The Body is not a Separate Entity
To the separate self-sense it seems to be a great paradox:
The more deeply embodiment is fully explored, the less identification with just the body there is.
In the understanding of reality however, this makes perfect sense.
As I said before, I went deeply into the enquiry of the idea of separate self. I sincerely couldn’t find one. I remember having a physical sensation like the separate ‘I’ lived behind the skin of my face somehow, before I started questioning it. When I really began to look for it, there was no one there though and the sensation that was attached to the idea of separate I, just dissipated. So the separate I-idea ended up being a belief that manifested in a physical sensation, that was it. I can highly recommend to look for the actual nature of the separate self within your being. Is it more than a thought form? Is it more than a physical sensation?
When I was a child, my sister and I listened to fairy tales. The sound came out of these big speakers my dad had in the living room. For a significant time I believed that whoever spoke out of these speakers lived in them. Especially when a great big bear showed up in the story, I hid behind the door just in case he would come out of these speakers. I didn’t have another explanation for how the sound could come out of these boxes otherwise. May be we hold similar presumptions about the separate-self-idea inside the body-box, speaking out of these mysterious mouths? What is your experience of separate ‘I’ in relationship to the body? How mysterious is that ability of the body to produce sound?
The more I felt into the incomprehensibility of the body, the less I could find anything that was clearly a separate entity of some kind. Instead I found that the wisdom of the body is exactly that deep knowing of one reality. The body knows exactly what it is: a mysterious, forever changing appearance as complex as the cosmos itself, deeply embedded into the living web of ‘appearances’ and never truly separate from anything.
A Fundamental Discovery
Whilst studying at Brighton University I felt moved to attend a music festival in London. I was at an event where several artists presented some of their songs. I remember an aging rock star and I can’t remember his name, but his performance transmitted so much more than his songs. There was a sense of grief about getting older, a sense of desperation to still want to look and be young and hip. I found his performance quite painful as I felt all these things transmitting alongside the songs.
When he left the stage, the Buddhist singer Yung Chen Lhamo entered the space. The contrast in quality of presence couldn’t have been more stark. She just walked onto stage in this white dress and there was just nothing, but just being and the beauty of that communication through her body. It was wonderful. No stage fright, no sense of ‘me the great singer’, nothing like it, just her beautiful bodily appearance and her voice. Below you see a video of her I found, that comes close to what I remember. Sadly, because it is a close up, you do not quite get that same sense of who she bodily just ‘was’ on a very simple, empty and dark stage, but may be you can imagine that.
So seeing Yung Chen Llamo, especially straight after the other so very different singer, showed me for the very first time that it was possible to just be embodied without being ‘a performer’, transmitting all sorts of communications other than the performance itself. And that human potential became a very important creative consideration ever since.
An Embodied Foundation Practice
‘Embodiment as the One Heart’ is not about dance as such. It is not about being good at dancing. It is just about movement from reality and it doesn’t matter at all how simple the movement is. As far as I am concerned you can take a stick and walk along a wall and bang against that wall every now and then, and do this from the reality of the oneness of all there is. So if dance is not so much your medium, you may consider the process along-side the idea of body language rather than dance. What language does your body speak, when it is permitted to speak the language of the totality of existence? How can the body be free to be what it is?
As a beginning practice it is useful to familiarise yourself with the flow of life energy through the body. It flows through the top of the head into the frontal line of the body turning up the spine at its base whilst simultaneously spreading through the whole body.
You can explore sitting and slowly walking, and experiment how to adjust your back and open your shoulders just enough that this nurturing flow begins to occur. It tends to naturally deepen and regulate the breath and bring a sense of embodied peaceful restfulness, and a refreshing sense of rejuvenation, creative impulse and equanimity.
