Why did you choose Opening the Door of Body as a focus for your programs?
I started getting interested in what it really means to connect with the body. Even though I was doing my best to follow the instruction “bring awareness to the body,” I began to wonder if this was in fact what I was doing. How was I assessing whether I was connected? What was I actually experiencing?
When I looked closely, I started to recognize how often my mind stepped in to interpret and control my experience with my body. For example, I realized that when told to connect with my body, my mind would brush over my face and then conclude I had connected. In other words, I had learned that “connecting” meant touching some piece of my body, deciding I had followed the instruction, and then moving on to whatever was next. This “moving on” was a necessity of the mind and prevented true contact and deepening. And so I asked myself: “If I can’t even feel my body as a whole, how can I deepen into stillness in an authentic way?” This led me to really slow down my practice and work more kinesthetically to explore my relationship to the body as a door.
I got interested in how the small or limited identity is held in the body, for example, in the meditation posture itself. I noticed myself and others holding the posture with tension—frowning, tightening the jaw, closing the abdomen—and then trying to practice from the limitations of this tension. This led me to consider the question, “Who is practicing?” Which self is guiding the practice, assessing the results, and probably not even changing?
Are the practices supportive of connecting to the lower chakras too?
Yes. I think that in the West, we often operate from our minds and the upper centers. So much of what we do supports visual as opposed to tactile experience, and the demands of life cause us to emphasize doing over being. People don’t often just sit in a café, for example, without needing to inform, entertain, or distract themselves. When you don’t just sit, you aren’t really resting into the moment and into yourself. To really rest, you have to let go of the congestion of habitual stances. And in order to do this, you have to take the time to become sensitive to how you are holding yourself, where you are “locating,” and how this affects your experience.
In particular, I think many of us do not fully inhabit our lower chakras. There is a lot stored there that we want to avoid. Eventually, we want to live from the whole of us, not just part. But we don’t often know we are living “partial” lives. Attention to the body can help us recognize our default positions.
How has working with the body and breath affected you personally?
Over the years I’ve been struck by how immediately body and breath reveal how I’m doing in a particular moment. I remember being in a group interview for graduate school where everyone was expressing their nervousness and anticipation. I was sitting there sweating and trembling but convinced that I was calm and somehow above all the emotions others were sharing. At that point in time, I hadn’t yet recognized the prevalence of fear in my Iife. When I began to pay attention, I started seeing how fear manifested in a shallow breath and a reluctance to rest into my back and lower body. When I looked deeper, I could see how a lack of trust in life was preventing me from truly letting go. If I couldn’t let go, how could I take refuge? What I had been calling “taking refuge” was being blocked by fear because the fear-self had become the practitioner without me being aware of it.
Tell me about your new monthly meditation sessions
We all know that continuity is very important. My plan is to offer ongoing monthly guided meditation sessions, where people can have a sense of being supported to go deeper into what I have offered in my programs.
The format will be an hour-long meditation followed by a half-hour of sharing and discussion where people bring their challenges and excitements about their own practice. I think that by articulating our own experience and hearing the experiences of others, we energize our practice and encourage one another to go even further.
About Upcoming Opening the Door of Body Programs
The Opening the Door of Body Monthly Meditation sessions are now open for registration. Anyone who has taken an online, in-person, or prerecorded Door of Body program with Laura Shekerjian is invited to attend. These programs include The Joy of Embodied Presence, The Awakening Power of Breath, and Opening the Door of the Body to Uncover the Essential Self. Learn more and register for monthly guided meditation sessions in April, May and June.
The Joy of Embodied Presence self-guided program is available for you to begin at any time, and a Spanish version of this will be released in the coming months. This program fulfills the prerequisite for joining Laura’s Monthly Meditation Sessions. Additionally, this fall, Laura will be offering a multiple week online Opening the Door of Body program for those who would like to start or deepen their practice. Sign up for our newsletter to be notified of when this program opens for registration or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.