When I was a young child and wanted to feel total freedom, I would get on my bike and ride like dare devil Evel Knievel, with reckless abandon, pedaling super-fast then coast while putting my feet up on top of the handlebars. One time I was going so fast after having been yelled at by my dad, I hit a crack in the street and completely lost control. I flew head first many feet down the road finally grinding to a halt by the scraping of my body along the pavement. Crying and hobbling while pushing my banged up bike along side of me, all I could think of was how bad my body ached hoping I didn’t break any bones.
I can still feel the burning sensation of the Bactine antibacterial skin care being sprayed on my raw parched skin. That was the first time that I really FELT my body. alphabuildersanddevelopers Sitting uncomfortably on the living room couch as my mom wrapped huge wads of gauze around my arms and legs to stop the bleeding, I remember thinking my body was so banged up it would never heal. I still have the scars from that bike accident as an important reminder for me, especially as a parent, of the unintended consequences of losing one’s temper. It is also a reminder of how helpful it is to really feel and be with the emotions in our body so they don’t cause you to flip your lid or flip over your bike.
Friedrick Nietzsche said “There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.”
Think the Milky Way Galaxy is immense and spectacular? Then you haven’t looked at your body lately. There are 100 trillion cells in your body which exceeds by 33 times the amount of stars in the entire Milky Way. The strands of arteries, veins, and capillaries that run through your body, if placed end to end, would encircle the earth more than 2 ½ times (60,000 miles). It is no wonder Nietzsche thought so highly of the body.
Your body (With the brain) is the intelligent form that allows you to feel, think, emote, create, express, and experience. We may think we only have five senses… taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound, but in actuality we have more than a dozen senses helping us notice things like equilibrium/balance, where we are in relation to the rest of our body, hot and cold, pressure, and even a sense called magnetoreception which allows us to sense magnetic fields.
What does all this mean?
We have a lot more inherent wisdom and ways to be aware of ourselves and our surroundings than we probably ever realized. And also like our breath, by focusing on our body we can tune right into the present moment.
Here’s the thing, however. Like our breath, most of us probably don’t pay much attention to our body unless something is wrong with it like we get sick, fall off a bike, stub our toe, overexert ourselves on the yard work, or notice we need to go on a diet to shed some pounds. Sometimes we do notice our body a bit more positively at those times when we are training for sport or athletic competition, but overall it is usually when we notice something wrong that we start paying more attention to our bodies.
I ‘m sure you have had some illness in your body at some point in time, whether it is a cold or flu or other form of physical ailment. Did you suddenly get sick and just pass out? Probably not. There was a point that you noticed that your body did not feel fully well. Sometimes we notice it and say to our spouse or co-worker, “I think I am coming down with something.” But there is a moment in time when your body started responding to some stressor that was not impactful enough for you to feel that signal in your body sooner, so you ignored it. The signal could be said to be unconscious or not impactful enough. By the time you consciously felt an imbalance in your body, you were already sick.
It’s time now we start noticing what’s happening in our bodies
The whole point in building awareness for our body is to be able to notice slight changes in our physical body so we can adjust before things get too much out of balance. If you can notice your “negative” impulse or emotion in your body before it gets too intense and full blown, you have a better chance to balance it out before it knocks your whole body and mind out of alignment. Think of a car that you get regular maintenance on with regular tune-ups, oil changes, and inspections. You usually find out about potential problems before they get much worse or more serious and then you need to wind up spending a lot more money repairing your car.
There is a mindfulness practice called a body scan or what I like to refer to as mental massage of our body with our minds. The body scan often helps myself and others notice what is happening in their body… a stiff neck, a sore elbow, a achy knee, a strained feeling above the eyes, a subtle feeling of longing in your heart before it starts to take its toll on our physical body. The body scan can even sometimes detect hidden past trauma caused by some prior emotional or physical pain that we’ve repressed. So much happens automatically under the surface of our consciousness (what neuroscientist David Eagleman calls our zombie systems) that it can be helpful to dial in to particular body areas to for us to be more present and grounded. When we uncover some of these deep seated traumas stored in our body, it can be a helpful release.
Use this mindful stress relief exercise to help you become more aware of your body, be more grounded, and in the moment…
Body Scan- Mental Massage Exercise
Find a comfortable space where you can settle in to. For this exercise you may find it more helpful to lie down, but you can certainly do it sitting on a chair or cushion. A full body scan can take more than an hour, so for the sake of time we will focus on the main body parts/muscle groups.
As we reach out and mentally touch our bodies with our attention, please do your best to feel from inside the body, not from your head/mind/thoughts. As we move through various parts of the body, spend at least one or two full breaths at each area as you investigate.
Also, if you find your mind wandering and getting into a particular story about the area your body parts, as is common for even seasoned mindfulness meditators, gently guide your attention back to the particular body part you’ve been focusing on and again feel from inside the body.
Start by placing your attention on your FEET and noticing any sensations in your feet. Make sure you notice what is happening in your toes and heal as well.
Move your attention now to your KNEES and notice what is happening in and around your knees including the bones of your knee, the knee cap, and the muscles and ligaments in the knee.
Move your attention now to your HIPS and notice what is happening in and around your Hips including the hip hinge joints that allow you to turn your torso.
Slide your attention now to your CHEST and notice what is happening in and around your chest including your ribs, lungs, and heart.
Move your attention now to your NECK and notice what is happening in and around your neck including shoulders and the bones and muscles of your shoulders.
Move your attention now to your ARMS and notice what is happening in and around your arms including your hands and fingers.
Move your attention now to your FACE/HEAD and notice what is happening in and around your face including mouth, nose, eyes, and ears.
Remember to feel from inside the body and you can imagine moving inside your eyes, ears, nose, etc.
Lastly, place your attention on your overall physical body as a whole. How does your overall body feel now? Just stay quiet for a few more moments in that space and notice it from inside the body.
If you don’t have time for the entire exercise above, just do legs, arms, shoulders, neck, eyes, and head.
So if you find your mind wandering off to past worries or future anxieties, it can help to just tune into the body. You can do the body scan, just focus on a particular body part/area, feel the steering wheel on your hands when you are driving, or just notice the weight of your body as you sit on a chair or the sofa. And as always, remember to also breathe.
Discover The Powerful Stress Relief Exercises That Helped Stressed-Out, Worried, and Anxious Participants Feel More Grounded, Calmer, and Happier including a guided exercise of the body scan mentioned in this article..
Sign up NOW for a FREE series of audio exercises for.stress relief at: [http://www.7-breaths.com]
Todd Corbin is a certified parenting coach, mindfulness teacher, and stress management expert. He is creator of the “7 Breaths to Less Stress” program.
Todd has been trained by some of the leading mindfulness and meditation practitioners in the world… Deepak Chopra, Neale Donald Walsch, Dr. Daniel Siegel, and Dr. Amy Saltzman.