From that sense of natural body in equanimity I tend to then recommend to explore the energetic connection into the earth as well as the energetic connection to the infinity above. At some point it is useful to feel where the heart is at without trying to manipulate what is happening there, whilst allowing us to feel the connection with what is immediately around us in whatever space we are. Usually in group settings that type of contemplative consideration has been a crucial practice and the language of the process tends to adapt to the group that is present. This example below was an offering on a group zoom call with an online community I participated in called ‘The New Republic of the Heart’ set up and guided by Terry Patten:
Once you have familiarized yourself with the process of connecting to the infinitely small and the infinitely vast through the body, it would be wonderful to see you exploring this in your own timing and way and find your own words to accompany the process. Everybody has different routes to access various states of being. And there is usually some particular and unique way that allows you to shift easily. It is a good sign, when the process feels fresh and alive every time you do this.
This practice in and of itself supports the surrender of the body into life itself, turning it into an invitation for the transmission of reality over time.
The movements in the video below are danced in this practice of conducting life energy and with the sense of reaching to infinity in all directions, above, below and beyond space-time.
As I said before it doesn’t matter if you are not the ‘dance-type’, just distill the essence you sense about the quality of movement, not the style of dancing I tend to come up with, and always allow me to inspire your unique expression.
This is the last video I made (probably in 2015), exploring just dance and movement without any words. I danced to a song by Naamleela Jones, which I love very much. It is a song she made to one of Adi Da’s poems called “Love comes to here in time”.
I actually do prefer simple movements over too elaborate ones, because I don’t want the mind of the viewer to go to these thoughts about how amazingly skill-ful this dance is, as it would separate the viewer, instead of inviting him or her into a field of physical resonance as one. What was also always important to me, is what I wear. I want to draw people into resonance with physical expression, but not too much into potential sensual thoughts around the body, because that could distract the viewer. In my experience, heterosexual men can be quite easily drawn into imagining making love, when a woman’s moves are very fluid. And women can sit there comparing themselves with you. When that happens the viewer has dropped back into the slice of experience of I and other. If you dance for audiences and you have admirers for the wrong reasons, this was my standard response: “If you see beauty in me, it is your own beauty you see.” This was a very effective line. Humorous and real simultaneously. Good to remember also, because generally we are likely to push the power of the beauty we can be away just in the same way as what we deem ugly and undesirable.
For sometime I loved just immersing into embodied infinity in natural surroundings. I very much recommend to take time in nature on your own to be one with sky and earth and let the body express that. I used to just put a camera somewhere on the ground, roughly pointing into the direction of where I was dancing and moving about. Whatever ended up being in the image I made films with and poetry for. Here is an example:
Teaching Yourself via Filming and Mirrors
I can recommend to just film yourself or move infront of a mirror and explore just through movement, how the body becomes an invitation into oneness and how it becomes an invitation into separateness. When you film yourself you can study your body language in great detail. You can also make beautiful experimental films with the footage, too.
You can also explore the power of gazing experimenting with your own reflection. Are you looking at yourself, or are you looking through and beyond whilst being yourself? It is possible to practice non-separation not just with other people, but also with yourself in this way, because interestingly enough we often tend to treat our own reflection in the mirror as an other. May be you are an exception? Or may you are noticing now that this true for you?
It is absolutely magical when this sense of separation drops, yet there is this image in the mirror that is apparently ‘you’. There is a lot of potential in this simple exercise. In this video below I am exploring another very simple mirror practice. Originally I got the idea of mirror practice, because I was dancing a poem by Adi Da in a dance studio with a huge mirror wall. At first I was dancing to myself and watching myself in the mirror. Then suddenly everything disappeared, and the reflection I saw in the mirror was just one with all there is. This initial experience taught me that reflections in the mirror can be brilliant teachers too, or let’s put it this ways, they are pretty good at directly reflecting where we are at!
Moving the Transmission of Spoken Word
The mirror practice above has already began to bring spoken word into the process. The next step is to explore how the body moves as one with the words you speak. I dug out a video for you that is from that time when I was working with Adi Da’s poetry. My son was just 6 years old and home-schooling at the time. I used the weekends when he was with his dad to go to the dance studio. I spent hours and hours and hours with the two poems I spoke about in the materials about spoken word.
