Will Johnson, an early student of Ida Rolf, has written extensively about the role of the body in spiritual practices. He is the author of The Posture of Meditation, The Spiritual Practices of Rumi, and, most recently, Breathing Through the Whole Body. Merging his interests in spiritual practice and Western approaches to the body, in 1995 he founded The Institute for Embodiment Training, a school in British Columbia that views the body as the doorway to spiritual opening rather than the obstacle to it.
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James Martin June 15, 2016
Will Johnson's tiny little, seminal text "The Posture of Meditation" is deceptively simple. One may easily mistake this book as just another beginner level mindfulness meditation introduction text. It is no such thing! -- though it can easily (and soundly!) serve as such. What it really is, in my own opinion, is a radical, revisionary text -- a leap out of the usual disembodied (and somatophobic) contextual (mis-) understanding of what mindfulness meditation in the Buddha's own tradition ... really is! (I begin by mentioning just one of Will Johnson's many books, all of which are richly valuable and useful. But this one book most elegantly begins our journey of discovery about what Mr. Johnson has to offer as a teacher of embodied mindfulness practice.) Westerners should perk up their ears just now. For we have a problem. ("Huston, we have a problem.") The Buddha taught embodied mindfulness practices. Square and simple. When the Buddha's teachings came to the west relatively recently, we'd already become a dis-embodied, and even "somatophobic" culture. Thus we have regarded (most of us) the Buddhas own emphasis on the "first foundation of mindfulness" as some sort of quaint throwback to the ancient of days when folks cared about the fact that we were embodied beings. "Let's learn this (in our heads--merely intellectually) and move along, already" became the mantra of "Western Buddhism" -- at least too often it did. This is the real message of Will Johnson's astonishing life, writing and teaching. He'd say -- if I dare paraphrase this master somatics genius of our age --, "You cannot bypass the first foundation of mindfulness in a leap of avoidance". I think he's absolutely right in this respect; and I think he's probably our best living guide on what this all ultimately comes down to. He and Reggie Ray of Dharma Ocean. I love them both for their courageous gift to humanity in its most disembodied crises of evolution. Will Johnson is one of our best teachers of what I would like to call "homecoming". I love him as my best teacher and one of my best friends.