Learning to Invite Your Body's Experience Into the Moment
I was fortunate to spend the past week in the woods of Maine, on a beautiful lake my family has been in relationship with for 3 generations.
One day, I glided through the soft waters on a paddle board out to the very middle of the lake. Here I set the paddle down, and laid my warm, sun-kissed body flat upon the board. Gazing up to watch the morphing arcs of the clouds, I floated on the surface of the water as the wind carried me where it wanted.
It was one of those moments where I felt utterly connected to the elements around me. Expanded in perception to include the far reaches of sky, the cool wet of the water, the not-so-distant call of the loons, and the shimmering quake of the forest lined shore, the leaves moved by the breath of the wind.
It was a perfect moment to invite the inner parts of myself to join the experience, the young parts within that tend to feel like the world is too much sometimes.
As I experienced the outer wonder of the world around me, I simultaneously directed some attention to my inner experience and my body. I could feel some tension in my solar plexus and chest, and a general sense of my energy body holding its breath, not fully landed in the present moment, even as I joyfully participated in this experience.
So I invited these areas of tension, clenching, apprehension and anxiety into the outer experience. I invited the sun to come in. I invited the inner child to come out. I connected to the experience of my body and let it really feel, know, and integrate what was happening around me.
My body softened, my edges relaxed, the speedy pace of travel at which I had been moving began to dissolve, and a quiet presence entered.
It is one thing to place ourselves in wild spaces, or to step ourselves into moments of beauty. It is another thing altogether to intentionally bring our bodies along.
We can know mentally that we’re in a safe place, beautiful natural scenery, or that it’s ok to down-shift into a more relaxed pace of being. But our bodies often hold on to stress, trauma, or other ways of being. They operate more slowly.
Have you ever had the experience of telling yourself it's ok to relax, you don’t need to do anything, and yet your body cannot follow suit, and continues to be in “go” mode?
Or perhaps you’re experiencing something incredible, and everything outwardly seems to be be falling into place, and yet it all just can’t quite land in your body?
Or you feel on edge, or stressed out, or anxious when everything around you is calm and peaceful?
Our bodies sometimes need our intention and care to bring them along. The more we get adept at tuning into our inner experience, the more we can intentionally link that inner experience to our outer surroundings.
Practicing dual perception, both a felt sense of your internal experience, while also holding a wider, more open and aware perception of the outer world, gives us the ability to truly be present. Fully and consciously.
This takes some practice:
Start by moving back and forth between the two modes of perception: your inner, felt sense of your body, and a more expanded sense of what’s happening around you.
One of the two may be more easier for you. Once you have a solid grasp of what each feels like, experiment holding both at once. Can you scan your body while also being aware of the plant next to you? Or the space around you? Or the sunset?
Getting skilled with this invites in a powerful connection with both your body and the world around you.