Our meditation group had a wonderful discussion on Tuesday night on the topic of Mindfulness in the Body. Since we’ve been talking about equanimity and steadiness lately, it serves us well to explore some of the practices that help us to find and maintain that balance.
Mindfulness in the Body is one of those tools – it grounds attention in the present moment (because where else can the body be?), and it allows us to modulate our physiological responses to stress, calming ourselves when we feel we’re getting activated.
And, whatever the circumstances, our experience is richer and more whole when we’re tuned in to the body, rather than being 100% dominated by the thinking mind.
The group had a little chuckle about this quote by Eduardo Galeano:
The church says: “The body is a sin.”
Science says: “The body is a machine.”
Advertising says: “The body is a business.”
The body says: “I am a fiesta!”
To me, this points to the dynamic nature of the body – the fiesta of changing experience we discover inwardly. The quote also demonstrates how often we view the body from the outside-in, as an object or a concept (like it’s a machine, a business, an image, a vehicle, or a problem, to name a few). Only the last line turns the perspective around and considers the body from the inside-out. This is why I like to refer to this practice as “Mindfulness IN the body” rather than “Mindfulness OF the body.”
We also touched on the term “Interoception,” which is a word from neuroscience that describes our capacity for awareness of internal states and processes of the body. It is strikingly similar to what we call “mindfulness in the body.” Interestingly enough, there’s a lot of research being done these days on the benefits of being good at interoception, and lots of physical and mental health consequences to being too disembodied. The research touches on anxiety, depression, chronic pain, eating disorders, inflammation, and more.
If you’re interested in a user-friendly introduction to interoception, I recommend this article by Emma Seppala, called “Decoding the Body Watcher.”
It takes some practice to strengthen your ability to be mindful of the body from the inside-out. It’s ok if you don’t automatically know how to translate this intention into actually living with more embodied awareness. So, I hope you’ll join us to learn, practice, and discuss!
Photo by Growinnc