The Sensation of Awareness

For as long as I can remember I’ve been having conversations with my body.  I have earlier memories of body sensation than I have of events. I have also noticed that I sense emotion in my body as sensation before I’m aware of it as emotion.

I watch and I do. As a child, I would see someone doing a particular thing/movement and my body would send a rush through me to “try” it. I rarely made any serious attempts in a public setting. Past humiliations reminded me to take it home to my room or to a safe place.

The first sensations I remember are moving my body with a purpose and the sensation of failure/humiliation (one and the same for me).

Cool, wet, heavy, thick, slightly sticky mud pies.

Scratchy, pointy particles in my sandals.

The scorching hot summer sidewalk on bare feet.

The chill of fear, hard rigid pedals and the burning of skinned knees as I learned to ride a bike.

Heart pounding nausea of driving lessons. After the weeks of dread; of stomach-pitching inability to learn to drive a manual transmission – I woke up one morning with the entire process in my body. Driving a “stick shift” is rhythmic and the rhythm was playing. As I walked out to the car my body was playing the rhythm for me as practice.  After my dad had given up, I got in the car by myself and drove it. (Incidentally, I still love driving a manual transmission!)

Now, I like playing with new movement skills (I hardly ever get fear-stricken nausea anymore!). I’m fascinated by the sensation of disconnect, where my body doesn’t yet understand what it’s being asked to do. The motion moves across in my mind’s “eye” like a movie as though my body is simply going to get it. Meanwhile my body is actually gallumping along hoping not to hurt anyone if I’m in a class and relieved that no one else is witnessing this if I’m at home practicing – anything but graceful. Sometimes the get it happens, often not. When it does, there is still a roughness to the movement – the mechanical quality that commonly accompanies brand new skills. When it doesn’t, the sensation is initially a sinking one, then a tingly curiosity – why can’t I just pick this up? After the initial sinking feeling, panic overtakes me as I frantically search for my feet!

I don’t know how to do this. 

Once the screaming stops, and I slow down, I become aware of hot or cold, vibration, weak-in-the-knees mush, and tension. I notice that I’m holding my breath. Breathe. When I open to breath releasing the tension, the whirring in my brain slows down and three things happen for me: first I relax, next I begin to “see” how the main movements are composed of smaller movements and I am acutely aware that my body wants to play and enjoy learning. The movements begin to break down;  the tension continues to dissolve and I am absorbed – body, mind, spirit and emotions.

Now it no longer matters whether or not I have it, I’m no longer hoping for the flow, I am the flow. I am ease, I am pleasure. Energy ripples effortlessly through my movements. I am in the sensation of my body’s way.

In sensation I can be both inside and outside of movement.

Moving from the inside, I get to create what feels natural. Instead of responding to someone else’s movement, awareness gives me the opportunity to move according to my body’s wants and needs.

From the outside I connect to where my body is in space, in relationship with everything around me. As a teacher, awareness gives me the tools to know, every minute, what I’m modeling for my students.

Awareness.

Crisp. Sharp. In focus. Present. Connected. Clear.

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