Session 2 follows Session 1 Consciousness of Breathing. You are encouraged to start with that before moving to this week’s session.
In practicing mindfulness, the body has a central role to play as it is connected to the mind where both are in constant communication. Interpretations of past experiences, memories, pain, trauma can leave an imprint on the body. They don’t just remain in the recesses of the mind.
So by being in tune with what is going on in the body offers another perspective to help with healing and therapy.
You are gaining, what mindfulness practitioners call, direct experience of your emotional state as it manifests in the feeling of body sensations, rather than evaluating, speculating in the mind about one’s emotional state (indirect experience).
Here are other characteristics of the body that helps in cultivating mindfulness.
The body does not lie. The mind on the other hand could be playing tricks, and is by default designed to wander, to dream of ideas, to have an opinion. Otherwise we could never progress as a civilization!
The body does not judge — our elbows for example do not tell us off.
The body remains in the present moment — once a physical pain is actually gone, it is gone but the mind could be replaying the pain. Therefore we could still manifest hurt.
By gaining wisdom from the body, by pausing to really feel and appreciate the body, one cultivates the foundation to investigate attachments and aversions that make us vulnerable to suffering.
This practice may be down sitting up or lying down. You may choose to experiment with either at different times of practicing.
p/s you may hear birds chirping in the background.
This is Session 2, Mindfulness of Body, which builds on Session 1 Consciousness of Breath.
Coming to sit in a quiet and comfortable place.
Or lying down on the bed or sofa, if you wish.
Legs stretched out or crossed, depending on what’s comfortable for you right this moment.
Choosing closing the eyes, or simply lowering the gaze to see a few feet ahead.
Or if you wish, keeping them open if it feels easier.
Beginning by taking a few breaths, slowing, steadying as best as you can, inhaling through the nose, and exhaling from it.
Or the mouth if it’s that is easier for you.
Becoming conscious of how the body is taking in air, and expelling.
Noticing what body part is moving — not judging, just observing, as we are breathing.
The rising and falling of the belly at each in-breath and then at the out-breath
Noticing the pauses between each breath.
Whenever the mind wanders off, very intentionally bringing it back to the breath.
Noticing if the breath is deep, shallow or may be somewhere in between, not judging, not needing to breathe in any particular way, nor needing to have a particular view about how one should breathe.
In this Session 2 Mindfulness of Body, we guide the attention to the body, keeping it in the foreground of the attention, while keeping the breath in the awareness, like in the background.
Feeling the face, the chest, the upper arms, lower arms, fingers, legs, toes.
Feeling the weight of the body as it rests on the chair or mat.
Feeling the feet on the floor or the legs crossed.
Noticing where you have placed your arms — on the lap or perhaps at the side.
Placing them in a way that is comfortable for you.
Whenever the mind wanders off, just bringing the attention back to the body.
Noticing any particular sensations in the body such as tingling, warmth, coolness, tension, discomfort, ease.
I would like to invite you to just observe these sensations, as best as you can, with gentleness, with slowness, without needing to judge, comment or have an opinion about these sensations.
They may be pleasant, unpleasant, neutral, it is ok.
If there is any particular strong discomfort, it may help breathing into the sensation and out as you scan that part of the body, as best as you can with kindness.
If you can’t help judging the experience, it’s ok, you don’t need to justify nor add anything positive to cancel out any negative opinions.
Negative views are just what they are, negative.
Sensations are just what they are, sensations – welcoming, unwelcoming, or simply neutral.
Just allowing them to be here as they are, as best as you can.
Breathing in, perhaps saying “I’m aware of the body.”
And then breathing out, “This is a body.”
Without needing to identify that this is MY body.
When you are ready, starting from the feet, as you are breathing in, feeling the air coming in through the toes of both feet like a flow of energy being sucked into the body
This flow may be a sensation of warmth or is a visualisation of light scanning the body
At the out breath, the flow of energy scanning, feeling the soles of the feet
Then in to the ankles,
Sweeping the feeling upwards to the shin,
Further up to the knees,
Another in-breathe when you are ready,
And at the out-breath, the flow of energy sweeping slowly through the thighs, feeling the thighs
At the inbreath, bringing this flow of energy to around the pelvic area,
Pausing here, breathing into the pelvic area, and out, taking your time, feeling the pelvic area
Breathing out, energy flowing to the back, moving up the lower spine,
While breathing normally, slowly, gently, directing the energy or warmth upwards and feeling the spine
Behind the neck,
To the back of the skull
To the top, the crown of the head,
From the top of the head, at the out breath, the sense or feeling of energy or warmth downwards
This flow of energy, warm sensation, coming down, feeling the the expanse of the forehead
Bridge of the nose, tip
Chin, spreading sideways across the jaw bone to the ear lobes
Energy filling our ears, then taking an in-breath and out-breath,
Energy flowing down to the neck,
Then feeling the collarbone
Pausing, breathing into the chest, out of the chest, gently
Flow of energy, warmth flowing downward to the belly, ending there, as if storing the energy in the belly
If you wish, placing both hands on the belly, just beneath the belly button, holding this space for yourself
As you are breathing in and breathing out.
Just resting in this posture,
Feeling the rising of the belly at the in-breath
Falling or contraction of the belly wall at the out-breath.
Whenever you notice the mind wandering, gently bringing consciousness to breathing and feeling the belly.
And sitting here in silence.
Nothing else to do, nothing to fix, nothing to have an opinion about.
As you are coming to the end of this recording, taking a moment, appreciating that you are taking time to hold space for yourself.
Allow me to read this poem — Body Remember by Constantine Cavafy
Body, remember not only how much you were loved
not only the beds you lay on.
but also those desires glowing openly
in eyes that looked at you,
trembling for you in voices-
only some chance obstacle frustrated them.
Now that it’s all finally in the past,
it seems almost as if you gave yourself
to those desires too-how they glowed,
remember, in eyes that looked at you,
remember, body, how they trembled for you in those voices.
Now when you are ready, slowly opening the eyes or lifting the gaze.
Taking the time to appreciate the sights and sounds around you, moving with intention to the next activity.
If you wish to continue with this practice in silence, please feel free to do so.
Mindfulness meditation is a practice that is to be cultivated, requiring patience and kindness.
Just keep coming back to the breath and body whenever you notice the mind wandering off or when frustration or restlessness emerges.
I would encourage you to practice this Mindfulness of Body on a daily basis in cultivating attention.
Till we meet again for Session 3 next Wednesday.
Thank you and take care.
Guide: Noelle Lim
Image credit: Motoki Tonn, Unsplash
Session 1 is at https://kindermind.center/2023/03/29/the-pause-session-1-consciousness-of-breathing/