Mindful Body Another tool for our Mindful Tool Box
Continuing on with building our mindfulness Tool Box, our essential third tool is Awareness of the Body, or Mindful Body for short. Keep in mind that there are five exercises for mindfulness in everyday life as taught by Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. Each serves a vital part of our daily routine and will be the foundation as we build a Tool Box for life.
Stress, tension, depression and physical pain are all a part of our lives. These do not have to be the controlling influences, the driving factors in our lives. Managing and living well can be accomplished and we can have a happy, balanced life. Meditation and relaxation techniques, when combined with other coping skills, can increase your quality of life. Mindfulness is just one of the many different meditation techniques involving your mind, body, and spirit.
Following my usual format, in this informal and relaxed session, I will briefly go over:
- What is Awareness of the Body/Mindful Body?
- Guided Mediation for the Mindful Body
- Using our tools together
- Reward Time
What is Awareness of the Body/Mindful Body?
Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment.
This is the technique to use to get in touch with your body. All it involves is a body scan where you turn your focus to each of your body parts one by one. As you’re going through your body, release any tension and simply try to relax. Thich Nhat Hanh recommends to use this mantra: “Breathing in, I’m aware of my body.”
Thay (Teacher) goes on to say “When you practice mindful breathing, the quality of your in-breath and out-breath will be improved. There is more peace and harmony in your breathing, and if you continue to practice like that, the peace and the harmony will penetrate into the body, and the body will profit.”
We should pause to take stock, to be aware of our body, several times daily. We call these moments “taking a break” or “break time”. Utilizing these moments effectively is the key.
Guided Mediation for the Mindful Body
A good beginning meditation for gaining awareness of the body. Give yourself additional time to Breathe and Concentrate and move slowly, at your own pace, into the body scan. Remember, this is your time and only you know when to transition from one phase to another.
As with all the videos or soundtracks I post, these are merely suggestions. I encourage you to experiment with different versions and styles to fit your lifestyle and to make the meditation more enjoyable and meaningful to you.
Using our tools together
With the addition of our third basic tool, your meditation sessions are progressively becoming longer and longer. To be effective, each tool should be used to enhance the others. Take all the time you wish to “master” each tool before adding the next into your daily routine. You can review mindful breathing here, and mindful concentration here. Using the tools properly will enhance your experience and be the most beneficial to you.
As you master each tool, as you become more proficient, the time required before you move to the next stage will decrease. The use of triggers, such as the chiming of a bell, will signal to body and mind the mind state to meditate.
I personally have used music to get into a rhythm for meditation and relaxation. Just getting comfortable and starting a soundtrack causes me to practice mindful breathing, leading me into concentration and mindful body without “me” doing more than closing my eyes. It is not that easy each time, and it did not happen overnight.
Anytime we accomplish a goal, learn a new skill, or simply decide to; we should reward ourselves. After all, what would life be without ice cream? So, get up, stretch and go get a bowl of ice cream. Remember to come back here and spend just a few more minutes savoring ice cream and some interesting sounds.
Our basic tools are almost together and in place in the Mindful Tool Box. We have gone over Breathing, Concentration and Mindful Body. Our next tool is Releasing Tension and we have already lightly touched upon it in this article. Mindful Walking will wrap up the basic tools and then we can start looking and choosing the tools we need or want to have.
Rome was not built in a day. Our body and spirit cannot be changed in a day. Continue to seek the answers you are looking for and make informed decisions. Look both inside and outside the box. Set realistic goals and keep some ice cream in the freezer.
If you have any questions or thoughts on Awareness of the Body (or on any of the other tools), please do not hesitate to leave me a comment below. I will reply as soon as I can!
Walking the Path of Peace,