mprove Yoga Practice Quickly with Body Awareness–Did you know that awareness of the body improves yoga practice & life? A mindfulness expert shares how that is possible.
Psychologist and life coach Beata Justkowiak asks mindfulness expert Pierre Gagnon how being aware of the body can improve the way yogis move during yoga practice, as well as living life in general.
Beata: What happens when we decide to become more aware of our body?
Pierre: (Most of us) have stopped living in our body, and have decided to live in a world made of thoughts and perceptions. This is a huge mistake we make in life because we believe that our perceptions are permanent and that they totally reflect the reality we live in. We think that we perceive the world around us in a reliable and accurate way—it couldn’t be further from the truth.
When we decide to become more aware of the body, we connect with a world of no perception. It has the advantage of not assuming our reality but simply living our reality.
What is awareness of the body?
At any moment, a person can live at two levels because of the brain networks in two ways—in an experimental, and a narrative way. You can be experimenting the moment by being totally connected to the present moment.
Being aware of your body is simple—you could be in a coffee shop sitting at a table, you taste the coffee, smell the fragrance of the coffee shop, you’re aware of people walking around you, of the sounds of the coffee grinder, of the discussions happening around you, even the touch of the table under your fingers. At this moment, you’re totally mindful and aware of what’s happening around you.
Your brain networks in an experimental way. You see how simple mindfulness is. What’s difficult is to remember to be mindful.
Is being aware of taste, seeing, smelling, hearing and touching all about awareness of the body?
Yes, we contact the world at the surface of our body. Whenever we see an object we may think that we see an object 10 metres away from us, but in reality what we see is the image of the object 10 metres away appearing at the surface of our eye. We don’t know what that object looks like—we’ll never know the reality, at best we can approximate the reality. The truth is the same for the rest of our senses.
So when we become aware of our body, we become aware of our internal sensations but also of all the objects we contact: seeing, smelling, tasting, hearing and touching. In that sense, our body is more than flesh—it’s our material body but it’s also all the ways we contact the world i.e. our senses. This means that sounds, smell, taste, touch, visual objects are all part of the body. At any moment of awareness of the body, we can contact with the universe around us not just our flesh.
When you stop and think about it, it’s mind-blowing. Live in your body a little more, and stop assuming that what you perceive is accurate. It opens a door that could get you very far. From there, it all depends on how deep you want to go in the rabbit hole.
Beata spoke with Pierre Gagnon, a repentant economist who now teaches mindfulness meditation at Thanyapura. Pierre gets his rush from boot camps and tennis enjoys smiling at people and loves seeing people’s lives transformed by mindfulness practice.