I recently heard a marvelous way to explain to children how to relate to their bodies.
The body is the place you have been given to live in for your whole life. But it isn’t you; it is just your address.
It makes it easy for people to find you, and recognize you when they get there. It is the only body you will have this whole lifetime, so you need to make it last. You have to treat it with care and respect.
Since I read that, I have been thinking of my body as my apartment. For some reason, I visualize the occupant, my divine self, as about the size of a grain of corn. This gives me lots of space to live in.
My Guru once pointed out that we aren’t even “omnipresent” in our own bodies. We need to expand our awareness gradually.
Athletes and dancers have a more expanded awareness of the body than most people. Musicians, artists, and sculptors have developed other parts and expanded that part of their awareness.
Now that I am a piece of popcorn inhabiting a mansion, I have been wandering around with my inner vision, investigating rooms that I seldom visit – like my calf muscles, and my knees.
On one level, it sounds ridiculous. But it has had a surprising effect on my consciousness. It helps me to appreciate, why the yogis ask us to work with the energy in our bodies, as a way to transforming our consciousness. A body in which the energy is evenly distributed and calm tends to “infect” the mind and emotions with calmness. “If you could distribute the energy equally throughout your body,” Swami Kriyananda once said, “you would probably not feel any fear at all.”
If, from the moment of conception, someone had set aside a beautiful house for you to use for as long as you lived, naturally you would be grateful. You would care for it lovingly. Even if it didn’t have every feature you wanted, you would appreciate its good points and accept with good humor whatever it lacks. And when age began to take its inevitable toll, you would do what you could to keep your house in good shape; but you would still respond with gratitude for all the good years of service it has given you.
And when the Owner comes to take it back, why would you hold on? He isn’t throwing you out on the street! He is giving you another place to live, even more beautiful and interesting than this one. Go willingly; don’t make Him forcibly evict you!
See how easily these thoughts apply to the body? And how helpful it is to think of the body as something distinct from what you call yourself? Swami Kriyananda says, “I don’t identify with ‘Kriyananda,’ I consider him an event for which I am responsible.”
Patanjali’s says that a fundamental attitude for the yogi is “non-greed.” The interesting point here is that when you perfect this quality of non-greed, Patanjali claims that you acquire the ability to remember your past lives.
Non-greed, perfectly practiced, leads one to become non-attached even to his own body. It is by such perfect non-attachment that the blindness of temporary identifications is overcome, with the result that one can remember his past identifications with other bodies, other places and events.”
A lovely way to cultivate this attitude of non-attachment is to think of the body as a long-term loan from the Divine Mother. You use it, and you care for it, but it is never your own.
And what a creative way this is to talk to young children, whose sense of identity with the body is still fluid. As meditating devotees, we can hold on to that child-like fluidity, without being burdened by the child-like inability to bring the body under control.
Recently I was feeding a small baby. He was as sweet as he could be, but so helpless! He just had to lie there and wait for others to provide everything for him. Not because he doesn’t have a fully developed soul consciousness, but because his body is new, and the “systems” are just getting organized, and he has to learn to operate it.
Think of yourself as a ray of the Infinite Spirit, inhabiting for only a short time the body God has given you. Treat the body respectfully, feed and exercise it as needed, appreciate its virtues, but never make the mistake of thinking that the body that you live in is you. If you identified with your apartment the way you identify with your body, people would think you were crazy!
But what is the difference? Only that, in this unspiritual age, people think that a materialistic view of life is normal. But it isn’t. Self-realization is the goal.
Joy to you,