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How to Meditate Part II: Mindfulness of the Body


The body is our greatest source of internal wisdom.

The body provides our most immediate experience of the present moment. What is required on our part is a willingness to pay attention and listen.

Unfortunately, many of us have learned—through our culture’s tendencies to objectify the body, being shamed about our body’s needs and urges, societal expectations of perfectionism related to the body, childhood abuse, sexual trauma, or struggles related to eating and weight—to disconnect from our bodies as a result of the shame that we experience from repeated experiences of this objectification and devaluing of the body.

In addition, we have become caught up in society’s demand for perfection, and we expect our bodies to withstand the demands we place upon them in our drivenness.

Many of us have become disconnected from our bodies.

In order to repair this disconnection, we must consciously heal the mind-body connection through learning to inquire within about our body’s needs.

We must begin to approach our body with compassion and care.

Mindfulness of the body through focused attention on the breath (as discussed in How to Meditate Part I: Awareness of Breath) provides the most immediate and accessible path toward reconnection with the present moment experience and reconnection with the body.

We can also practice mindfulness of the body through a body scan mediation in which we systematically bring out attention to each part of the body and notice any sensations that arise in each area of the body upon which we focus.

Possible sensations that we may notice in the body include warmth, tingling, coolness, sharp pain, throbbing pain, dull pain, tightness, cramping, twitching, relaxation, pulling, grabbing, the sensation or wind on the skin, etc.

To begin the body scan meditation, find a posture that allows you to be relaxed and alert. Close the eyes, and move your awareness to the head. Notice any sensations in the head. Gently move your awareness to the forehead, the eyes, and the areas surrounding the eyes, and notice any sensations in this area of the face. Whatever sensations you notice, simply become aware of them, noticing them with interest and compassion, and then let them go.

Move your awareness into the area surrounding the mouth—the jaw, lips, mouth, and teeth. Notice any sensations in these areas, see if you can approach them with interest and compassion, and then let them go. Continue to move your awareness down the body and into the throat, back of the neck, and shoulders, seeing what sensations you encounter in these areas. Notice any sensations with an attitude of curiosity and compassion, and then let them go ad you continue to move your attention down into the upper back, mid back, and low back.

See if you can meet any sensations you find in these areas of the body with interest and compassion, and then let them go.

Gently move your attention back to the front of the body and into the chest. See if you can meet any sensations in the chest with interest and compassion, and then let them go. Move your attention down the torso and into the stomach and abdomen, and try to meet any sensations that you encounter in these areas with interest and compassion, and then let them go. Move your attention now into the hips and buttocks, meeting any sensations in these areas with interest and compassion, and then let them go. Continue moving the attention down the body, into the upper thighs, knees, calves, ankles, feet, and toes, meeting any sensations that you find here with interest and compassion.

Working with the body scan meditation regularly can result in increased awareness of body sensations.

Why is this important? When we become aware of our body’s sensations, we can learn to pay attention to what it is trying to communicate to us. The body may feel tight and uneasy in circumstances that aren’t a good fit for us and relaxed and at ease in circumstances that nurture and support our well-being. The body is continually revealing its wisdom to us at all times. We only need to make time, be still, and listen. Listening to the body scan regularly may also result in increased feelings of relaxation, peace, and well-being.

To grab your free copy of my Body Scan meditation mp3 audio file, visit my website at www.everydaymindful.com

Warm wishes for your well-being,

Jen

By Jen Johnson, a contributing blogger for JenningsWire, a blogging community created by Annie Jennings.


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