As living beings on planet earth, we have a lot in common with the other creatures. We all are held here by gravity - we all need the support of roots (be they literal or perceptual). We all rise up towards the sun, to the nourishment coming from the environment (water, air, food etc).
But in a technological age, we can lose touch to these fundamentals. Most of us know intrinsically that we suffer with too much screen time, with too much time spend in our heads. This suffering is not abstract, real physical changes are occurring. When we are not feeling and moving our body and when we are narrowing our senses to a small frame in front of us, our fundamental orienting and sensing capacities are diminished.
Luckily, just as easily as we lose them, we can reclaim these capacities. But we have to do a challenging thing. We have to stay more present, slow down, feel, smell and see freshly our physical selves in our environment. As we begin to learn some language of sensation we begin to learn the language of the body.
I’d like to spend two blogs inquiring into this. In this blog we will consider the question "What is orienting?". The topic of the next blog will be ask "How do we sense?" Finally we will learn about the fundament ways we perceive ourselves and our flow of life.
As creatures of this planet we orient through two poles. Earth and Space (sky).
Sensing the earth through our feet (or any body part touching the ground)
Feeling our weight (gravity)
Like the roots of the tree
More related to the back line of the body
The arrow head is pointing down
Perceiving the environment through our senses
Feeling our buoyancy
Relating to the world
Like the leaves of the tree
More related to the front line of the body
The arrow head is pointing up
Each of us will naturally tend to a preference to one pole. A balance between poles will provide the safety to engage creatively with life.
Earth orienting: Where ever you are (sitting, standing, walking, laying) take a few moments to feel the ground beneath you. What sensations do you feel? Is it pressure, touch, temperature? Do you feel the hardness or softness of the surface you are on? Do you feel stable? Is there anything you can do to feel more stable? Perhaps shifting your weight slightly. Perhaps connecting to the bones or the waters of the body. How is this? Can you name the sensations you associate with gravity? eg heaviness, solidity, anchoring, safety.
Space orienting: now as you feel the qualities of weight with you can you also notice the environment. Can you soften your gaze to include yourself in the landscape? Can you feel the space behind you from the skin on your back? Can you imagine the horizon omnidirectionally in the landscape around you? Can you imagine your own equator? How is that? Can you name sensations here? Perhaps you feel volume, spacious, soft, light, or vulnerable.
Now slowly let go of the practice and return to your usual self. Can you notice any changes in your body shape as you return to the familiar? Get up and walk around. Observe for a few moments any sensations you feel. You could try transitioning back and forth a couple of times to feel the contrast. You might notice the overall body shape or postion of your body parts, or notice the internal sensations of your body. A third option is to notice how you experience the space – perhaps it feels wider or narrrower, perhaps volumous or flat...
A final way for this inquiry to land is to take a walk outside. Try walking feeling weight in your body, feeling contact of earth in each footstep and observe how it feels. Add the awareness of landscape, eyes including a wide view and even imagine the space behind you. Again check how it feels and how it compares to how you normally walk.
In part 2 we will cover the act and art of perceiving. Until then, thanks for reading and do pop your comments or questions in the bottom of this page should you have any. I'd love to hear your experience.