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Chapter 5 :

Body and breathing awareness is a basic part of having empathy with animals.

If you already have an effective method to contain your thoughts and relax your body and mind, the following exercise will be largely irrelevant for you.

This Chapter is necessary because we have forgotten how to doze. The problem is, when humans doze we slumber and daydream and get lost in abstract thinking - we have lost the feel for just being - and so unfortunately we need to work a bit to get it back.

If young children were encouraged to maintain their inner body awareness, it wouldn't need so much work. The question is then : how to work in a pleasurable and thus self generating, self perpetuating way, so that we want to repeat it.

I'd like to give a few starting points for beginners. But, i want to make clear that i am a thinker and an experimenter, not a meditator. People of faith and practice may have far better ideas. My intention is to suggest something simple, for starting off with.

This is not like broadband sensing. Broadbanding is something which you can do for just half a minute and it will be effective. To start relaxing, every animal needs a minute or so before they can settle down and doze. To find any depth, humans need to do it for at least 10 minutes at a time.

Creative dozing and meditation mean much the same thing to me. My first and central advice is always meditate experimentally to avoid closed mindedness ... and only do the following exercises if they are interesting or enjoyable.

I'd like you to start with a minute or so of broadband seeing and listening. Like any wise animal: check the surroundings before settling down for a doze.

Check through your outer body, where it's touching the floor and the chair, your clothes, and the air on your face and hair.

As described in Chapter 4, check inside your body for earth, where it's harder; and the softer watery blubber around and inside the hardness. Notice the fire, the feeling of warmth and vitality. Then notice the belly 'air-pump'. If you can keep your eyes open then good – but it's probably easier at first to just close them.

The basis for this meditation is whole body breathing. Let's call it the 'breath-body' to distinguish how the skin feels from the inside - to how the body feels (and looks) from the outside.

Breathe. Be conscious and let go of the breath-body. Don't worry if your breathing becomes unsteady as you let it go, it's just your lower brain allowing your body to adjust to what it needs and wants, instead of being controlled by your routine habits.

Experiment with: 'conscious and letting go' or 'expanding and contracting'. There is no need to decide which you prefer, both are good at the right times.

If you use a form of prayer or mantra you can build it into this basic sequence.

If you can do only this for ten minutes, then good. Most people, myself included, will start to daydream.

We have a choice, we can either
a) use will power, disipline and concentration, or
b) develop a meditation sequence to give us something interesting to do.

There are so many different aims and needs different people have in life. This is the same in meditation and prayer, and there is no way i can speak to all these different personal needs.

Some people are looking for truth or reality, some need peace, some want beauty or creativity, even magic. Some people want and need something solid and eternal, and others want something changing and flexible. Some want and need to develop will power and concentration.

Focussing and concentrating on a beautific image, a new lover, anything awesome, is easy. But i find focussing single pointed on something which has no emotional or spiritual meaning, is pointless and i get bored. I don't enjoy meditating with concentration and will power, maybe you do.

I need some sort of basic routine, and i have a number of different exercises which have developed over the years. I use them flexibly, meditation develops and changes each time i do it. Also, i find the element of creativity (instead of a fixed routine) keeps me interested, so i enjoy doing it, so then it is self perpetuating, i.e. i repeat it and enjoy repeating it.

I use my breath as a counting measure. I'd suggest you count a sequence of: feet, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, hands, belly, stomach, chest, neck, face, scalp, at each step thinking "conscious I breath in, letting go I breath out". I started doing this almost 50 years ago, so it's my habit, i still often use it, but i'm not saying it's the best way for you.

One breath at each focal point gives me a slow rhythm with enough movement to be interesting. It gives me something slow and peaceful to do. It's practical.

Repeat the sequence if you want to intensify the sensation. But i wouldn't generally advise a third repeat, not straight away, because then the possibility of needing will power to concentrate arises, - it depends on the individual.

Then come back to just whole body breathing, for a few breath-body cycles.

Give yourself 3 or 4 breath-body sequences just to daydream, just to see how it feels to have an conscious and time-limited daydream ..

The experience and success of whole body breathing depends on if you are in any way physically restricted or stiff (e.g. through injury) or emotionally blocked with stress and tension. 'Being conscious and letting go' can be focussed on any body stiffness as a natural healing technique, at the least as an inner massage. Use your imagination in any way you want to heal stiffness ... (appendix b)

Then come back again to the whole breath-body and this time combine it with listening and, with the eyes closed, seeing light.

Even without reading Chapter 6, you could start to include a rudimentary exercise on taste and smell in your sequences. Counting one breath each, being aware of: tastes, smells, light, and sounds.

Now you could repeat the feet, knees, hips, shoulders, hands etc. exercise again, - now it's fresh again.

Then be conscious again of the whole breath-body expanding and contracting for a few breaths.

And that is as good a start as i can imagine at present.

Whatever you do, be flexible, and do what you feel is good. It will probably work best if you just stop reading now, and for 10 minutes do whatever you can remember.

Appendix B has additional ideas.

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