How do you know when you are in your body and when you are not, if you have never had the experience?
This is a fundamental question. How do we know when we’re in any state? What are the words that express any state, such as sadness, happiness, anger, and love? We can attempt to describe them in words, but the ultimate knowing arises in the absolute feeling that we have arrived.
Part of the answer is that everyone has already had the experience of presence of self. We were present when our body was formed as an embryo and fetus in our mother’s womb, and as we developed as babies and children, especially before the development of verbal language. This awareness may be covered over through life experiences and education but it is still here waiting to be rediscovered.
Verbalizing our experiences allows us to translate them into thoughts. Words provide the ‘vehicle’ for thinking. In one way, until a thing is named, it does not exist through thinking. Most of our education is based on the acquisition and communication of the agreed upon meaning of words and their associated symbols.
However, we can only comprehend the words if we have had the experience to perceive the meaning of the words from the perspective of the one expressing them or by creative imagination. Likewise, we can only be understood by others who have had similar experiences or through their experience and imagination.
As usual, I go in a circle rather than a direct route. So what does this have to do with knowing when you are in your body?
The sense of presence does not come through words. We can only perceive presence by being in the state of being present. However, words can point us in the direction of being present.
To feel oneself requires that we go under the words to a preword consciousness. Physically, our consciousness, the weight of our mind, drops from our head, especially the higher forebrain, through the back of our brain to the interior of our belly.
A simple place to begin is with breathing. As long as we are alive, our inhalation and exhalation are guaranteed. The practice is not controlling your breath but allowing yourself to breathe just as you are. Feel and absorb your breath without words. As words arrive – they always do – accept, be thankful that you have words, and return to your unwordable breath.
It is possible to focus your breath in your belly from the frontal lobe of your brain. This is your brain directing the cells in your belly. That is one kind of knowing. The presence I am sharing with you is the consciousness of the cells throughout your body breathing, communicating within your belly and informing the front of your brain through the back of your brain that you exist.
Eventually, your preverbal consciousness can arise from the unknown into the consciousness of words and a new sense of present.