you are overeating (in case that's your thing)
  • Being conscious of your body in relationships to other people bodies, while interacting and speaking, will allow you to have more effective interactions, and more impactful speech. Also, discrepancies between what you are saying and your posture, are probably a signal that you are not being fully authentic.

 

Sources:

  • My own experience, as a human being, as a dancer, a yoga practitioner, and a life-long learner.
  • Zen body-being - Peter Ralston
  • Emotional clearing - John Ruskan
  • The science of breath - Yogi Ramacharaka

@Leo Gura you might find this useful

Ask me if you have any questions. I hope you enjoyed ;)

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Great post.  Very good reminders in there especially to just breathe!!  Simple but powerful!


Examine what you believe to be impossible, and then change your beliefs.

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For more in-depth on deep-breathing techniques, I highly recommend The Tao of Health, Sex, and Longevity by Daniel Reid. Life-changing practice. Cheers. :)

Edited by ppfeiff

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@Charlotte 🌻 my pleasure

I would like to speak about something with you guys and ladies... I've heard people on the forum, and @Leo Gura even a couple of times, struggling to get to a state of mind which is free of thoughts, both during meditation and the rest of the day. Now, I'm sharing this because I think it will help.

Most of the time my mind is empty (in a positive sense ahah). I can reach that state voulontarily and it is NOT a struggle, it's quite effortless.

I want to clarify that I haven't had any mystical experience... Or maybe once an year ago  when I was having lunch by myself and for around 5 minutes my identity "felt" spread out, as if every object was somehow me. But anyway, I meditate for 45 peaceful minutes a day (I started an year znd a half ago). And really that's all I formally do.

What has really helped me is body awareness. All day, every day, or at least when I do want to quiet my mind. In my eperience, if you want to stop thinking, you cannot force it. You must bypass it, dissolve the problem, takle it from another plane. And I do this by simply and persistently being aware of my body and relaxing it.

Once you bring your "center of gravity" from head to body, thoghts will naturally die out 🌅

Edit: I'm actually VERY conceptual and philosophically inclined. And maybe this is precisely why this paths fits me so well...

Edited by Stefano Provenzi

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@Stefano ProvenziThank you so much for writing that summary. I too am rely on the mind as the prominent tool on the spiritual quest and hit a plateau. Practicing bodily awareness grounds me immediately, and just by focusing on my breath and feet, and doing a full body breathing, interrupt the activity of thinking. 

I started this audiobook a few days ago and find it very helpful. The author says too that paradoxically, by being grounded in somatic/bodily sensation, it's one of the most effective way to realize Pure Awareness. https://www.audible.com/pd/Self-Development/The-Practice-of-Pure-Awareness-Audiobook/B0176Q1QQM

Like one of the pointers you've mentioned, when you open up the body and remove any frontier or boundary between a person and the world, your ego and hurtful sensation or problematic thoughts, immediately you are at peace. Breathing into those resistance releases deeply repressed emotions. It takes some courage to breath into and open up into them, but it completely bypasses needing to processing them mentally, and just clear the energetic blockage up.

Also in that state of no or little mental activity, there's really nothing you want more. That's it. Until the mind comes back and try to convince you to tend to all the planning and problem solving it wants you to engage in.

Very interesting discovery to me personally, since I'm such a mentally and intellectually dependent person. I find doing body weight exercises or yoga can also bring about the same calmness. 

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:)

Yeah I feel a balance of all sensdations is fundamental. If one sensation dominates another then thought will identify as the center, and limit the experience with thought “memory, knowledge, and past experience, as it’s main source of perception. 

Which can never see WHAT IS

Edited by Faceless

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@MaycolThanks for sharing

In my experience, most self development can be done by relating to others, and communicating as honestly as possible, while maintaining full body awareness. As simple as this sounds, so much shit comes up when I commit to being honest and authentic (while maintaining a non-violent communication). Especially given the many differences that I have from other people: even just being involved in consciousness work, and wanting to contribute to the world, instead of being focused on social status and consumerism. The frictions that emerge during the discussions, mixed with a full-(somatic and emotional) body awareness, will be like a flame that burns the ego and purifies.

Really, to me, what's really required is not reading a thousands books (even if I do), but having the balls to go through the process above described.

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@Stefano Provenzi very inspiring and insightful, thank you very much. 

I struggle with this a lot. even though I've done a lot of physical activity when I was younger, I've always been 'stuck in the clouds', thinking, thinking, thinking, fantasizing. I've only noticed my really bad body awareness after starting a hatha yoga practice last summer. I'm very much stuck in my mind most of the time, miles away from my body and breath. I keep forgetting... but it's getting better!

thank you for reminding me again <3

maybe you naturally have such a high body awareness because you're a dancer? I'd guess dancers are naturally more at easy with their body, more grounded into it. maybe people who do a lot of sports in general...well, I seem to be an exception ;) 


whatever arises, love that

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@phoenix666 You are welcome!

