Copyright © 2005 by William R. Mistele. All rights reserved.
Body Awareness Meditation
In Franz Bardon’s book, Initiation into Hermetics, he presents ten chapters each of which trains the individual on a physical, emotional, and mental level. In the first chapter, he has the practitioner work with relaxing the body, physical postures, etc. By the third chapter, the individual strives consciously to “breathe” through every part of the body.
Bardon, however, assumes the student has already been practicing meditation for a number of years. Bardon’s work is for advanced practitioners. The set of exercises I am presenting in this essay is preliminary, something a student might find useful to work with before studying Bardon. These exercises are not directly a part of Bardon’s practice.
On the other hand, this set of practices takes a basic concept in Bardon and leads it in another direction. Bardon requires his students to master working with energy both in pranayama and in concentrating (compacting and then dispersing) elemental and other energies in his body.
A complement to this approach of concentrating energy is first to become acutely aware of the muscles, nervous system, anatomy, physiology, etc. which is already in our bodies. We can call this body awareness—pure physical awareness of the body in all aspects. It is not about vitality or energy per se—it is about being aware of the physical components that produce vitality. Nonetheless, pursuing these exercises makes it possible to gradually refine and fuse the body’s internal energies together following for example the approach of the cosmic letter OE
The following four paragraphs are from my essay on the cosmic letter OE:
“One aspect of OE on the physical level is the ability to immerse one’s consciousness completely within the life force of the physical body. Your awareness is heightened and penetrates into the physiology and vitality of the body in a way that feels completely comfortable. This form of awareness not only penetrates but also unites the different energies in the body so that their qualities and strengths are enhanced. The three previous levels of the cosmic letter OE deal with overcoming separation, with systems of transformation, and with the union all opposites. All three of these inner levels can also be experienced within and by being aware of the physical body.
“Exercise. An easy way to begin is to rub one of your hands for a minute or so. Imagine you can see into the hand noticing the muscles, tendons, bones, and the blood flow. Then compare the sensations in one hand to the other hand.
“You might notice that the hand you rub feels warmer and the skin tingles. There is more blood flowing near to the surface of the skin in part because the increased relaxation allows the capillaries to open and circulate more oxygen. In other words, there are specific physical sensations that can be sensed with increased blood flow and circulation.
“The idea is to immerse or sink the mind into the body and become part of the physiology and metabolism of the body. If you can sense the blood circulation through the hand in the earlier exercise, you can then gradually learn to sense the blood circulating through the whole body. The OE meditation
is to immerse your consciousness in the flow and circulation of blood that you sense the oxygen and nurturing components of the blood flowing through the muscles and the organs of the body.”
The above exercise is rather simple, I admit. It can be terribly boring. This essay upgrades that earlier approach and relays some of my further thoughts and explorations.
I should note, however, that the energy accumulation practice in Bardon and the energy refinement approach I am pursuing here are not exclusive. In practice, however, there is often an inverse relationship between working with energy and being aware of the body. When accumulating energy, perceptual awareness of how the body functions is often severely restricted.
When you are running a race, you don’t have much time to notice anything about your body other than what is contributing or detracting from your effort to win. A vast amount of consciousness is suppressed in order to reach the objective. When accumulating energy in the body, almost all other sensations and entire systems of perceptual feedback are eliminated from consciousness.
When I am in the radiant sphere of the sun, I can see, feel, and understand the future of the universe—the beauty is incomprehensible; the harmony is so great it easily justifies all suffering that has gone before—everything is undergoing transformation in a way that is astonishing and full of wonder.
But there is no connection between this visionary state produced by the heightened amount of energy I possess at that moment and my ordinary body and personality through which I live day to day. I have to create the connections, find and work for the applications that make a difference in my life. Before you become radiant like the sun you have to solve the problems of ordinary life otherwise you fall into delusion, rigidity, and fanaticism.
If you wish to skip over the Introduction with its examples and commentary, you can drop down to the Basic Exercise section toward the end.
In my earlier essays, I have discussed some of the problems in the study of magic. Among these is the inability in religious and spiritual training systems to move freely between the inner and outer worlds. Highly religious and spiritual individuals often get stuck and unable to shift gears so that when they try to focus outward and solve real world problems they continue to utilize feudal and introverted concepts that relate to another age of the world.
