Understanding how we work in the world is everyone’s task. All our lives we make decisions based on who and how we see ourselves in this world, this situation, this moment. All of us make about 60,000 decisions a day, based on who we are and what we would like to experience.
From the time we’re little we are saturated with others’ understanding of themselves and how they work. At first, it’s our parents, then, more broadly, the cultures in which we grow. All the while we are learning to define ourselves.
Along the path of life, we travel in these bodies, these vehicles for movement and experience. And most of us don’t stop to understand the body unless it is for pain or pleasure. Taking time to observe the body, to appreciate it is a valuable means of understanding who we really are.
Try this for thirty seconds. Watch your body operate. Look at it breathe, listen, see, feel. Observe and simply watch it as you would a rare, exotic animal you’ve never come upon before. Just watch it be.
As we bring awareness to the miracle of interactions that we experience, we begin to understand we have learned to refer to our experiences as our bodies. For most of us “I” has become a reference to the body we inhabit. I am tired, sad, energetic, happy. We have learned to observe and speak as if the body is us, rather than we are having an experience in and as the body.
Your body, which you have learned is who you are, is actually where and when you experience life. The physical body is always where and when we localize emotions and thoughts.
Happy and sad are available, always, to everyone, everywhere. We can only experience them with our bodies, which are always right in the here and now.
Gradually, we learn to claim these feelings and thoughts moving through our bodies as “I”. The bodies actually are the experience of “I”…for a moment. When the thoughts and feelings move on, and they are gone, who is “I”? Who or what is it that remains?
Perceptions, feelings, and thoughts are for all of us necessary to life. They are part of our experience, our understanding. They are designed to guide us through our shared experiences, which is beneficial for all. As guidance, they are perfect. Physical and emotional sensations tell us, instantly and accurately, whether we are falling in love…or fear.
However, perceptions, feelings, and thoughts are not “I” or “me”. They are always passing through. And what are they passing through? They are passing through this body, which is where and when they exist, momentarily.
These bodies are no more a solid “I” than the widescreen displaying a love story is the love story. The same widescreen can easily and immediately become the news or a comedy.
Happiness and sadness, both, fill the body and thoughts, depending on the intentions we accept for our self.
The body is not a separate “I”. It is but a speaker—a stage (or screen) for integrating perceptions, emotions, and thoughts. The body offers a way, place, and time, to change.
As we accumulate information through our senses, the sum becomes an experience we typically observe and personalize as “I”. I am thrilled. I am confused. I am interested.
Notice, again, that the experience doesn’t stop, like a story we read or movie that we watch. We may close the book or hit pause on the movie, but the “I” continues to perceive, feel, and think, staring at a closed book or screen gone dark.
Similar to a screen, when we turn awareness away from the story on the screen, we become aware of the screen as a place the story happens. The body is merely a place where the story of our ongoing awarenesses appears and then disappears. As it fades away, there is a watching “I” that continues.
These bodies we each use have been growing through and as “I” awareness, since the egg and sperm found each other. Since that joining, our identities have been accumulating. An awareness, which didn’t have an identity yet, has been growing through the senses and memory, resulting from an awareness of the senses.
If you pay attention, closely, to your thinking and feeling, you may notice their connection. Thoughts and feelings dance round and round, floating through the body, passing by, appearing and disappearing.
Notice that we are as much the water as the leaf, the thought as much the feeling. We are also the observer of the leaf and water, thought and feeling.
Imagine sitting by a stream and silently, quietly observing the water, noticing a leaf floating towards you. As you simply watch the water and leaf move by the observer, the “I”.
Meditative observation offers a quietness to understand and value our bodies, thoughts, and feelings as tools for life. They are tools we are free to use so long as we are alive, aware.
Yes, perceptions, thoughts, feelings and the bodies they pass through are important, inescapable in their wonderful, creative power. However, we are more than they are. You are more than your body. You are also that which uses the body experience through what is happening now, and what it becomes.
A version of this post was previously published at The Father Connection and is republished here with permission from the author.
If you would like to read or hear more about understanding your true self, please visit https://www.speakingoffeelings.com, https://www.thefatherconnection.com, https://thefatherconnection.wordpress.com/author/bobrannigan
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