As the video below demonstrates, I spent a lot of time just with one or two lines. I am sharing this video to inspire you to explore if a practice of this kind on your own at home serves you and moves you. If you find or write a poem or just a few lines of a poem that bring you into that reality of no-separation, I recommend to engage with these in an embodied practice with just a few words on a regular basis. Powerful revelations can come from just that. At that time my practice was still a very direct response to how Adi Da moved me as a spiritual teacher and that is why there is an image of him in the video at the beginning. But obviously I am not asking you to connect with non-separate reality through him as such, unless you happen to feel moved in such a way. Connecting to Adi Da’s Spiritual Transmission through a photograph of him was my personal route to the embodied understanding of reality at the time. But later the transmission through Adi Da’s word was enough.
Tapping into the Mystery
The more I contemplate the body, the more mysterious and unknowable it appears to be. No matter what I believe to know about the brain, or the heart, the magic of a cell and the incredible mystery of how everything works together, ultimately I don’t seem to know anything. Total awe replaces the sense of separation. The body feels like a direct representation of the mystery of the cosmos. So this is why contemplating the body as it is, is equal to oneness with the earth and the cosmic body. The video below is an example of being and directly expressing the mystery of the body. At this time I already experimented with spontaneous spoken word. This simple piece occurred during a one-to-one session in 2017.
Collaborations and co-creations
In ‘Embodiment as the one Heart’ the collective process magnifies the awakening into no-separation in each other, and as bodies of deep resonance we can co-create a space where infinite being expressed through the body is encouraged, which is not necessarily a given in human communities. This human possibility is often still a taboo, or simply an unknown possibility, even in the most unity-centered global organisations.
I experienced the truth of no-separation so deeply when I met the Odissi dancer Sayanthani Dhar. Both of our dance forms were in devotion of deeper being, but our expressions couldn’t have been more different. We wanted to work together, but didn’t know how. it was the poem ‘I don’t care anymore to keep silent about it’, drawing us into no-separation, that allowed the collaboration to flow ecstatically. I do recommend that your personal practice takes priority at the beginning of engaging in ‘Embodiment as the one Heart’, but if creative friends are open to shared experimenting in embodied oneness, even bringing different creative genres together, any opportunity of that kind will be enriching beyond imagination. Be aware of the risk that collaborations can also begin to pull the process into separative expressions without people noticing, so it is a good idea to work with a poem, that is aligned to the reality of no-separation and to just experiment with different ways of expressing that. I’d also love to see your work!
The Gradual Unfolding of Practice
I want to tell you more about how my practice unfolded over the years and how it transformed me, so you have some reference points to see where you may experience in similar or different ways.
When I originally began to dance the non-dual poetry by Adi Da, there was a lot of resistance in the body. And the transmission of no-separation did not flow just as a given. So looking back at that, I can clearly say that the practice of embodying non-separate reality certainly softens the body over time, and allows for a natural clearing up and shifting of habitual patterns of withdrawal. It also allows for the body to begin to speak in ways we didn’t imagine it could, and opens up infinite creative ideas, that tend to get more and more unexpectedly expansive over time. If an initial simple idea turns into a massive and ecstatic process without you expecting it, you are on the right track!
It just begins to happen. It is not necessarily an easy process, but it is ecstatic in the sense that we don’t need to effortfully ‘reach’ our potential. We are just allowing it, with a sense that we can not know where we are meant to go. Only then we really support the totality of our life experience to take us beyond what we could have imagined. All of life becomes the teaching, and the more we can trust that, the more powerful the process becomes.
Practicing embodiment as life itself leads to interesting physical changes over the years. When I was young, I was physically fitter and also more flexible than I am now, nevertheless now I am older, when I move and dance in the expression of no-separation, there is a lot more fluidity and a sense of softness and also wildness of expression, that wasn’t there when I was younger, and just starting out in the exploration.
Embodying the reality of no-separation allowed for a completely non-strategic flow of being in life as life to emerge over time. The more I made it a practice, the more the body urged towards that freedom of being, and the stronger its capacity grew to allow for that ultimate reality to embody more and more fully.