Or when extroverts such as Westerners in general try to slow down and self-reflect, developing serenity and contemplation, they instead end up racing to see how much they can make things happen right now, today, “getting things done” (which turns into ‘let’s control and manipulate people’ or even ‘let’s hypnotize ourselves into believing our efforts are producing results’).
The extrovert proceeds directly from the idea to action. He experiences feeling through the action and therein finds satisfaction. Should he try to work with his feelings and intuitions first, he would be subject to disorientation, uneasiness, and anxiety. Internally subjective states are only of value when they are authenticated by the real world.
The introvert proceeds directly into his feelings before acting. Exploring his feelings he discovers satisfaction and only then is he comfortable that the external expressions of these feelings will have value and meaning. Should he move directly from idea to action he risks feeling empty. His actions have not been internally validated. Consequently, hasty action runs the risk of being merely “external” and so void of meaning.
Hopefully this essay enhances our ability to move more easily between the inner and outer worlds. Here are some examples (perhaps repetitive from other essays) that highlight my past conflicts in pursuing this topic:
Its 1982. Mantak Chia has just published his first book
in English called, The Microcosmic Orbit. The book claims to reveal secret Taoist
techniques of internal meditation for strengthening health and vitality. I give Chia a call on the phone and he
invites me to his class at the
During the break he has me sit in another room and begins working with me on the microcosmic orbit meditation. This meditation follows on of the eight extra meridians that moves up the back and down the front of the body forming one circle of vital flow. Chia taps on an acupuncture point on my body and then has me meditate on it for ten minutes or so and then returns. He checks whether the chi has moved sufficiently to that point and then taps on the next point.
After we complete the circle of flow up the back and down the front, Chia says there is still an imbalance in my practice. I am over concentrated in my third eye. Well of course I am over concentrated in my third eye. I have been engaged in extremely intense concentration practices from sports for twenty years and I had been practicing Bardon for seven years which if anything overdevelops the third eye.
It would have been really nice if Chia had said to me, “Go for an hour walk every day and cease all forms of meditation, contemplation, and magic for at least three months a year.” This advice would have saved me an incredibly amount of wasted time trying to figure out what was causing so much disharmony in my body. But masters can not make sense of something that falls outside of their boundaries of experience.
And so I would suggest to individuals who possess a high level of concentration: be careful to work sufficiently in developing your lower body in a manner that adequately supports your upper body awareness. Otherwise you lose your flexibility, health, strength, and stability.
Fast forward two years and its 1984. I am studying with another Taoist master, the head of perhaps the oldest intact Taoist monastery in the world dating back over two thousand years. Chia had stated that he is pursuing a McDonald’s approach--of having his techniques taught in precisely the same way all over the world. This monastery, however, is at the opposite extreme—it is ultra mystical and the techniques change radically each year.
I think these meditations were the most beautiful of anything I have ever run into. But both systems of internal refinement of vitality and life force were extremely formalized. There is very little if any provision for the individual to explore and to discover how life force works within his or her own body.
Chia had the same problem. One woman, for example, an American woman, notice right off that Chia’s meditations are slanted to favor male energy at the expense of female energy. You take a meditation out of a feudal oriental society and place it in a modern, post industrial, pluralistic Western society and some upgrades are required.
Similarly, you take a mystical, highly ritualized but fabulously intuitive system of training as in this monastery and give it to someone like me and I ask questions that have never been asked before in this tradition. I am on the phone to the Chairman of the physiology department at the local university discussing getting a Ph. D in physiology.
I am interested in correlating the Oriental practice to Western science. I read a book of essays on scientific research on acupuncture and I begin taking a class on biochemistry. I do not want only mystical meditations that track the weekly cycle of chi changes in nature and then embody these in my body.
I want meditations that give me the ability consciously to track and modify the functioning of my metabolism. I want to sense how my brain chemistry functions. I want to follow how my consciousness moves between thought, feeling, and internal body processes. I want to unite the Oriental system with the Western system.
So it would have been nice if this Taoist master had said to me, “Oh, you want to observe in precise detail the specific symptoms and imbalances that result when the yin jing (the feminine energy) and the yang jing (the masculine energy) are not fully integrated in each individual. There are about two hundred physical aspects of the body you can evaluate and then modify to enhance the body’s health and harmony.” But this she did not say. Mystics do not pursue these kinds of questions.
