By Scott Kiloby
I have found that spending a good bit of time each day investigating the sensations in the body with restful, spacious attention has been really helpful for me with regard to recovering from addictions. For purposes of this blog, I’m calling that “deep body resting” as shorthand.
Before I address the practice of deep body resting, let me back up a bit.
Even without these periods of deep body resting, I found it very helpful to rest as what is aware and let words, mental pictures and sensations be as they are and to use the Living Inquiries for the more stubborn addictive cravings. I have written extensively in my book and on this blog about the mechanics of rest and inquiry. So I won’t go into that here.
To be honest, being aware throughout the day of these thoughts and sensations was not enough to put to rest the entire mechanism of addiction. Often I noticed that an addiction to one particular substance or activity would quiet, only to be replaced with a substitute substance or activity. Deep body resting eventually became the most powerful way to release the denser, more repressed sensations that were fueling addiction in my life. It was the key to releasing addictive tendencies across the board and to ending the cycle of avoidance and escape from my body. It helped end the substitution.
What is deep body resting?
I would spend at least an hour each day, and sometimes more, quietly and oh-so-gently resting my attention into the denser sensations in the body that seemed to be associated with the reaching for certain substances and activities. During these periods of meditative rest, I would notice the space around each sensation and let the sensation float freely in that space. I came to find that the mind always has an agenda for these sensations. Mostly, it wants to get rid of them. But that is resistance. And whatever I resisted, persisted. So noticing the space around the sensations (mostly with a quiet mind) and letting the sensations float freely took all the resistance out. Simply put, the space around the sensation has no such agenda. It allows and accepts the sensation as it is. This undoes the desire to fix or change the sensation. It takes the self out of the equation. It also undoes the mechanism of repression and avoidance that is such a big part of addiction because during that time of deep body resting, the key was to allow the sensations to do whatever they pleased – get stronger, relax, come back, get strong again, relax again.
Deep body resting was very painful and frustrating at times. These were uncomfortable sensations I spent my whole life trying to avoid. It was also scary at times because as I would wake up the next day, the movement outward towards things would diminish (sometimes in subtle ways and sometimes in palpable degrees) and there was a sense of “Oh no, it’s all being taken away from me.” But as that fear was felt, like any other sensation, those words just felt empty. At first, I thought of deep body resting as like a chore, something I didn’t want to do. Watching TV seemed much more interesting. But after a while, I began to cherish those periods when I could rest without distractions like TV or anything else and just explore these sensations in the most loving, gentle and accepting way. I fell in love, if you will, with this kind of compassionate investigation of the vast universe of the body.
It took a while, many months in fact, but eventually those dense, repressed energies began to dissolve and never appear again in the same way. As sensations in various parts of my body dissolved, the addictions that were associated with them dissolved too. All those periods of gentle resting and investigation were more than worth it. They were indispensable on my path.
If you are unfamiliar with deep body resting, stay tuned to this blog page. I will likely share more about it. My work at the Kiloby Center with people suffering from addiction is very much centered on this deep body resting. I’ve seen that it is vital to truly freeing people from addiction and experiencing a body that feels virtually boundary-less, open, transparent and that carries a sense of peace and well-being. Isn’t that what we are looking for in the addictive substances and activities? Why settle for a temporary release from pain when we can move through the pain consciously and find a more settled, natural rest with our bodies?