Drop away body & mind



How can we–using the various systems of our own bodies–begin to understand the ways in which we cling to our own images of self, our own self-image?  The concepts we have, generally speaking, surrounding our bodies and our minds have a tendency to be quite fixed…even when it comes to formal practice!  How does the Zen principle of ‘Drop away body and mind’ and Patañjali-s ‘Yoga is to still the patterning of consciousness (Hartranft)’/’Yoga is the resolution of consciousness (Remski)’ help us transcend our dualistic understandings of body and mind, both in formal practice, and outside of it? And does the transcendence of dualistic thinking in formal practice allow for the understanding of ‘practice’ to become more than what we do for any given amount of time, as it fits into our schedules?  To be observant, to be curious into the workings of our minds is good practice:  how do I reify my self-image?  How do I perpetuate dualistic thought?  Do I believe the thoughts I think?

If I am unable to locate my mind as I am able to locate my brain, or heart, or kidneys–how can I discern my mind from my brain, my heart, and my kidneys, or any other bit of my physical body?  And as such, how can I draw any discernible distinction between formal practice (asana or seated meditation), walking the dogs, doing the dishes, and spending time with my partner?

In practice we can become aware of where grip and cling, and as we learn to soften in–be it in our hips, our necks, our viscera, our ideas–that new awareness of what it is to soften can spread exponentially.  The discovery of how I personally grip in the front of my hips, and hold the contents of my abdomen like clenched fists has given me fresh perspective of the embodied principle of ‘softening’; a perspective that is intimately linked to all of the other systems of my self.  Through the practice of discovering, and consequently learning to soften where we grip and cling, we send ripples out that show where else we grip and cling so that we may soften, so that we may drop away the disparate ideas of body and mind, practice and daily life, good and bad…

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