In Part 1 of Mind Body Connection: Myth or Fact? I suggested that maybe there is no mind body connection.
To get the most form this post, you probably want to read Part 1 first.
In it I proposed that rather than think of the mind and body as separate aspects which happen to be connected, you could think of them as an integrated unity without separation.
I then led the reader through a short experiment in following particular sensations related to movement, and in using inclusive attention to broaden their sense of self.
As you read these lines, check in to see if you can use your eyes with even less effort to read these words.
In a non-judgemental way, bring your attention to your breathing. Let it be as simple and easy as possible. There is no need to embellish or interfere with your natural way of breathing — just breath, and notice.
Check in with the way you are sitting, lying or standing, whatever the case may be. Can you shift your weight just as easily in one direction as any other?
Organize yourself so you could indeed shift your weight just as easily to the left as right, forward as back, diagonally this way or that. Rest on your supporting surface from this place where even in your resting, you feel ready to move.
Now spread your attention to allow it to be more inclusive: easy eyes and simple breathing and a readiness to move while quietly resting fully supported by the surface your on (e.g. Chair).
From here you can begin to have a sense of yourself as a unity, where there is no separation between your mind or your body.
Consider the ideas in this blog post with every bit of yourself from the top of your head to the tips of your toes: gut, heart, head, skeleton, muscles, breathing… all of you.
Living and experiencing yourself in a holistic way is an immensely useful step to opening your awareness to the fullness of the present moment with all of its complexities. This is a wonderful way to engage in the process of life — with immediacy and presence.
And there is another, often overlooked aspect of deepening our awareness of what actually is the present moment…
A crucial aspect of living a life filled with presence and fulfillment is recognizing you are embedded in the world.
Not only are you an indivisible whole reading these words, you are embedded in the world. Its not only about how you function yourself. Its also about the context in which you are functioning.
Once you’ve let go of some of the effort around your eyes and in your breathing, and have organized yourself to feel ready to move and shift weight, you may very well feel a sense of what I call “relaxed alertness”.
Here is the next crucial part:
Allow some of your attention to include the place and space all around you. Let your attention widen out. Notice the pull of gravity, the temperature of the air, the sounds you hear all the directions from they’re reaching your ears…
Notice how this opens your awareness. You may sense a greater depth with a feeling of yourself and the world as having more dimensionality, sensing not only what is in front of you, but also the space beside, above, below and behind, you.
Now what sorts of sensation are alive for you? How are you experiencing yourself? Has your mood shifted some?
These are not simply ideas to mull over in your head. They are actions to take.
These actions affect real, tangible, felt changes in the way you are organized.
The neuronal firing in your brain changes which changes the tone (amount of contraction) in your musculature.
You also enable better orientation of yourself in the world.
In other words, you more clearly know where you are in relation to gravity, space, people and objects around you. Your actions can then be more efficient and effective. You can more readily go and do what you really want.
These tangible, felt changes of improved muscular tone and enhanced orientation clarify and expand your perceptions of yourself, and the world with all its difficulties and beauty.
Its not necessarily easy to live with this sense of embedded wholeness. We so often spend our days with a sharpened focus on particular details, especially in this modern, busy, fast paced world. Or — zoned out. And yet, with just a few moments of attending and a little shift in perspective, you can be there (or should I say “here”).
The capacity for inclusive attention is a skill that can be learned.
Like developing any skill, with mindful, repeated practice anyone can become more proficient. With this proficiency comes clearer spatial awareness where you experience less rigidity, an overall sense of presence, clarity of thinking, creative impulses and improved quality of movement.
It Only Takes a Moment
You can check in often. At first, its much easier to do when life is going along more or less fine: When you’re walking the dog, or driving home from work; when your cooking dinner or sitting in front of the fire with a cup of tea; when you’re vacuuming the house or doing the laundry…
Are you just a talking head whose body is simply a vehicle to carry said talking head around?
Or are you living as a beautifully complex, whole, thinking/feeling/sensing/moving being that is an integral aspect of the world at large doing what you do?
With practice this becomes richer and more accessible. Over time you’ll find that even during tumultuous periods of your life, it’ll be easier for you to regain a clearer sense of yourself and the situation with an expanded perception of your options.
As you sense yourself as a whole rather than as a bunch of connected parts, and crucially, as a whole that is embedded in the world, you’ll be more deeply present in the moment as it is. Here, there is less delusion and more room to move, discover, create and participate in this grand unfolding world in a way that feels authentic and real.
Is the mind body connection real?
As I finished the last post, I’d say there is no mind body duality. You are just one, integral, embedded whole.
How do you see it?
I’d love to hear about your experience of exploring this shift in perspective. Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
[Grab the Cheat Sheet for simple, playful little attentional practices you can do any time of day.]
Ron Hayes says
Excellent material – thank you
Gisele St. Hilaire says
You are so very welcome. I’m happy you’ve found it useful.
Yes indeed very useful and Iike the practical aspect of it – trying it out right away and noticing that there is something to it 🙂
one of my favourite all time workshops was one where you helped us explore the duality of gravity and the pull upwards – cannot remember the name of it but it is still with me…
Gisele St. Hilaire says
Ya, there is something really powerful about immediate, tangible, concrete experience isn’t there.
And so glad to hear that workshops meta-theme is still with you. Super cool! 🙂
wonderful! you explain it all so well…
Folden Darnell says
Learnt a lot from this post! Cheers 🙂