First Steps

Bruce Conner, entitled, "Sound of Two Hand Angel", 1974.
Bruce Conner, Sound of Two Hand Angel, 1974.

“We always have some sensation of our body; otherwise our postures could not be maintained, our movements would be made haphazardly, or not at all. But we are not conscious of this sensation, we are unaware of it, except in extreme situations when an unusual effort is required or when something suddenly goes badly or goes wrong. The rest of the time we forget about it. In order to know and observe ourselves and to study our body and later to support our work, we need to have this sensation. This calls for a new relationship to come into existence in me: I-conscious of-my sensation. Actually much more than just a new connection is involved. Really a new situation arises within us in this effort and, undoubtedly, this is what is most important, but we do not yet have enough actual experience to speak of it.

What we need immediately is a stable sensation; that is, we need to develop a more steady and longer lasting consciousness of our body and its situation. The first idea which then comes to mind, of course, is to try to follow this awareness of our body in the midst of the movements and activities of our life. We can try; but we soon see, on the one hand, that the sensation never remains the same so that it is extremely difficult to stay in touch with it and, on the other hand, that our activities distract us and cause us to lose all possibility of following our situation.

In fact, if we wish to experience sensation of ourselves and to develop the possibility of remaining aware of it, we must work in much less difficult conditions. We must put ourselves in specially favorable circumstances which correspond to what is possible for us; and, at the start, in a field we do not know yet, where nothing is developed as it should be, almost nothing is possible for us. Moreover, in our work on ourselves, it will always be so. This work only makes sense if it enables us one day to go into life in order to manifest there to the full that which we recognize as being and to accomplish what depends on us. There will always be two lines in our work on ourselves: on the honestly possible, at least once, if not twice, and perhaps even, more. On one hand, inner work in quiet conditions suitable for the development of certain possibilities, and on the other, putting ourselves to the test in life, to an extent proportionate to the inner development that has been realized. But life is a tempest in which one must be very strong inwardly not to be upset by the opposing elements. And before putting ourselves to the test or taking big risks, it is necessary to have developed patiently, in sheltered and favorable conditions, the forces and faculties (powers) which will preserve us from disaster.

As regards the sensation of ourselves, before being able to follow how it changes as we move about and live, we need to know it in a basic condition where we can immediately return to it, always the same, whenever it is needed for our inner work. Just as a zero or a norm is needed in all measurement, in the same way we need a point of reference in evaluating ourselves, a yardstick, the measure of a situation that is always the same. And for the sensation of oneself, we can find this base only in complete relaxation.

We must therefore put ourselves in conditions where complete relaxation is possible. Having realized this is necessary, we must promise ourselves to try it every day, so far as this is honestly possible, at least once, if not twice, and perhaps even, more.”

—Jean Vaysse, Toward Awakening p.161.



Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

December 5, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Excellent post, Luke. Thank you. Sensations not only feed the proprioceptive process but also give a sense of ‘ownership’ of the object. It can get a little weird as this YouTube video shows. Hope you find it interesting:

Makes me wonder what is the self?


Luke Stormsreply
December 8, 2009 at 1:13 pm
– In reply to: 108zenbooks

Hi Lynette,

Such a fascinating video. This experiment was mentioned among a group of friends last week when we were discussing the extraordinary subject of sensation. Thank you for the link.

I think that it is through sensation that a link can be made between the head and the body, otherwise they operate independently of each other. My head remembers to practice or make an effort, and then having done this, hopefully the head drops and allows for a strong contact with this body, here and now, and it is through sensation that a larger world or worlds are revealed. I think everything is there in the body waiting to be discovered, the whole cosmos—as above, so below.

I was watching some amazing Krishnamurti videos on You Tube last night and in one of his penetrating talks he asks, “What is the self,” and after much inquiry with the audience, they discover together that who we think we are is a construction of time and memory. Who am I without the construction of time and without memories?

I think all you would have left is awareness.

December 9, 2009 at 9:56 am

I’ll have to check out the Krishnamurti videos.

Is there awareness outside of time and memory?

Enjoying the lightness of a heavily snowing day here!

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