Body Awareness

Some years ago I attended a ten day Buddhist meditation course. It was basically aimed at remaining aware of one’s body and maintaining it for hours. I was told that this was the original Buddhist meditation passed on as a tradition. I thought it was strange as when I was fifteen I took a postal course taught by a man Willian Ousby, his book Self Hypnotism explains some of it, but it was actually advanced body awareness he taught. I practised every day for three months, taking my awareness over my body, and passing my awareness over and over my body for twenty of thirty minutes each day.

Ousby had spent time learning the ancient African disciplines of mind. But I slightly altered it by just being aware of my body, but also whole personality. So with the sexual organs I relaxed any sexual urges – with the abdomen I let go temporarily of hunger – with the chest the enormous emotions and urge to activity that torment people was let go of – with the throat it was letting go of any conscious desire to speak, sing or groan; and with the face letting go of all the enormous sense we have of personal ideas and feelings. It led to this experience.

“I was awake, had not taken any drug and had come home late from spending time eating with friends. I thought I would leave my daily practice but decided to do it anyway. After going over my body several times I suddenly lost my right arm. I had no sensation of it other than space, hugeness. Then I lost awareness of my left arm, and then – my whole body. It was like falling through a trapdoor into space. I had no sense of having a body. Thoughts had ceased, except for a murmur apparently a thousand miles away. Yet in blackness, in immensity, in absence of thought I existed vitally as bodiless awareness. We think that we are our body because we have no other experience of our existence. So, we identify with our body and so are terrified of dying – which in a sense is what we do every time we go to sleep and leave our sense of a body or our personality behind. That experience changed my view of what I am enormously, for I now knew that one could never die, for our very core is awareness beyond the body.”

So, what do such experiences do that changes lives so radically? For a start they remove the fear of death. This is so obvious because most of those who experienced this change say so. But there are other such alterations in people lives, these people do not feel lonely: do not suffer from grief because they feel they have no death except their physical body: they relate differently to time, because they have touched the life of eternity, which has nothing to do with experiencing physical life forever: they often feel they have a direction in life other than ambition, they do not suffer anxiety, also they are often incredibly creative: in fact they are a different type of human being.

I realised it wasn’t relaxation I had used those years ago it was body awareness. For I found what I called Life’s Little Secrets.

In searching for relief from misery I tried many different things, relaxation, yoga, meditation, fasting, and diet among them. They promised to be helpful, but something was missing that I only began to uncover when I started teaching relaxation/surrender. Some of those yoga classes I taught were huge back in the sixties and seventies. To help people I would wander around the class and lift an arm or leg of some of those lying quietly relaxed. I lifted the limb to let the person have an enhanced awareness of their relaxed condition. What amazed me was that often the arm or leg was so rigid with tension it was hard to move. If I let go the limb would remain suspended. On asking the person how they felt they would say, ‘Fine. Really relaxed.’ They didn’t know they were carrying enormous tensions.

It took me a while to realise what that indicated. You could relax surface muscles and feelings, but a mass of tensions were unconscious. Later I learned that such tensions had often arisen from difficult or traumatic past experiences, still locked in the body and emotions. By using relaxation techniques such as dropping the tension of the voluntary muscles or meditating on positive things, those inner tensions were being pushed back into the unconscious – undealt with. When left at that point, relaxation and meditation were a method of suppression and control, not of healing.

With shock I realised this was true of many things that were supposed to be helpful, such as meditation and positive thinking. What they often did was to calm surface feelings by controlling thoughts and body. They did not deal with the real difficulties that had been pushed into the unconscious. Their purpose was to quieten the conscious mind and the voluntary movements of the body, not release unconscious tensions.

I went on an almost fanatical search for what could be done to change that – to release the unconscious problems. The clue was, as Richet says, that ‘the slight instability is the necessary condition for the true stability of the organism.’ I gradually realised that to really adjust to the many knocks and changes we meet in life, our body and mind need to be capable of a type of ‘instability’. It needs to be able to move, to express freely, and to respond automatically or spontaneously. Yet all our cultural training and habits are about control and suppression. Governments also sometimes give huge threats to the people if they do not conform. All in all, we have in many ways been trained to be sick – as I was myself. And, amazingly, my doctor, to deal with depression and physical but undiagnosble pains, was telling me to take a drug, a tranquiliser, to maintain the status quo.

To deal with it is something we need to experience, not something we are taught. The simplest way of describing it is to say it is a process of allowing parts of ourselves to express that in everyday life may never have had opportunity to declare themselves. It is about surrendering our personal egoistic control, and trusting that our Life Process knows how to bring us to wholeness once we yield to It.

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” — T.S. Eliot

“Do nothing, but let things happen.” Carl Jung

When I managed to do that, what happened was incredible. My body and my emotions discharged the whole experience of having my tonsils out as a six year old. My head pulled back, my mouth clamped open, and my arms were in the position of being strapped to my side. Perhaps I had not been fully anaesthetised – I don’t know. What I do know is that I had carried that enormous tension and shock inside me from six until I was thirty five.

Up until that day I had experienced a powerful neck tension that I had tried again and again to ‘relax’ away. My being didn’t need to relax, it needed to discharge in powerful tension, physical struggles and emotion. After this ’shaking’ experience there was never again a tension in my neck, a tension that had been caused by trying to pull away from the surgeon cutting my throat. However, it was not simply a physical tension it released. Powerful emotions were also discharged, ones that had created difficult responses to everyday life.

That was an amazing experience, and from there on I could allow the process to continue its work on me. Gradually it ‘discharged’ the other things from childhood, and another medical operation, that had thrown my body and mind out of balance. But it didn’t stop at clearing out difficult past experiences, its process went on to expansion of awareness and growth – it moved toward making me more than I had been. All of that came about by allowing my being to express spontaneously without my conscious intervention, by allowing spontaneous movement and sounds, by surrendering or offering my body, sexual self, me emotions and mind to the life that had brought me forth; to the unknown of myself and trusting it.

I continue using this ‘opening’ weekly, as I felt it was, for twelve years. And for those years I experienced unconscious traumas being healed, and the the meeting with what I called ‘Blue Skies’ – an enlarged awareness of everything.

Consi8dering my bad birth –  I was two months premature and born dead – not breathing – the doctor threw my lifeless body aside and told my mother that I would be a weak child and she could have more children. However, my grandmother witnessed this and carried my body off and bathed me in hot and cold water and got me breathing. I owe her my life, she was my resurrection. The name of that resurrection was love.

It took ages to realise that I was born a runt – a small or weak person – that could not function as normal healthy people can. I didn’t realise the extent of its influence until I journeyed to Australia and had to have  a full medical examination to enter. The woman doctor, a very efficient and straight-out person, asked me did I know I was born prematurely? I said I did and asked her how she knew. She said, look at the roof of your mouth, it shows your body never completed its growth.

Consider also that I was thrown out of school for not keeping up with the others – for example we had do running as an exercise, and had to run across Regents Park. I had the build of a runner but try as I might I was always last to finish along with two companions, fatty Atkinson and skinny Arkle.

The experience as a fifteen year old must have done something, because creativity flowered in me – because during my life I have worked as a shop assistant – photographer – parent – kitchen porter – trained nurse – telephone exchange operator – van driver – builder decorator – plumber – electrician – television aerial erector – radio and TV broadcaster – journalist – author 40 books – poet – group leader teaching LifeStream, dream work and self help groups starting one of the first self help centres in the UK – psychotherapist using dreams and LifeStream – a bee keeper – newspaper columnist – cook – what next!!!. There are just too many things in life to enjoy and taste. See CriticismsA 1000 Features 



Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved