“The body knows things directly, immediately, nakedly, without any conceptual overlay.” — Reginald Ray, The Practice of Pure Awareness
Many traditions teach us to meditate from the top down – focusing on the mind and our thoughts. Somatic meditation teaches us to begin with the body. We settle into our body to find deep presence; our body provides the path to awareness.
You can practice somatic meditation right now, sitting in your chair.
- Turn your attention to the backs of your thighs pressing against the chair.
- Feel your feet on the floor.
- Now relax. Allow your legs and feet to grow heavy, as if they’re sinking down into the earth.
- Breathe. Release the back of your throat. Relax the tension at your temples.
- Come into your body, even for just a few moments.
- Take a long, gentle, deep breath in. Exhale slowly through your nose.
Ahhh. Do you feel a little more grounded? That’s a taste of somatic meditation.
Here’s another easy somatic meditation practice. You’ll need a yoga mat or blanket, a yoga strap or belt, and a pillow or rolled-up blanket.
- Find a quiet space. Spread your mat or blanket on the floor.
- Using your strap or belt, secure your thighs together a few inches above the knee. Not too tight, just enough so your knees rest against each other comfortably.
- Lay back, putting a pillow or rolled blanket under your head. Your back rests on the floor, your knees are bent and resting against each other, your feet are flat on the floor, making a triangle with your legs. Adjust your position until you don’t feel any pressure in your lower back.
- Get comfortable. Breathe. Allow your body to release, muscle by muscle, tendon by tendon.
- Interlace your fingers over your belly, so your thumbs rest near your navel and your pinkies rest near your groin. Feel the rise and fall of your breath.
- Now just be. You’re not forcing anything. You’re not steering your thoughts in any direction. You’re not observing anything. You’re just present in your body, as it gets heavier and more relaxed.
- Feel your body supported by the earth beneath the floor. Breathe and release. Be in your body.
You’ll come out of this meditation feeling rejuvenated, even if you have only a few minutes to do it. The more you practice, the more quickly your body will relax in this posture.
Of course, there’s so much more to somatic meditation. It’s a deep experiential practice, one that connects us to our true nature and releases us from the binds of ego. What makes it different is the way it uses our body as the doorway.
“Our body, in everything that it is,” says Reggie Ray, “is an expression of the sacredness of the universe, perfect and free.”
For more on somatic meditation, explore the teachings of Reginald Ray, co-founder of Dharma Ocean Foundation.
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