Mindful meditation is not a detachment of mind from body but the unifying of mind and body by recognizing how what happens in the mind affects what happens in the body. Body scanning can be a standalone mindfulness practice or part of a greater mindfulness meditation. Conducting a body scan puts you in touch with the areas of your body you may not be mindful of throughout the day. More specifically, body scanning helps you find where your body is holding tension. It isn’t until you focus your thoughts on your body that you find the parts of the body which are tense, yet, it is the mindless stress happening in your thoughts which cause tension.
Starting from the top of the head, shift your focus gradually down and across your body as if you were a barcode being read by a laser. Notice where your muscles are tense and focus your thoughts on letting go of that tension. Without judgment of why the tension is there or where the tension is, try to notice how difficult or easy it is to simply think about releasing the stress and doing so. Continue scanning your body while breathing in through the nose and out through the nose until you reach your toes. Having released all of your body’s tension, you should feel more relaxed, mindful of your body, and aware of where you can help your body relax.
Now that you have come to a mindful awareness of how your thoughts affect your body you can start to mindfully observe another dichotomous relationship: the one between your internal environment and your external environment.
You may not always pay conscious attention to the sounds of your internal environment which is the steady cacophonous stream of thoughts happening in your mind. Though you may not be paying attention, the thoughts don’t fall deaf in your brain. Your subconscious is always listening and hurrying to try and keep up. The business of your mind causes your brain and body stress, which is why mindfulness practices work to reduce stress by quieting the mind.
Quietly tune into your thoughts and observe what you hear. Detached from judgments, criticisms, and analysis, see if you can just let those thoughts go. Notice what comes up for you, what your mind is focusing on, and any resistance to silencing those voices.
Your external environment is constantly creating input for your brain to sort as well. After coming to peace with your internal environment, turn your focus toward your external environment. First, listen for nearby noises. Then, see how far out you can take your hearing. Perhaps you hear birds. Can you hear birds for blocks around, as if you are picking up on the faintest of chirps? You’ll quickly realize the stark contrast between how you can tune into your external environment when your internal environment is calm versus the opposite.
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