All the Time Everywhere
Body awareness is not about formal meditation or a Yoga class. Though those are training grounds for it. Body awareness is not thinking about anything. It is feeling sensations.
Using the body as an object of mindful awareness is the primary way to cultivate moment-to-moment dynamic presence at work, at home, or anywhere. It helps you to cut through habitual behaviors. It is a way to differentiate between thinking about experience and experience itself.
With body awareness, you see the difference between thoughts and feelings. You cultivate awareness of the subtle movement of energy in the body - using it for focus, relaxation, enjoyment, healing.
Thinking and Feeling
It is common to spend most, if not all the time, thinking about things. Though to be exclusively in the thinking mind is cutting off full experience. Thoughts proliferate to the extent that you don't sense your body even when you are relaxing. To be fully present, feeling and thinking, enhances the capacity to perform optimally and happily.
Being present in the body doesn't mean turning off the mind, it means unifying body and mind. Sensing the body, you gain a fresh perspective. Being with sensations you fully experience presence. Being aware of sensations brings insight and wisdom.
How to Work with the Body
Practice this simple exercise anywhere at any time. It brings you to the present moment, promotes relaxed focus, and cuts through distractions. Over time it cultivates a natural union of mind and body, thoughts, and feelings.
- With your eyes open, feel the sensation of the weight of your body. Feel the air against your skin. Feel the sensation of movement.
- Feel the sensation of breathing wherever it is most comfortable for you - the rising and falling of the chest or abdomen, air passing through your nostrils.
- Feel the whole body.
- Notice the movement from feeling to thinking (labeling, commenting, etc.) and
- Gently but firmly bring attention back to just feeling the sensations
- Feel what it is like to be present.
- Again, if your slip into thinking about what you are feeling, come back to sensations, to presence.
Blend Body Awareness Breaks into Your Day
Do this simple but powerful exercise for a few brief moments throughout the day. Less than thirty seconds or three natural breaths, will do.
Set an alarm or use the phone or ping to signal a body awareness break. Do it when you realize that your attention has slipped away from the content while at a meeting, while reading, writing, or doing anything.
Coming back to sensations when distracted by thoughts cultivates concentration. The more you do it the less you will slip away into unplanned mental side-trips and the shorter the side-trips will be.
If you want to accelerate the process of becoming increasingly present and aware, do the exercise with your eyes closed as a formal meditation in a quiet place where you are unlikely to be interrupted. You can begin with five or ten minutes and build to 30 to 45 minutes at a time.
Don't make it a chore, there are enough of those around. Think of it as a relaxing and rejuvenating mini-vacation. At first, it requires effort, increasingly it becomes effortless.