Like Smoke – Subtle Body Awareness

Written by Tobi Warzinek

Today it’s time to dive a little deeper and explore our body from within. Cultivating subtle body awareness is a fun way to explore the energetic system within our body. This can help us to better understand feelings, emotions and the way our attention works. It will be of great benefit when it comes to releasing stress and maintaining a “pleasant abiding in the here and now”. In this article I explore this aspect of the practice. Some of you might have come across it already, and if not – this might help with the process of establishing this particular perception. Let’s have some fun 🙂

The Body is Alive

When you are practicing the guided path in our free online meditation course you might have found that you can feel or perceive the body in different ways. You can feel it as a heavy lump of meat and bones sitting on a mat and you can experience your body as subtle, almost airy. Sometimes it feels like a flowing river, it can expand of contract. Sensations of heat and coldness, heaviness and lightness can appear and disappear suddenly. In short – the body can be experienced as a relatively static phenomenon or as something that’s very much alive and buzzing. We will explore the second option today.

Most people actually hardly feel their bodies at first. If you told me, I wouldn’t believe that either. I see it often though! Many are understanding the world through mental abstractions and intellect alone. This means that there’s only very little awareness of their body or their environment as such. You could say: Most peoples awareness is caught up in the head. Neglecting the body for the sake of following the allure of intellectual abstractions is a widespread disease. Pain is often the only way of the body to call us back to “planet earth”. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Awareness is Healing

Every cell appreciates the presence of conscious awareness. In fact, most people love it when others pay attention to them. Your body loves it when you are flooding it with compassionate awareness (not pity). You should do this as often as possible. While waiting for the bus, when sitting around somewhere… don’t touch the entertainment device and overload the head with “mental fast-food rubbish”. Instead nourish the body with relaxed and kind attention. Building a healthy relationship requires understanding and kind attention. Every work of quality requires attention and love for detail. That’s why we prefer mums home-cooked meals (LOVE to my mum!) over a mindless factory-produced chemical cocktail.

If you are aware of what you do right now, your doing is infused with quality. Doing something mechanically, with heedlessness, I am unable to deliver quality products. When I listen to my wife (love you, Parn 😉 from the perspective of a head filled with the noise of thoughts, I wouldn’t listen. To me this also implies that I am not respecting her presence in this moment. These are the times of short attention spans. We live in a colorful universe full of cheap distractions. It’s hard to find people awake enough to listen, to appreciate something fully. This post here is an invitation to get out of our minds and learn about another kind of knowing. Knowing without the “voice in our heads”. We call it: Silent Present Moment Awareness

First: Get out of Your Mind

Enter silence and feel the aliveness. Having cultivated some silent present moment awareness you are ready to direct this quiet observation to your body. At first you might just notice that there are many different feelings. They all have different qualities and change from second to second. You can use the breath to notice that all these sensations change with each exhalation and inhalation. You need to be able to sustain your attention for a little while. If you are still heavily caught up within the chattering monkey mind, I recommend doing the first and second part of our Meditation course before moving on.

Subtle Body Awareness

Now here’s the trick. Try to perceive all sensations within your body as a subtle smoke. You can “see” your body as hollow, filled with smoke if it helps. It also might work to perceive the body as just a cloud of smoke without the usual imagined physical features. With practice and sustained attention, this perception can become very intense. See if you can connect it to the breathing movements and feel that the smoke flows according to the breath.

This is an excellent way to develop the sensation that your whole body is breathing. Once you are aware of this sensation, make it calm and comfortable. Calming down and comforting the body and mind by using the breath and the way you feel and perceive the body. That way you start to cultivate subtle body awareness. This requires a sharp attention – but it doesn’t take long before you will start to feel it. Essentially I am telling you that it’s fine to play with the breath. Get to know it, explore it, have fun with it and gradually develop that initial awareness of breath to a good extent. This will be a great step into the right direction towards a little more happiness.

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Tobi Warzinek - Meditation Teacher

About The Author

Tobi Warzinek has been working as a spiritual guide and mentor since 2009. His journey started in early 2002 when he entered the Tibetan Buddhist monastery of Rabten Choeling. He spent approximately 7 years in the community and studied the Tibetan language, mind-training and various meditation methods. Additionally he trained in traditional monastic debate and Buddhist philosophy. In 2011 he subsequently began practicing within the “Forest Tradition” in Thailand. Altogether he has dedicated his life to the exploration and refinement of introspection throughout the past 18 years.

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