My greatest distraction is often my bodily experience. Physical sensations command so much of my energy, and awareness, when I attach judgments to them like ‘pain’ or ‘good’ or ‘more’. Alternatively, when something of this nature is not calling my attention, I can forget about my body completely. My mind is focused on a whirlwind of tasks at hand, what I have to do later, what to make for dinner, remembering someone’s birthday, et cetera, forever. In the times where I am whisked away by my thoughts to a place which is not in reality or even beyond it, it is simply stuck in a hamster wheel of ideas; I may not even realize that my feet are on the ground. I may not notice that it’s pleasantly warm outside, or that the sensation of my clothes on my skin is quite nice. I might forget that the piece of chocolate I’m eating is so worth savoring, in the hurriedness of my mindless experience.
Body scanning is a technique that has been useful for me, much like mindful breathing, to execute anywhere and anytime. With my eyes closed or open, I simply move from the crown of my head all the way down to my toes, pausing in particular sequential places, in whatever order I like, to bring awareness to that particular part of my body. I might move from the top of my head to my eyes, to my jaw, to my neck and collar bones, into my arms and chest, and so on. In this experience, I may notice that I feel particularly relaxed, tense, rested, or in discomfort in any of these specific areas. Taking the time to notice it, however, allows for me to make peace with that experience, whatever it is, and often in the case of pain or discomfort, to be able to diminish it simply by recognizing that it is not as intense as my mind may make it out to be. Body scanning is beneficial to me especially in the midst of a busy day, as a reminder that my feet are, in fact, on the ground.
Image Source: Moyan Brenn