To be fair it would have also been nice if the chairman of the physiology department had said to me, “Oh yes, we are currently developing a curriculum in psychoneuroimmunology in which we have different test group studying the influence consciousness has on controlling a range of symptoms such as hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, dietary problems, obesity, drug and alcohol addiction, etc.” But this he did not do. Like any scientist trying to validate his field of research, until recently consciousness has not been a legitimate area of study.
Fast forward again. It is 2003 and I am sitting next to one of the foremost Tai Chi Chuan masters in the world. With this master, there is no New Age inner smile you do when practicing internal meditation.
There is no facing the light source when you meditate. There is no use of image, no thought, no visualization, no acupuncture points and no meridians. You just let the chi sink down in your body to your abdomen. He does this meditation for three or more hours a night instead of sleeping which he does for only one hour a night. And unlike the previous mystical Taoist master, who is very familiar with magic and psychic abilities, this master avoids all magic and in fact any form of activity that taxes vitality.
There are many other traditions that focus extensively on the body. In the Buddhist tradition, Vipassana practitioners may spend hours every day for a month or longer focusing on their breath, the movement of their diaphragm, etc. But in all these traditions, there is very little if any focusing on the specific experiences of the individual.
The practice is formal and generic. The intended results are preordained. The individual’s personal history is irrelevant. The individual’s personality is irrelevant. The Vipassana practitioner may have fabulous awareness of his lungs and breathing. But he does not take note of the way his different breathing patterns interact with his parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system, his adrenal glands, the circulation of blood to his extremities, his digestive track, etc. to influence his moods or how his thoughts when he is thinking trigger different emotional states that change breathing patterns.
What is missing for me from all these various Oriental practices is a consciousness component. That is, being aware of what precisely I as a person and an individual am experiencing right now so I can observe it, learn from it, discuss it, develop it, deepen it, and find completely new applications for it.
You can do all sorts of energy practices and develop many forms of siddhis or powers utilizing these various systems. But what you experience remains within a narrow focus like a horse wearing blinders (which may be good if you need the horse focused on a specific task)—but the individual is not freed to observe his experience, develop his own understanding, and then take that experience in new directions.
I can easily understand how others may not encounter my difficulties with these Oriental systems and that is fine. I have given examples involving Taoists because for Taoism health, longevity, and astral immortality are primary objectives. My own difficulties tend to be resolved as I design and add what I feel is missing from these systems. This is cultural adaptation and spiritual innovation. It is finding what works for me.
we jump over to the Western world, the Christian tradition has produced a fine
doctrine such as “The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.” The early church fathers saw fit to make the
Holy Spirit a full fledged member of the trinity. This has the consequence that God is free to
appear not only in the
But Christians do next to nothing, well, less than nothing in developing this body, this temple as the Holy of Holies in which God may appear. There is no internal practice for refining the vitality of the body so that a divine presence may have a medium in which to manifest.
Historically, however, meditation went underground in the Western world. And so we have a loose alchemical tradition in which the microcosm (the human body) is a reflection of the macrocosm (the universe)--all the energies in the universe are within us.
In old alchemical illustrations, these energies—the stars, the constellations, the sun and moon, the animal kingdom, the vegetable and mineral kingdoms in all their variety and array of opposing, instinctual and unconscious forces are present within us. They are waiting for us to mix, blend, unite, and refine them into an elixir of life, a philosopher’s stone, into the perfection of nature—something to engage in, work at, and to accomplish in a conscious manner.
Modern chemistry in part took its birth from these alchemical experiments—the alchemists observed, they experimented, they took notes, and they shared their experiences and observations. Theory, observation, and experimentation began occurring in a completely new way.
The three Taoist masters I mentioned earlier like to keep secrets. They do not teach their students the same things. They keep secret from one student what they teach another student. Even Chia has his students swear to keep secret some of the most basic of techniques.
When I write about the feeling I get of flowing down a river when I meditate on my kidneys or feeling like a billion year old rock when I meditate on my legs or being able to sense directly the anxiety producing and ecstasy producing aspects of my physical brain, I expect others to reproduce these states of awareness in themselves.
There is no franchise, no secrets, no “you must vow to keep the tradition” in this essay. I am Western. You learn from making accurate observations, keeping accurate records, molding theories that can be tested, and proceeding in a measured, systematic, step by step manner that allows you to correlate your results with and learn from others.
Health and health care are national issues. You take better care of your own health and you keep down health costs and you make this nation and the world a better place. These are political, economic, financial, and public issues. They are not esoteric, private, and there is actually nothing magical about it. Or to put it another way, if you are aware enough and know enough, then you are capable of solving problem without using magic.
