Photo by Amy Treasure on Unsplash
Strengthening the mind/body connection is an essential practice on the Mindfulness path. Interestingly, the less the mind and body are mindfully connected, the more they negatively impact each other.
Has there been a time when you just zoned out with a family size bag of chips and before you know it you are reaching into an empty bag wondering where the rest of the chips went? Before too long all you’re left with is a belly ache and shame because your brain decided to take a little vacation from your body. Oops!
Simply bringing awareness to the fact that you have a body that interprets endless amounts of sensory experiences is the first step to mindful awareness of the body. Chances are you’ve done this before and didn’t even realize it was Mindfulness. Nice job!
Now, the trick is to bring even more attention to the little nuances of the body and its functions. Although you are aware that you have a body and that the body carries out a lot of important functions, there can be plenty of things that happen that don’t make it into the field of awareness.
Getting in touch with the body can be more difficult than it sounds. There are a lot of different things that can happen in out body throughout the course of just a couple of minutes. Beginning to take notice of the different processes and sensations of the body can lead to a higher understanding of body AND mind. This can lead to greater unity between the two.
Our body houses all of our senses, our emotions, and most obviously our functions such as eating, sleeping, and walking. It is something that is with us from the beginning until the end. No matter what we do, our body is always with us.
Yet, for some reason, many people are very disconnected from their bodies.
Sensations will arise in the body such as pain, stress, and thirst or hunger, and some peoples minds have been trained to ignore those sensations. Who can blame them? Life is busy and it can be hard to slow down and take care of certain things when seemingly more pressing things are unfolding.
Bringing awareness to the sensations our bodily experiences, whether we can help them or not, gives us the power to choose how we react to them. If we let them slip away from our attention they can begin to impact us negatively without our knowledge.
Have you ever been talking to a child when they just start uncontrollably dancing around and grabbing themselves? Then you ask, “Do you have to use the bathroom?” “Oh! Yes!” they reply as they run to the toilet. Same idea.
Hangryness is one of my favorite examples of the body hijacking the mind. In case you aren’t familiar with the term, when a person is hungry and becomes angry or irritable as a result of that hungry, they are hangry.
I have found that when I become hangry, I don’t really realize that I am hungry right away. For whatever reason my mind has just completely blown past the sensation of hungry. Now, my actions have been greatly influenced by this unknown sensation in my body. Unfortunately there have been occasions where I have become very rude only to find out that I needed a snack!
Get yourself in to a comfortable seated position. You will want your back to be upright without much effort. If you are in a chair be sure that your feet are flat on the ground. Rest your hands wherever they are comfortable, either in your lap or on your knees.
Begin by closing your eyes, since we are focusing on things inside the body we wont need the extra distraction of visual sensations.
Bring your attention to the tips of your toes. What do you feel? If there is any sensation that arises don’t react to it. Simply notice that it exists and move on. Start to notice each individual toe, perhaps one of those little piggies has its own sensation.
Move your focus to the tops of your feet. Anything new? Now notice the bottom of your feet.
What’s happening in your ankles? Make sure that Achilles tendon isn’t up to any trouble.
Slowly work your way through your calves and up to your knees. If your hands are here, can you feel the points where your hands are touching your legs?
Continue this scan through your entire upper body and downs through your arms. Try to notice each individual finger, just like you did to your toes.
Take a moment to bring your awareness to your face. There are a lot of muscles that control the face and if you focus you will be able to notice quiet a few of them. Notice every inch of your face and see if you can relax each part on its own.
Now, slowly open your eyes and keep still. Reorient yourself into your environment. After being so still and relaxed, take note of what it feels like to start moving your body again. Do you feel like you have more control?
Experiment with this practice. See what you can begin to notice about your body and your senses if you do this practice for 5 minutes or more a few times a day. Do you begin to notice anything other than physical sensations?
Have Fun and Stay Peaceful.