Your body (from which your mind is not separate) is a temple — literally, a "house of god". Whatever "god" is — consciousness, life, energy, awareness, everything — your body is where it lives, and from whence it emanates into this world. It's like your stronghold: the stronghold of life, of you.
Your body is a temple — so how often do you go there? When was the last time you — your attention — just arrived and sat in it and quietly observed? Maybe even pondered a bit that a holy thing, something far bigger than you that is also central to the definition of you, lives there — but even aside from that, just sat and existed there?
Nevermind all those construction projects and beautification drives and whatnot that you're doing to the building — how often do you actually go there, inside, just, you know, to worship? To appreciate? To be aware?
If the temple feels like a mess, if we've let it get run down and neglected, going there can be amazingly sad. But there is no fix for a messy temple that doesn't involve getting familiar with being there again. It puts the difficult step of accepting that it's a mess in here in front of making any improvements — but again, there can't *be* any improvements without that. Without just looking around and letting the reality of it, of this holy place and the state of it — mentally, emotionally, and physically — sink in.
I was given an interesting exercise lately: Three times a day, and additionally whenever you're having a rough time, set a timer for THREE WHOLE MINUTES and visit your inner body. Sit still and just feel your breathing. Let your thoughts go — they'll be there still in 180 seconds, promise — and just pay attention. Sit there and be in yourself. Don't change a thing, or make plans to change it; suspend all judgment and simply observe; just let what it is sink in.
It is STUPENDOUSLY HARD to do this, at least for me. Can you do it? Just pay attention to your breath and what it feels like to sit there in your body, for three minutes? Can you do it three times in one day?
I find it difficult af, so of course I've been trying and trying it, because WTF why is this such a hard thing? Why does it feel so…profound, so real, so DUH MEANINGFUL, and yet for as much as it calms and irons out my thinking, it also seems to poke me in all the softest places, and make my brain whisper constantly that this is an impossible ask, this sitting in the temple for three minutes? And I won't even get into what happens when I try it for 30 minutes — which I've been doing once or twice a week — sure I can *do* it, but it's gobsmackingly tricky.
I've read enough to recognize that without actually spending some time in your body, in that temple, you can't make any meaningful change. Oh sure, you can enact all kinds of "self improvement" programs, but without observation, without seeing and accepting what it is first, you're like a home-improvement enthusiast who puts on a blindfold and runs through the house swinging a wrecking ball and throwing paint.
When you imagine someone who is "at peace", don't you figure they are able to sit in their own temple, to rest in their own mindbody, comfortably? That they're used to being there, that they go there all the time; hell, isn't it definitionally "home base"?
But mine is filled with rubble, and noise, and old crap strewn everywhere. And learning to simply look at it, as a necessary precursor to being able to ever do anything about it, is one shockingly tough education.
I'm tickled on a deep level by things that seem easy and are amazingly tricky — I feel like there are big truths there. I certainly learned more from, say, learning to walk, and breathe, in advanced ways — taking the "simple" acts of moving or holding air and really trying to do them fully and well — than I did from anything in a school or job.
So I'm keeping on this, trying over and over again, and most days not even able to do it more than once, just three minutes…
Just sitting. Just paying attention to what it's like "in here".
And you know what, I can't say much about what it IS like yet, but I can say that the "temple" metaphor is superbly apt. If I've learned nothing else from practicing this for a month so far, I am clear on one thing, and that's that sitting here is powerful and necessary. Who knows what other truths it may reveal, but the first one, the basic fact that one must go in the temple as a precursor to finding any kind of peace, is pretty glaring already.