The beginning of Fall – at least in the Northern Hemisphere – is a wonderfully rich time for inner and outer evocations. This month we look at ways to make use of your bodymind’s sensoring capabilities for the benefit of you and your partners.
This month we look at ways to make use of your bodymind’s sensoring capabilities for the benefit of you and your partners.
As a super-sensitive organism . . .
You are . . . Megalopolis!
You are . . . the Starship ‘Enterprise’!
You are . . . bristling with highly sensitive visual, audio and other sensory perceptors; processing billions of bits of information; analyzing, forecasting, reviewing; fighting off millions of invisible invaders; progressing through the universe.
You are . . . also sitting in your chair reading this e-zine.
Unlike almost any other animal, the human is not well-equipped with built-in weaponry. We’re out-clawed by the cats; out-toothed by the alligators; out-hugged by the bears; out-jumped and outrun by almost everything, especially over a short distance.
And yet here we are, for better or worse, the rulers of the globe. The reason lies in our ability to think and, in particular, to predict events and plan accordingly.
Accurate planning and appropriate action depend on accurate information. Externally, we have all kinds of media feeding us the facts we need to manage our health, our finances, our careers.
Internally, it’s a different matter. Partly because of the barrage of external stimuli, we tend to overlook the truest messages of all: those created and dispatched by our own organism.
For this reason, a central plank of the dynamic living approach is: know thyself. The successful use of your inner world of emotions as a powerful source of information depends in large part on allowing yourself to feel and accept your inner signals. Then you are free to consider your responses to them and to act with reason rather than simply reacting in an involuntary, reactive way.
The significance of this cannot be overestimated. At the international level, it would almost certainly have brought a very different and much more productive response to the events of 9/11. At the personal level, it might have saved you that last broken heart, or your child that recent, regretted, slap.
The foundation of self-knowledge
Full self-knowledge can only come about if the following three requirements are met:
- You assume total responsibility for yourself and your manifestations: physical, emotional and intellectual;
- You are determined to risk being your true self, independent, actualized and not simply conforming to others’ expectations;
- You are ready to live in the here and now. This means staying in the moment, giving up regret for anything which happened in the past, and not trying to plan and control everything in your future.
That‘s a pretty tall order, but as tolerant, dynamic-living types we can honor ourselves for at least attempting it. In that way we get closer to the ideal, rather than shutting ourselves off from its possibility.
Our physical nature gives us a wonderful and powerful source of information if we are open to its promptings and are prepared to learn what they mean. For example, years of confrontative group work has taught me to be much more aware of the occasions when I am projecting my feelings onto others rather than experiencing them truly myself. There is a particular spot in my lower right abdomen which makes its presence felt when I am ‘lying’ or projecting falsely.
This spot often sounds the alarm when I am holding someone else responsible for something I perceive to be wrong in my life. You can imagine that it bellows lustily during domestic arguments!
Once we’ve made the commitment to know ourselves, there are a number of techniques for exploring our true selves. The one that follows reminds us that we are not just minds, but bodyminds. A more holistic term would be ‘embodied spirits‘ but that may bother those who associate spirituality, not necessarily positively, with organized religion.
What is your focus of awareness?
This exercise is simple enough yet sufficiently revealing that people have been known to deny its results. Its conjectural basis is that at any moment there are millions of things with which we could preoccupy ourselves. However, we don’t make ourselves aware of more than a few of them. This suggests that there is an unconscious selection process constantly operating, governed by some aspect of our inner world and indicative of our intention in life.
To discover your focus of awareness, find a space in the day when there are no overwhelming pressures demanding instant attention. Then, simply sit for two minutes, eyes open, and notice what comes into your awareness during that time. It sometimes helps to trigger the process by saying to yourself: “Right now, I’m aware of . . . . “.
[It might be a good idea to do this now, if you can, before reading on.]
Afterwards, review where your attention went and what were the most insistent signals, relating them to these three possible worlds:
- Cognitive world. This is where many of us live, inside our heads. Did you find your awareness moving to thoughts, fantasies, or problems? Maybe you were making plans for the future – even the immediate future – or were preoccupied with something in the recent past.
- Affective world. This is the world of our bodies, a very revealing world but one which we tend to overlook. Were you aware of physical sensations, emotions, and feelings? Did you notice any particular physiological responses, such as nervousness, muscle tension or twitches? Did you experience a dry throat, or a tapping foot?
- Outside world. This is the world we move around in. Did you find your awareness drawn out of the window? Or toward a mark on the carpet you hadn’t noticed before? Did you rejoice in a particular color or shape of a favorite object? Perhaps you were conscious of the temperature or distant noises.
The object of the exercise is not to be aware of as many things as possible – that can come later – but to discover your preferred focus. Which ‘world’ is the one where you place your emphasis?
It’s also important to ask yourself which world you focused on the least. This is because the awareness we deselect can provide valuable clues to things we don’t want to see within ourselves. An obvious example: a man may avoid looking at an attractive woman because he doesn’t want his sense of inadequacy before her to show. Of course, unless he’s very subtle it will make his discomfiture more obvious.
Bodily sensations and body language are manifestations of our hidden conflicts and feelings. You might find yourself making a fist, or stretching, or stroking your thigh or playing with your hair. In each case, you could ask yourself: “In response to what?”
Let’s say you’re sitting in a meeting and you find you’re stroking your thigh, a very common behavior. Reflecting, you might deduce that it is a calming action. Then you can ask yourself what is agitating you such that you need calming, especially as you aren’t conscious of any agitation.
Then you might notice that the man hogging the limelight in the meeting has an abrasive voice which makes you feel assaulted. In fact, now you’re aware of it, you realize it’s such an awful voice you just want to shut him up! But you can’t, so you shut his abrasiveness out and stroke your thigh, instead.
Later on, he’ll wonder why nobody at the meeting supported him. The others might even wonder the same thing, especially if his content was reasonably sensible. If he’s lucky, someone will pluck up the courage to tell him his vocal presentation drove people away. Then he might ask himself what makes him talk in that way, when on some level he must know it’s going to be ineffective. And so the awareness goes on, opening us up to ourselves.
A rich addition to life
Once you start to explore your awareness, you realize there’s no reason not to constantly ask yourself, “What is going on inside me?” and, thus, become more self-aware.
Next time you’re in a social gathering or business meeting and feel agitated and want to interrupt, pause just a moment. Ask yourself: How am I feeling inside? What does my all-knowing self understand is taking place here? Then you might find yourself sitting it out, making thoughtful and facilitative comments rather than taking a confrontative position. In this way you gain a reputation for being effective in meetings – and you get your own way, often without anyone realizing it.
Make a game of becoming open to all the feelings and sensations inside you, with the goal of becoming a fully experiencing person. You’ll notice subtle shifts in facial expressions, eye movements and tones of voice, first in others, then in yourself. Adopt ‘beginner’s mind’ in a familiar situation and try to see details you never noticed before.
If you find yourself resistant to doing this, ask yourself what it is you may be afraid of revealing, even to yourself. Then remember that to an experienced, self-aware observer you are almost certainly communicating the truth about yourself, no matter what your words may be.
Be warned though. When we start being aware it is a heady experience. Sadly, we almost always have it wrong, projecting ourselves rather than truly reading others. Still, as the Japanese say: “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” Sooner or later you’ll start to be right more often than not.
As a bodymind, you are forced to take your intergalactic spaceship wherever you go. It has more windows than Manhattan, more electrical wiring than Tokyo and more architectural elegance than Paris. Enjoy it and its intelligence sources to the maximum and it will reward you with a rich and effective life.