Why did the Buddha instruct us to be intimate with the body? Where is the place of movement in meditation?
Stillness of mind is a refuge, a place of safety and simplicity. We dive beneath thoughts into a place we recognize as impersonal and in motion, where there is no central, fixed character, or a character at all. This is a great relief and a respite from addictive mental patterns that don’t benefit us or those around us. Mindful moving can allow us to abandon the mind’s attachment to self-dramas and enter the dynamic natural world of sensation being known. Meditating on the body is a powerful means to still the mind and to see more clearly, more deeply. Without thoughts mediating the experience of the body, we can experience the body directly feeling the hardness, softness, heaviness, lightness, coolness, warmth. We are observing and touching what the Buddha described as the underlying elemental nature that constitutes all things.
Through our embodiment practices, in motion and in stillness, we begin to see how any kind of mental contraction is mirrored in the body. The body reverberates with patterns of holding and releasing depending on the attitudes of mind. When we intentionally observe contraction with kindness and interest, we can see these forces as impersonal, like weather patterns. We didn’t create them. We don’t need to control them. We just need to turn towards them and take interest. Letting go, mentally and physically, happens as we become aware of the underlying feeling tone, and the pain of clinging. What is let go of, quite naturally, is the effortful construction of a separate self –which is a house of cards that can be slowly recognized for what it is. There is great joy in the mind as it grows wide and drops the narrow and false perception of self – the “tiny mind” as Sayadaw U Pandita liked to refer to it.
Movement as meditation is a place of creativity, investigation, and joy. We can use movement as an enlivening means to deepen insight, well-being, and peace. Being connected to the moving body is being connected to the present moment in its luminous impermanence.