Learning to pay attention to something when you have not previously had a reason to do so can take time and commitment. Paying attention in a broad general sense asks that you proceed very slowly, taking time to absorb experience as it occurs, moment by moment. This mental state, alert and alive but not filled with “word thoughts” is one that many people in our society do not experience, except perhaps when they are in nature or deliberately meditating.
This kind of mindfulness can be directed by intention. For instance, what is my body doing when it breathes in and out? Where am I moving and how much? What else is shifting? Can I locate other areas in my body that respond to the air moving in and out and if so, which areas and what sensations do I have there? Is my breath even or uneven? If I watch that, how regular or irregular does it stay if I keep noticing over a period of minutes? Is is possible for me to allow the body to do all the movements of inhalation and exhalation effortlessly? Can I intervene with deliberate movements? What happens when I do? How does that change, if it does, my earlier awareness of what my body is doing as the breath goes in and out?
You can’t possibly know any of that if all you do is force yourself to “breathe in your diaphragm”.
If someone is working on you as a Feldenkreis, Alexander or Shiatsu practitioner, what do you experience as the work takes place? How does it shift your perception of your body during the session and after it’s over? If you are doing yoga, how much can you bring your conscious attention to the asana and what it is doing to and with your body? Can you stay linked to your breathing, your sensations, your movement and your sense of moment by moment experience? If you are linking your body with your mind, how deep and how broad can that link become?
This kind of awareness can, of course, also be brought to any other life experience. You can learn to be aware of eating patterns, work patterns, patterns that show up in relationships. You can notice that you are behaving in a reactionary manner (this is how I always am and always will be) or that you have a choice, in the moment, to watch the desire to react but not follow it. (I want to eat a donut now but I will have an apple instead). You can do this with your voice. (I have a hard time singing that note. I’m just going to yell until I get it to come out or I have a hard time singing that note. I wonder if I could find a way to get there in an easier manner and still sound OK?)
Some people will never “get” any of this. The people who read this blog regularly are probably not in that category. Most of the people who “get” my work are conscious, open, loving beings who desire to use their artistry in the highest possible manner.
If you do not know how to increase your awareness of your body in an “out of the box” manner, please learn. If you are a graduate of my Level III Certification, come to work with Peter Shor in July at Shenandoah. You will not be sorry.