Put down whatever you have in your hand. Take your seat and close your eyes. Direct your attention towards your hands and arms. Can you sense them. If you can sense them, simply rest in the knowing of this area of the body for a few moments.
This knowing of the body through this felt sense is called proprioception. We engage this sense when we practice a body scan, which involves sensing the body in a systematic manner over a period of time. In addition to the knowing of the body in the space that it occupies, a body scan also involves resting in the any felt sensation including hot or cold; hard or soft; damp or dry; heavy or light; pushing or pulling; tingling, pinching among others.
This is an action that promotes returning to the body and getting to know what may have been unnoticed before, perhaps out of habit or conditioning. We use an attitude of friendliness, kindness, patience and non judgment as we explore this dimension of our knowing and being.
One can try a body scan over any number of minutes you choose. It can be done in a very short period of time where one can use awareness to visit each body part, usually starting in the feet, and resting one’s awareness part by part until one reaches the top of the head. When I do this I usually allow for one breath per part, however, the scan can be done more quickly where one simply allows the attention to flow through the body. In Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction, we sometimes allow as much time as 45 minutes to do one body scan.
With practice, many people experience the body’s capacity for letting go. This promotes an opportunity for the body to move towards greater balance and equilibrium which will promote a similar response in the mind. Give it a try, whether it be for one minute or 45 minutes and discover the adventure of reclaiming our sense of ourselves in this way.
You can be guided by a body scan that I recorded and have made available under Resources on the website www.practicalwellbeing.ca