Coming to my senses

“Thriving in Uncertainty, a Workshop in Sensory Awareness”

Only my second workshop at Esalen which is not a writing retreat by the Sun Magazine.

I’m curious, not knowing much about “Sensory Awareness” even though I signed up for this weekend retreat months ago. When I heard the Sun would be taking a year off from their annual writing retreats, I knew I wanted to come to Esalen anyway, wanted to bicycle down the coast again, wanted to get lost in the breathtaking scenery and mystical culture of Big Sur.

The technique was developed by Charlotte Selver, one of Esalen’s original pioneers in the human potential movement. Through simple exercises, called “experiences” by the leader Lee Lesser, I’m guided in exploring the nature of support, how I rise to meet the needs of the moment. I’m happy to discover a new path to mindfulness, this through the simple paying attention to my body, my relationship with my current surroundings, including the physical world and the social worlds.

I’m realizing how much I spent time not paying attention, not present to the needs of my body, the needs of the moment. Distracted, confused, stressed, asleep. Whether in work, relationship, or even alone with my own thoughts, feelings, fears, frustrations. I’m spending time worrying, ruminating, obsessing, all things which take me away from the moment. I remember the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh regarding the moment: if we spend our time taking care of this moment, we will transform both the past and the future, in effect taking care of all other moments.

Back to the singularity, this unique precious event that is my life. Only I have this experience. Only I can be present in my own way. I see in clear focus what I set out to do on this, my tenth year touring down the Pacific Coast on my bicycle: to awaken. Awaken to my surroundings, awaken to my body, awaken to my emotions, awaken to this moment. I think of the many times, many tours before, many moments when I haven’t been present. Asleep at the wheels of my own life.

So this workshop turns out to be exactly what I need, at this time and place. I think of how the rest will be. What I will experience, what I will feel, the new friends I will encounter along the path, the vistas I will see. Will I integrate this new awareness, of my senses?

The teacher says, again in each meditation, the moment is always here to support us. And she asks the question: how will we receive this support?

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