SAIIER 2014:Awareness Through the Body with Aloka

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Awareness Through the Body with Rosa
Awareness Through the Body with Aloka

The Goal of Awareness Through the Body

Awareness Through the Body is a comprehensive curriculum of activities and exercises that aims to raise awareness and enable both children and adults to become conscious of their own perceptions and abilities, so that they may become more self-aware, self-directed individuals.

By discovering and exploring the body, Awareness Through the Body (ATB) offers individuals tools to expand their consciousness, explore the different parts of their being (mind, emotions, physical body, energetic body), and discover their inner selves, and eventually enter in contact with their psychic being (soul). By refining and internalising the senses we can become more aware of our own perceptions. By using the senses in a more complete way, free from judgment and preconceived ideas, we are more able to better manage our mind and emotions, and thus determine how to steer our own life.

2013-14 program

Like every school year I have been giving two regular sessions a week with two different adult groups interested in ATB and open to Aurovilians and guests of Auroville.

Yoga Nidra

On Wednesdays I offer a Yoga Nidra session. These are open sessions for whoever wants to attend. The Yoga Nidra lasts for about 1 hour. The attendance fluctuates from 18 to 20 people.

Yoga Nidra is a precious tool to develop the witness attitude and I believe that the more we are able to be in the witness attitude, the more we have opportunities of growth.

The practice of Yoga Nidra as a part of ATB has been evolving along the years. In our Yoga Nidra sessions we offer the participants the opportunity to take a sensory stroll with their consciousness inside their body, sensing and experiencing the body from within.

Once the participant reaches an intimate connection with his/her body, he/she is guided through breath and visualisation, towards an expansion of consciousness where s/he is able to enter into contact with her/her whole being. This brings about a change of level of consciousness, and the person can get in intimate touch with the deepest part of him/herself: the inner being. Because s/he does this consciously s/he is able to establish a bridge between his/her inner and outer self. Thus, offering the possibility to bring the level of consciousness we are able to experience when in contact with our deeper selves, towards the surface of our being and in our day-to-day life as much as possible.

More and more this year I have allowed myself to get directed by what I sense to be the need of the group, not following any mental idea, but feeling what would be nourishing to the group that day. I may go to the session having prepared a certain theme but, once I am with the group, I am ready to change it if I sense there is the need to explore another theme. As a teacher, I find it interesting to explore this flexibility and to rely more and more on the “feelers” and less on the critical mind.

Sensory Awareness

The sessions which I call Sensory Awareness (for lack of a better name) last for 2 hours. The people who come to these sessions - about 14 persons - have been working with me on ATB explorations for several years now. Always positioning ourselves in the witness attitude, we freely explore areas of our being while observing the effects the exploration brings to the different parts that form our being.

This year we mainly explored emotions and how they affect the physical body, the energy and the mind. Among these explorations, two have had special relevance for me: the work we started doing on death, and the contact with the main organs of the body. The last was reality the continuation and development of the work we had been doing last year in Yoga Nidra and in the explorations of Form and the Elements. This year though we approached it in a more physical way.

Sessions exploring the organs

After having withdrawn the consciousness inside and centred ourselves, we would get with our partner (a person previously chosen). One of us would be active, the other passive. The passive person would place herself in a comfortable position on the ground that would expose the location of the organ we would be working with to the hands of the active person.

First we would wake up the organ through percussion, touch, following the meridian related to this organ, or through breathing, depending on the organ. Then we would contact the organ directly through the hands of the active person and both would listen to it, one from outside, the other from inside his/her body. After a while of this attentive listening, the passive person would then breathe inside the organ, sensing the contraction and expansion that the breath creates in it. After a while s/he would clean it through visualisation and sound, following the Taoist method to cleanse the organs: releasing the negative emotions stored in them, and empowering the positive emotions particular to that organ.

The organs we worked with were: Lungs, Heart, Liver, Stomach, Pancreas, Spleen and Kidneys. The feedback from these explorations was very interesting. Apart from bringing the persons in alignment with themselves, many of them really felt the organ for the first time. In addition to expanding our consciousness, these type of explorations enhance the witness attitude, nurture the capacity for concentration, for self knowledge and self regulation.

Working on letting go

I consider death as part of life, as a passage from life to life. For a while I have been wishing to explore this theme: How to approach death? How to get ready for it? How to prepare the “new life”? How come death is a problem for most of us? This year I proposed to my group that we explore it. I chose to do that through conscious movement and projection into a stone.

