Many people come to me asking about how to feel good in their bodies.  They have a hard time finding joy in their bodies.  Nothing helps.  For me, the secret to finding real joy and harmony in our bodies is to be fascinated with them, fascinated with life.  This is a big process which will change everything, not just our aches and pains.

When I was very young, I would go out into the forest, wandering around, exploring the deciduous forest around my house.  I lived out in the country in southwestern Michigan. I always felt that if I were sensitive enough, I could know the future, I could heal myself, I could communicate with animals.  I would go out into the forest and stand or walk and take in the silence and think anything was possible.  And I don’t doubt that I was right.  This is the nature of childhood.

I was a serious kid, always wondering what the point of life was.  Always a little worried, but like many children, somewhere in between the spirit world and the normal world.  I remember finding a baby deer alone in the forest and wanting to touch it.  To take it home.  And I remember watching insects all day, especially walking sticks.

When I got older, I went out looking for meaning in education and philosophy.   I went to cities walking around them in wonder.  My body did not feel good.  I was very uncertain of life, at odds with most everything.   I was desperate for some answers, but I mostly just felt awful in my body all the time.  I think this is the case for many people. They may have philosophical ideas about what is wrong.  They may have moral objections to the way the world is going or how we treat the environment.  But mostly this manifests as feeling really uncomfortable in their bodies.  And exercising helps to some degree, but if we are at odds with our bodies, often exercising does not really help with the deeper issues.  It is like having a broken wheel and then just jacking up the rest of the car.

Not knowing the right path, I traveled around quite a bit, only to find that I could not find peace anywhere out there in the world,  even if I were in the most beautiful place.  I could not be present if my body was not at ease.  If I was not comfortable in my own skin.

My path back to real joy was to find a way to engage with, and fall in love with the process of being in this body.  In many ways, it was a path back to the woods of my childhood.  It was back to innocence, back to believing anything is possible.  Back to knowing anything is possible.

I stood in the garden in Japan for hours.  There I became completely fascinated.  And the reason I became fascinated is that I found that just standing there is completely miraculous.  This is where I really began to take deeper states of mind from the zazen cushion out into the world.  It was my little laboratory.  Just a pair of zori (flip flops), a t-shirt, and samugi pants. Walking around, trying to move from a place of pure instinct, a place before self consciousness, leaning on the fabric of reality, allowing my body to dissolve into the sound of the trees, this great life energy flowing through me.  If we get quiet enough to feel what is happening internally in our bodies, unbelievable things happen.  It is a wonderful secret. We think we have to make it complicated, but it truly is miraculous, walking around, standing around, if we can allow ourselves to be open to it.

“My daily activities are not unusual-

I am just naturally in harmony with them,

Grasping nothing, discarding nothing,

And everywhere there’s no hindrance  no conflict.

My supernatural power and marvelous activity

Is drawing water and carrying firewood.”

Layman P’ang

This quote is not an idea, but an honest statement about the sublimity available in normal activities.  There is a great power that begins to emerge when we are patient enough, brave enough, to let it guide us.  It is not easily described.  It is really an experience of no inside and no outside.

Often, our problem is that we are too focused on our pain in specific places.  Our necks hurt.  Or our lower backs hurt.  But If we can feel the room around us, feel the garden around us, our bodies begin to meld with this surrounding light, and they begin to heal in context.  And as we are always in some kind of energetic environment, we must adjust accordingly all the time.  This, for me, is the secret to feeling good.  To at all times unify and melt into the environment at hand.  And when we do this all the time, it gets easier and easier.  When we do not do it, we get clogged up, we lose our flow in this ever shifting energetic matrix.

I am not perfect at this.   No way!  I am always working on this.  But when I do stand still or take a walk and drink down all of my surroundings, my life becomes so incredibly miraculous.  So please give it a shot.  Dive into standing or sitting still.  See if a great power is waiting to move through you. I know there have been times in your life when you felt most alive, most inspired.  Bring your curiosity into that state of mind. It has been trying to happen all of your life.  It is very simple.  This is my take on how to feel good in our bodies, and to find a kind of joy that grows and grows.  Please discover this.


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