the body does not lie

How is your body positioned right now? We just wrapped up another fearless Meditation I: practice of the body (fMI) workshop on Jan. 15th. With activists from Amnesty International, UC Berkeley, and Restorative Circles, we had the opportunity to witness how supportive fMI is to those who are struggling to find balance and alignment in their lives and bodies. One participant noted how the physical posture she’d found actually reflected the posture, attitude, she wanted to have towards life itself — open, grounded, strong. She discovered through her own experience how our bodies — how we carry them, position them, move them etc. — reflect our attitude to life and conversely impact our attitude to life. For ex., a body that is crunched inward, head down, shoulders folded forward can’t breathe deeply or exhale, and expresses alienation & separation from those around them, from life itself. The body does not lie. How is your body positioned right now and how is it reflecting and impacting you and others around you?

At the end of the workshop, one fMI participant said, smiling, “I feel open, but not weak. I feel strong, grounded, but open.” She was reflecting precisely the goal of fMI, to empower activists to find their ground, their steady, comfortable, seat, so they can be more aware of and in connection with the outside world they want to impact so much.

fMI is the first part of a three part series, followed by part II: practice of the breath and part III: practice of the mind. fMI starts with the body as the foundation, the coarsest level to work with. Stability in breath and mind are much more difficult if there is no stability in one’s body.

The workshop on January 15th manifested once again how this path works to strengthen and stabilize one’s practice and by extension, one’s whole life.

We watched as activists sat meditation for only a short time, positioning their bodies as they normally would and experienced knee pain, shoulder pain and discomfort in their backs. Then, following the fMI instruction for a stable posture, their faces transformed — relief and gratitude followed, and as always, surprise — to do something they’d been doing for a long time, as if it were the first time they’d ever done it because it had never felt that way.

One participant noted how it made sense, that the physical posture she’d found actually reflected the posture, attitude, she wanted to have in her life — open, grounded, strong. She discovered through her own experience how our bodies — how we carry them, position them, move them etc. — reflect our attitude to life and conversely impact our attitude to life.

For example, a body that is crunched inward, head down, shoulders folded forward can’t get enough oxygen — literally has a mind that is not getting sufficient oxygen and therefore can’t think as clearly as is possible for them. This body can’t breathe deeply or exhale and is removed from the world, expresses alienation & separation from those around them, from life itself. Another example: A body that stomps around, feet pounding the Earth, led by a head that is always jutted out, not centered on an upright spine, is a body, a person, being led around by their mind with little relationship to the rest of the body. This is a body, a person, that has little relationship with the other beings nearby and of course little relationship with itself. Every whim of the mind is leading that body around, impacting others, the Earth and itself as it stomps around alone, disconnected, yet longing for connection and meaning — not the best place to do social change work from.

It bears repeating: The body doesn’t lie. It reflects and communicates, both to others and ourselves, our state of being and approach to life at every moment. How is your body positioned at this moment? Can we listen if we’re slumped in our chair? Can we pay attention if we’re unconsciously holding our breath when we’re in conflict? Many of us activists believe that if we learn more information, if we understood more and could communicate our message of social justice better, we’d succeed. But our bodies communicate more than we know and we can never communicate or connect with others if we are not in touch with our own bodies and what they are communicating at every moment.

fearless Meditation I: practice of the body trains activists and all agents of social change the posture of the awakened warrior: flexible, open, stable. Imagine what our work for social change in the world could be if this was the posture, the approach to life, that thousands of activists had.

We want to see this instruction, this approach, spread far and wide among activists and social change folks. If you agree, we invite you to reach out to your friends and colleagues, (and go ahead and ask them to reach out to their friends and colleagues!) to suggest they participate in fM1. Encourage them to take time to strengthen and deepen their relationship to their bodies for a stronger meditation, a stronger life practice, among like-minded folks with meditation instruction made just for them.

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