7. Feel your body as a whole from the inside.
One of the most important things you learn in T’ai Chi & Qigong is to feel what is happening inside your body. Through practice, you awaken your inner sensing abilities. All the cues we’ve talked about in this series help you to do that, from feeling your feet on the ground, to relaxing down through your body, to consciously breathing from your lower abdomen, to centering your mind in your dantian, to the three posture keys, to softening your hands. Each of these will awaken your ability to feel what is happening internally.
In addition, your ability to sense what is happening inside your body is a foundation for being able to feel your emotions and witness your thoughts. It also fine tunes your intuitive sense of “who you are” and “what you are here to do.” Inner body sensing is a bridge to all dimensions of self-awareness.
I found that inner sensing awakened in my body one area at a time. First, in the bottoms of my feet, then in my hands, then the top of my head, then my lower abdomen, then the center of my brain, then the center of my heart, and so on. How this awakens for you will depend on your life history, your personality, and how much of this type of inner work you’ve done.
At a certain point, I began to feel my whole inner body at once. I felt a conscious presence extending throughout every cell. This gave me a sense of inner wholeness, peace, and well-being. Since that time, this inner presence has been a reference point for living my life and a sensation to return to whenever I get “stressed out” or “out of sync.”
Here’s the practice cue: Feel your body as a whole from the inside.
If that doesn’t come naturally, you may focus on any of the inner body cues we’ve been discussing to gradually awaken that feeling and spread it through your whole body. Another way I like to use this feeling of whole body presence is to rejuvenate my energy when I am tired or “run-down.” To do that I take an “inner body nap.”
First I look at the clock and decide how long I will “nap,” usually 15-20 minutes. Then, I lie down, place my hands over my lower abdomen, lightly close my eyes, and feel my body as a whole from the inside. After a short while focusing on inner body feeling I find that my consciousness shifts into a “lucid dreamlike state,” somewhat like a floating feeling. When the time period I set is up, I feel completely refreshed. I feel re-connected to the essence of who I am and ready for what is ahead of me.
I’d love to hear about your experiments with feeling your inner body.
Enjoy your practice!