Yes, I do mean seeing with the body!
Abstract as it may seem, seeing with the body actually has a very down-to-earth quality. It is an inquiry that has captivated me for years. I have studied it through multiple angles, practiced it both alone and with dozens of others, and taught it in one form or another for nearly 7 years. Seeing with the body is to attune to the sense-based intelligence that surrounds us. It means to know deeper than our thoughts. To attune to the whole. It means to thrive.
Yes, the body is an intelligent, intuitive, self-organizing living system, constantly in contact with the deeper dimensions of the psyche and the natural world. It’s attuned both to the cycles of nature and to the sixth sense that flows through the soma*.
But so many layers of disembodiment and body-numbing are imposed over the natural flow of body’s wisdom and muddy our sensitivity, that like every fine instrument of exquisite precision, the body too needs to be tuned and practiced as the instrument for perception.
To “see with the body” is to be consciously tuned into its guidance. It is to access dimension and felt knowing from the web of life, directly through our bodies. But how does one cultivate the body’s capacity to be the instrument for sense-based intelligence and perception that is meant to be?
Here are what I have found to be the 5 guiding principles:
1. Cultivate the body’s stamina and strength. Keep a regular practice of exercising the physicality of the body. The practiced body is open, fluid, and aware. It is a much more natural channel for embodied wisdom and inner knowing.
2. Practice giving the the body a chance to move and flow intuitively, often.
However free, dance often includes learned ways (technique), habitual movements, and comfort-zone aesthetics. Intuitive movement on the other hand is the uncharted territory of the body’s most uninhibited and spontaneous expression that arises from one’s deeply felt inner space, moment-to- moment.
3. Recover the depth of the five senses: notice them, validate them, deepen them.
Otherwise, thinking becomes the only intelligence. Defaulting to it captures us in the anxious prison of our craniums, removed from our embodied depth and sensory knowing. The sixth sense is the synergy of all the five senses. Sixth sense is really another name for awareness. Multidimensional, beyond-linear, feltawareness that is tuned into and informed by the web of life.
4. Engage in the basic languages of the body with consistency and curiosity.
Sensation and felt sense. Movement. Inner seeing. Dreams and imagination. Emotion. Silence. The more often these are practiced together, the more one knows and sees with the body, and the more she feels and trusts her place in the whole.
And last but, oh, so not least…
5. Be with women.
Surround yourself with women who too are growing aware of the fact that their bodies are exquisite instruments that carry a sense-able heritage that has been passed down in the female form for generations. Yes, women have a more easeful and natural capacity to tune into the world and the cosmos through their bodies’. Gravitate toward women who can mirror that in you and can be your sisters in rediscovering and reestablishing the timeless language of seeing with the body.