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The body is an amazing vessel, capable of renewing, healing, and recovery. The body is our teacher, our tour guide, our only vehicle for experiencing life on this planet. As long as there is breath in the body we have an opportunity to change, to grow, and to take steps to create the life we desire.
How many of us can say we embrace and love our bodies as they are in the present moment? How about in all present moments? Did you smile and say, “I do!” or did you snort in derision?
I snorted, then smiled.
How many of us can say we experience a feeling of body betrayal, that we sometimes see the body as the enemy? At times the mind doesn’t behave as we want it to, the body doesn’t look like we want it to, we feel overwhelmed, lost, in despair. If this happens often enough and long enough, we begin to reject and deny the body we were given, possibly on a level that’s beyond our awareness.
In yogic tradition, the body is viewed as a temple, and we are encouraged to take care of it as such. I can assure you that this concept does not come naturally or easily for many people. It can be especially hard to connect with the impulse to make the effort to take care of a body that feels as though it is betraying us. Whether it’s the size and shape, the rapidly beating heart of anxiety, addiction, or unwanted thoughts that seem inescapable, betrayal can take on subtle forms. Even with negative self-talk, and feeling a lack of acceptance, our body is still awesome at its job and pretty darn resilient as well.
From a Kundalini yoga perspective there are ways to gently and effectively support the body, self-acceptance, and growth in the present moment.
The present moment is a key concept. In American culture it is estimated that human beings spend only 10% of their mental time in the present moment. The other 90% of mental time is spent in the past or the future. So, first things first, allow yourself to be here now. Yes, give yourself permission to be in the present moment.
All healing and all living takes place in the present.
So often the physical body is ignored while trying to deal with the mental body. When we’re not happy with our thoughts or the function of our brain, it is easy to forget about the beautiful body. We can’t think or reason our way out of situation that was created by our own thinking. We can contemplate and wish, ruminate and replay, but change requires action. And action implies motion. Moving the body helps to support mental function. Physical exercise allows an access of higher realms of consciousness than the mind can access on its own.
Be in the present and move. As the mind is a full body phenomenon, the body communicates throughout, not just in the brain. All of its cells are connected. It is important to work the physical body for mental health.
We are at a time in evolution where there is a tremendous pressure on the earth and the human psyche as we move into the Age of Aquarius. Yes, the song from the Seventies had it right. With increased technology and computerization, and the massive amount of information available at our fingertips, our bodies have literally not had time to process and catch up. Humanity is in a squeeze which definitely affects mental health and our overall feelings of wellbeing. It is imperative for mental health that the body be exercised and made to sweat every day.
In Kundalini Yoga, as taught by Yogi Bhajan, exercise through different postures (or asanas) is used in addition to meditation as an intervention. The technology of yoga provides techniques to interrupt unhealthy, repetitive patterns and introduce instead new supportive thoughts and actions. The overall aim of yoga is to control the thought waves of the mind, and thus the whole body. Before engaging in meditation, we work the entire body to strengthen the nervous system and elevate its vibrational frequency. Ultimately we want to be able to go with the flow rather than fight the tide. Ideally a full Kundalini yoga class is best, but here are a few gentle postures to try at home.
Be here now, move, and listen. Listen to the innocence of your heart beat. The heart has its own intelligence, and is a far better guide than the head. Yoga helps to bring the heart and the head into alignment.
Listen to your breath. The deeper the breath the better the emotional regulation it brings. The slower the breath the better clarity it brings.
Listen to your body as you connect with the heart and the breath. Relax into it. Creative flow comes from a relaxed body and mind. We need to work the body and the mind in order to move into a deeply relaxed state. Then we can listen, and find our own creative solution to navigating life on this planet with peace, happiness and health. Keep sight of the true purpose of your body. Truth is your identity.
For more information on Kundalini Yoga, or to find a local class, please visit www.3HO.org.
Patty Wildasinn has been teaching Kundalini Yoga and meditation for many years. She shares her knowledge and experience freely with our readers here on the Painted Brain website.