Years ago I was suffering from sciatica, a resultant effect from my knee surgery. The pain and discomfort was at the forefront of my awareness in every single moment. My mind became a knotted mess, filled with conceptions of how I could escape this suffering once and for all. At the time I was in the midst of my completing my diploma of yoga therapy. Exhausted and depressed from the pain I turned to my professor for guidance: she asked, “Whit, could you begin to listen and talk with your hip?” The bewildered look on my face expressed my ignorance and hidden judgment of this ‘hippy dippy’ yoga talk.
As products of our culture our intellectual conditioning has greatly, if not completely, eradicated our innate ability to connect with the wisdom of the body in which we live. As knowledgeable as we are as humans beings, our intellect has nothing on the inherent wisdom and intelligence of the organism itself. Bombarded by a culture which believes all worth is found outside the realm of our bodily existence, we carry on hopelessly hoping, seeking near and far for guiding wisdom, ignorant to the fact that a reservoir of knowledge, wisdom and freedom runs through the pipes beneath our skin.
Within the infrastructure of the subtle body, an ongoing dialogue is taking place. As a lover of Latin American culture I’ve always thought that it would be cool if the body spoke to me in Spanish, and it certainly would be easier if it spoke in English, but the reality is that our bodies speak the language of the Universe: energy. At our core we are all energy, and I believe it is our birthright to retrieve – not attain – this gift of conversation between mind and body. Remember that yoga is NOT about achievement or attaining anything, but a process of removing the obstacles that impede our connection to the Source.
Let’s pause. Allow the windows of your eyes to close. Draw your awareness to the soles of your feet. From the inside, go visit each toe, one at a time. Take a moment to actually LIVE inside your feet. They are no longer just tools to get you from point A to point B.
What did you notice? Tingling, streaming, pulsing? If not, don’t sweat it. You didn’t become fluent in English overnight and like everything we do, this takes practice, repetition and patience. If you did, great. That tingling, that streaming, THAT is the life force – Prana, the primordial energy that we may often hear about when we are on the mat. And it is your birthright to connect to it.
When we look outside ourselves for each answer we seek, we become disempowered, while furthering the gap between the mind and body, which is the opposite intention of the yogic path. As a teacher, this ability to converse with the body is the most imperative point I seek to bring to my students. As this inherent gift to communicate through the language of sensation is reawakened within us, the dam is broken and the flooding of understanding fills the tributaries of our body. And it is only through listening that we receive the understanding of what’s actually taking place within our own unique bodily existence. As we redevelop the capability to hear what our body is saying, a trusting union is formed between the body and mind, while the omnipotent source of innate healing found in the body is freed from the incarceration of the conceptual mind. Our whole relation to our life inside this virtual reality suit is rewritten when we begin to listen without trying to figure it all out.
Begin the practice of pausing throughout your day, what Ajahn Chah, the great Thai Forest monk calls “moments of temporary nirvana”. Slow down and listen to what your body is saying to you. Your ultimate teacher is found inside and not at the front of the room or in a book, so tap in to the wisdom you were born to experience with the gift of human life. I assure you that with practice you will develop the fluency to enter into dialogue with the body. Harness the power of the mind from its incessant planning, wandering and list making, and sit down to tea with this treasured friend, the body.
Let go of the responsibility that weighs so heavily upon many of us when we come to the mat to “fix” our bodies. Surrender your striving for change and find freedom and healing in the seat of non-judgmental self-awareness.
Pause. Feel. Listen.
Whit Hornsberger is a new transplant to Vancouver having just arrived from Victoria. After an ACL tear ended his basketball career, Whit threw himself into his yoga practice and now finds harmony through exploring Buddhist teachings. Look for more of Whit on the Semperviva Fall Schedule!