Navanita explains how to connect with your body and to stay present with your own bodily sensations.
“A miracle is happening every moment. And each cell functions so systematically, in such an orderly way, in such an inner discipline, that it seems almost not possible – millions of cells. Seventy million cells are there in your single body – seventy million souls. Each cell has its own soul. And how they function! And how they function in such a coherence, in such a rhythm and harmony.
And the same cells become the eyes and the same cells become the skin and the same cells become your liver and your heart and your marrow and your mind and your brain. The same cells specialize – then they become specialized cells – but they are the same cells. And how they move, and how subtly and silently they work.
There is a possibility that cancer is nothing but some cell going insane inside you, who has lost track, who is no longer functioning intelligently and has gone berserk. There is a possibility that cancer is nothing but a cell gone out of tune. Otherwise millions and millions of cells are working in such a sane way that even your human society is nothing compared to it. Your society is almost insane – as if everybody is a cancer cell.
In your body, God is manifested. You have to go withinwards. You have not yet acquainted yourself with this temple.
[…] Don’t look for God in the sky, look within your own body. You will become aware of the whole mystery of life.”
Osho, Ecstasy: The Forgotten Language, Ch 7 (excerpt)
Making friends with the body is a lifelong spiritual embodiment inquiry and a direct way to feeling good. For example, when you stretch, the fascia actually secretes ‘feel good’ chemicals. I reckon it’s an ingredient existence quietly installed in the body so we humans would keep moving.
The following article may be fun for you to read and at the same time practice staying present with your own bodily sensations. You can jiggle, stretch, breathe, lean, roll on the floor or whatever and pause whenever you feel like it. This way you are experiencing embodiment while I share about my experience of how I enjoy watching the body.
hugs the lungs
while the lungs
hug the heart.
Like an aeroplane, dropping out of the sky and landing carefully and gently on the earth, I drop down into the body. Sensing the body mobilises an experiential perception of it. Where it exists inside and outside, clarity of boundary supports orientation of where I am and where the other is. I stroke and touch my outer boundary. Leaning into the floor I contact myself through the contact with the earth. Weighted, I belong, I am an earthling, I am earth.
Bonding with gravity underlies all movement patterns. Earth holds me and supports movement.
As my body moves freely, spontaneously, I’m relieved to be friends with it, giving it space and enjoy watching the variety of moves it makes – natural and continuously changing. It is a conscious dance. I prepare and tune the physical body like a musical instrument. Taking time to orient, sense, be in it and consciously preparing to let the dancer be danced.
I direct my attention to the skin that faces out. The mind is like a light‐house shining a light onto the part of the body I attend to. It begins as visualizing and at some point becomes somatisation; translated this means a direct experience of the body. Pictures from an anatomy book help give my mind a direction. I move and touch the territory of skin, it is enlivened – shining, breathing, transparent skin. I come in touch with it as I lean into the room, the floor, the walls, different surfaces in the room, and experience the skin’s perception of itself through the contact. I sense my shape – the outer edge is breathing, meeting the outer environment and I get a clearer picture of where is me on the outside. Safely with this awareness of boundary, my attention turns to the skin that faces the inside of the membrane, my container. I need the touch, breath and movement that shifts my awareness of the body from visualising to somatising it.
‘Soma’ translated means awareness of the body from within. Watching the body in this way means that the experience of the body comes directly from the body. Previously we have been led to misunderstand that the body was what was experienced through energy, emotions or even how we felt about or interpreted what we were aware of in the body. Soma is about experiencing body through the body. It comes from a down-under-up approach rather than a head-down penetrative view. Up-to-down means taking my head into the body and interpreting it and thus meeting it through the lens of my mind.
Down-under-to-up is a direct experience of my body happening through the body’s non‐cognitive language. It’s a passive witnessing. The anatomy comes alive. It’s like having a picture of the body in my head and when I begin to move, breathe, touch, dance and stretch then that picture I thought was me dissolves.
A dimensional presence arrives in my body awareness; it is not flat, I discover shapes, forms within forms.
I play with the location of my breath, trace the clarity and structure of the bones of my ribs, the elasticity of the gaps in-between of the ribs, the intercostal muscles as they move like an accordion and I dance to its music. Together they create a contained shape and I experience being able to move 360 degrees. It comes into aliveness of its own expression. The ribcage hugs the lungs while the lungs hug the heart. I am tickled by the image and sensory awareness of them playing and jumping on the trampoline of the diaphragm. Witnessing the liver and stomach hugging each other and supporting the diaphragm from under, it becomes clear how ‘organ’ised the organs are.