This manner of exercise originates from sources such as Jacobson’s book, You Must Relax. Jacobson noticed that jet pilots were developing too much stress and so he developed a very simple method for teaching relaxation. Like other Western practices such as focusing by Eugene Gendlin, the Westerner imagines practicing for a few minutes. Add a half hour or an hour to the length of these practices and they turn into something completely different.
A simple starting point is to place your arm and hand comfortable on a table palm down. Then bend your wrist up slightly off the table flexing the muscle of the forearm. Hold this position for ten seconds or so and then place the hand down again. Notice the tension in the forearm and notice how it relaxes when the muscle is no longer flexed.
You may also want to see how many different ways you can move this set of muscles in your forearm. For example, you can raise each finger individually or raise the hand as a fist. You can raise the hand with the fingers together or with them spread apart.
Proceed with the other arm and later on pursue similar gentle stretching/tension/relaxing exercises for all the major muscle systems in the body. With the feet, for example, you can walk slowly grasping the ground with your bare foot as you walk or rub the bottom of your feet on the carpet. You can spread your toes, wiggle them, rotate your ankles, move the foot to the left and right, up and down, curl the toes down and up, etc.
This is very basic and perhaps very boring stuff. A genuine extrovert might find his optimum learning curve at practicing no more than five minutes a day. On the other hand, a genuine introvert really into this will want to practice at least an hour a day to compare each day’s results to the previous one. It is an individual thing.
Let’s look at what you can consciously observe even with such a simple exercise. The emphasis here is completely on observing physical sensations. You can notice the different kinds and degrees of sensation related to tensing a muscle. It might help to have a visual outline of the muscle in your mind so that you observe the anatomical layout. Notice the range of sensations that occurs as a muscle relaxes.
From time to time, recreate in your mind the tensing and relaxing of the muscle without the accompanying physical action. This helps build a repertoire of sensations in your memory. Without conscious recollection, much of subjective experience once produced is easily forgotten and so falls again outside of consciousness.
Along with the tension you may notice the specific sensation related to the accumulation and dissolving of lactic acid as the oxygen supply to the muscle changes between when it is tensed and released. Later on you will notice the lactic acid more clearly when you add aerobic exercises—rapid repetition—to working with a muscle. Contrast that to working with weights for example using a dumb bell with the arm muscles or doing various kinds of slow or fast sit ups with the abdominals.
You may also notice the change in temperature of the muscle. As the tension is released, you may notice the increased blood circulation though the muscle as the capillaries dilate when relaxed. This also produces a warming of the external skin.
In addition, different sets of muscles have different sets of specific sensations due to anatomy and function. Notice these sensations as well so you can distinguish between them. At the same time, different parts of the body have different concentrations of nerves producing different forms of sensitivity to pressure, movement, temperature, touch, and function. Notice the kind and degree of sensitivity in different parts of your body.
You can also massage the muscle area before or after it is tensed focusing on the anatomy and tactile sensations that occur on different levels from the skin down toward inner layers. You can also exercise the muscle in an aerobic fashion, exercising it more vigorously as a further basis of comparison of tactile sensations.
As you proceed through the body, you may notice you encounter sensations related to old injuries, unexpected aches and pains or other tensions. On top of this, there may be other forms of discomfort, anxiety, unease, and repressed emotions that begin to surface in working with specific areas of the body.
As you work through the feet, legs, abdomen, torso, arms, hands, neck, head, five senses, and internal organs you will notice some areas are very easy to work with. Others present great difficulty. Some are slow to respond and others possess extraordinary sensitivity.
Some areas you will find produce harmony and balance. There may even experience rapture and transcendence. And there will be areas that are intensely problematic, as if you have all sorts of unfinished business associated or buried within them. At times, you may wonder if you really want to know this much about your body. And at other times you may feel you are being guided by one of Bardon’s earthzone spirits who specializes in magical methods for self-transformation.
The quality and strength of your concentration are also factors in this practice. Some individuals will have already practiced having an “empty mind,” that is, a mind that is free of all distractions. In this case you can practice both, holding your mind completely empty and then focusing on a body part and then returning in the end to a state of mind completely void of imagery, sensations, thoughts, etc.
At the same time, mental concentration on a body part may itself be producing tension. It is concentrating like this, “Ah, there is the sensation of relaxing occurring. Now let me see, what else was on my list, oh yes, I wanted the temperature. Ok, there is the temperature. Now let’s notice the lactic acid—no lactic acid here. How about the sensitivity of the nervous system? Ok, I got that….”
