Placing attention on the inner body is a truly wonderful thing to do. Western man rarely places attention on the inner body unless he is in pain. Seldom does he have his attention on the body when it is free from pain. Seldom does he experience the vibration of energy that resonates there. The body is your connection with life itself. Your body is life.
If you have never placed attention on your body before, start off slowly. If you have already been following and reducing your breath, you will ﬁnd this relatively easy to do. Close your eyes and bring attention to one of your hands. Feel your hand from within. Stay with the energy ﬁeld of your hand for a little while. When you have a good feeling of the inner energy ﬁeld of your hand, move your attention to include your arm. Now feel the energy ﬁeld of your hand and arm together. Don’t analyse or think about it, just feel it.
Next, bring attention to your chest and feel it from within for a couple of minutes. Then bring attention to your stomach. Feel whether there is any tension here. If your stomach is tense, imagine it gradually relaxing. Feel the area around your tummy relaxing by itself. Feel the tension dissolving. The more active your mind, the greater the tendency for your stomach to be in a knot. Relax this area using your imagination. Now feel the energy ﬁeld of both hands, both arms, your chest and your tummy at the same time. Keep your attention there. Your body will rejoice in the attention that you are giving it. As long as your attention is on your body, it is not on your mind. The incessant thought activity of your mind has stopped.
When you are focusing on reducing your breathing, you are out of your mind. You are giving your chatter a rest. Wonderful!
When you have attention on your inner body, you are out of your mind.
You are taking back ownership of your mind.
When your complete attention is on your senses, you are out of your mind. You did this naturally as a child.
You cannot have complete attention on your inner body and at the same time have mental noise. With a little practise, you will be able to feel your entire body from head to toe. During the day as you do go about your daily affairs, bring attention to your breathing and your inner body. As you drive your car, have 70% of your attention on driving and 30% in your inner body. As you walk, feel your body relax throughout.
As you watch TV, don’t surrender all of your attention to the TV, but immerse yourself in your inner body. If there is confrontation on TV, bring attention immediately to your inner body. Don’t become absorbed with the tension, stress, anger and ﬁghting that takes place on popular soap operas. Better still, don’t watch them at all. The popularity of such soaps is an indication of our mad world. As you relate to your children, friends, family or any person, listen to them with your entire body. Feel your body as you listen. This is real listening.
As you eat, taste the food and feel your inner body. Stay in your body. As you lie in bed at night, feel your inner body. This is not just something that you do every now and again. This is something that you reside in permanently. Every minute, every hour, every day, take attention out of your head and your story and merge yourself with the body.
You still have use of your mind whenever you need it for a practical situation. However, you will have reduced the meaningless and devastating habit of repetitive thinking. The inner body has an intelligence far greater than just a collection of thoughts. Merge with that intelligence. Don’t avoid it all the time by living in your head. As long as attention is on your inner body, your mind is calm. If for a moment you forget about keeping attention on your inner body, then you are back in your mind. This will happen quite often at the start. Don’t start giving out to yourself if you ﬁnd it difﬁcult to place your attention on your inner body for more than a few minutes. This is your mind’s habit. To change this habit, keep bringing attention to your inner body. If your mind wanders again, keep bringing it back. The more you practise this, the better and easier it gets.
Your mind activity is your choice. Do you want to keep repeating the insane nonsense running through your head or do you want to connect with life? Bring attention home to your body. As you become proﬁcient with awareness of your inner body, incorporate gentle, reduced breathing through relaxation. While relaxed, allow your breathing to calm by itself. Feel a tolerable but comfortable need for air. Feel your inner body. Feel your tummy gently move with each breath.
Are you connected to the wonders of life ?
Most of us are blessed with the traditional ﬁve senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. A sixth sense is intuition, which is to sense something in advance or to know what course of action to take based on a feeling or a hunch instead of logical processing. Our ﬁve senses enable us to directly experience life on earth. How often do you use your ﬁve senses with an undivided mind? When we put our total attention on our ﬁve senses, we are out of our mind and are connecting with reality. When you look, look. When you touch, touch. When you taste, taste. When you smell, smell. While using your senses, have nothing else running through your mind. Just be there with your full attention. Set aside the activity of your mind and merge with your surroundings.
The question is how much time do you spend using your ﬁve senses without the mental commentary running in the background? Is your complete attention regularly on the ﬁve senses or is some of it on your senses, with the remainder in your head? When you look, do you really see unhindered by thought? Are you seeing, or is there mental commentary perceiving, analysing and labelling what you are seeing? When you hear, are you listening with all of your attention? Or is there part listening and part mental noise? When you smell, do you really smell with all of your attention, or is your attention divided? When you taste, do you really taste? How much of you is really involved with the tasting?
