In the work I do and also in myself I have discovered how staying with the level of sensation, the physical, bodily experience is one of the most powerful practices. While it is simple, it is also one of the hardest things to do.
Connecting to the direct experience is the only level that truly brings us into present moment awareness. Through all our senses we can return from getting lost in the mind, in thought which means we are trapped in memories of the past or projections into a future. Redirecting attention to what you can feel in your body NOW, what you're smelling NOW, what you're hearing NOW, what you're tasting NOW, and if you keep your eyes open, also what you're seeing NOW.
The NOW is a potent place.
In some spiritual understanding, the only place.
But frequently our thoughts are leading us into the past and future.
Even emotions are one instance removed from direct experience as we label a direct experience according to a mental framework we have learned before. This quickly brings along additional stories attached to these emotions as physio-mental frameworks. Within this exists a pitfall of doubling up on emotions, which equally removes us from an actual experience of the emotion. When I no longer sense the sadness because I am sad about being sad or I try to understand the sadness or see it through all the other moments I have ever felt sad before.
If you have ever tried to stay fully present to the your current experience, you will know that everything is constantly changing. Each and every moment.
It requires really being present and curious to see and feel what is truly here in each moment.
The transformation that can arise by staying present with sensations or sensorial input is phenomenal.
Difficult emotions that seem impossible to endure suddenly become bearable if not even intriguing objects of exploration and inquiry. Thoughts that torment you and come with heavy emotion might disperse, change, disappear or you realise they are only thoughts.
Bring it back to your body.
And maybe become creative. When detecting an emotion, asking where in the body it is, what it feels like, if it can be described visually in shape, colour, form or texture… giving the mind a job which still allows you to stay present and attentive. Become curious. And keep observing every tiny change or shift in it.
Often we try to change what we experience straight away, without giving it the chance to be felt or experienced fully. The mind highjacks the experience labelling it good or bad, favourable or not. And we jump into doing, moving towards it or away depending on the judgement.
So simple. Yet so hard to do.
An ongoing practice and why meditation matters.