Last Tuesday, on the day of the new moon, I walked barefoot in the half-inch of snow that covered my backyard. I had planned ahead for this ritual. The moon was going rise in the sign of Taurus, an earthy, grounded archetype, and I wanted to experience that energy. I hadn’t counted on snow.
As a person who can have cold feet even in summer, I was a bit apprehensive, but I did it anyway. When I felt the so-cold-it-burns discomfort of the snow on my feet, I also noticed a delicious crunchy-spongey sensation of green grass between my toes. After just a few breaths, I could sense earth energy coursing through legs, and at the same time, I felt peaceful, grounded, connected. It was magical.
Then my intention for this moon cycle shot into me. It was so simple: “Be in your body.” You might be thinking that sounds a bit too simple. And obvious. Of course I’m in my body…yet I’m not. I spend most of my time in my mind, and I bet you do too.
People tell me all the time they can’t meditate because they get caught up in thought. Yep, me too sometimes. (I meditate anyway.) I walk places, and even drive places, arriving at my destination barely remembering my journey. I spend a ridiculous amount of time wandering around the house looking for my phone. Just like most people, I worry about the future (which may never happen) and ruminate on the past (which is over and done.) A whole day can go by without me ever noticing any sensation in my body unless it is an ache or pain.
But this month, I am practicing a new way of being. I am consciously training myself to be present in my body. For example, as I sit at my desk typing this, I take a moment to notice my feet touching the floor and how they feel warm in my slippers, my butt merging with the hard chair, how the computer keys feel sort of slippery, plastic-y under my fingertips, and so forth. When I take the dog for a walk, I take special note of how the air feels on my skin and how my leg muscles tense a bit as I climb a hill. When I lie in bed at night, I notice the slight pressure of my eyelids resting on top of my eyeballs.
This sounds like a mindfulness practice, and I guess it is, but to me it seems more like body-full-ness. A way to bring me to the moment where my body actually resides by fully feeling the body’s experience. It works a lot better for me than telling myself to let go of thought.
I’m doing my new practice as many times a day as I can remember to do it, and here is what I have observed. When I focus on my body, my breath naturally slows down and gets a little deeper. When I pay attention to my body, I notice places where I am unconsciously holding tension and I relax them. My shoulders ache a little less, my jaw is not as tight as usual. When I feel myself headed toward anxiousness or self-criticism, I can more easily steady myself. I’m finding myself more and more in that earthy, grounded energy I sought at the new moon.
But it is a definitely practice because I also just went on a hunt for my phone. At least I noted the cool weight of it in my hand when I found it!