Seeing Ourselves from the Inside

Every morning you search this face
as if sleep were an act of contrition,
from conterere - to bruise, to grind,
to rub away; as if sleep worked
the way weather works on stone
to give it the shape of time.

You search this face
to see if doubt has been dislodged
from the notorious eyebrows,
those condescenders, those qualifiers;
to see if irony has been banished
from the lay of the lips.

You study this every morning.
Touch this face with your hands
to feel the bones, the honest bones-
the seam of the mandible,
the orbits of the eyes.

You rub the eyes, little lamps.
Wish deepest into the blackest part
for daylight to arrive.

- Max Garland

This week we turn to the Body Scan - a chance to use the sensations in and on our body as an anchor the present moment, and really, a chance to get to know ourselves from the inside out. Have you ever wondered why we prioritize the knowledge of our bodies that comes from looking at the outside of ourselves (through mirrors, for example), versus the wisdom that we can gain by sensing into the body from the inside?

Sometimes there is a gap between what we see in the mirror and what we feel in our body. When this occurs, where is the truth? In our felt experience or in our observed experience? We might be surprised by how old the “me” in the mirror looks because the “me” that we experience from the inside feels much younger. And when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we may be less attuned to our physical experience in the moment and more caught up in our reactions to our appearance. We're not really “feeling” what it is going on in the moment. This stands in stark contrast to what we experience when we pause and bring awareness into the body, noticing warmth, coolness, tingling, twitches or pulses, pressure points, looseness, areas asking for attention and those that are at peace……

So maybe we should strike a deal with ourselves this week. Perhaps we can agree that for every minute we spend looking in the mirror, we will spend at least as much time observing our bodily experience from the inside. One simple way to do this is to brush your teeth with your eyes closed. We know where our mouths are, after all! We don’t really need the mirror. You might notice how the sound of the toothbrush on the teeth is amplified within the skull cavity; or how the mouth has to move in interesting shapes to accommodate the toothbrush; or how the tongue moves the water around when you rinse….. and who knows what else you might discover about your lived experience in the body.

We hope that you can join us this week as we practice getting to know ourselves from the inside.

Community Sits this Week:

Monday 12 PM and 1 PM Trumbull Library, Trumbull

Monday 7:30 PM Sama Yoga, 45 Grove Street, New Canaan

Tuesday 1PM Ferguson Library, Stamford

Wednesday 12 PM New Canaan Library, New Canaan

Note: Max Garland was the poet-laureate of Wisconsin in 2013 and 2014. For more of his work, see his two published books of poems The Word We Used for It, and The Postal Confessions (winner of the Juniper Prize for poetry).