Dharma Topic: Open Body, Open Mind

posted in: Dharma Topics | 0

Dear Still Water Friends,

While many people think of meditation as something one doeswith one’s mind, mindfulness practice has always been a body-mind practice. TheBuddha and other practitioners in ancient India clearly understood that ourconscious awareness arises not just from the part of the body we call the brain,but from the whole body. Like a musical instrument, our body-mind functions bestwhen it is well-tuned, well-nourished, and well-cared for.

This Thursday evening, February 2, we will explorethe body-mind connection by intentionally opening our bodies and noticingthe changes that occur in our consciousness.

To facilitate this process, there will be someadjustments to our usual Thursday evening program.

The evening will begin for some at 6:30 with a Still Water Orientationsession which addresses both the basics of mindfulness practice and providesinformation about our community. Newcomers and experienced practitionerswelcomed. (If you are planning to attend, it is helpful if you let us know byemailing info@StillWaterMPC.org).

Our first sitting, which will include a guided meditation, will beginpromptly at 7. 

Silent walking meditation (instructions provided).

Still Water stalwart and yoga teacher Annie Mahon will lead the community instretching and awareness exercises, beginning with gentle warm-ups and moving onto yoga postures which open the hips and shoulders. You may wish to wear veryloose and comfortable clothing. (Also, if for any reason you feel uneasy doingany part of the stretching or postures, you are welcome to simply observe.)

With our newly stretched bodies we will return to our cushions for sittingmeditation. Just before beginning, Annie will suggest postural changes we canmake which may assist with alignment and relaxation.

We’ll form a circle for our discussion, which will focus on changes we mighthave noticed during our post-yoga meditation, and also, the implications ofopening our bodies for our daily life and for our mindfulness practice.

Closing bell.

We hope you can join us. Two excerpts from Will Johnson’sbook, The Posture of Meditation, are below.  

Warm wishes,

Mitchell Ratner
Senior Teacher

Excerpt from Will Johnson’s book, The Posture ofMeditation.

A body that is not aligned, relaxed, and resilient createsin itself a great deal of tension and extraneous pain. Any unnecessary tensionthat exists in the body directly translates itself into tension in the mind.Mentally, we feel compressed, compacted, bound in. If, on the other hand, we areable to bring out body into a state of alignment, relaxation, and resilience,then our mind begins to soften and expand as well. . . . Acts of clinging andaversion, no matter how overt or subtle, are expressed through systematictensing in the musculature of the body. It may seem initially far-fetched toreduce the pain and suffering we experience at the level of mind to what havebecome virtually involuntary patterns of muscular tensing. Once again, however,we need to remind ourselves that states of mind are dependant on bodilypostures. Objects, images, perceptions, thoughts, and attitudes continually comeand go in the complex flow of life. Holding on to any of them with the intentionthat they stay with us forever is dependent on the same kind of muscular tensionthat we would feel were we to hang on to a long rope that has been securedaround the neck of a wild animal. Pushing any of them away with the hope thatthey will disappear from our lives leaves us feeling equally exhausted anddepleted.. Through familiarizing ourselves with the posture of meditation, wecan begin to let go of the muscular patterns that lock us into a constantvacillation between the clinging and aversion that cause us so much pain andsuffering.