In the previous post, I explored how awareness of the body powerfully contributes to raising awareness and expanding consciousness. Today, I offer two techniques aligned with #Shaivism that I have worked with over the years. These practices will take you deeper.
In the philosophy that I love and study, Kashmir Shaivism, entering into the body can actually take us beyond the body to a place of deep calm. Rather than denying the body, Kashmir Shaivism honours the body; it actually utilises the body to deepen self-realisation. Most techniques used in Shaivism use posture, breath, and focused attention. These techniques focus on increased awareness of the body. A wonderful thing about these techniques is that they can be practiced in busy urban settings if necessary. The first technique can be used anywhere. The second technique is used specifically when exercising.
Exercise 1: Feet on the Ground
This is particularly useful when standing for a while, for example, in a queue, on the beach, in the park, or in a shop. It is very useful as a #posture to come back to: a home position, if you like. This technique gives a firm foundation and allows us to be steady and centered. Being aware of our feet connecting with the floor beneath us is very grounding and can stop us from feeling spaced out or not in the body, which can sometimes happen with intense spiritual practice.
Feel the soles of your feet touch the earth or floor beneath you.
If you are wearing shoes, feel your feet connecting with the earth through your shoes.
Feel the energetic connection. Feel yourself being connected with the earth. All four corners of your feet are connecting with the ground.
As you do this, relax and release tension from the entire body; it is alert, but not stiff. Keep your knees slightly soft; not locked. Be aware of your whole body being in gentle alignment while you are aware of your feet connecting to the earth.
Exercise 2: One-Pointedness
This is an ideal practice for physical exercise. Here we put the mind where we are working in the body. For example, if we are exercising chest, we focus our mind on the chest area, on the exact area where we are working. What this does is make us more aware of the area in the body being trained. This allows us to develop and understand one-pointedness, which is focused or directed attention. Being one-pointed and having focus on each repetition greatly enhances the quality of exercise and helps avoid sloppiness that can lead to injury. This practice is closely aligned to the Shaivite tradition of focusing on centres in the body to both steady the mind and raise consciousness. Training the mind to focus on one place is an essential prerequisite to concentration and meditation.
Pick One and Work With It for a Week
I recommend picking one technique and working with it steadily for a week. See what happens. How does it raise the awareness of your body? How does it make you feel? How does your mindspace feel when you practice it? Do you feel more aware, more present? If you focus on one technique, it gives you the opportunity to go deep into that technique because you are focusing your attention on only it; you are not dissipating your energy through a lack of focus. A key teaching of yoga is focus. Concentration. Concentration harnesses power. It is through concentration that meditation is achieved. Think of a laser beam as compared to a light bulb. What is the difference? Through awareness of the body we can achieve this concentration. Through the body we can access our deeper Self. It is through the body that this must happen, particularly in the busy modern world - Give it a try.