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The Wakeful Body: 
Walking the Path of
Somatic Mindfulness

On-Demand Course

Available Now!

Get out of your head, tap into your body’s inherent wisdom, and reclaim your calm in the wakeful body

Many of us come to meditation with a great deal of enthusiasm. This enthusiasm helps motivate our desire to learn, but it can lead to the problem of “overthinking” – the very reason you may have turned to meditation in the first place.

It’s perfectly natural to find yourself in this situation, and it’s no wonder that you can feel like you’re investing lots of energy in overthinking. Our culture is so focused on developing intellect and pushing you to know more and do more.

Fortunately, you already have the answer – your body.

The body holds wisdom. Bringing body-wisdom into our practice can help counterbalance our tendency to be “in the head”, and it can help reclaim that intuitive calm that sometimes breaks through in brief moments on the cushion.

In this month-long, intimate online course, Willa Blythe Baker brings her decades of training in the yogic lineage of Tibetan Buddhism to gradually walk you through a process of discovering your body’s inherent wisdom.

The Wakeful Body with Willa Blythe Baker

In this course, you will re-discover and reconnect with a state of deep spiritual relaxation and stillness, while also learning:

  • Postures and breathing exercises to help deeply stabilize tranquility in your nervous system
  • How to distinguish between the “conceptual body” and the “experiential body”
  • How to rely on the body to access a vivid present-moment awareness
  • How to access yogic relaxation
  • How to bring the subtle body into a practice of meditation
  • How to trust your body as a deep teacher
  • How to develop an ongoing practice of somatic mindfulness

Module 1: The Body in the Body

You might think you have just one body…but everyone has two.

A conceptual body and an experiential body.

The conceptual body consists of all the ideas and opinions we have about the body; fat, thin, beautiful, ugly, young, or old. You may know it as “body image”.

In reality, there is much more to our body than what we just think about it. From the perspective of Buddhism, the conceptual body is not the real body. It’s just an idea.

The real body is the body of this present moment, the one you are experiencing, the one you are feeling…right now. It is beyond your beliefs and ideas, beyond image and appearance.

The body of this present moment is feeling, hearing, seeing, smelling, breathing, and vibrating with life. The Buddha called this experiential body, “the body in the body”. It is where we begin this exploration together and where peace, focus, and joy are found.

Module 2: The Body’s Time

Much of our lives, we are lost in thought.

Our ideas, our opinions, our concerns, and worries demand our attention.

Many of us are more at home in the head than in the body.

It is understandable.

We feel we must always rely on this mind to successfully engage in our work and life. It almost feels as if we don’t have time for the body.

Much of our lives, everything below the neck, including the heart, is numbed out. Sometimes even when we are hungry or in pain, we are not in touch with what is going on down there.

To develop a somatic practice of mindfulness, we first need to learn how to descend from the head into the body.

When we learn to descend in this way, we discover the body’s time – the timeless present moment in which sense-experience lives and thrives.

Module 3: Relaxation and Stillness

Consider the word relaxation.

What images does your mind conjure up?

…Maybe a vacation, a spa, barbequing in the back yard?

On a spiritual path, relaxation means something else.

Yogic relaxation is a thorough unwinding from deep within the body-mind. This unwinding is physical, energetic, mental, and spiritual.

This kind of relaxation has nothing to do with laziness or a lack of activity. It has to do with deep inner ease. It can become our default state of being, one that is effortless and natural. In other words, relaxation can be entrained.

As the body and mind begin to unwind, stillness ensues. Stillness not being a state devoid of movement. But a stillness which is a deep peace –– holding whatever arises in profound equanimity.

In this module, we will learn:

  • How to access yogic relaxation as a support for experiencing stillness
  • The relationship between focus and relaxation,
  • The relationships between stillness and movement, how they support each other

Module 4: The Subtle Body

In the teachings of yogic Buddhism, there is a layer of embodiment called the subtle body.

The subtle body is an energetic layer of embodiment that coexists with the physical body.

The subtle body is like a mountain lake.

Just as every tone and mood of the sky and weather is reflected in a lake, every mood, emotion, thought and feeling is reflected in the subtle body.

The subtle body can be felt and worked with on a path of meditation.

It is a key to developing somatic mindfulness. The subtle body acts as a bridge between body and mind, eventually helping us dissolve the body-mind dualism that has so plagued our culture and, by extension, our meditation practice.

On-Demand Course Details

Pre-Recorded Video Teachings

5 hours of insightful videos from Willa, filmed in high-definition with only you in mind, having an intimate and personal feel that will keep you engaged as your body, mind and heart tune in.

Module 2 - The Walls of the Mind

Guided Meditations

Guided somatic meditations and relaxation techniques offered throughout the course to support you in embodying the teachings.

Daily Dharma Meditation

Total Flexibility

Complete this course independently, on your own schedule, at your ideal pace. Watch and re-watch the videos as you please.

Reflections for Daily Life

Reflections and contemplations are provided in each session to support your integration of the material into your daily life.

About Willa Blythe Baker

Willa Blythe Baker

Willa Blythe Baker, PhD is the Founder and Spiritual Director of Natural Dharma Fellowship in Boston, MA and its retreat center Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, NH. She was authorized as a dharma teacher and lineage holder (lama) in the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism after completion of two consecutive three-year retreats in the nineties. In 2013, she received a doctorate from Harvard University in Religion, and was Visiting Lecturer in Buddhist Ministry at Harvard Divinity School 2013-2017.

Her books include Essence of Ambrosia (2005), Everyday Dharma (2009), The Arts of Contemplative Care (2012) and The Wakeful Body (2021). Her articles have appeared in Lion’s Roar, Buddhadharma, Tricycle Magazine, the Journal of International Buddhist Studies and elsewhere. She is on the Advisory Board for One Earth Sangha, and has served as Contemplative Faculty for the Mind and Life Institute.

Willa guides meditation retreats primarily in the Northeastern United States. Her teaching interests include the wisdom of the body, non-dual awareness, compassion and eco-dharma, among other topics. Click here to learn more about Willa Blythe Baker.