“Mr. James Duffy… lived at a little distance from his body.” (James Joyce, 1914) Do you ever feel like Mr. Duffy? Out of touch with your body? Because our body sensations fundamentally influence our behavior, when we are cut-off from our body, we miss an enormous amount of useful information and may end up habitually reactive, irritable, and unsatisfied with our lives… a shadow of the human being that we have the potential to be. So how do we reconnect our body and mind?
Good news! Creating and sustaining an awareness of the body is a skill that can be learned and developed. The Body Scan is a foundational Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) practice that guides you through noticing the sensations of life that are happening in your body in the present moment. It can be a wonderful practice to help calm and gather the mind, and to help you focus and anchor on your experience right now, in this moment. The Body Scan can be a very helpful practice in training your mind to wake up from what might be a habitual, and potentially very stressful, trance of constant thinking.
I invite you to try this body scan practice once a day for a few days, and to notice any effects. You might not notice anything new, however, you might experience all sorts of welcome changes in your life!
You may notice you are able to more easily fall asleep at night, or that you feel more connected to others. You may notice that your chronic pain diminishes a little bit with daily attention. You may find that you have more patience with others and an enhanced ability to deal effectively with irritable people and frustrating situations. You may experience clearer focus, and enhanced decision making and productivity. And possibly you will notice that your world simply seems a bit more beautiful and enjoyable.
The Body Scan Introduction is 2 minutes long and the Body Scan Meditation runs for 23 minutes. Enjoy!
(This Body Scan practice was adapted from the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli and recorded by Cathryn Campbell. More life enhancing practices by Jon Kabat-Zinn, including a 45 minute Body Scan practice, can be found at http://www.mindfulnesscds.com/)