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Sensory Awareness and Our Attitude Toward Life
by Charlotte Selver

This article is taken from Charlotte Selver, Collected Writings Vol. I; Sensory Awareness Foundation, 1999

     In our work of Sensory Awareness, we experiment with all the simple activities of daily life, all the things which we have been doing since we were born, or which we have learned in our earliest infancy, such as walking, standing, sitting, lying, moving, resting, seeing, speaking, listening, etc. As Elsa Gindler said, “Life is the Playground for our work.”
Our daily life gives us opportunity enough for discovery: in combing our hair, washing the dishes, in speaking to somebody, and so on. In such “unimportant” areas of life we can experience the same attitudes we have in “important” areas, where we are often too absorbed to feel clearly what is happening.
     Although practicing Sensory Awareness often has therapeutic effects, it would be a misunderstanding to think of our work as therapy. Our purpose is not to make living healthier, but to make it more conscious; not to make it happier, but to let it come more into accord with our original nature. The more we arrive at our original nature, the more we discover that healthier and happier living and relating comes about by itself.
     We begin to discover that experiences within the organism are parallel to experiences in life. This can be difficult. Often we may find ourselves full of fear, not wanting to allow changes. Through experimenting, we may come face-to-face with the reasons for previously unexplained problems in our lives. But with growing ability to permit what becomes necessary, our elasticity grows, and so does our security.
     We cannot know how much energy we have as long as we keep interfering with our own activities. We cannot know our real abilities until we have freed ourselves to such an extent that they can unfold more fully. As Elsa Gindler used to say, “If we would have the strength at our disposal that we use in hindering ourselves, we would be as strong as lions.”
What creates our freedom, or our lack of freedom, is our attitude toward whatever we meet: the way we are living our daily lives; the way we are with our families and friends; the way we do our work; the way we read the newspaper; in short, the way we are in this world. When it is understood that we are including the broader questions of our attitude-toward-life, this will help us much more than just working on what we call “the body”.
     So, in the very simple experiments of a Sensory Awareness session, we can make some small steps to come to ourselves and to awaken some of the possibilities which are dormant inside us. For instance, we may work to become so quiet that life can begin to whisper to us again, so that we are not just seeing the big, blunt things, but can be touched and nurtured by the beauty of what may be small and quiet.
     But not only beauty becomes conscious: there is also an opening of our heart to those difficulties in life which demand our presence and maybe our help. Too often, we don’t see and we don’t feel what is happening around us. Too often, we are only interested in ourselves, our family and maybe our very close friends. To become sensitive enough and free enough to become active as a member of our community, country, and world - this is also part of awakening.
     For me, Elsa Gindler was a great example of this through her deep involvement in what was happening in the world. During the Hitler time, although she was invited to live in Switzerland, where she could have been secure, she stayed in Berlin giving help to whoever needed it. Her life was in danger from resisting Hitler, and from the constant bombings, but she did not leave.
     This attitude of responsibility is part of becoming aware, so that we would not be part of the “Me generation”, but rather of the “We generation”, embracing everyone and everything on this planet. Do you not feel that everyone has an equal right to live a life, unconditioned, free from pressure and rejection, free from starvation and harassment?
     Becoming more and more able to be there in situations, whether easy or difficult; to be more there with our mind, with our hearts, with our sensitivities, with our strengths - this is very, very important.

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