How to Mindfulness – Starts with the Body
Of course, the body scan practice is not really about falling asleep or zoning out but ‘falling awake’. Becoming more present and aware of what is happening in your body. Developing greater sensitivity and connection with your body.
The body scan helps us ‘fall awake’ / become more connected
The body scan develops your ability to intentionally move attention around. It also teaches you to focus deeply on different regions of your body. You notice how each part feels, without trying to change anything. Just being with what is there. As time goes by, you will find that you become more at ease and less driven by the thoughts, feelings, tensions that constantly arise within your body. The most helpful attitude to adopt is ‘relaxed curiosity’. See if you can remain open and curious about whatever comes up in your body / mind / heart.
The Body Scan teaches us to use the body as a way to awareness
The body scan uses your body as a way to awareness. When you are attuned with your body, you are able to see, feel and identify emotions, which, as you will become increasingly aware, manifest themselves physically. The body is so intelligent. Consider your posture and slouched shoulders when sad / low or a clenched jaw, raised shoulders and tightness when anxious or a furrowed brow when puzzled and you’ll see the mind/body connection. Even a subtle change in your body / posture such as straightening or opening alters the quality of our attention dramatically.
The body scan helps us stay present even when the going gets tough
The body scan familiarises you with a different way to be with negative experience and emotions. It cultivates your ability to stay in your body, in the moment, exploring the experience with curiosity and openness. We normally react to difficult things by wanting them to go away or zoning out (going off somewhere in our heads). This adds to our irritation, frustration and suffering in the long run. The body scan practice teaches you to hold the sensation, thought, emotion more lightly, maybe to breath into the discomfort and examine it instead of running. Then, you are in a position to make a conscious choice rather than just ‘reacting unconsciously’.
The body scan – simply being here in your body now
The body scan and all Mindfulness meditation practices are never about doing something perfectly. It’s not about doing or accomplishing anything at all but allowing things to be as they are, looking deeply and resting in awareness. Nothing is asked of you. There is no goal. Being present with a non-judgmental attitude is both the means and the end. Silence, deep listening, and non-doing are often the most appropriate responses to particularly difficult or challenging moments — not a turning away, but an opening toward things with clarity and good will, even toward ourselves. It is not passive; out of that awareness, trustworthy skillful responses and required actions may arise naturally, and surprise us with their creativity.
This blog was written by Joanne O’Malley, Mindfulness at Work.