Even when it's holding tension, the Body is always present. Muscular tension itself is a result of the mind's attempts to disconnect from the present. Fully embracing the present moment, including the experience of embodiment with all of it's raw sensation, emotional pain and pleasure is one of the most direct ways to connect with your deepest self and the only way to fully connect with spirit. Forget transcendence!
Just because we are more than our bodies doesn’t mean we reject, neglect or seek to transcend the body. Being fully present to the daily flow of emotional sensations of body and reveling in the abundant gifts of the senses is actually the doorway to greater presence, joy, meaning and connection with ourselves and others. Our spirits choose this particular vehicle in order to best express themselves in the world and learn the lessons it needs to learn to grow.
The fact that we may have few role models who are fully present in their bodies, the commercialized emphasis on young, idealized bodies as the only bodies worth desiring, and the pain of the small and large traumas we experience as young people, push many of us to live, in the words of James Joyce “a small distance outside of [our] body.” Some express this fundamental disconnection from source in the form of eating disorders or obsessive manipulation of the body, others channel this stress in various directions- the need to control others or their environment, reliance on financial success or social status, spiritual attainment or accomplishment to feel worthy, and on and on. Either way, disconnection from the wise voice of body results in reliance on the ego to confirm that we are worthy of being alive. While some of us may need therapy or spiritual support to begin to reintroduce ourselves to the sensations of the body, fully embracing the experience of embodiment with all of it’s raw sensation, emotional pain and pleasure is the only way to fully connect to spirit.
Spirit lives in the space where the body and the mind come into a state of union, however subtle or temporary. Sinking into the ever-changing intricacies of sensation connects us to the voice of our spirit- our intuition. By following this voice and honoring our emotional landscape without getting sucked into the limited vision of the ego, we naturally make life-affirming choices that serve both ourselves and others while expressing our greater purpose on the planet- the reason we are here with this magic bodily vehicle anyway.
,Accepting the moment as it is, accepting our body as it is, accepting the breath as it is doesn’t foreclose the possibility of self-improvement but allows us to release the idea that there is or ever was anything to fix about ourselves or this moment.
Any practice that draws your attention inward to the intricacy of sensations in the body- a hot bath, the smell of jasmine, reveling in the flavors of a beautiful meal, noticing your breath, stretching and moving in pleasurable ways, singing and dancing- are pathways to presence, and therefore, pathways to spirit. Connection to spirit through mindfulness isn't limited to pleasurable sensations. Being present as challenging emotions and sensations arise invites us into a fresh and honest relationship with the moment. Muscular tension itself is often a result of clinging to the realm of pleasurable sensation and running from those that are more challenging. Over the days, months and years, this unconscious avoidance of 'what is' causes postural dysfunction, muscular imbalance and, ultimately, physical pain.
Receiving Bodywork is one particularly powerful practice of awakening to the complex world of the inner body. A bodywork session is (an often pleasurable) space for exploration of what it means to be fully embodied- to be fully present to the constant flux of sensation that is the language of spirit in human form.