How’s 2021 treating you so far? We’ve entered into another season of spring. It may be hard to notice seasonal changes in sunny Singapore, but springtime offers all of us an opportunity to take a momentary pause. In that pause, observe the seedlings that are sprouting out of different parts in our lives — our daily routines, relationships, health and mental health, work, etc.
April showers childlike youthfulness into our spirit. In this 2-part issue, I’d like to share with you gentle sprouts that I’ve noticed over the past 3 months.
Sprouting of our body awareness
I had the most delightful time moving with more than 40 xiaomaos, an endearing term for kittens that refers to the members at LITO academy, in early March. The 75-minute practice comprising movement, breath, and art journalling was anchored by several key invitations, one of which was to practice the awareness of our body. With that awareness, we began making choices with the body shapes that we wanted to come into or out of.
The sprouting of body awareness may first begin with questions like —
how is my body being at this moment — tensed, sluggish, relaxed?
is there another way to let my body be — soft, expansive, light?
Which parts of my body might be calling for my attention?
Whenever there is some form of body awareness, there is a present moment experience.
This awareness continues to branch into subtler body sensations, and one gateway to enter this experience is through our breath. Even as you are reading this, perhaps become aware that you are in this moment, taking a breath in and releasing a breath out.
What do you notice about your breath?
If it’s available, perhaps try adding a little more breath to your exhale. Listen to the sounds of your exhales; maybe notice a sigh escaping your lips.
Whenever there is body awareness, we open up spaces for our mind-body to choose where we want to go next. This could be a decision about how we want to treat our body: allow rest, nourish with comforting food, get moving or exercising. This might also be a decision about how we want to be treated in our relationships: draw necessary boundaries, declare “no” without a lingering guilt to please others, or simply voice out our disagreement.
We wrapped up that evening’s session with art journalling, expressing what we noticed in those moments of stillness, quiet, movement and inner sounds. For some, they chose to dive deeper into stories that their bodies had held over the years. For others, the theme “be. receive. give thanks” sparked tender self-affirmations.
Sprouting of the path to self-inquiry
Whenever there is body awareness, we open up spaces for self-inquiry. As we ease into this quiet contemplation using colours, shapes, words and sizes as modalities of inquiry, we find points of acknowledgement. Acknowledge what happened to us. Acknowledge the efforts that we have put in. Acknowledge that there are parts of us that we dislike or hate looking at.
What about acknowledging what our body has done for us? Our body is our sole companion in this journey called life. For all the pain, hits, disappointments, joy, misery, frustrations, anxiety, and surprises that we had encountered, should we not gift our body an acknowledgement for bearing it all?
Any internal acknowledgement is a form of standing our ground, making a proud declaration: “I matter, too.”
In this practice of self-inquiry, we may choose the life directions we want to steer ourselves towards. Or perhaps gradually allowing tenderness to spread over old wounds. For me, the path of self-inquiry leads me to the path of recognition — like a single wave in the Ocean, I am part of a Consciousness far greater than my comprehension. In each conscious breath of awareness, I connect to the greater Consciousness that is all around, within me and without.
What are seedlings within you that are beginning to sprout — that you’d like to continue nurturing — for the rest of 2021?
I’ll end part 1 of this issue with beautiful nuggets of wisdom that the Hopscotch kiddos (once again) share with us. As you read on, remember that these are children aged 7 to 9.
One of the themes we covered early this year was the life cycle of a butterfly. I asked them, “What does the butterfly need in order to go through the big, big changes in its life?” To my surprise the children responded with the following, with unimpeded glee in their eyes:
“A safe space! the butterfly is protected by the leaf while it goes through the big changes in its life.”
“Time. The butterfly needs time in Nature, to be nourished by love, from sunshine, water, and food.”
“Rest. The butterfly needs to rest before it can transform from a cocoon to BIG wings!”
“Patience. The butterfly needs it because it will go through many challenges.”