Lindsay Kyte looks at tuning into what your body really needs.
I have decided this is going to be the year I cultivate better posture. As a writer, I spend most of my days crouched over a keyboard, whether I’m sitting up in bed in my pyjamas working from home, or curled up on a couch in the office. When I write, I drink coffee, and I “ruminate” (aka stare out the window hoping a fluffy dog walks by). And not once do I think about what shapes my poor body is twisted in for eight hours a day.
So, I bought a “device” to help pull my shoulders back, open up my collarbones, and hold my head high. It looks like a backpack with no pack, and boy, do I hate wearing it. I usually begin my day happy and talkative. When I put this gadget on, within 20 minutes everything I’m wearing feels itchy. I’m somehow too hot and too cold at the same time. I can’t get comfortable. I begin to hate the fact that my ears are pierced and I take out my earrings and glare at them. And amazingly, everyone around me is suddenly a jerk, all at the same time.
When I take the device off, I’m free again. It is only then that I realize, with a jolt, that maybe, just maybe, not everyone around me was being a jerk. I stop being mad at my earrings for simply being earrings. I realize I have a body that I am constantly forgetting about, a body that has been objecting to the way I treat it for quite a while. I recognize that if I tuned into this body — its needs, stories, emotions — I’d see the world much differently.
Part of my posture plan now is to read helpful articles, like the ones in this Weekend Reader, which remind me that when I get out of my head and into my body, life gets a little better. I invite you to take a moment to halt, and realize that sometimes, not absolutely everyone around you is a jerk. Sometimes we just need to breathe, or have a drink of water. And we don’t have to be mad at our earrings all day. May we all take the time to check in with our bodies in this hunched-over-the-keyboard journey we call life.
—Lindsay Kyte, associate editor, Lion’s Roar
A panel discussion with Phillip Moffitt, Cyndi Lee, Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche and Reggie Ray.
Cyndi Lee: To me, starting with the body is a no-brainer. If you can’t sit upright, if you have bad digestion, if you don’t sleep well, that makes it pretty difficult to have mental clarity and stamina, to be able to keep up your commitment. It’s essential to have some kind of strength and stability in your body if you want to cultivate that in your mind.
Reginald Ray talks about how the body is not just the pathway to realization but the embodiment of enlightenment itself.
We need to realize that our body is not a beginning point, not a jumping off point to something else. Rather, the body is itself the pathway to realization, and, at its deepest level, the embodiment of enlightenment itself. To know the body is to meet the awakened state.
When the storms of life hit, your body can be a place of refuge and healing. Cyndi Lee says it starts with making friends with your body.
Instead of trying to deny these feelings, taking refuge in the body means that we begin to make friends with our body. We listen to our body and treat it the way we would treat someone we care about. Instead of pushing it too hard or being afraid to move it at all, we can walk the middle path of intuiting what is appropriate for our body, which means what is appropriate for us.