The above way of concentrating is obviously dissecting. It breaks things down into parts in order to enhance observation. It produces mental tension. The task is in part to also do the opposite. You can use words or images or project pure sensations or feelings to accomplish this. These are all of the things I have said you should not do.
Nonetheless, it is quite possible to concentrate without image or affirmation as if your mind could embrace the physical body in a relaxing, calming, releasing, letting go, tranquilizing, and peaceful manner. This is something simply to observe about your own manner of concentrating.
Do you start with a feeling of anxiety and control or do you start with a sense of peace and love. Do you start with a sense of breaking a part or with a sense of putting together? You have to discover how and what works best for yourself. I am merely pointing out that the mental act of concentration is not necessarily neutral. It carries with it an unconscious qualities and assumptions.
I would recommend only practicing when you are not tired and do not force yourself to concentrate if you are bored or distracted by other things. The idea is to bring to your body good feelings that are nurturing.
Be sure also to spend time with your ankles, knees, and the joints throughout your body. For each body part in the upper body, spend at least as much time with the lower body using the solar plexus as a mid point. The abdomen, the area of the intestines, is a major point of concentration in the Orient and it is advisable to become well familiar with this area.
At the same time, if you suddenly do a lot of jogging, you are liable to get shin splints or cramps. It is important to move gradually, not overtaxing your system with sudden bursts of concentration. One Aikido teacher I studied with got colitis from concentrating too much on his lower Tan Tien in his abdomen. Even though awareness and relaxation are major objectives in this practice, concentration generates a degree of tension.
Again, you have to be careful to gradually acclimate the body to this practice. Five minutes a day over ten years is far more effective in producing results than practicing an hour a day over six months.
Over time, you should be able to move your awareness more efficiently into any body area. Body parts should relax more quickly and your awareness should go deeper. Individual body areas, such as the grounding sensations of the feet and legs, should automatically extend their stabilizing influence to the rest of the body. However, some individuals will need to spend a great deal of time with individual areas that are not as developed as other areas of the body in order to gain the balancing influence they offer.
A great artist realizes the world is fragile and touches it with tenderness. Our bodies if anything are fragile and transient and, as a work of art, something to be touched with tenderness.
After developing a familiarity with the external surface of your body—I mean we all pretty much have some degree of familiarity with the body’s musculature, also explore your internal organs. If you have learned to sense something of the vast kinds and degrees of sensations available in the muscles, the internal organs should become fairly accessible as well.
Certainly the stomach produces numerous physical sensations as well as the lungs. These are quite accessible. With the internal organs come a vast array of organic tensions relating to instinctual drives and cravings. The stomach produces sensations of hunger and satisfaction, aches, cramps, fullness, emptiness, overfull, etc.
The lungs with all their array of small muscles along the rib cage and in combination with the diaphragm carry not only a craving for drawing in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. The lungs function differently depending on our various moods and levels of excitement. They carry with them anxieties about the future and a sense of balance and comfort with our external environment. Although I am referring to feelings and emotions, these feelings and emotions again have purely physical components that are expressed through the various tensions in the muscles and levels of relaxation and efficiency occurring with breathing.
With the kidneys, you can reach back and rub the small of your back over your kidneys a number of times before using your mind to focus on where they are within your body. Consider a full range of internal organs working with the large and small intestines, the rectum and bladder, the pancreas, liver, spleen, heart, etc.
Work also with the five sense organs, eyes, ears, tongue, nose, and skin. In addition, the spine, the sex organs, the brain as well. Identify and explore areas of interest and difficulty.
Notice I am not using any form of visualization, light, energy, etc. to relax the muscles. This is primarily a passive observational activity like a submarine listening and also using sonar to observe its external environment. You want to know what is there first before engaging and interacting with it otherwise you lose your depth of field, clarity of focus, and capacity for response.
Later on you can work with activities such as yoga as well as more vigorous forms of exercise. Starting with yoga is like learning to scuba dive before snorkeling or practicing on a high diving board before working with the low one. You miss an entire level of awareness that connects the inner and outer worlds.
In general, focusing on physical sensations will increase your awareness of your body and its functioning. Life force/vitality/chi are produced from the physical body. Dead people have vitality. It is just greatly reduced, decreasing to a devastating degree their ability to interact with the physical world and actively gain new experiences. Take advantage of the power source you have in your physical body.
