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(Em)body Mindfulness

Our Western society is so oriented toward the intellectual that we forget (or want to forget) that we have a body. We don’t like how it looks or some part of it doesn’t work well, so we ignore it or even hate it.

But not until we assimilate all aspects of ourselves, our thoughts, emotions, physical sensations and breath, will we come to know ourselves fully. Not in the way that we are overwhelmed by our thoughts, emotions and sensations, but so that we are present for them, recognizing them for what they are; simply thoughts, emotions and sensations.

Mindfulness or self-awareness allows this process of embodiment to occur. We need to recognize that our thoughts manifest in physical ways and our emotions influence our thoughts and our bodies affect our breath and our thoughts affect our…..well, you get the idea. There is an intimate connection with our thoughts, emotions, body and breath. Have you noticed? If you haven’t, spend some time feeling what the body feels like sitting, if that is what you are doing right now. The pressure of the body against the chair, the warmth or coolness of those connections. What else do you notice about the body as you sit? Make sure you notice the quality of your breath.

Some of the synonyoms for embody are personify, manifest, realize, incarnate, incorporate, encompass, assimilate, integrate and provide (a spirit) with a physical form. But for me, the word embody means presence. If one is present, one can notice the in-breath and out-breath, the easing of tension in the body, the thoughts that we replay in our head and the emotions that arise from how we think. Also, connecting with the breath and body brings us into the present moment as nothing else can. So, this presence requires that we occupy our consciousness and experience directly, being the one that feels what we feel and notice what we think. We become present in a way that can be quite profound. We will then also notice that this is a process, not stagnant, but always changing.

In this body, a fathom long, with its thoughts and emotions, I declare are the world, the origins of the world, the cessation of the world and the path leading to the cessation of the world.  Anguttara Nikaya IV, 45


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