Awareness Through the Body - Part 1

By Michael Lisak

Questions regarding the body arose in me in the first years of practicing martial arts, some twenty five years ago. These questions were acute but some were answered in the following several years. I was, and still, working and teaching people In my line of work - The Grinberg Method, where my only working tools are the body, the touch, the breath and the movement.

I'm writing in order to present these questions:

  • Why and how does one pay attention to the body?
  • Where, in the body, should we focus on?
  • What is the connection between the body, feelings and the atmosphere around us?
  • What are the techniques that sharpen awareness in the body?

I might also be able to address the relationship between attention to the body and the practice of martial art.

  • Why is it even worthwhile diverting attention to the body?
  1. Because the body is the most significant and obvious tool that I, as a person, have. I can utilize my body in order to sharpen my attention to life (to other people, the environment, to myself).
  2. Because it's there: the body is with us in whatever we do, from good to evil. Every habit or behavior will eventually be manifested in the body. Stress will come together with contraction, excitement with butterflies in the stomach, calmness with relaxation, and many other possibilities.
  3. Because the body can become a prison that holds in it certain thinking patterns (the bars will be expressed as stiffness, chronic symptoms etc.). Coming out of that prison is only possible with the help of the body, borders can be crossed with its help.
  4. Body = reality: the body enables the clearest and most real encounter with life. With the body things are clear, when in pain, there's no room for second guessing, when it feels good, it's obvious.
  5. The body is a "student": Like the saying: "you never forget how to ride a bicycle" – the body "remembers" everything. The body enables me a learning process filled with experiences and feelings that are not easily forgotten.
  6. I am the body and the body is me: think about this, even if I was put in solitary confinement, my only substantial physical possession would be my body.
  7. Working with the body enables us to begin with what we already have: we can read all the books in the world, we can learn of every capillary, nerve and tendon in the body, but it is much simpler to just lie down in a quiet place and listen to the body. With the addition of attention, the learning process could be extremely meaningful.