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Your body of presence (Sitting sumo style)

“On a simple level, the aim of meditation is to turn your everyday experience from this ‘PASTpresentFUTURE’ into this ‘pastPRESENTfuture’.”

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article explores how you can make your body a pillar of presence in meditation.

In the spirit of presence,


Your body of presence (Sitting sumo-style)

On a simple level, the aim of meditation is to turn your everyday experience from this “PASTpresentFUTURE” into this “pastPRESENTfuture”. You can see at the bottom of the article another visual representation of this. Basically, at the moment we spend more time in the past and future than we do in the present. As a result, we are often lost in and intimidated by them.  When we practice meditation or mindful activity, we bring more of our attention into the present and so become more grounded, calmer and less easily made anxious by our active mind. We become more solid in our own being, and so become stronger mentally and emotionally. You can use your physical body as an object of focus in the moment to build a ‘Body of Presence’, that you can anchor your attention to.

Sitting or standing like a Sumo wrestler
Imagine you are sitting or standing like a sum wrestler. Sumo wrestlers are large, heavy and know how to stay strong and grounded even when their opponents try and push them off balance. Feel your body to be heavy and massive, as well as poised and balanced. Bring your center of gravity low in your belly, upper body relaxed. Breathe and build your ‘body of presence’ in this way. The past and future are just like small insects trying to push you over! You are a mountain of stabile presence, like a sumo wrestler.

The body within the body
If you sit with your body like this in formal meditation, after a time you may start to have the experience of your physical body then dissolving away, and then the experience of an open spacious body of awareness. In Zen meditation, this is called the ‘body within the body’. What it means is that when we ‘drop’ the physical body in meditation, what is then revealed is the formless timeless ‘body of consciousness’ that is our liberated self, Buddha Nature, or awakened Nature.
Your ‘Sumo body’ is a very good basis for then moving into your ‘body of consciousness’ because:

  • Focus on the ‘sumo body’ helps overcome mental and emotional distractions, building stable presence, and the basis for ‘dropping’ your everyday body-mind
  • When you pick your physical body back up again after meditating on your ‘body of consciousness’ it is solid and stable, helping you to anchor back into the physical world after meditation.

So, there you go, two ‘bodies of presence’. One, the ‘sumo body’ you build around the physical body, the other one around your ‘body of consciousness’. Both are important aspects of a competent and complete meditator’s repertoire.

Related articlesZen Meditation on the Body Within the Body (Within the Body)
The body within the body (infinitely small, infinitely big)

Article & content © Toby Ouvry 2022, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

Tues & Weds March 22nd & 23rd – Spring Equinox balancing & renewing meditation

The Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere marks the mid-point between the cooler, darker seasons of the year and the lighter, warmer ones. The forces of day and night, light and dark are of equal strength. As such it represents time to emphasize balance and harmony, both in our life and meditation practice.

It is also good time to attune the life-force in the earth and creative energies within ourselves. We will be taking the time to get in touch with the new ideas, energies and creativity within ourselves as they emerge like new plants and flowers in spring.

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