In my view the main difficulty in facing death is the attitude of not letting go that often accompanies the moment. Letting go of everything, be it our physical possessions and our physical body, or letting go of our emotional attachments as well as of our ideas.

We focused the exploration on learning to let go at the emotional level, to release the emotions that, even if they might have been useful at a certain moment in our life, now have become a burden and when thinking of a new life, we would not like to bring them back with us.

Everybody started working individually at home, taking some days to find what were the emotions we wanted to get rid of. For each one of those we chose a stone that would represent it, materialise it. Each one would meditate with this stone, aware of the emotion it represented thanking it for the usefulness of it at a certain time and getting ready to let it go. After that we would place the stone in a place at home where we could see it an honour it. When this work was done, we came all together with our stones for the first session of exploration.

That day, after centering and in-drawing our consciousness, I asked the participants to take a foetal position, breathe in while visualising themselves in the womb, and by doing a conscious movement, to come out of it, that is to pass from the closed position to an open one, aware of all the motions, thought and perceptions present during the process. Then all of us got up consciously and slowly with our stones. All of us started walking consciously about the room, each one of us sensing which was the emotion we were ready to let go. When one of us would be ready s/he would stop and consciously sit down on the ground. There s/he would remember and visualise an instance of his/her life when this emotion had been very prominent and coloured the whole situation. Bringing the memory very present s/he would feel again the sensations s/he had experienced at that moment. He would then visualise the same situation without that particular emotion in it, and notice how this affected the outcome. From here, when ready, s/he would place consciously the stone on the ground letting go with that gesture the emotion the stone represented. Again when ready s/he would consciously get up and walk about the room till s/he would be ready to let go of the next emotion.

As the whole work was in a sense very individual, we did not fix any frame of time and we did as many sessions we needed, till everybody was able to release all the stones. At the end of each session we would pick up the stones, bring them home, and bury them in the ground.

The depth of this work impacted the life of many of us in a very positive way.

ATB for Newcomers

This year I was requested by the Auroville Newcomer's Programme to do sessions for their groups as part of their introduction to Auroville.

These were short sessions of about one hour and a half in which I would introduce ATB explaining how it came about, explain the link with Auroville and the reason why it was offered in the programme.

After this little introduction, I would guide the people to contact their attention and move it inside themselves, sensing that attention could be felt as a sensation. Next I would ask them to move it to the different parts of their being (which I had refreshed to them during the introduction) and conclude this introspective exercise by asking them to gather their attention in their deepest centre and remain quietly there listening to that part of their being.

After this I would propose a game and we would end the session with a breath or a sensory exercise.

General Awareness Through the Body outcome

Weekly classes: About 290 children and 110 adult Aurovilians, and about 60 children from the outreach schools, have been working regularly this year with this program, attending weekly classes in one of the following groups:

Workshops: Several workshops have been offered which were conducted by Amir and Aran, and two more – one at the end of October and the other at the beginning of December - by Francesco and myself.

ATB Intensive workshop: Like every year, in February Joan and myself offered the ATB Intensive workshop. This year the ATB Basic training lasted nine days (from 6 to 7 hours every day), and was offered to 22 participants, half of them Aurovilians and the others guests from several countries: Italy, Ireland, Spain, Germany and USA. The workshop was again an enriching experience that has fostered in the participants, as well as in us, inner centering and growth.

ATB behind the scenes

With Joan we have been creating a new handout of about 100 pages for the first three modules of ATB workshops, in which we explain in detail all the exercises and activities that take place in them, indicating important points to be aware of and the appropriate ages in which to introduce the exercises.

As always I am in charge of maintaining the ATB webs, taking care of the correspondence with people interested in ATB and/or who want to participate in ATB workshops, and dealing with the translations of the book in other languages. This year I have finished correcting the Italian translation of the book and we have translated the above mentioned handout into Spanish for the coming workshops in Spain.

Here are the links of the 3 ATB webs we have in English, Spanish and French:

Awareness Through the Body
2014 ATB website En.jpg

Despertar la conciencia a través del cuerpo
2014 ATB website Sp.jpg

Éveil de la conscience par le corps
2014 ATB website Fr.jpg

The photos below were taken during this year's Intensive workshop and illustrate the work done with a stone as a manifestation of the element Earth. The last one illustrates the group breathing together and sensing the wave of breath through movement in the yarn.