Savannah Hanson: Accessing presence
Spiritual teacher Matt Kahn calls the ego an overactive nervous system and this surely fits these times. Many will be suffering from anxiety or depression or both. The increasing stress and speed of modern times can place an incredible burden on the body. Many are experiencing greater challenges. Many of us in this area have been inconvenienced with (for some like me) the third possible power outage in four weeks.
As one stressor after another piles on, some may feel at the end of their ropes, powerless (Yes, quite interesting how the outer can reflect the inner). While being prepared helps with power outages, how do we prepare ourselves for the inevitable onslaught of continuously changing events? (As an aside, I recommend filling the bathtub with water for those on a well to use to flush the toilets).
I sit writing this column not knowing if or when the power will go out. I am attempting to hurry without being stressed so this column is finished regardless of how long power is out. As I sit, I am fully aware of the tension in this spine, running about halfway up. The lower part of the neck feels tight. There is a slight pressure beneath my heart. A heaviness clouds the eyes after another night of broken sleep. To be aware of what is happening in the body as one moves through their day is called Presence. Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle recommends keeping 50% of one’s awareness on what he terms the inner body, the energy field within the body. It is easiest to access the inner body in the hands. Right now, can you feel a pulsing, a tingling, a vibration in your hands? This is the inner body.
Tolle says if we would do a five minute body scan of the inner body daily we would never be sick. Awareness of the sensations in the body can be one of the most important tools in our tool bag for dealing with stress. In fact it can be a gateway to lasting peace and calm. I have at least two friends who are peaceful basically 100% of the time. This is the promise of choosing to be present all the time.
Not surprisingly, this can take great devotion and practice. When someone begins to meditate, to watch the contents of mind, it can be shocking. I have one client who just began this inner awareness practice and is shocked at the number of thoughts that flow through continuously. Many thoughts are rather inane and most are extremely repetitive, the same from day to day. Once while facilitating mindfulness at the jail, I remember a man saying he was completely unaware of his thoughts. It was the first time he had turned within and noticed them!
Yet this simple practice is the single most profound tool of inner freedom I have discovered. In my work with myself and clients, I focus on body sensations rather than turning attention to thoughts. If thoughts arise, what sensations arise in the body in response? If something difficult occurs, where does it land in the body? By noticing the breath tighten, the heart contract, the belly clench, the eye twitch, a miraculous alchemy occurs. This simple welcoming of what is, begins to unleash a spacious Presence that will irrevocably shift and improve the qualities of our lives. Not only will it bring great peace, furthermore when this practice is fully integrated the outer world begins to reflect our inner harmony and the world becomes our oyster. One miracle after another unfolds as our lives flow with what is truly amazing grace. Yet this practice requires devotion.
While I have been professionally trained in this practice for 15 years, it was not until my soul partner told me literally hundreds of times over the last month to join, join, join with every sensation, emotion, feeling no matter how subtle that my life began an incredibly rapid transmutation. While about every other day a significant constriction or density arises for me to welcome, the benefit is so apparent that it is no longer experienced as suffering. The joy and continuous laughter now part of daily life are such a boon that I am willing to go wherever the energy takes me to continue to witness the miraculous become common place. We give shelter to, and choose not to abandon the parts of ourselves seeded by earlier trauma. When we are young we cannot cope with such intensity so we repress it in the unconscious. Allowing it to surface to consciousness to be felt and integrated is one of the single most empowering choices I have ever chosen and witnessed. Try it and see.
For information on private sessions, classes, or to sign up for the online group Wild Hearts: Co-creating the Joy of Being contact Savannah Hanson, M.A., MFT #40422 at (530) 575-5052 or RisingasLove@gmail.com.
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