June 24 – Questions Put to the Sick-II – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
“When was the last time you danced?” Question put to the Sick by a Native American Medicine Man
The beginning of dance is giving gesture to what we feel. While this is very obvious and basic to most children, it remains very difficult for those of us schooled to live in our heads.
The ongoing effort to dance, to give gesture to what we feel and experience, is ultimately healing because, as riverbeds are continually shaped by the water that moves through them, living beings are continually shaped by the feelings and experiences that move through them. If there is no water moving through, the riverbed dries up and crumbles. Likewise, if there is no feeling moving through the body, the being at the centre of the body will crumble.
More often, though, there is too much to give gesture to, and we fail to move these feelings through our bodies. In truth, much of our inner sickness comes from the buildup of pressure of all that is kept in. The ongoing act of releasing that inner buildup is what spiritual practices cell embodiment.
There are many ancient practices intended to help us live more fully in our bodies, including the Chinese art of meditation movement know as t’ai chi and the Buddhist art of space awareness known as maitri, to name just two. Once unblocked, giving gesture to our inwardness not only frees us from becoming pressurized, but the gestures, once allowed out, teach us how to dance further into our own lives.
Still, most of us learn to feel, trap, and stuff our feelings in our hearts, and if they won’t go away, we try to hush them with our minds. If they still persist, we often feel them throb in our temples or burn in our gut.
In contrast to the painful layering of heart, mind and body, embodiment itself is nothing more or less than feeling the wound or lip you touch in your hand and mind and heart at once. Embodiment is allowing our heart, mind and body to exist as one miraculous skin.