In my case there was and still is intense patterning of separation to learn to transmute instead of perpetuate as well. I didn’t have a blue print of how to deal with these, so this is why I am creating this course, so you have a few maps to navigate patterning -hopefully with more ease than how it had to be for me. I am wondering if I would have had access to this course in my late twenties, if some rough patches of my life experience would have gone softer, I don’t know. There is this sense of perfection on how everything happened, as this process was birthed and can now support people any age in these times, where everything appears to speed up intensely.
Eventually I felt so incredibly moved by the power of the embodied practice I was developing that I decided to attempt to start teaching, and I was absolutely overwhelmed with the power of this work. I I found one 4 hour retreat per month and a number of open mic nights here and there more than enough, because the process always comes with a bubbling up of the habits of separative withdrawal woven into the fabric of our incarnation in tow, which require love, curiosity, non-judgemental attention and processing, before the next dose of one reality stirs up the mix.
At some point in this ‘life-practice’ I could confidently say yes, when I got a call saying: “can you just dance absorbed in Divine Joy” as part of our Christmas celebration, or “can you just dissolve into Adi Da’s Image Art exactly when so and so reads this and this line”. I could confidently say yes… even if I had just gone through huge amount of emotional turmoil just an hour before the ‘gig’. This is because I learned that the slice of experience and separation may feel very real at times, especially when deep fears are triggered, but nevertheless the reality of all as one is always there as who we are. We just need to walk through that invisible door, or flick that light switch again, and that’s it. It is reality, and reality can not leave. There can only be effortful withdrawal from reality, but once we let go of that effort, reality is accessible again, in less than a timeless instant.
At the beginning of embodied oneness practice, my usual practice was that there was separation somewhere in the body and then there was the enjoying of the release into effortless flow of no-separation. My life experience now is that no-separation is the normal experiencing and separation and withdrawal happens only when there are triggers. Suddenly there will be all these uncomfortable sensations in my body, and the verbal mind suddenly produces a whole bombardment of defensive thoughts out of nothing. As I am not usually having many thoughts, that is always an indicator of a self-protective mechanism having been triggered. This is another interesting practice result that happened over the years: my verbal mind just stopped being the perpetual thinker. It just happened on it’s own.
The practice also changed my capacity for profoundly transformed sensual experiencing over the years, and various psychic abilities opened up and deepened. None of that I deliberately aimed for. I had no idea that these changes can even occur in the way they did, which is why I advocate for just focusing on becoming that physical invitation for reality and to allow it to transform you on its terms. Reality knows best what treasures to bring forth.
Over time I became tacitly aware of Reality descending into a space upon invitation. At some point it began to focus above my head to enter the physical body. This is an intense and very real physical experience, not just a little tingle on the top of the head. It feels like every cell of the body is being washed and consumed, and the process can become as intense as being pinned down into a chair for instance with the transmission pressing itself into the body quite forcefully. Sometimes hours can pass like this. I can not remember when this began to happen, but since it did I stopped meditating because the body was regularly being very powerfully meditated in ways I could never achieve by intentionally sitting down to meditate. It became clear over time that the practice of ‘Embodiment as the One Heart’ turns the body into a transmitter of reality, bit by bit, and in its own time.
In an ‘Embodiment as the one Heart’ live performance for instance, the transmission of reality enters through the top of the head and powerfully shines through the heart and from the hands and communicates through the eyes. In a performance a woman told me that my hand pointed directly at her heart when I spoke the words “touch the heart, touch the heart to eternity”. And she felt that I literally touched her heart in that moment.
Another time a woman burst out in tears when our gaze met, and she told me later that she felt an incredible freedom communicated through my eyes and it made her aware of all her tension and tightness in that very moment.
Something else I learnt over the years was that it is important to only engage with audiences in performance where I feel that an authentic openness can be developed, as really reality transmission flows into the resonance and receptivity that is met. If there is no receptivity it backs up in the body and can not flow which becomes a rather torturous physical experience. You will naturally feel moved and strongly urged to pass on the gift in whichever unique way reality speaks ‘you’. The more openness there is, the more ecstatic flow and transmission of reality through the body can occur.
