7 excellent reasons to be mindful of your body
Sometimes our heads are not a good place to be. It can feel overwhelming when thoughts start to race and emotions are flaring up. Furthermore, most of us have been educated in such a way that we value our thinking over all else.
So sometimes, getting out of our heads is the best we can do to care for ourselves.
And where can we go if we want to get out of our heads? Many people feel they have no option.
Luckily, we also have a body. And it deserves our attention. Furthermore, bringing attention to the body has many benefits.
Benefits of bringing mindfulness to the body
1) The body does not ruminate.
To me, this is the number one reason to bring attention to the body. Rumination is so unpleasant. To me, there are only downsides to rumination. And there is a clear link to be found between rumination and depression.
When we bring our attention to the body, we do not have the time to ruminate. It can go on in the background, but if we persist in our mindfulness of the body, the thoughts will eventually die off.
2) The body can be a soothing place when we have overwhelming emotions.
When we are overwhelmed by our emotions, we have the option of looking at the emotions or away from them. For both options, the body is the place to be. Using acceptance of our emotions can sometimes heal us in mysterious ways.
But if the emotion is too strong, we can move away from the emotion. We rarely feel anxious or angry
I do not recommend to exclusively move away from difficult emotions though. It could become a habit of ignoring the unpleasant parts of our lives. And mindfulness is about acknowledging all the richness of our life. And this includes those parts that we are less comfortable with.
However, there are certain moments when looking away is the correct option. If we would we taking away by our emotions, our best option can be to temporarily regroup until we are ready to face them.
3) It is a great place to learn more about our emotions
If the emotions are not too overwhelming, we can learn a lot about them by paying attention to the different physical sensations that accompany our emotions.
Think about butterflies in the stomach or when boiling with rage. These are not only symbols. They actually describe quite accurately what you can feel when being in love or overtaken with rage.
Getting to know these sensations gives you an edge over them. You will start to recognise them early on and you will then be able to either take countermeasures or
4) The Body is always in the now
In gateways to the now, Eckhart Tolle tells us that the body is one of these easy portals we can use to enter the present moment. The body is never thinking about the past or worrying about the future.
The simple fact of bringing our attention to the sensations of the body effectively makes us enter
5) The body tells us when we are stressed
Stress has the tendency to first show up in the body. Its tell is tension.
So whenever we detect some tension in the body, we know there is some stress present. There is, however, no need to stress over this. Just bringing our awareness to the tension is often enough to dissipate the tension.
Doing a few times a day can help you in keeping more energy throughout your day. Tension has the tendency to eat up a lot of our energetic resources. I always feel drained when I had a stressful day. Relaxing throughout the day helps me mitigate the damage
6) We notice the beauty of the body
It’s not all bad in the body. It is actually a wonderful thing, this body of ours. Being mindful of the body also means that we are open to the good things the body brings us in itself.
Our hearts beat without us intervening. It digests food and we do not have to worry about that.
Mindfulness is also about recognising that.
It also helps us feel grateful for having a body. And gratefulness is a great indicator of well being.
7) It can be so relaxing
As discussed in my article about the body scan meditation, people often fall asleep when performing this particular meditation.
This is an indication that simply bringing attention to the body can induce a relaxing calmness. Time and again I have experienced this effect. Actually, my body is now conditioned like this. For me, the simple act of bringing awareness to some tension in the body is enough to make the tension melt like snow for the sun.
How to bring mindfulness to the body?
As already mentioned, a body scan meditation is an excellent way to become aware of our bodies. It has a relaxing quality to it and you can learn a lot. If you want to give it a try I recommend reading my dedicated page with a meditation script.
Here, I would like to give you an alternative meditation script. An equally soothing meditation that can be practiced everywhere.
- Assume a comfortable position. This can be sitting upright or lying down. Make sure that you can become relaxed in this position, but take care to not fall asleep. For this practice, it is best to close your eyes, but if that feels uncomfortable to you, you can keep them open
- Now notice all locations in your body where you feel physical contact. This can be your butt touching the chair or your legs resting on the ground. It could also be your skin touching your clothes. Notice anything that relates to touching.
- Scan your whole body for instances of touching and when you find them, pause there for a moment. Place your attention on this location and investigate it. Look at how it feels and try to not overlay any biases of how it ‘should feel’ or how it ‘could feel’. Just notice the raw sensations without judgment.
- When you have scanned your body for touching, try to find instances of heat and cold. Be careful to not frantically start looking for these sensations. That is not the aim of the exercise. Just scan the body and when you find them, look at them in detail, just as with the ‘touching’ case.
- Next, we will turn our attention to tension in the body. Scan the body for stress. But this time, we will do something slightly different. When you notice tension, you will first notice all you can discover, but then you will gently try to relax a little bit. Not a lot. And see what it does. Did the tension go away? Is it lees? Is it more. All these are options and in the beginning, all will occur. Over time, the tension will go away in the large majority of the cases.
- If you still feel like it, you can end the exercise by looking at some other features of our bodies. You can look for firmness and softness, or scan for body parts you barely can notice. You could also try to feel inside of the body. I leave it to your imagination to find more examples. Feel free to mention in the comments what you found.
- To end the meditation, gently open your eyes and reconnect with the world. Make the intention to stay mindful of the body throughout your day.
- You are now ready to go about your daily routine.
Featured image courtesy of Caitlin Regan
Hi, I’m Olivier Devroede and I have been meditating seriously since 2009.
Due to the great benefits I have seen in meditating, I decided to become an MBSR trainer myself and start a blog.