Here we are, attempting to live in three personal worlds at once—head, heart and body—as we do our best to digest the irruptions in the world outside. Life is shattered on a global scale. Personal lives are put on hold as we await an uncertain future.
How to gather all the help we can muster from head, heart and body, in order to better confront the challenges and confusion that pressure us both out there and in here? How to make the difficult decisions when we are faced with a disconnect between our three parts?
Man is a citizen of three worlds, in which, even now, he has his Being. —Sri Krishna Prem
Here’s the truth of it: The attention of the head brain gets pulled toward anything and everything that attracts it, freely associating thought after thought, intention after intention. But it doesn’t seem to have much feeling for the soul it shares our inner space with, or the vehicle that carries it through life.
Fact is, the head doesn’t know how to care, because the head doesn’t feel! Its job is to collect data and weigh the price of alternatives. That’s where Meaning comes in. Our ability to value is essential to a meaningful life. When our world stops running on autopilot, when something hurts or is too much to bear, we turn to what qigong masters call the Heart-Mind, to find help from another level of life within us.
Then the knowledge comes to me that I have space within me for a second, timeless, larger life. —Rainer Maria Rilke
It is that second life we seek. For while our thoughts, ideas and intentions can call us to action, we depend on meaning and muscle to carry that action out. Hmm. If only it were that easy! Because, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, something always gets in the way. Emotional reactions roil and boil, distracting us from our good intentions. What’s more, as the body wakes up to undertake whatever is the task at hand, mind presses it to muscle through the job as quickly as possible in order to move on to the next thing.
Who pays the price for this misuse of how we were meant to function? You guessed it: our emotional life and our Body Being. They are the First Responders—our very own EMT system.
According to Taoists, we have Three Treasures with which to navigate our lives. Belly, heart and head offer doorways to larger energies, portals to greater vitality, compassion and wisdom. How to access them? We urgently need to develop Body Consciousness. It is the path to becoming present to what’s going on inside our skin.
Sensation is the essential experience on the road to consciousness. —Jeanne de Salzmann
Ask yourself how often you allow the demands of life and the desires of the mind to drive you on without much thought to what that pressure does to your sense of Self and your Body Being over time. It seems we only wake up to our need to understand better what’s going on when something hurts. Or we’re suddenly short of breath. Or shaken by warnings of a possible heart attack or stroke.
At that point we begin to apply our best thought to find a diagnosis and treatment. Nevertheless they may not cover all the bases, because as we endlessly forget—and many doctors ignore—our Body Being isn’t made up of a lot of different, separate pieces, some of which may need to be ‘fixed.’ Ask yourself, when something hurts or gives out, do you tend to attack that limb or organ, formulating the problem in such terms as, “I’ve got a bad hip,” or “my heart is giving me trouble”?
The fact is, we are organic moving entities who look at ourselves in a static way—engineering miracles whose whole structure can be pulled out of line when we lose contact with it. When my hip hurts, there is something is going on in the whole of me. The hipbone is connected to the thighbone, as the song goes. The source of my problem may be an uneven pelvis, a slumped back, or the way I habitually drop my head forward or stick my chin out, in an unconscious attempt to maintain postural balance. As for the heart, an honest look at the pressure I put on myself to perform in order to get what I want could expose the culprit. Both heart and body may have reasons the head cannot understand.
In my own case, it took me years of following divergent medical paths before I finally woke up to the fact that my habitual reactions, thoughts, and way of muscling myself around my world to get what I thought I wanted were the cause of my serious digestive issues. I finally came to understand I needed a whole approach to my situation—mental, emotional and physical.
If you can relate to this, where to start? Develop Body Consciousness! I’ve written a book about it just for you! Both ancient wisdom and cutting-edge science reveal that our bodily presence, our sense of everyday presentness, serves as a bridge between our workaday selves and the I-consciousness that resides within us.
Come alive to your Body Being—the multi-faceted container that takes us everywhere we want to go and helps process everything that happens to us. Learn how to practice attention to head, heart and body simultaneously as you go about your work in the world.
Awakening Body Consciousness is a seven-step path to vibrant physical, mental, and spiritual health that unites Body Consciousness with the heart’s own sense of truth and the mind’s best attention. Whether you wish to explore spiritual development, practice your own presence in the world, or simply live more richly, awakening to your Body Being is the master key. As qigong master Robert Peng says, “if you want to have good spirit, create a container for it!”