Watch how children relate to life. Their heads are not full of thoughts. See the clarity and transparency of the eyes of a child. You can literally look through them. Be like a child. Go back to the innocence and wonder of childhood when everything was fresh, new and exhilarating. The wonder of nature disappears when an adult starts to teach a child: this is a tree, this is a ﬂower, that is a dog, that is a cow, there is a horse, that is grass, the grass is green. No longer do children see and feel the aliveness from the tree or the horse, or grass or nature. Instead, they now have a word for these tangible objects. It is a tree. It is a horse. It is a dog. It is reduced to a label, a name. The sensitivity of what is behind the name has gone forever. The child is beginning to sleep. Let the child know the name of the horse. Also help the child sense the aliveness of what is behind the word. Life is dull when nature is nothing more than a few names.
Is your attention in your head all the time or are you connected with what is going on around you? Make it a habit throughout the day to use your senses. As you go for a walk or a drive, don’t be on autopilot. Look with your eyes, hear with your ears, feel with your inner and outer body. Connect with life and take your attention out of your head. Do this many, many times throughout the day.
Your job on earth is to live life. You are living life when you are connecting directly to it and not living in a collection of thoughts.
Going for a walk but missing out on everything
You take a walk in the park. Vivid colours surround you: green grass, blue sky, brightly coloured ﬂowers. The sun radiates on your shoulders and neck. Children are chatting, shouting and laughing in delight. A dog barks in excitement in the distance. You walk through the park and running through your head is what you are going to have for dinner tonight, the shopping list that you have prepared, whether you have written everything down or maybe you have forgot an item, what time to collect Ciara from school, you hope that the trafﬁc later is not too bad, yesterday the trafﬁc was dreadful and you felt stressed when you collected Ciara as you thought that you were late picking her up, the weather did not help yesterday, it was cold and you were concerned that the child was getting cold, but today the weather is nice and that won’t be a problem, what will I have for dinner, maybe I will try a new menu, but are there enough potatoes for that dish? Oh, the cost of food these days, it was never like before. Well, at least I am doing some exercise. I meant to exercise more but it is difﬁcult to ﬁnd the time. What time is it? Oh, yes, that’s the time. I’d better rush to collect Ciara, jump into the car, get stuck in trafﬁc. Why is the trafﬁc like this? Every car just has one person sitting in it. So much for the policymakers, the roads cannot hold the trafﬁc. In Ireland, the roads are just too narrow. Why don’t we have roads like in they have in the USA? What is this idiot doing in front of me? Go on, will you? Why are you driving slowly? Honk honk.
That is life for most people. They take a walk and miss everything around them. Where was their attention? More importantly, where is your attention?
Taking ownership of the mind
It is worth spending some time where there is innate stillness. Nature provides this in abundance. I like to stare into open space. I am fortunate enough to have miles of untouched bog land in the front of where I live. I have been looking and merging with this for a number of years, yet each time feels like the ﬁrst. Because I set aside my mind and put my entire attention on it, I become one with it.
No matter how many times a day I look, there is a newness, a freshness and an aliveness. I am not looking at the countryside through thoughts, through labels, through names. I get so much more when I truly look. Nature is constantly changing, dying and renewing. Therefore, each time I look without the ﬁlter of my mind, the landscape has changed from before. A river that ﬂows is not the same river ﬁve minutes later. Nor is it the same river ﬁve minutes before. The water is different. One pheasant is not the same as the next. Humans might attach the same label by calling it a pheasant, but each is unique, beautiful and individual.
The essence of nature is not understood through thought. Truly appreciating nature does not come through the amount of information or the names you attach to different ﬂowers, birds or animals. You are not going into nature to exercise your mind. Instead, go into nature to give your mind a rest. Who cares about the name of the tree or the bird? Instead, just look at the tree or bird without thought and sense its aliveness. This is far more important than knowing a mere label.
If you have great difﬁculty doing this and your mind continues to bombard you with thought, then take this process little by little. In addition to stilling your mind through nature, watch your breath and pay attention to your inner body. Feel your body from the inside. Be connected with it. Feel your body as you merge with the life around you. Life takes care of the ﬂowers, grass, trees and birds. There is nothing wanting here. Nature is immersed in stillness and will help take you there, too. You have nothing to do but to stop thinking.
Simple things that life has to offer
Write down sixty things that you love to do. Write down things that totally absorb your mind to the point of excluding all else. List anything, with the exception of taking alcohol and drugs, that absorbs your attention to the point of self-forgetfulness. At ﬁrst, you might feel that drawing up such a list is impossible. But upon closer examination, you will be very surprised at how many items you can write down. What would you do to be totally engrossed to the point that nothing else comes into your mind?
Be grateful for what you have. Appreciate what you have. When you are having a bad day and you ﬁnd it a little triﬂing to still your mind, choose an item or two from the list and spend time doing it. This will reduce the activity in your mind and you will be in a better place afterwards to deal with the issue. You will also realise that the simple things in life are provided in abundance and they give us the most pleasure.
The number of times you bring attention to your inner body throughout
the day is more important than the length of time that you hold your attention during one sitting.