Samskaras & Body Work: A Hypothesis

A dull mind is a lethargic body; a scattered mind is a stressed-out body; and a calm mind is a quiet, energetic body.

This line of inquiry offers us a natural transition into the topic of samskaras, which can be defined as latent ego tendencies or as false, habitual identifications with some object or other. Appealing to samskaras can be a simple way of answering two common questions: why am I suffering, and why am I not enlightened? Because you believe and feel that you are what you are not. An investigation of samskaras simply adds more color to an account of suffering in ways that appealing to “It’s the ego, stupid!” does not.

Jean Klein is one teacher you helpfully points to a related line of inquiry when he engages in body, or energy, work. I would argue that we can grasp the seminal point in the following manner: the physical correlate of samskaras are chronic physical tensions.

If this is true, then body, or energy, work

  • will inquire into habitual, chronic physical tensions and will, in turn, release them;
  • will begin to disclose the more basic energy body (subtle body);
  • will allow movements to flow from the energy body.

Let’s reflect, for a moment, on the first point. Letting go of physical tensions, this hypothesis runs, should go hand in hand with the dissolution of samskaras. A samskara like “I am unworthy” may show up in the abdominal region. Seeing through the illusion of self (mind) can be helped along from another direction: attending very closely to the physical tensions in the stomach while inviting them to release their clutched fist and to offer up their burden to the ground or the space.