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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Physique Scan: Mindfulness of the Physique

This entry was posted on Mar 7, 2024 by Charlotte Bell.

Some time again, I wrote a put up on mindfulness of the physique, centering the follow on breath consciousness. Within the Theravada custom, breath consciousness is the place to begin, the muse of starting to stabilize the thoughts. Breath consciousness offers us a steady course of on which to relaxation the thoughts. After all, that doesn’t imply that the thoughts received’t wander away into its personal worries, reminiscences and reveries whilst we intend to stabilize our minds on the respiratory course of. However it’s within the means of regularly recognizing that the thoughts has wandered off, and redirecting it again to the breath, that we start to domesticate a brand new behavior of thoughts. In at present’s put up, I’d like to ask you to play with increasing consciousness into the remainder of the physique, using a physique scan.

How Does a Physique Scan Work?

Physique scans are foundational in Mindfulness-Based mostly Stress Discount (MBSR) and Goenka-style Vipassana meditation. Shifting consciousness systematically by means of the physique is integral to Yoga Nidra follow. I’m positive there are different methodologies that use a type of physique scanning as a method to stabilize consciousness as properly. Training a physique scan may also help us join with the physique internally, and as a complete.

In physique scan follow, we systematically transfer consciousness by means of the physique. This could embody deliberately stress-free areas as we acknowledge them. It may be merely visiting these areas with out a specific agenda.

In some types of the follow, we begin with the toes and transfer up the physique. In others, we begin with the pinnacle and work our method all the way down to the toes. It’s merely a matter of desire. Within the follow I’ll introduce beneath, I begin with the pinnacle. That’s as a result of, a minimum of for me, visiting the anatomy of the pinnacle appears to have a softening impact on all the pieces beneath.

Breath Consciousness vs. Open Consciousness

Since breath consciousness is normally the place mindfulness follow begins, we might are likely to suppose that it’s an “elementary” follow, and that open consciousness of the physique as a complete is extra “superior.” Joseph Goldstein addressed this at an Perception Meditation retreat I attended just a few years in the past. When requested which type of physique mindfulness follow was preferable—breath consciousness or open consciousness—he paused for a second, after which mentioned “no matter works.”

Which follow you select on a given day is determined by the state of your physique/thoughts. In case your thoughts appears scattered and unfocused—aka “monkey thoughts”—breath consciousness may also help you stabilize it. If you happen to’re training breath consciousness and discover that your physique and thoughts are feeling tense and caught, you may need to invite the remainder of your physique into consciousness. The follow that’s greatest for you on a given day would be the one which lets you be most conscious.

There’s Greater than One Solution to Apply a Physique Scan

Earlier than I counsel the follow beneath, I need to reiterate that this isn’t the one method to follow a physique scan. That is merely what I’ve used that has appeared to work with my mindfulness college students. The follow beneath makes an attempt to tune us into a few of our inside anatomy, in addition to normal classes akin to arms, legs, torso, and so on.

You may need to file a voice memo in your cellphone so that you simply don’t have to have a look at the textual content. Or, in the event you’re like me, and listening to your individual recorded voice is distracting, you’ll be able to have a buddy file the physique scan as a substitute.

Head-to-Toe Physique Scan

You possibly can follow this physique scan sitting on a Meditation Cushion, mendacity down or in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). If you happen to’re feeling drained, sitting or standing might assist you to keep extra alert. If you happen to’re feeling tense or pressured, mendacity down may work greatest.

Right here’s easy methods to follow. Keep in mind which you can deliberately loosen up these areas, or just concentrate on the sensations you’re feeling as you contact into them:

  • Concentrate on your facial muscle tissue and scalp.
  • Your cranium
  • Your mind contained in the cranium
  • Eyes
  • Cheeks
  • Interior ears
  • Outer ears
  • Jaw
  • Higher palate
  • Higher row of tooth
  • Interior cheeks
  • Decrease row of tooth
  • Throat
  • Tops of the shoulders
  • Higher arms
  • Forearms
  • Arms
  • Fingers
  • Ribcage
  • Muscle mass between and across the ribs
  • Contents of the ribcage: coronary heart and lungs
  • The diaphragm: Really feel the diaphragmatic motion because the muscle flattens downward on the inhalation, making room for the lungs to develop, and urgent on the belly organs, inflicting the stomach to develop. Then as you exhale, really feel the diaphragm doming upward to assist push air out of your lungs, permitting the belly organs to settle again into place. (You possibly can follow this consciousness for a number of breaths in the event you like.)
  • Stomach muscle tissue
  • Low again
  • Pelvis
  • Stomach organs
  • Perineum
  • Thighs
  • Knees
  • Toes
  • Toes

Be at liberty to reverse the method and make your method again up, from the toes to the pinnacle, or proceed to the subsequent instruction.

Open Consciousness of the Physique

When you’ve completed your physique scan, you’ll be able to settle again and invite all the physique into consciousness. Right here, you’ll be able to merely really feel all of the sensations arising—sensations of contact, temperature, rigidity, hardness, softness, pulsing, vibration—no matter is arising. If a selected sensation turns into predominant, you’ll be able to relaxation your consideration there, feeling its course of. Does it intensify after which wane? Does it come and go? If nothing specifically feels predominant, relaxation your consciousness in the entire physique, feeling the breath arising inside this bigger body.

As Joseph mentioned, there’s no hierarchy between breath consciousness and open consciousness. Use your individual meditation follow as a information to which follow works higher for you at a given second.

About Charlotte Bell

Charlotte Bell found yoga in 1982 and commenced instructing in 1986. Charlotte is the writer of Aware Yoga, Aware Life: A Information for On a regular basis Apply and Yoga for Meditators, each printed by Rodmell Press. Her third ebook is titled Hip-Wholesome Asana: The Yoga Practitioner’s Information to Defending the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Ache (Shambhala Publications). She writes a month-to-month column for CATALYST Journal and serves as editor for Yoga U On-line. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte performs oboe and English horn within the Salt Lake Symphony and folks sextet Crimson Rock Rondo, whose DVD received two Emmy awards in 2010.

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