Cultivating presence

Cultivating presence

Moments of meeting and acknowledging, of listening and offering

Each sensation has its own story that seeks to be heard. Bonnie Badenoch

I spent 2017 studying Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) with Bonnie Badenoch. We started each day with a practice of embodiment so we could focus and respond to energy and information a little differently. Starting from the ground, we moved our awareness upward through our bodies, noticing sensations and resting in them. In this way we were meeting and integrating parts of self.

We practiced regularly and I now use this meditation between clients, even if I only have 2 minutes. It is a ‘now, back to me’ moment. It is an intentional act that is a “cleansing of my palate” so I can be receptive, and bring my whole self to the next event or person.

I offer this meditation as a way of connecting with your body sensations, noticing the relationship to emotions and thinking thereby creating a stronger sense of presence.

As a CranioSacral Therapist, I listen to the body with more than the sensation of sound coming into my ears. Since our eyes take up a lot of real estate in our brains, I close them to increase my inner awareness of sensations, and of touch. If it is right for you, I suggest you close your eyes. Consider taking 20 minutes to move through this meditation.

Embodiment Practice

As you move up through your body – allow your hands to land gently on each place and notice what lies beneath them as you blend and meld with each part. We are listening with a non-judgmental, tender, caring stance.

The Earth beneath

Begin with your feet flat on the floor and sit as comfortably as you can. Allow yourself to settle into your body and notice the sense of the weight of you.

Bring your attention to your feet and how they’re resting on the floor. Now, sense the earth, however far down it is from you, and know that it is holding and supporting you. You may send roots flowing downwards to deepen your connection to earth energy.

Pause to gently connect.

With the awareness of feet and earth, move your awareness up your body to sense the muscles in your legs. Is there any tension that wants attention? Notice any tightness, and see if you can be with what your muscles hold. Is there a message from them when you connect with your thought or your hand? What sensations come to you when you are blended with the area? Pause to receive any message.

Hands on belly

Move up into awareness of your belly. Our belly not only digests food, the neural nets here digest relationships. Gently place your hands here and meld. Listen. Being present to your belly brain may allow a voice to inform you of your nourishment needs. Pause to listen.

Hands on heart

Next, Move up to your heart – place your hands on your chest and drop into heart consciousness. When we experience that ‘warm fuzzy’ feeling here, it is the relationship of “the intrinsic cardiac neurons that live in the heart, and the rosette-like companions of the extra cardiac neural groups that inhabit the thoracic cavity” that create this feeling. What is here for you at this moment? Pause to allow whatever information from within wants to flow towards you.

Hands on forehead and occiput

Now notice your skull – the contents within – your brainstem, midbrain, and cerebral cortex. So much winnowing information processing occurs from brainstem upward. So many synaptic neural connections happen here. It is a miraculous thing to behold. If comfortable, place one hand at the base of your skull and one hand on your forehead to connect with the contents within. Notice what you notice.

Looking up

Here with your eyes closed bring your awareness to the sky above and allow your consciousness to sense the cleansing support of the air around you.

Now bring your awareness to the air moving in you, your breath. Just as it is right now, notice your ‘in breath’ and your ‘out-breath.” With inhales and exhales, be aware of earth, feet, muscles, belly, heart, skull, and sky.

Looking in

As you embrace full embodiment, allow your awareness to expand into a bowl of receptivity. Can you hold whatever might be arising within your body? You are holding with generosity, kindness and acceptance. You are being present to all that is present with you right now.

Slowly, slowly widen your awareness, making your way back into the outside world, opening eyes and notice if there is a little difference in how you feel right now. Are you in a place of receptive connection?

This practice, can be done as if on a dimmer switch, slowly and gradually and then, with time, very quickly. It can be a touchstone for you to ground and centre when meeting new people or situations. You are able to receive what others offer, or be received.

Bonnie asks what might our inner sensorial world want to share with us?

Responses from our bodies, sensations in muscles, belly, heart, breath may also come as a wave of emotion, a symbolic image, a memory, a shift in perception, or an intuitive knowing…if a response comes, it may be possible to just sit with it for a bit without needing to be more clear of specific than it is.

Bonnie Badenoch – Heart of Trauma

This kind of embodiment practice helps us develop presence with our self and our inner environment. The practice of non judgmental observing of our body sensations can lead to a shift in perception, and a deepening sense of Self.