As you concentrate on different parts of your body, of course you enhance the blood circulation and vitality to that part. As you work through your entire body, there is an organic interaction, a natural total body transformation that occurs.
If you focus on vitality or chi directly you can do all sorts of things like circulate it, refine it, condense it, and transform it. But the systems of developing and refining chi often, however noble and dynamic, utilize only a very tiny faction of the potential that is available in the body.
Sure you can develop astral immortality utilizing Taoist techniques. Fine. Great. Well-done. But if the Creator of the universe makes an appearance in your body or your learn to operate as an agent of Divine Providence, you begin to think more in terms of making significant contributions to human evolution, things that transform the entire world and not just your microcosm.
Though I am emphasizing again purely physical sensations, quite spontaneously you may experience full-blown astral impressions. If I concentrate on my kidneys, there is a pure physical sensation I experience of flowing water. But accompanying this is a feeling of having my entire body, and not just my kidneys, immersed in a river flowing to the sea. Again, it is the physical sensation that provides the alchemical process of transformation.
The astral sensation of total relaxation, of letting go, of feeling purified, of feeling well-being, timelessness, etc. is kind of interesting. It is nice because I can reproduce it at will. I really enjoy it but, in regard to this practice, it is a side effect. The astral sensation by itself may familiarize my personality with a new mode of feeling but it probably in itself will not bring about any substantial change in my personality. It will require the physical sensations and body awareness to do that.
Similarly, if I focus on my bladder I get a sense of a lake—of pure serenity. With my liver I sense a forest with its array of natural, organic growth. With my lung I get flashes of the entire atmosphere of the earth, as if I have become a sylph who oversees the balance of the biosphere, etc. Nice stuff but again it is off topic. It is interesting, but not the most productive focus unless I am an artist painting pictures, composing music (a la the moonlight sonata) or a poet seeking to capture images for his poems.
Sometimes the organs are presented in terms of negative and positive emotions associated with them. Something like this:
The heart has shame but also a sense of rightness, radiance, strength, and originality.
For the kidneys, there is fear but also the opposite of flowing and letting go.
The liver has anger but also a sense of organic growth, of being a part of nature.
The stomach has anxiety and worry but also a feeling of being grounded, solid, stable, and satisfied.
The lungs have anxiety about the future and disorientation to the immediate environment but also a feeling of moving into the future with balance and harmony.
These generic descriptions are like looking up a word in the dictionary. Sure you get a standard definition but you miss how that word is used in a fluid and creative manner in actual social situations by different individuals.
It is your body. Become aware of your own stresses, tensions, strengths, and variety of sensations. Remember, do not get carried away with the astral feeling. Every feeling produces and is supported by physical sensations in the body. Focus on the physical sensations of these emotions in order to deepen your awareness and increase your freedom of response.
Sexuality is always an interesting topic. Some Taoists actually give elaborate seminars on male and female energy and how to transform them. For myself, sexual stimulation is centered in the prostate. It is the trigger, the blasting cap kind of like the A node that generates the electrical impulses that contract the heart muscles.
It has various levels of intensity and these can be reset, tranquilized, or left to themselves. The nerves relating to sexual excitement that are associated with the prostate often will send a message to the brain like, “Hey, how about some action. We are all on stand by down here. What do you want to do?” And the message is sent with a priority override so that it takes precedent over all other activities.
The testicles actually carry some of the awareness of the cosmic letter OE, of a penetrating power analogous to science that wants to understand the entire universe. The male physical sensations carry a mode of sensory sensation that attempts to penetrate physical matter with consciousness.
In the birthing technique of Lamaze, a woman practices kegals to prepare herself for the contractions of labor. In some forms of Taoist yoga, both men and women practice kegals. This is a gentle contracting and releasing of the genitals done through contracting and releasing the muscles of the pelvic floor. This is one method to assist the conscious mind of being more aware of the sensations and blood circulation occurring in this region. Strengthening the muscles and circulation in the pelvic diaphragm is certainly a health producing activity.
Each individual will have various aspects of their nervous system, anatomy, physiology, and brain that come into play with sexuality. You have to explore what is there and become aware of it. As Kinsey said in his research of human sexuality, if there is any similarity in sexuality it is that we are all different from each other.