I practiced kick boxing for 4 years, and danced a lot as I said, but in my experience it was not linked at all with body awareness.

I started to develop this practice mostly an year ago, and I did so because I committed to self development and consciousness work, and I saw in body awareness a very powerful and SIMPLE tool. I really like simplicity.

I want to write a bit about this topic of simplicity. I realized that most of my suffering and unwise action is a consequence of an assumption of incompleteness, of not being good enough, or of needing something to be "done", to be able to live life. This motive was fueling also my self actualization journey: I was reading many books, and watching many videos, in search of some secret trick, or who knows what, a solution maybe. But inside I could feel a sense of discomfort, and angst.

Long story short, I realized that all I wanted was for somebody to tell me "You know what to do. You are your own guidance. You know what's best for you!". And of course it is true, I know what's best for me and what to do. And all the methods and techniques that I can read about were developed by people living their lives as I am living mine. I mean that what everybody has is reality, is our personal experience, and all we need can be found here.

And so my meditation practice is just about sitting twice a day for 45 minutes, and being with reality as much as I can, just seeing it for what it is and surrendering all my pretenses, judgement, and assumptions.

And my journaling practice is just about journaling, not following some particular exercise or whatever, because I just know what I need to write about.

And my bodily practices are just about feeling into the body and moving… and it may take the form of dancing, stretching, or whatever, but it's dictated by what's needed now and what I know is best now.

And this knowing of what's best in every moment, is possible by a deep listening, to the heart, or intuition, to the only voice which doesn't need words to express itself, but just knows. And this is possible because I freed my mind from thoughts… thanks to body awareness.

"The circle is complete." -Hitler

 

Edit

As a great example, when Leo started answering again on the forum and posting on the blog, I saw this distortion playing out again. I was checking the actualized.org often during the day, hoping to be illuminated with some powerful video or post. But again, really?? What magical words will save me? (Still with all my gratitude to Leo, and his work.) I realized once again how illusory is this cheese-chasing, this consumerism mindset which permeates everything. Let's flip the switch and realize that WE can guide, we can produce, create, give, contribute, and that this only will be both cause and effect of realizing that we are already and ultimately complete.

Edited by Stefano Provenzi

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@Stefano Provenzi really, you don't think your body awareness is linked to sports and specially dancing? that's interesting. maybe unconsciously? I noticed my awareness improving with swimming and yoga, both activities in complete silence, where I am practically forced to rest my awareness on the breathing process. I try to execute repetitive movements in a mindful way. I find this very helpful :x

yeah, simplicity is something very powerful. I became aware of that because I have quite strong reaction to it. I love it because I can intuit a lot of power in simplicity and my ego/mind hates it...it loves challenging and complex riddles. it's a classic, a paradox ;)

this is wonderful, Stefano. I am glad you found something this simple and powerful for yourself. you're right, deep down we know, we're all we need. it's just that most of us have been fed with so much BS and beliefs...most of our life is so noisy, intuition gets buried deep under mountains of distractions. I'm working extending silence in my life, so that I can reconnect with my inner voice/guidance. Kriya and meditation are my tools right now. I will try to implement body awareness in my life as well. 

hahaha true, true. I've noticed that in me as well. but don't beat yourself up. there is value in exploring infinite different perspectives, and this forum is the perfect place to do so. I love Leos videos because they resonate with me so much. I also love reading his posts because his words just ring.. do you know what I mean? I read them and deep down I feel 'oh yeah, that's it, that's what I was looking for right now.' as if I read exactly what I need to read in this moment to grow. it happens quite often, but specially with his posts.


whatever arises, love that

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@phoenix666 Thanks for sharing!

Yes I'm sure. I've been swimming for years, and in the past I would just be thinking all the time at random things. Now, since I set the intention to be conscious, water is beautiful and silent.

I too resonate with Leo and find it useful most of the time, but I said so because I noticed suffering in the background. Checking the forum was done form a place of wanting to be entertained and distracted. And it's not really bad in itself, but we must realize what are we doing here. I'm wanting to go all in, and drop what I intuit needs to be dropped, sooner or later. And so I will not be interacting so much anymore. Firstly because I want to spend less time in front of a screen, and more face to face with people. Secondly because I believe enough has been said, in general, there are so many books, so many posts, so many videos… and most of them are just noise. And so I choose not to contribute to the mess, unless I've something really valuable to share, and to be silent and listen.

I'm glad you found the practice of body-awareness powerful. Enjoy your day ^_^

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