The dancers of the powerful life source, the heart and lungs, are protected by the rib cage. Bringing consciousness to them has strengthened their intelligence and resources. My whole system settles down, relaxes as it recognizes the perception or sensation of feeling safe. I smile from within. The heart, lungs and rib cage are smiling. This radiates through to my blood coursing through the body and now, with this felt sense of safety, the blood dances and distributes love juice through the red blood cells to every cell in the body. They are vitalised.
The image we hold
and our bodies
we move in life.
Entering the body through the dance of the breath, I become aware of spaciousness and lightness supporting the uprightness of my whole body. It was always here, it is empowered with consciousness. The dance of breath moves the body. The moving space between the front and back of the body expands and widens with the attention. I am witnessing an embodied place of space and experiencing meditation tangibly.
Attending to the pull and support of gravity, my feet tickle and kiss the earth. This grounded attention inspires an earth dance. The body takes on a delicious weightedness and is nourished by the magnetic pull of the earth.
I am aware of the body being held from the earth and the uplifting space within. It is a sensation of being held by my own body. That feeling emanates through to my cells. There is a change from the self‐image of effort and having to hold myself together, to a felt sense of being held. This new embodied perception of being held affects my movements in life which become light, easy and aligned.
The image we hold of ourselves and our bodies affects how we move in life. This image is often unconscious. It has been built up from past experiences beginning from conception and influenced by the external environment and the society we grow up in. Our natural movement development patterns have a template that affects how we perceive ourselves, the environment and our relating. While they may have been disturbed, the good news is it can be re‐patterned. Being present and experiencing sensation of the body in this moment re-establishes connection to our natural embodied resources. It’s not about trying to get it right or adopting dogmatic concepts. Playfulness, compassion and patience, I have discovered, are useful ways to befriend the body.
Getting to know and make friends with the body is about waiting and letting it come to you. It’s like knocking at its door and in a loving way inquiring in your way, “Can I come in? I want to get to know you and be a friend.” At first, when we visit the inner body it may appear dark or feel elusive. Like a child who may not have had the attention it needs, it shakes its head stubbornly and responds, “You never noticed me before ! Why Now? What happens when I open… will you go away again?”
Patiently you may reply to the body, “I notice I can’t hear, understand your language or see you yet.” Or say whatever is the truth of this moment and then, “I am getting to know you and I sincerely want to. I will come back tomorrow and meet you again.” Each day you need some contact with your body to return to its innocence.
of the body
is the last meditation
Osho gave us.
Remembering the forgotten language of the body is the last meditation Osho gave us. He had not finished designing it when he left the body. He said he would try it with hypnosis. From my experience, own healing journeys and understanding, we need to get to know it through its language which is movement and touch. I practice and teach it through Somatic Movement and Touch, Dance Meditation, yoga stretching, sensing, expression, visualising and playfulness. An interesting point Osho made was that we should ask the body for forgiveness as we have not been taking care of it. Most people just use the body to carry a head around on, or keep up an image. As we begin to recognise the body as a friend, our compassion grows. Being friends with the body has never been taught. To learn its language we need to relearn and be inquisitive about its needs. Admitting that we don’t know how is a kind way to start. Learn the art of listening – trust, move and take care of it.
This friendly connection moves with us in daily life. Being able to remain with some attention inside the body while moving on the outside strengthens consciousness and clarity of orientation, ability to communicate and respond to this moment.
The body is the home of the beloved – innocent like a child and full of wisdom and mystery. Taking care of the body is taking care of the instrument through which life dances its mysterious dance.
“The Baul cherishes the body because the body is a vehicle, and through the body one can know that which is embodied, that which is not body itself.”
Osho, The Beloved Vol. 1, Ch 8, Q 1 (excerpt)
A sannyasin since Pune 1 days, Australian-born Navanita has always been a very active person, from being a sprinting champion to teaching somatic movement, dance, stretching classes, and ‘Divine Dancing Drunkards’ meditation among several others. After being severely injured in a bus accident in India in 1994, she took her ‘Talking to the Body’ practices and embarked on her own healing journey which ultimately led her to the present work she teaches – healing on a cellular level. www.navanita.net