Exercise 2: Presence
Did you know that you have more than one body? Besides your physical body, you also have a emotional body and a mental body.
When you are in your emotional body, you are in the past. It is there that you nurse old wounds, replay scenes from when you were either a victim or a victor, and re-experience a sense of scary separateness. You can get lost in the woulda-shoulda-coulda game of regret and loss. It’s where you dwell in unresolved pain.
When you are in your mental body, you live in a future that doesn’t yet exist. You worry about what may or may not happen. You’re anxious about what you can and can’t control. You can build a thousand scenarios around your angst. And then a thousand more.
When you are in your physical body, though, you are present. Here and now, all is well. When you pause to be with your breath, when you bring your consciousness to the soft confines of your body, when you observe your bodily senses, you experience no anguish, no anxiety. Here you find stillness, ease, peace and connection to your Source, no matter what is swirling around outside you.
With that framework, I invite you to get in a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down. You’ll be here for 15 – 20 minutes so you want to be comfortable and relaxed but not so much that you fall off to sleep (although if you do, that’s OK). You may play the guided audio meditation by clicking on the purple button, or you may have someone read the following to you — maybe even you, if you want to record yourself ahead of time. You may also want to have soft or chanting music on, something that is meaningful and relaxing to you. Note that there are stretches of silence, space you do not need to fill.
Sit or lie quietly and collect all the bits of yourself you’ve left scattered “out there.” Let go of any thoughts of work, duties and your To Do list. They’ll wait for you — let them be for now. Let go any thoughts of conflict with others or within yourself. As a thought comes up, notice that it’s there and then gently release it. Your thoughts become clouds without form, merely passing by, moving on.
Notice your breath. Bring it in through your nostrils. Notice as it swirls its way down through your windpipe and into your lungs. Notice how deeply you are bringing into your lungs. Just awareness at first; then more depth in your inhales. Observe how long your inhales and exhales are. Notice your belly expanding as you inhale and receding as you exhale. Imagine the breath coming in through your nostrils and lungs and then traveling to all parts of your body.
With an inhale, tense and raise your shoulders. With an exhale, relax them again. Notice your legs and feet and tense them on the inhale, and release tension on the exhale. Notice your arms and hands and tense them on the inhale; release the tension on the exhale. Notice and contract your torso on the inhale; release tension on the exhale.
Breathe and notice your breath. If thoughts arise, notice them without judging, and let them move on, riding your breath out as you exhale.
Your inhales are nourishing all the cells of your body, bringing in consciousness — spirit (as in in-spiration). Your exhales are moving out what you don’t need, getting rid of used-up, stale stuff and removing it from your physical body. In with consciousness, out with all that no longer serves you. In with ALL of creation; out to a state of void, of nothing. Alternating all and nothing, all and nothing. On the inhale you are filled with all you need; on the exhale you need nothing.
Notice the inside of your eyelids. Simply observe, whether you “see” something or nothing. Swirling colors? Geometric shapes? The color of nothing?
Listen. Can you hear your heartbeat? Sense your pulse? Listen beyond it for the vibration of the entire universe, that All that you are connected to but don’t often notice.
Be present in your mouth. Can you sense your taste buds? Can you feel your salivary glands working, even as you were not previously aware of them?
Bring your consciousness to a spot halfway down your right thighbone on the inside part of the leg. What processes are going on there? Marrow is being made, blood cells are in various stages of production, bone cells are dying and being renewed. Sit with this presence of this one spot in your body. Find a new random spot in the body to bring your awareness to.
Now engage your nose again. As you breathe in, what do you notice? What can you sense from the space around you? Can you smell the last meal that was made? Or a scented bath that was taken? Are there plants, flowers or trees that have their essences wafting in the air you breathe? Was a room recently painted? Does a trash can need to be emptied? Is there a remnant of someone’s cologne you can sense?
Pick one of your senses and sit with it for a moment. Simply observe…
Now open your eyes to a soft gaze. Reflect on the past few minutes of being present in your body. What was it like to focus on singular parts of your body? What did doing so do to your mind-chatter? How was it to live in your senses for a bit? As you brought your consciousness to various places in your physical being,were you also able to experience angst and worry, anger, guilt, or grief?
For even nanoseconds while you quieted your mind and were present, did you feel a sense of contentment, of OKness, of release from your emotional and mental bodies?
With practice, these nanoseconds can become microseconds, which can become actual seconds, and then maybe even minutes.
Inhale deeply and close by offering gratitude to God/the Divine, to your body for serving you well, and to your Self for making YOU a priority with this sacred time.
(the divine in me recognizes and honors the divine in you)
Want more? Click on Audio Exercise #1.
For more on building a regular meditation practice, visit Sally Kempton’s website.
The painting of the Sixth (ajna) chakra was created by Lisa Brown-Olsen.