The life of an individual is the life of his body… A person who doesn’t breath deeply reduces the life of his body… If he doesn’t feel fully he narrows the life of his body… In effect, most people go through life on a limited budget of energy and feeling.
Alexander Lowen, Bioenergetics
One of the things I have noticed or rather felt in my formal practice was that it was missing the bodily aspect even though often times during a sitting I’d stay with pain, physcial discomfort or other sensations in the body. If being human involves living in this human body would it not be more helpful to use it in meditation in a more direct way? I took up the asana practice as a way of engaging both body and mind into the practice in a more direct and dynamic way but was open to furhter explore movement as part of spiritual practice.
Photo: Ralph Weidne
When I first heard Hokai Sobol talk about history and basic practices of Japanese Shingon on Buddhist Geeks I immediately responded to the idea of what to me sounded like a more embodied meditation practice than what I found zazen to be. I contacted Hokai and with his encouragement and support joined his group in downtown Rijeka for a week end of intensive Shingon practices in the last week of May. (The brief account of the experience will follow shortly.) Although it was hard to say what this experience would lead to in the future, I knew it was the beginning of a new journey. Shingon training helped me realise that spiritual life for me actually meant embodied spiritual life.
But even at this point I did not really know an embodied life meant. For starters, I kept on objectifying the body, thinking of it as a tool to be used and maintained rather than having a value of its own. I also wrestled with the feeling of guilt and was ambivalent as to whether I should pick and choose practices and traditions as I went along or if it would be more helpful to “take one seat” as Jack Kornfield advises in “A Path with Heart” and stick with it. In a way I saw trying out new practices as an admittance of my own “failure” with zazen.