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The First Task (and Achievement) of Meditation

Dear Integral Meditators,

At its best meditation is a practice that leads over time to a personal, direct and stable experience of enlightened awareness that is not defined by any religion, theory or philosophy. This weeks article explores the first step…


The First Task (and Achievement) of Meditation

The first task and result of a decent meditation practice is to create a unified body-mind. This means to become aware that our mind and body are in continuous relationship with each other. When we have a thought in our mind, this translates into a physical energy and posture in our body. For example when our body feels tired or refreshed this easily and often affects the dialog that we are having in our mind.

For most people this relationship, whilst intellectually understood is not seen and experienced in reality; when we are caught up in our mind we become unaware of the posture and energy of our body. When we are focused on our bodily feelings our mind often gets left out.
So then the first task of meditation is to use awareness and mindfulness to see how our mind and body affect each other and to help them to communicate and work together as a single unit or partnership, rather than working against each other and causing each other friction.
When through awareness and meditation we are able to create a unified body-mind then two positive results come:

  1. Our unified body-mind starts to perform at a level that is far greater than our body and mind could ever do as individual units. As a result our capacity for creative growth in all areas of our life increases. Whether in our work, our relationships, sports or spiritual development the capacity to develop and maintain a unified state of body-mind dramatically increases our potential and performance.
  2. The harmony created between our body-mind creates a space of concentrated stillness.  This stillness and harmony gives us a deeper inner peace and stability within which we can start to access higher, deeper and more subtle levels of consciousness that lie beyond our everyday body-mind. Thus it acts as a doorway to the next level of meditative or consciousness development.

An image of the unified body-mind
In integral literature the unified body-mind is sometimes called the Centauric level of development. A centaur is a mythical creature with a human head and torso with the lower body of a horse, half animal, half human. Thus the centaur symbolizes the unity of our animal body and rational mind, our instincts with logic, our conscious mind with our unconscious mind.

How to work on unifying your body-mind each day.
Take a topic in your life. It could be to do with work, relationships, any area you want to investigate.
Bringing to mind the subject and allow in your mind to explore it with thought and emotion. Observe the principal patterns of thought/emotion that arise.
Now turn your attention to your body. Be aware of the energy that arises in your body whilst you have been generating the thoughts and emotions in your mind together with the posture that your body has adopted. Observe how thought and emotions create a language of feelings and postures within the body.

Finally, observe with awareness the co-arising of thoughts/emotions in the mind together with feelings/posture within the body. See how they are a single, unified, symbiotic experience. Take this awareness of your unified body-mind as your object of awareness for the remainder of the time you have set aside.

Working with this exercise even for a short time each day over a period of time will help you to instinctively start to view the body-mind as a unified entity and to experience the benefits that result.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website