One of the fundamental aspects of mindfulness is being body aware. Our mindfulness training allows us to direct our focus and our attention and in doing so we observe how we are lost one minute and present the next. Our monkey mind and our strong habit to be distracted from presence is how we exist in in our day to day lives with approx. 47% of our time lost in thought. What this means is that we aren’t present for approximately half of our lives, which for me is quite a phenomenal statistic and of course it will vary with some people being higher and others lower. What our training reveals however is how strong our distracted mind is and where we are on the pendulum.
As a yoga and mindfulness teacher, I find that a large amount of the time I’m aware of my body. Sitting here now typing this into the computer, I am aware of the weight of my body sitting on the chair, areas of my body that are aching a little and the desire within me to move.
There are two different types of body awareness: proprioception and interoception. Proprioception is the sense through which we are able to be aware of our body and its movement in space. Interoception allows us to connect deeply to our inner world and understand what’s going on inside our body and this will include things like feeling hungry, thirsty, hot, cold feeling our heart beating etc.
I pause to consider the complexity of our body for a moment. We are held together by many different types of tissues; fascia being the connective tissue between all of our organs, muscles and bones. Our body at times experiences various sensations, some we notice and many we don’t. This includes stiffness, tension, contraction, holding and accompanying those, we can also hold feelings and emotions of stress, tension, joy, happiness and many more within our tissues.
All the time our body maintains homeostasis or works well- we tend not to think about it or even take it for granted unless we actively become mindfully aware through our practice. The body is a remarkable machine and worth spending time getting to know its intricacies and complexities.
Inside our body everything is interconnected and interwoven and what happens in one part of the body when we move it, can be felt elsewhere within the body. Have you ever paused to notice this?
However, when we are lost in thought, lost in the story, the thinking mind, we lose deep connection to feelings and sensations within the body. This is where mindfulness training is essential to bring us back to the present moment and reconnect over and over to the changing landscape of sensation within us.
Take the time to periodically pause in your day and feel your body wherever it is, its position in space, the detailed sensation within that moment of experience. Remember, cells are developing and dying constantly, we are a changing being, never static or the same. Therefore, each new moment can be approached with a freshness, a curiosity and interest without expectation. Notice when one part moves where else you feel that movement. Our bodies are truly fascinating and knowing we spend a large chunk of our time in our head, our body is always there to come back to.
Make it a regular part of your day. Happy practicing.
Tina Gilbert is a tutor for the Mindfulness Association. Her next Level 1: Being Present course is starting this weekend in Edinburgh.
Dates: 23-24 June 2018, 25-26 August 2018, 24-25 November 2018 and 26-27 January 2019
Booking info: To book the first weekend of this course please click here. You will be contacted after attending the first weekend to book the further three weekends.
Times: The course runs from 10am till 5pm on Saturday and Sunday
Location: The Salisbury Centre, 2 Salisbury Road, Edinburgh, EH16 5AB