To make sense of our experiences, we can look at our lives in terms of four relationships. The first is our relationship to our body. The second is our relationship to the world around us — to everyone and everything else. The third is our relationship to ourself. And the fourth is our relationship to our timeless nature.
Knowing these four relationships gives us the possibility to gradually establish a connection with each of the four. At any given time, at least one of these four is calling for attention. By working with them, we can bring more harmony to all aspects of our life, and support the desire to live a more meaningful life.
Let’s take a look at the first relationship: the relationship to our bodies. Surprisingly, we go through life without relating to the body. Instead, we've unknowingly substituted a relationship with the conceptual body — the image, thoughts, and ideas we have about our body — with the real thing. Because we live “in our head” (and sometimes in our emotions), we relate to our bodies as objects, and seldom experience them naturally. We interpret the input from our sense organs automatically and associatively, so we have a very indirect relationship with it, one that's largely disconnected from the support the body could make available to us.
To have an actual relationship to our own body, we need body-mind connection. The mind has to support us to experience the body by bringing its relaxed attention to the body’s activity (inhalation and exhalation, for example), and remaining with it.
When we have body-mind connection, the body supports us, and we're finally in a position to support it. When we're connected to our body, we can respond to its actual needs, rather than ignoring them or trying to do what we think might be good for it.
A simple example: I’m sitting and writing. If I’m only “up in my head,” I don’t know that my body is tense. I remember the body-mind connection, and when I connect, I see that I'm sitting in an uncomfortable position. I move and let my body find a more comfortable posture. I experience the weight of my body in the chair, and see that thinking doesn’t require that I hold my body so tensely. So I relax my face and my stomach. Now I'm more available, and instead of losing so much energy to tension, I have more energy to live my life.
These simple things can have a profound effect on how we spend our most precious resource: our own energy.
In subsequent articles, we’ll talk about the other three relationships, and also about how each one affects the others.