Intentional Sensation seems to me such a simple thing when I explain it, but when I look around and observe human life, it seems so profound, because conscious attention to the sensation of our bodies can inform us about who we are, how we are, and our presence in the world. I think for the most part our body is just something we take for granted, or else we have surrendered to ideas that are not our own and inherited a negative body image.
When I was a kid, Twiggy was the rage, and anyone who was not ultra skinny learned to hate their body. In other eras, it was Betty Davis’s eyes, or Betty Grable’s legs. Maybe these stereotypes reflect a subconscious longing to fit in, but that is not the goal of any consciousness raising group or program I have belonged to.
So what exactly is my point? I believe that we are all special and unique, and that we have the potential to develop that individuality toward a meaningful and fulfilling life. Ignore this if you already have a meaningful and fulfilling life, because I’m preaching to the choir.
If we are people who are hung up on body image, we are people who care more for how others see us than how we see ourselves. Take a new look in the mirror. What do you like? What do you dislike? What do you see? Throw those ideas away. Look into your own eyes. Gaze a little deeper. Do you begin to feel the stirring presence of your own soul? Do you begin to feel the stirring curiosity: What is this person? Forget for a moment the image you’ve been staring at automatically for the past – how old are you anyway – number of years, and ask a new question? Who am I? How am I? What am I today?
Chances are you can’t answer this except by defining the roles you play. Dad, Mom, sister, brother, cousin, the job you have, the money you have or don’t have, the car you drive. Go deeper. What are you without the stuff of your life? Is this an idea of yourself? Or a feeling of yourself? Take a moment more. Let’s try something new. Take a deep breath. Another.
I know. Okay, this author is boring, let’s click away from this blog.
But really, if you are still with me, with each deep breath, you are feeling a little more relaxed in your own body, are you not? Take a moment or two more. Stretch where you feel stiff. Didn’t that feel good? If it did, go deeper. Scan your body with your attention for areas of stiffness, areas of relaxed, areas of pain. Choose one, and breath into it. Slowly, deeply, meaningfully. Are you experiencing relief?
This is a taste of what it feels like to live mindfully in your own body. This can lead to a taste of what it feels like to be grateful for this body, this earth life, these sensations and these opportunities to taste, touch, see, listen, smell.
Intentional sensation is an all-body experience that I learned from my Gurdjieff mentor Donald V. Petacchi. With intentional sensation you can walk, play sports, ride horses, and turn any kind of movement into a meditation. You can relax into classical music, turn a walk in the garden into a mystical experience, practice experiencing the sublime. So if you’ve stuck with me this far in this reading, take a walk today. Breathe with awareness. Move with awareness. Have attention for the sensations your body provides you. Have a meaningful life.