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Befriending life is a grand adventure.   Here is a bird’s eye view of the explorations which call to me…

Body and energy literacy

I am learning to perceive a widening range of bodily sensations so I can expand my capacity to experience life force, and receive its cues, feedback, nourishment and guidance.  I used to primarily notice my body’s messages when they got fairly loud (i.e. muscle pain, tooth ache, tightness in the gut or the solar plexus, goose bumps, intense pleasure, hunger pains, physical exhaustion and burnout).  I was not very aware of the subtler flow of sensations unfolding moment to moment in the body: tingling, buzzing, and other textures of energy, internal movements, a growing or lessening sense of inner spaciousness, light pulls and pressures, or shifting temperatures.  My capacity to perceive what feels enlivening or deadening came little by little, with paying closer attention to my inner experience throughout the day, and finding the words to articulate what I would inwardly notice in different situations, or around different people.  The books listed in the resources section of this site were all very helpful in growing a vocabulary to help describe my inner world, but ultimately not as important as the simple practice of remembering to repeatedly ask, alone and with others, “What am I feeling in my body right now?” 

Feeling more

Some of us are physically conditioned or emotionally wired to only notice and experience certain sensations of pain or pleasure, and ignore others.  And we often organize our lives so as to feel more of some, and less of the others, which restricts our capacity to engage the full spectrum of our energies, and relax the constrictions we inherited or developed through particular lifestyles.  Learning to feel more has involved expanding my capacity to feel whatever shows up (on the pain – pleasure continuum) without avoiding, protecting, numbing or controlling.  Easier said than done, of course, and I am learning that this process cannot be forced or fast forwarded.  Our protective layers are there for a reason, and they can be shed over time through the healing power of our attentiveness, but not forcibly or prematurely removed… at least not without cost.  The body seems to have its own pace and approach for healing.  So, I have been learning to patiently stay with sensations of discomfort or pleasure, with an awareness that my attention is supporting energetic transformation.  I stay focused on what begs my attention, until it eventually dissolves or transforms.  Learning to feel more is what strengthens my capacity to receive life’s feedback and transmute whatever disturbance comes to awareness.   In challenging situations, I try to remember to ask: What am I resisting feeling right now?

Developing multi-directional awareness

Even as your attention is turned outward,
your awareness on the external world,

attend also to the inner throb,
the pulsing of the creative life force within you.
~ The Radiance Sutras

Can I keep a part of my awareness inward to feel what is alive within me, even as I am also focused outward, involved in external activities?  That’s the question I regularly ask myself in social settings.  Cultivating this type of bi-directional awareness helps me to notice and feel the inner and outer impact of what I do and say yes to, and course correct as needed.

Embodied listening and speaking

This is one form of bi-directional focus which I have turned into its own area of practice: developing the capacity to speak and listen while staying connected to what is happening internally.  I wrote more about this in a post titled “Talking while meditating.”

Learning to receive

Our world conditions us to act, do and lead.  And consequently, many of us spend our lives trying to bend life to our own will, trying to get what we want. Cultivating receptive awareness involves developing the ability to notice what life naturally wants to give us energetically, emotionally, and materially, and strengthen our ability to receive these energies, emotions, experiences… so we can grow certain muscles and abilities.  Our insatiable quest for ‘more’ (food, money, security, experiences etc.) in the outer world, is linked to our lack of ability to truly feel, experience and receive what we have or get along the way.  This does not mean that everyone has enough, far from it.  Hunger is real in this world.  And the rest of us are often starved without knowing it… starved for connection, real nutrition, support, encouragement, security, but the way we try to get these things rarely get our needs met, until we first learn to really feel and receive with our whole body.

Learning to follow life

Learning to follow what is drawing my attention moment to moment taught me the huge difference between directing my attention in particular ways to avoid certain feelings, or force certain outcomes, vs. focusing my attention on what is naturally drawing it, so that I can allow life to guide me.

Opening to visuals

When I turn my gaze inward and pay attention to whatever comes to awareness, I often see visuals form in my mind, sometimes accompanied by inner knowings, always accompanied by different sensations in my body, which often shift as I stay present and watch the visual unfold.  These ‘inner” visuals arise in relationship to whatever is seeking my attention, a challenge, a friend, a situation, a possibility.  They are different from what happens when I intentionally use my imagination to picture possibilities or scenarios that I’d like to see happen.  Visuals have a life of their own.  They just come to me in their own timing, when I am receptive and open to them.  I have been learning to let them unfold without trying to control or direct them.  I do not take them literally, but they have an uncanny capacity to help shift constricted energy, and open up new possibilities.  You can read more about that if you feel drawn.

Letting life speak

I don’t know about you, but I never had much trouble hearing the denser, tighter, smaller part of my being, the one that doubts, criticizes, and disconnects me from both my deeper needs and knowings, as well as others.’ That voice has always been pretty loud, and it’s generously affirmed by our judgement-based culture. It has been more challenging to feel and hear the subtler and vaster part of who I am, the part that actually knows what I need in each moment, the part that can attune to others and the larger body of life and communicate and act from a felt sense of connectedness, wholeness and oneness. I have had to learn to access that voice. Life-affirming energy expresses vibrationally, not conceptually, or judgmentally.  When we are tuned in and connected with the larger energies of life, our words naturally become more life-affirming, and more focused on what we feel, experience and need, rather than what we think.  Letting life speak is all about cultivating access to that subtler, wiser voice, and embodying it.  I am in the process of writing more about my explorations in this area, so stay tuned for future posts.

The journey from disconnection to reconnection is essentially about creating bridges between bodily sensations and mental thoughts, between inner and outer focus, between self and others, “us and them”… until union, communion, wholeness, or oneness become felt experiences, rather than inspiring ideas.