“The body’s life is the life of sensations and emotions. The body feels real hunger, real thirst, real joy in the sun or snow, real pleasure in the smell of roses or the look of a lilac bush, real anger, real sorrow, real tenderness, real warmth, real passion, real hate, real grief. All the emotions belong to the body and are only recognised by the mind.”
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The bottom line of all inner work, in my view, is the truth of our bodily experience as revealed in the moment. It’s exceedingly easy to lose track of this simple reality. Plugged into our electronic devices, driving our cars, juggling our schedules, living in our heads, it’s often as if we don’t have bodies.
And yet, we all come equipped with a marvelous sense of inner intuition, a sense of knowing that is intimately linked to our physical experience. The body, unlike the head, is always in the present moment. Part of inner work involves cultivating the ability to turn our attention inside and make direct contact with this sense of knowing – to directly experience one’s own process as it is, rather than to think about it or speculate about it or talk about it. And then, to practice speaking from this place of direct experience. This is new territory for many of us.
Our society seems to view therapy as a matter of fixing what’s broken. I see it instead as a process of enhancing our strengths. Therapy uncovers what’s been hidden, rebalancing the psyche by paying attention to areas we normally ignore. In presence-oriented psychotherapy we practice embracing whatever arises within, with calm awareness and clear intention. In the process, we experience joy, grief, anger, delight, pain, energy – the full emotional spectrum. And we find a deeper strength, the strength of a steady presence that allows the emotions to flow according to their own ever-changing nature. Learning to trust this flow, understanding that our experience will continue for as long as we’re in this body, we learn to trust ourselves, and our own ability to stay with ourselves fully through whatever arises.
Living consciously in the moment and in the body is the universal antidote to depression, alienation, confusion, and stress. Becoming fully aware of our own experience overlaps with Eastern meditation practices, yet it can be a uniquely Western path. We deepen our sense of trust in the present moment, learning that it will always unfold what we need to know.