My working definition of mindfulness is this: being present and aware with kindness and compassion. It is about being awake to what is happening right now. It’s also about shifting energy in order to notice and rest in that brief pause at the top of the inhale and again at the bottom of the exhale. Here is where we can RESPOND with intention rather than REACT to something (this is big!). One way to create an immediate shift in energy is through mindful awareness of the body. This means shifting attention out of the “thinking” self and into the “physical” self. When you notice/become aware of the energy in the body you will change the momentum of your mind. Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle says “We need an anchor for presence. The inner body is a wonderful anchor for the state of presence.”
Mindfulness-of-the-body practices There are several ways to practice presence using mindfulness of the body. You can begin with assuming a “mindful posture.” Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, take a deep breath or two and imagine the crown of your head lifting while your tailbone descends (either sinking deeper in a seat or releasing downwards towards the ground). Soften and relax the tops of your shoulders and imagine your spine as a pathway for your breath to flow from the earth to the sky and back. This very simple shift of attention to your posture can immediately create more alertness, focus and presence.
When I catch myself slouching over my computer, I use this mindful posture practice to sharpen my focus. I also use it when I am standing in conversation; it makes me a more present listener.
Another simple practice that can be used any time is to shift your attention to where you are connected to the support of the earth. Becoming aware of the touchpoints of your physical body with the ground is an anchor to the NOW.
Take an intentional breath (or two or three). Make your exhale longer than your inhale to create a calming effect.
Notice the soles of your feet on the ground. Any sensations? Observations?
Notice your seat and/or your back on the chair; sink your weight deeper.
Notice all the places where some part of your body touches a solid surface.
Visualize your breath (like wind or vapor or some image that resonates for you) moving to those places where your body is connected/supported.
A third mindful-awareness-of-the-body practice is to do a body scan. I usually practice this with a guided meditation or on my own during savasana (the restful pose at the end of a yoga practice). A body scan practice involves relaxing the entire body, beginning with either the crown of the head or toes and moving down or up the entire body. During the scan, breathe naturally, as you are bringing your attention to and through the body. Notice any sensations you may feel as you scan each area of the body. Do not react to these sensations, simply notice them.
I frequently use the Insight Timer app on my phone and listen to a guided meditation body scan when I am ready to fall asleep. Sometimes, if I wake in the middle of the night, to help me fall back to sleep, I will do a mental body scan.
Try several different practices to find a voice and style that is RELAXING. Or try the three-minute body scan meditation in this article: mindful.org/7-qualities-mindfulness-trained-body-scan/.
Here’s another, slightly longer, mindful breathing practice that might be to your liking: mindful.org/a-five-minute-breathing-meditation/.
By incorporating these mindfulness-of-the-body techniques into your daily practice, you will be giving yourself a real gift — and more able to greet the world with loving kindness.
Insight Timer app: insighttimer.com/
Three-minute body scan meditation: www.mindful.org/7-qualities-mindfulness-trained-body-scan/
Five-minute breathing meditation: www.mindful.org/a-five-minute-breathing-meditation/
Clia Tierney, MA
The owner of Asante Wellness Coaching, Clia Tierney helps women move past "stuck" into possibility. She coaches people to overcome obstacles and obtain clarity about their goals. Through the process, personal transformation takes place, resulting in greater well-being, life balance and fulfillment.
Clia's professional background and life experiences as a teacher, educational therapist, yogi, wife, mother of teenagers, daughter and sister have fueled her passion for helping women of all ages identify and reduce their stress and struggle so that they can discover their purpose and confidently move forward.
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