Parabola‘s upcoming “Embodiment” is being printed and packed for shipping as we speak. The frantic, last-minute push is over, and now a space opens, a time for collecting ourselves. It is now Passover and Holy Week, an especially rich time to contemplate being in a body.
We invite you to try this gentle exercise, best done in the stillness of sitting or being in nature. Without adding any thoughts, gently restraining the impulse to analysis or any kind of metaphorical or theological fanciness, allow yourself to notice “there is a body.” Be patient and gentle with yourself. Allow any background noise of thought or the life outside to be just that, background noise. Allow the sensation of being in a body may appear.
The Buddha instructed his followers to abide contemplating the body internally, which is what we usually do when we meditate or often when we are relaxed and walking or sitting in nature. He also invited people to contemplate the body externally, which can mean observing other bodies around us–not with judgment and comparison as we usually do but with an awareness that we humans are alike under the skin, all suffering, all striving, all awake and asleep by turns, at peace or gripped by fear or desire of some other conditioning.
Yet the Buddha also added an instruction to “abide contemplating both internally and externally.” This can mean having a two-way attention, sensing ourselves while being aware of the impact of our words and actions and presence on others and in the world around us. We humbly invite you to try this in the coming days. It can be amazing to see how opening to sensation and direct seeing–how inviting the whole of ourselves to be present–can support a deeper understanding of great and mysterious Truth.
3 thoughts on “Including the Body”
Thank you Tracy, this is lovely and meaningful.
Very useful post this one. And the two way contemplation is perhaps what the Greeks thought of as Kairos, the quality of time, the paying attention to the present and it s opportunities, what is in front of us. Especially meaningful this week – with exile, return, transfiguration and resurrection on so many persons’ minds. Thank you Tracy and I’m looking forward to reading my next issue of Parabola!
Kairos, the quality of time, thank for this. Cultivating a two-way attention, experiencing our lives while also open to the life outside, including the ripples we create–this does deepen and open our lives, doesn’t it? Maybe even to what is outside time.