The body is present if we can find it
Updated: Nov 1, 2021
Mindfulness of the body has been a practice in many cultures for thousands of years. In recent decades, in particular Buddhist practices of meditation on the body have had enormous influence on therapeutic techniques connected to the healing of trauma, chronic pain, emotional self-regulation, and even aging. There are many, many benefits to practicing mindfulness--spiritual, physical, emotional--which many of us are aware of.
In this blog, I wanted to offer a couple of resources for those interested in having a closer relationship with their bodies and in getting more familiar with the way we pay attention to our bodies. Two obstacles in the way of living in the present rather than the past is that we don't always know what we are feeling. That goes for our emotional life for sure, but just as much for the physical experiences of having a body, i.e., our sensations. Our vocabulary is often very limited in destribing what we are physically feeling. And we are left with words like, "good," "bad," "painful," "nice," etc. None of these are actual sensations. They are intepretation of sensations.
Therefore, here I am providing a link to a 10-minute guided body scan that also includes a longer list of possible sensations that we experience in our bodies. Try it out and see what you notice and don't notice. There's nothing really to accomplish in the sense of getting more knowledge. Rather, this is just an encouragement to practice mindfulness of the body by training our attention to settle inside the felt sense of the body and just pay attention. It may also build a richer relationship to the body as we explore the enormous variation and subtlety that our sensory life includes.
Ultimately, the hope might be to have a place right here in the present--and one that that is always with us--to rely on as an alternative to the stress and worry of the thought worlds we spend most of our time in. The body is always present and in the present, but it's sometimes just hard to find.