The first foundation of mindfulness is the body, the ground of our existence. The Buddha wanted us to feel “the body in the body, the breath in the breath.” He urged us to get to know the body from within the actual felt experience of being this body, from within, from the inside.
When I look around, I realize that I’m living in a disembodied culture that fetishes the youthful body I no longer have. I see racialized bodies, marginalized bodies being profiled and attacked in both legislative and literal ways. I see obliviousness to whiteness with its privilege and impact, and an assumption that we are all the same or want to be. All this makes me sad because it leads to a lot of suffering: internalized body-phobia, dysmorphia, eating disorders, addictions, self-hatred.
This is suffering that hurts us all and it affects women, black and brown people even more. Black history month is a good time to remember the deeply rooted history of colonialism, racial enslavement and exploitation that continue to embitter relationships to this day. I am writing this because awareness of this history of dominance is important for healing the suffering of separation from our bodies…and each other. It’s harder for some people to feel the safety and love of belonging to their bodies; I think most of us are longing to return to a more loving, sane, embodied way of living.
Mindfulness and compassion practices offer many doorways to access a felt sense of aliveness of the body, for all bodies. The word for mindfulness is SATI, and it means: remember! Remember to relax and allow yourself to simply be here, right where you are — present with what’s unfolding, willing to see life just as it is, the good, the bad, and everything in between. As Ajahn Mun, teacher of Ajahn Chah, said:
“…..never allow the mind to desert the body. Examine its nature, see its elements, see the impermanence, the suffering, the selflessness of the body while sitting, standing, walking, or lying down. Then its true nature is seen fully and lucidly by the heart, and the wonders of the world will become clear. In this way the purity of the mind/heart can shine forth, timeless and delivered.”
Trudy Goodman, PhD is the Founding Teacher of InsightLA. Trudy is also the Guiding Teacher and co-founder of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy in Cambridge, MA, where she had a private psychotherapy practice there for 25 years.
Trudy teaches retreats and workshops worldwide, including our weekly Sunday Community Sit Practice Group, held Sundays from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM PT. Trudy will co-lead Coming to Our Senses: A 4-night Insight Meditation Retreat from October 12 – 16, 2023.
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