In a Nutshell

I

Welcome to a life you know almost nothing about. Throughout the ages various sages and thinkers have made efforts both to understand life and the best way to live it. Here is the bottom line as far as I understand it:

  1. The body rules. We can entertain ourselves with all kinds of fancy ideas when the body is well and we have surplus energy to expend of various speculations. However when the power of the body diminishes, such as during illness, all the fancy stuff goes out the window. Our mind just will not function when the body is in pain or fighting off an infection.
  2. We can always “sense”. No matter the state of the body we can always direct the attention to sensing. In fact, illness is the perfect opportunity to sense, and to some extent we do it automatically as the scope of the attention diminishes and rests more in the sensations of the body.
  3. Body sensing rules. If sensing our body is something that can be with us while consciousness remains, then it is an anchor we can use to assist through the vagaries of life. But, as with all things, it is a skill that needs to be practiced, and above all to acquire the ability to go with the body when we would rather be in denial of its state.
  4. Deep dreamless sleep is no concern of ours. When the body and mind are fully rested we lose consciousness, and for all intents and purposes no longer exist. This is a gift, and every night we willingly sink into oblivion where no skills are required at all.
  5. We forget. When the body is well and we have energy to spend on endless distractions we forget the body. The attention is stolen from us by everything that is bright and shiny – new belief systems, material goods, the next sexual conquest, various ambitions.
  6. Remember the body. Sensing our bodies grounds us. As Seneca once commented “the fortunate are the least fortunate of all.” The fortunate will see no need to remember their bodies, and to acquire the skill of becoming a passive observer with respect to its states. However the word “passive” is misleading. Great inner activity is required to remember the body, and even more to close down our imagination and simply sense how we feel.

There is of course absolutely nothing wrong with indulging in all kinds of imagination and speculation, as long as we remember it is all entertainment. The alternative would be boredom. But if we want a point of reference in our lives then nothing is required other than repeated and regular attempt to be in the body. One fine day it will prove to be the only thing you have.

By MB

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