We all have a built-in mechanism to help us stay in alignment with our dharma: our body. While the mind tends to dwell in the past or in the future, the body lives in the moment, which is the only place in which we can experience our true purpose, desires, and joy. Connecting to the feelings in your body brings you back into present moment awareness and gives you valuable information about what you need to live in dharma.
No matter how long it has been neglected, the body is a faithful servant and will respond when you begin to connect. The following exercise will help you tune into your body.
• Begin by setting a phone or clock alarm for three times throughout the day – such as 9 a.m., noon, and 5 p.m. Whenever the alarm sounds, take a few moments to check in with yourself.
• Close your eyes, put your hand on your heart, take a few deep breaths, and then ask yourself, What am I feeling and what do I need right now?
• Wait for the answers to come to you. It might take some practice to identify your body’s messages, so be patient with yourself.
• Once you receive an answer, take some concrete step – no matter how small – to fulfill the need you have identified. It may be as simple as the need to get up from your desk and stretch your body, to go outside for a few moments and take a brisk walk, or to call a friend.
As you practice checking in with yourself on a regular basis, you will connect more deeply with your body and may begin to identify greater needs, such as, I need to end this relationship or I need to cut down on the number of hours I volunteer or I need to sign up for that class. As you honor these needs, you will strengthen your relationship with yourself and experience the gifts of present moment awareness.