Deepening Consciousness Through the Body

By Beth O’Hara - October 2008

We have 3 centers of intelligence: the head, the heart, and the instincts, which are all contained within the body. Increasing our consciousness is dependent on observing the habits and deepening our awareness of each center.

We are very aware that exercise increases overall health and develops strength and flexibility, yet exercise is usually focused on completing a goal and is future oriented. Body awareness practices involve consciously moving the body and paying attention to the breath at the same time. They differ from exercise because the focus is on staying in the present moment and observing the body.

Body and breath awareness practices are excellent meditation tools. The mind and the emotions are often concerned with the past or the future and are rarely in the present moment, but the body and the breath can exist only in the present moment. Neither the body nor the breath is ever concerned with the past or the future. Any time we practice body and breath awareness, we are bringing our consciousness into the present moment. It is only in the present moment that we can make conscious choice.

The mind, and heart, and instincts are interconnected and interrelated. Each affects the other. When we are stressed mentally, emotionally, or instinctually the body becomes tense and this stress is stored in the cells of the body. Because the head, heart and gut are all parts of the same organism, as we transform one center, we affect the others. Just as the mind, emotions and instincts affect the body, when we work with awareness in the body, we also shift habits of the mental, emotional, and instinctual reactions.

Bringing the awareness continually back to the body and the breath increases concentration and focus of the mind, balances our emotions, and helps us respond to life effortlessly. When we consciously practice moving the body and observing the breath, it increases energy that we can use to fuel our daily lives and our consciousness work.

Another aspect of body awareness practice is conscious relaxation in the body. When we are able to consciously relax the body, the mind, emotions and instincts will also relax. Conscious relaxation helps us loosen our defense mechanisms and be more present in life. It is from this centeredness that we can move out of reaction and into conscious response to life.

The body is closely linked to intuition, and by increasing our body awareness and using body awareness to bring us into the present moment, we can more readily access intuition, which brings us to a deeper knowing than relying solely on the mind, emotions, or gut alone.

How do we develop body awareness and strengthen this center of being? Meditation on the sensation of the body and breath is an excellent practice as well as yoga, tai chi, aikido, walking meditations or any form of movement that focuses on the present moment and the breath.

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