What Is This?

What Is This?

What Is This?

This weekend in our Five Virtues training, we spent some time unpacking ‘mindfulness of the body’ in Vipasana meditation.  In this practice, you sit and scan the body from crown of the head down the back body and then again moving down the front body.  Whenever a sensation arises as you scan, you ask yourself “What is this?”

The hard part of this practice is not controlling or manipulating what is occurring.  You just have to let it be and witness.  On Monday, I received the following email from one of our students:

I got down to my heart which led me directly back up to my throat where I felt a throbbing.  I asked myself “What is this? and sat with it.  The throbbing continued and got stronger then a single tear ran down my face.

This student was brave enough to ask herself with complete candor “What is this?”  She also said she would continue to explore and was very grateful for the practice.

When I practice vipasana, I tend to sit and give my attention to whatever arises- body, emotions, elemental noise, etc and ask “What is this?”  But this week I dedicated my morning sit to mindfulness of the body.  Today I felt a burning in my gut.  It started burning until it leapt up like a coal in my throat and then I cried.  When I asked myself “What is this?”  The answer came in loud and clear– grief.  I saw instantly that I have kept myself moving forward, working hard as business owner, wife and mother and haven’t taken the time to grieve the losses that have occurred this year.  For the remainder of the meditation, I sat and cried then moved through some gentle yoga.  Afterwards, I felt exhausted but open.  I see I still have some grief to process, but I also know I don’t have to wallow in it.  I can sit, open myself up, let it go and not let it overtake me.  I know this is all part of the process.

The body teaches us so much of what we need to know.  We simply need to be patient enough to open up, ask “What is this?” and await the body’s reply.


Elizabeth Delaney