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On the Importance of the Body Scan

Do you know that the first foundation of mindfulness is mindfulness of the body? Weird, right? There's so much focus on, well, focus. So much talk about attention. And learning what it's like to pay attention to your moment-to-moment thoughts is crucial to learning how to experience your life rather than blithely letting it happen and wondering how you got where you are. Being at choice with your attention isn't just about thoughts, though.

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you . . .

I used to wonder why body scans were missing from a lot of mindfulness talk. But after a decade in the world of teaching mindfulness and watching it be commodified for its ability to make you a Jedi and give you an edge, I think I've got it figured out.

Using bodily sensations, including emotions, as a point of focus and attention can be uncomfortable and painful. It's easier to teach attention about thoughts. It's also faster. And results come that are palpable--actually palpable--they can be felt. The more you practice, the more you feel them, and when you stop, the benefits immediately begin to fade.

So where's the bad news?

It's not as much bad as it is . . . incomplete at best, and misleading at worst. Your thoughts are not your entire experience. They inform and are informed by sensations in the body, frequently forming what we call emotions along the way.

Furthermore, those emotions that end up arising are often responsible for what we say and do--how we respond or react to situations and people. If you're focusing only on your thoughts, you're missing an enormous chunk of your experience--one that affects other parts of your experience fairly quickly. And if you aren't well-acquainted with your body, you miss the opportunity to do something about all of this.

Your Issues are In Your Tissues

The body keeps the score we now know, and there's no better way to demonstrate that to yourself than to make body scans a regular practice. You don't have to have unresolved trauma to experience the sensations that are triggered in your body and the thoughts that are triggered in your mind in certain situations. And you don't even need to delve into your behavioral patterns to simply feel that the things that happen in your life and come into your field of awareness, from conversations to smells to movements, have an effect on your body.

What are you talking about, woman?

If you're still reading, you're curious, which is wonderful! Bring that same curious friendliness to the exploration of your own body for a week. Get to know you . . . with this free, 30-minute body scan.


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