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Unhooking Awareness From Skin, Muscle, and Bone


Last Saturday, after morning zazen at Choboji on Beacon Hill, I trekked over to Clear Mountain Monastery to join some friends in practice. As a part of the day's rituals, Ajahn Kovilo shared a teaching that resonated deeply with me. With profound simplicity, he advised us to "Unhook awareness from the body."


This process of non-attachment, of shifting attention and awareness beyond the body for even just a few moments--5, 10, 30, 50 minutes--unfolds into a transformative journey. It's akin to taking a "backward step," a retreat from the incessant stream of sensory information that our bodies constantly supply, to dwell within the boundless realm of pure consciousness. In this realm, the physical constraints that encase us are transcended, liberating us from the shackles of sensations and expectations.


In these fleeting moments of non-attached awareness, an experience of a Universal Loving Presence spontaneously and naturally emerges. We move beyond the tactile confines of skin, bones, and muscles, beyond the tangible sensations of hunger, pain, or comfort. The virtual reality of the thinking mind is switched off, allowing us to tap into a deeper, more resonant existence.


Yet, this expanded consciousness paradoxically nurtures a deeper sense of connectivity. No longer confined by our physical identities, we intuitively feel an interconnectedness with the world, a profound and holistic unity. We sense our being as an individual wave within an infinite ocean of consciousness.


The practice also manifests as a sanctuary from the suffering rooted in physical discomfort. The immediacy and intensity of physical sensations seem to soften, infusing our experience with a sense of wholesomeness. This isn't about denying or negating the body but recognizing that our awareness is not confined to or defined by our physical form.


We witness the immaterial, boundless aspect of our being that exists in harmony with our material self. This realization of the limitless potential of our awareness, unbounded by the physical, dawns upon us. As we re-anchor our awareness to the body, we often discover a renewed appreciation for it. We see it as a transient, ever-changing entity that aids our journey through life, kindling a deeper compassion for our physical selves.


Admittedly, this practice is challenging and demands patience and persistence. It's a skill that requires honing over time. It's perfectly fine to start small, with just a few minutes, and gradually extend the duration as comfort with the practice grows. The effects of this unhooking of awareness, as I've experienced, can be profoundly deep and transformative, shaping and influencing how we relate to the experience of the present moment.


一We Are the Practice Itself

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