I was listening to Elizabeth Lesser’s discussion after A New Earth aired last week (I download it on iPod for my walking pleasure) and was so taken with Kim Eng’s integration of the spirit and silence evoked in the book on which the web class is based. She teaches movement based awareness, and counts yoga among her “modalities” with Chi Kung and T’ai Chi. She talked about progressing from breath, to sensation to innerbody feeling. I’ve been using this as a sort of template for myself and for my class, and the results have been, well, peaceful.
She brought people to their own silence by first suggesting a breath focus. She progressed to noticing sensation – usually tension, stress – but not naming it. Just being it, being with it. She calls this the outer body. And finally, casting your attention, awareness, your inner gaze on your own sense of aliveness. She suggested the question “How do you know you are alive?” Answered not by words, not by concepts, but in silence, by feeling.
This corresponds in essence to a yogic view of embodiment. Since I don’t relate to yoga as a modality, but as a way of being – like the Tao – encompassing and companioning other ways, I just see the reality to which different systems point. Yogic Philosophy describes embodiment as “koshas” – sheaths. There is a purely physical, the food body, there is energy or breath, there is interactive mind, there is the wisdom body and finally just bliss. Each within and among the others. One way to say what yoga is, is to focus on allowing the alignment of these koshas, or bodies. Allowing, because it’s not a relationship that can manufactured, only facilitated. The kinks and blocks are part of the whole and awareness is alchemical element that dissolves what demands dissolution, cleanses what clings to what is not its own, awakens what is dormant and grows what is nascent.
And breath awareness is lovely, immediate access that defies conceptualization, making it an open and wide entryway into the space we all are. Sensation really takes the open awareness and gives it a finite determined object with which to practice open awareness. And aliveness, chi, prana, spirit: awareness opened on this vista gives rise to presence and joyful action. That’s really the point of it all.