Increasing your level of body awareness is the #1 thing you can do to live pain free.
But how does one go about developing body awareness?
We live in a very disembodied, disconnected world. Cell phones, social media, emails, etc. all take center of our lives and drive our daily actions. We are almost always in a constant state of distraction.
We tend to live in our heads, busily filing away what needs to be done next. Often, our bodies our sending us small signals to pay attention to them. These may show up as feeling tired, tight, or tension in the head and neck, but unless it is serious pain, we can usually ignore these signs, cover them up with a cup of coffee or advil, and get on with our day.
‘Few of us have lost our minds, but most of us have long ago lost our bodies.’ ~ Ken Wilber
As long as our bodies do what we imagine they are supposed to do, we pay them little attention.
I’d like to invite you now to begin to deepen your own level of body awareness. If you already have some sort of awareness practice, let this simply be another gentle reminder and invitation to check back in. If you don’t have much of a relationship with your body, let’s begin that now.
As you read these words, what is your body doing? How are you holding your hands and arms? Your feet? Your back? Your head? What sorts of sensations are you having in your muscles, bones, and nerves? Do you feel light? Tense? Relaxed? Rigid? When did you last check in with yourself this way?
Read through the following practice. Take mental notes. Then, close your eyes and allow yourself to go through the practice. Try the practice for at least 3 minutes.
- Breathe deeply but easily.
- Begin to explore your bodily feelings.
- Don’t try to feel anything. Don’t force any feelings.
- Simply let your attention flow through your body.
- As your attention flows through your body with your breath, note if any feeling, positive or negative, is present in various parts of your body.
- Can you, for example, feel your legs? Your stomach? Your heart? Eyes? Scalp? Buttocks? Diaphragm? Feet?
- Bring awareness to each area of your body with your breath. Even if your breath can’t physically reach a certain area, for example your feet, let your breath be the tool to help guide you to various places throughout your body.
- Notice which parts of your body feel alive with feeling, full and strong and vital, and which parts seem dull, heavy, lifeless, dimmed, tight, or painful.
- Simply note the differences you feel. There is no need to change any of the feelings or judge them as good or bad. They simply are.
As you go through the practice, notice how your attention might leave your body and wander into daydreams. Does it strike you as odd that it might be difficult to stay in your body for 3 minutes? If you’re not in your body, where are you?
This is embodiment: simply allowing and being with what is in your body. Giving the space to actually listen and receive the inherent wisdom of your body. Cultivating a deeper, more consistent practice of body centered check-ins will support you to living a life pain free.
If you enjoyed the practice, or even if it simply struck a curiosity chord within you, then I invite you to commit to doing it each morning for 1 week. Spend at least 3 minutes each morning upon first waking up listening to your body. Who knows what wisdom she is dying to share with you.