By: Risha Ruano-zin

We live in a world that prizes work productivity, efficiency, creativity and high cognitive abilities. We are encouraged from a young age to sharpen our cognitive abilities and obtain as much knowledge as possible, in order to achieve, but rarely are we taught how to identify and express our emotions much less how to listen and understand our bodily sensations.  The practice of mindfulness offers an experience where we can begin to learn how to become aware and understand our thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations.

Mindfulness is a state of moment-to-moment calm and nonjudgmental awareness. By becoming aware of one’s self in this manner, a person can begin to disengage from past or current negative thoughts or thought patterns all the while reaching a state of clarity.  By taking these principles of mindfulness and using them to focus on the body a person moves their awareness from the head to the whole being.

Benefits of being mindful of the body include:

  1. A greater appreciation of our body, our ultimate home, is formed when we become aware of the positives of our body.  When we bring our attention to the things our body is capable of doing such as moving us around, the ability to carry things, signal to us when we are sick, the ability to listen, hear, taste and touch, can help appreciate body functions when may take for granted each day.
  2. By becoming curious about our body sensations, it can help enhance our intuition as well as insight. At times we are unsure why a situation does not feel “right” or we do not know we are anxious until it begins to form into a panic attack. By being able to learn where you feel calmness/peace and anxiety in your body, such as feeling calm in your chest and anxious in your stomach, in the form of stomach knots, can help you identify bodily signals that cue you to begin to practice copings skills, which help you regulate your emotions or help you exit a potentially dangerous situation.
  3. Becoming present with the body can reduce stress and anxiety. The body lives in the present and when our attention is on the body we are in the here-and-now, which leaves little room for ruminations. By focusing on the here-and-now in the form of body mindfulness, we begin to learn how to quiet thoughts that are not helpful to our well being.

So how do you become more mindful of your body?

There are apps available for people who are beginning the practice of mindfulness as well as pod casts and videos online that offer guided meditations. Guided meditation can be useful for those who are new to the practice of mindfulness.  In time you will be able to practice mindfulness without the assistance of guided meditations, but even so guided meditations can be a tool throughout your mindfulness experience.