I developed an image to express that fully developed human as the one heart. I first wondered if I needed an image of a physical body, but then felt that two hands were enough. The head is replaced by the circle of Infinite Light anyway and the body could be represented as the colour red coming from the ground up, meeting the Light and also transmitting it, the heart operating like a motorway junction, aligning every possible communication through the body to non-separate Reality.
I aimed to capture and communicate the multi-dimensionality of this process in this two-dimensional diagram:
This may be a diagram that takes time to make sense of in tangible experiential ways, but I have a feeling that this understanding of human potential described there, may be realised quickly by some people. In any case the more authentic you can be where you are at, without seeking to be anywhere in particular, the better. But also ‘wanna be’ or ‘never gonna be’ detours are completely natural, and are best warmly embraced and turned into an opportunity for enquiry.
The video below really ties in with what we considered in this chapter so far. Jamila and I specifically met up to consider the body, reality and what “Embodiment as the One Heart’ is supposed to be…and our consideration shows the multi-dimensionality of the process so well, and how a shared understanding of reality supports us in deepening each other’s seeing and communication from and as that.
As the last part of this consideration I want to dive deeper into some very basic principles and meditative exercises that support the bodily alignment to being an invitation to reality. So that eventually the transmission of reality as it is can fully speak through and as one’s body as a creative expression:
Inspiring Embodied Celebrations of Life
At the end of this chapter I would like to inspire you with some of my favourite videos that express oneness in life and movement to me:
This beautiful video by the Isness Dance Company demonstrates beautifully how movement in tune with the body’s own energies naturally feels in tune with the earth’s energetic field, there is immediately a sense of oneness with the elements.
There is lots of study I could be doing into different movement cultures of the earth. Many years back, when I explored ballet, and modern dance and then discovered belly dance and African dance I got in touch with different qualities of embodiment through dance and movement. Of all dance styles it is for me African Dance that allowed for that really deeply embodied connectedness to the earth most powerfully. That movement for its own sake, for joy. And it is Africans that as far as I can see are absolutely phenomenal at moving at speed without disengaging from the energetic being of their embodiment. This clip below, I absolutely love watching.
Another very interesting dance form as far as embodiment goes is Butoh. I remember that as a teenager I came across a Butoh performance on television, that took many hours. It was a most unusual performance for me, as I had never seen anything like it before. I remember absorbing it like a sponge, for many hours not even knowing why I was so intrigued. Remember there were no computers. There was only the local ballet class and that was ‘dance’ until that Egyptian dancer showed up in our small German town and began to change my world by introducing me to belly dance.
I let this beautiful Butoh dancer in this video below finish our consideration of embodiment. He mesmerisingly describes in the end how his dance brings him into experiencing all as one, all as energy, all as different forms of resonance. And I can really sense what he means. His whole body speaks it.
invitations to practice:
So I hope this consideration of bodily existence is inspiring you to play.
I would like to end this module with some summarising questions, that you can answer to yourself as you play physically and in embodied ways with the expression of indivisible beauty:
How does embodied oneness practice shift the sense of I?
How does it change the sense of embodiment?
Are certain energetic experiences occurring in the body?
Is there a sense of warmth in the heart area, or a tingling on the top of your head?
Do you feel the edge of your skin or does the sense of boundary become blurred?
Do you enjoy connecting deep into the earth and reaching into infinity as part of your play?
Do you enjoy merging with an image of yourself in the mirror?
What is authentic to you?
Can you describe what is going on for you?
Is it possible to speak the language of no-separation and to allow embodied movements to flow with the consideration?
Do you enjoy exploring the contrast of humorous separation and joyful oneness?
Are you inspired?
Fell free to contact me with questions, feedback or consider a one-to one session or a set of one-to-one sessions to deepen the study consideration experientially.
With Love, Eva