Lucy and the hare (or, Why I practice awareness of the felt sense)

So there I am, crashing through the high yellow reeds, pulled forcefully over the muddy path dotted with clumps of moss and scattered with branches, being led by my best friend, and teacher, Lucy. Who is my scruffy, spirited street dog from Cyprus.
It is pouring rain. Buckets.

And Lucy is chasing a hare. Because she must. The scent in her nose has increased her power to pull by a thousandfold. Hallelujah, here we go!

I notice that I am holding tight to the handle of the leash, the fear rising that i will lose her – she runs so fast, so fast, and she never learned to come when she is called. She had her freedom as a pup, and hasn’t unlearned it. My heart opens, just a bit – I feel the twinge and a familiar feather soft, silky fluidity spread. Damn, I see my thoughts shout, I can’t see her. LUCY! My throat burns.

What happened next will remain with me always.

My large blue storm umbrella is suddenly caught on something, stopping me utterly in my tracks. Caught off guard. Literally. Lucy is pulling harder still (the HARE, the HARE!) and the handle of her leash slips through my fingers. She is gone, deep into the thicket.

And there under the umbrella, no longer being pulled, but in fact now slightly suspended by whatever my umbrella is caught up in, I notice that there is meditation music in my ears. My earphones are surprisingly still in place, and I am listening to an album I have listened to for many, many hours of meditating, giving Rebalancing sessions and teaching Yin Yoga. And I start laughing.

I remember what I have been practicing for all of these years – on the yoga mat, in meditation and with Rebalancing sessions

Exactly this.

Exquisite moments of deeply rooted, sensitive, open awareness – on a rainy monday morning, out walking the dog. Or on a Tuesday, listening to my daughters joke around with eachother. Or on a Wednesday, bumping into someone at the market I haven’t seen in ages.

I have been practicing for the utter bliss of being present to my inner experience, in my daily life.

This is obvious to me, suddenly. And it makes me laugh.

I don’t know if I can herd words well enough to describe my delight when I noticed what the effect of the music is, but I will try:

The moment I noticed the music in my ears, my attention settled quietly into my heart into a gentle open field of awareness. Like a bird landing in a familiar nest. And in this soft focus, I noticed all of the thoughts flashing past, my heart pounding, warm emotion rising, my chest rising and falling, breathing hard. I allow all of it into my awareness. Hello Fear, my old friend. The dog is here somewhere. She can’t be far. Hello Anger. Grumble and growl all you like, I will be right here breathing if you need me. Hello Overwhelm, Disorientation, Humor. Welcome.

Untangling the umbrella, I become calm. I notice the tight buds along the slender golden brown reeds. The feeling of light strength and smoothness passes through me. All is well. It is still pouring rain, the ground is still slick with mud, Lucy is still nowhere to be seen. And I am aware of it all and I feel whole and remember how to open into trust. I walk on, following my sense of Lucy. And I notice how alive I feel.

We all know that the brain is highly trainable. In this case, I seem to have utterly unintentionally trained my brain to drop into heartful presence at the sound of a particular bit of music. The sound of it triggered a learned response of a particular way of focussing my attention. But there is more to it than that.

Awareness of the felt sense is not just about training your brain to pay attention to how you physically feel or how you emotionally feel. That would be an odd and quizzical pursuit in and of itself, but certainly a perfectly good place to start in the grander pursuit of bringing your attention away from your thoughts and deeper into your system where all of the amazing stuff happens.

Awareness of the felt sense is about connecting up your physical sensations with your inner knowing.

With practice, my felt sense has grown into a steady awareness of my flow of energy and conciousness, ever changing but also as familiar as home. And always available, it turns out. Even on a rainy monday in the woods while looking for a dog who is free.

Lucy is sitting in a clearing up ahead, resting, her tongue hanging out and eyes shining. The hare got away, but now is now. Her tail starts wagging as I approach. Life is good.

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only connect!

imageE.M. Forster hit the nail on the head. “Only connect”, he wrote, and when I read these words many (many!) years ago as a teenager, they struck me with such force that I have never forgotten. Over the years, these words have become my motto, my life creed, my mantra. These two words together form the most helpful, hopeful, practical, joyful, life-affirming imperative one could ever hope to hear. The sheer focus of the word ‘only’ and the vast possibilities held in the word ‘connect’!

Soulsister Bodywork is all about connecting with women all over the world who are walking the path of conscious living and want to go deeper, settle softly into the core of who they really are and live from that place of strength and wisdom we all have access to. If you are longing for a sense of deeper connection to your inner world and a renewed sense of vitality , you are in the right place. Welcome!