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Mindful : February 2014
Illustration by Jason Lee 66 mindful February 2014 Body Language Time: 10–20 minutes When was the last time you noticed how your body was feeling? Not just when you have a headache or you’re tired or you have hear tburn after that spicy taco you ate for lunch. But just noticing how your body is feeling right now, while you’re sitting or standing or lying down. How about noticing how your body feels while you’re sitting in an impor tant meeting or walking down the street or playing with your children? In our busy, high-tech, low-touch lives, it’s easy to operate detached from our own bodies. They too easily become vessels we feed, water, and rest so they can continue to car t around our brains. We don’t pay at tention to the information our bodies are sending us or the effect that forces such as stress are having—until real health problems set in. Let’s take a small and simple step in the direction of paying our body the attention it is due. Consider spending just a few min- utes—ever y day, if you can—to notice your own physicality. Not to judge your body or worr y about it or push it harder at the gym, buttobeinit. Here’s an easy body-scan practice to try. It will tune you in to your body and anchor you to where you are right now. It will heighten your senses and help you achieve greater levels of relaxation. You can do it sitting in a chair or on the floor, lying down, or standing. Susan Bauer-Wu, PhD, is the director of the Compassionate Care Initiative at the University of Virginia School of Nursing and the author of Leaves Falling Gently: Living Fully with Serious & Life-Limiting Illness through Mindfulness, Compassion & Connectedness. 1 Settle into a comfor table position, so you feel suppor ted and relaxed. 2 Close your eyes if you wish or leave them open with a soft gaze, not focusing on anything in par ticular. 3 Rest for a few moments, paying at tention to the natural rhythm of your breathing. 4 Once your body and mind are set tled, bring awareness to your body as a whole. Be aware of your body resting and being suppor ted by the chair, mattress, or floor. For more on mindfulness practice, go to mindful.org/inpractice. To submit questions about techniques, the workplace, or relationships and home life, email firstname.lastname@example.org 5 Begin to focus your at tention on different par ts of your body. You can spotlight one par ticular area or go through a sequence like this: toes, feet (sole, heel, top of foot), through the legs, pelvis, abdomen, lower back, upper back, chest shoulders, arms down to the fingers, shoulders, neck, differ- ent par ts of the face, and head. 6 For each par t of the body, linger for a few moments and notice the different sensations as you focus. 7 The moment you notice that your mind has wandered, return your at tention to the par t of the body you last remember. If you fall asleep during this body-scan practice, that’s okay. When you realize you’ve been nodding off, take a deep breath to help you reawaken and perhaps reposition your body (which will also help wake it up). When you’re ready, return your at tention to the par t of the body you last remember focusing on. ● — Susan Bauer-Wu techniques in practice