In the area of romantic attraction, psychologists sometimes talk about recapturing projection. In other words, the opposite gender may present you with sensations and energies that are physical and astral. The woman offers the man a sense of magnetism, of embracing love. The man offers the woman a sense of power and safety.
He already has that magnetism and embracing love within his own body. He is just unaware of it. She already has that sense of power and ability to take command in her body. But she too is unaware of it. Her love could be from her kidneys in combination with her heart and her lungs. His power could be from his adrenal glands in combination with the sexually aggressive energy coming from his eyes and his hands.
It is an individual thing. If you can focus completely within and are aware of your own body, you can find the other’s energy in yourself. It is just probably far less developed. It is a tough call—if that person departs from your life you may never taste that beauty again. Some things we learn faster and better through the outer world than through the inner.
A man experiences a woman’s love and suddenly he can multitask, focus one moment on his job and the next moment on nurturing a child, then do something like cleaning the oven (with enthusiasm) and the next recollect the memory of a long forgotten friend. The woman’s energy allows his brain to function in a different way. Can you learn this without the external experience? Sure. Is it easy? No.
I have trouble at night sleeping without a woman next to me. But if I concentrate on my feet for ten minutes, it helps bring the energy down from my upper body and head. If I do yoga stretching my legs, I get that rather strong physical and astral set of sensations that I am a billion year old rock, timeless, a part of the fabric of the planet and the universe. This is fairly grounding. It’s a kind of substitute if not a replacement for the opposite gender.
A few Taoist masters simply divorce their older wives and marry younger women. The younger woman has stronger estrogen, devotion, and attachment than her older counterpart.
The younger woman’s presence automatically pulls the energy down the meridian along the central front of the body of these masters. It saves them from doing a lot of homework on developing body awareness. It allows them to maintain the intensity of their focus on their work and on being productive. On the other hand, I know women in their sixties whose magnetism is far stronger than any of their younger counterparts. I suspect the forces of attraction between the genders are things that can be developed and enhanced.
Franz Bardon gives a large number of exercises related to developing concentration with the five senses. You learn to hold images, sounds, tastes, smells, and tactile sensations in your mind for long periods of time without distraction. In the exercises presented here, the emphasis is more on the experience of the sensory organ.
In taste, for example, there are individuals with extraordinary sensitivity to the qualities of wine and to coffee for that matter. The idea here is to notice the experience of the tongue in discerning tastes. The tongue is an exotic laboratory of chemical interaction as is the nose.
With the eyes and ears, immerse your awareness in the sensations of sensory perception. Notice again the range and variety of ways in which you use these sense organs. With the five senses, we use all sorts of filters and screening devices that relay and interpret our sensations. Put aside some of these filters and allow in more raw sensory impressions without first determining their meaning and significance.
Look at a tree or hill, an animal or a person. Be aware of the light and shadow, the color and composition and then put these ideas aside and just experience what the eye is seeing—and the sensations they produce in the eye. With hearing, listen to the crickets and just be fully aware of what that sound is like in your ears. Compare that to the sound of the dog barking or a bird singing.
I have also begun working with the different parts of my brain. I can sense to some degree the different areas in my brain that produce dread and anxiety, the parts that evaluate sensory impressions, the relay stations, the kinetic movement centers, the brain stem, etc. It is something I intend to explore in great depth but the rest of the body is in a way a prerequisite for working directly with the brain.
In summary, this is a rather simple essay, mostly an introduction. I am reviewing only a very basic set of practices for developing body awareness. For some individuals, increasing awareness of the feet, of the muscles around the jaw, skull, and eye sockets may produce dramatic results in terms of eliminating migraines and so forth. I am not covering any of the healing aspects of this practice. It is too vast and I am not good at healing.
I have had at least six serious problems over the years that simply would not go away until I found a unique meditation for them. And then, discovering through experimentation a meditation that worked for me, like magic these problems disappear from my life as if they had never been there. This set of practices is like that for me. It solves a problem that has been around for decades.
In 1973 a gypsy said to me, “You do not need to study with Tibetan masters.” She left it at that. If she had added, “All you need to do is study the physical sensations in your own body, learning all you can about their origins, anatomy, and physiology and you will acquire more wisdom than you could ever learn from the masters of the Orient.” That advice would have been absolutely priceless for me. But what’s the price of wisdom? Is it sold for a song or for a dance in the street? asked Solomon.
To misquote or rather paraphrase Franz Bardon, “The only real teachers are life and yourself. The masters are always at best iffy.”