Hello my Happynesshub friends,
I’m really excited and I am a little nervous. I’m excited because I am sharing with you the new body scan meditations. I’m nervous because I’m about to open up about my very personal experiences regarding those meditations.
The body scans have become an enlightening part of my mindfulness journey. It opened me up to fascinating discoveries as well as things that I didn’t exactly want to see. It made me re-think, re-evaluate and re-shuffle things a little and this is what I would like to tell you about. You know, share my thoughts and experiences, like my favourite cartoon characters in Peanuts, as Charlie Brown would share with Snoopy. So you all are my Snoopy….and my Peanuts friends!
The body scan may seem like a simple little exercise, a journey across the body to make sure all fingers and toes are where they are supposed to be but it is a lot more than that! It is one of the most simple and accessible ways to arrive in the present moment and remain in it. Also, in times when we are more likely to focus on shaping and contouring the body, rather than listening to it carefully, the body scan gives us an opportunity to connect with our own curiosity, patience and gentleness. We begin to treat our body and everything that occurs within like we would our best friend, without judgement and with kindness.
The body scan meditation allows us to open up to what is present – the good and perhaps the not so good. As you practice, occasionally, the fireworks of annoyance, boredom or irritation can rise up to the surface and get seen. It happens to most of us and because this business of being human involves these unpleasant emotions too, they, like joy and contentment, want and need to be seen. It took me a while to let go of the initial tiny undercurrent of annoyance of not being able to doze off (as I sometimes do during Yoga Nidra). Then it took another week to practice staying awake because I felt ever so slightly bored (at this point I thought I can’t win). But then, as the dust of all these battles began to settle, so did the posture and so did the state of fidgeting, as looking inwards then became easier.
As the Buddhist teacher and author, Pema Chödrön says on our want to avoid discomfort and uncertainty:
“We could make friends with the whole picture […] pleasant and unpleasant, salty and sweet, rough and smooth as a part of the natural fabric of life”.
This isn’t always easy but I have found that it can be so much more manageable if we are more in tune with what we are made of. The body scan meditation helps us to rediscover those connections. We begin to experience re-connectedness as if there was no separation in the first place!
I began to feel better and recognise what is good for my body, what nourishes my heart and my mind. I started making wiser choices about food (chocolate is still on the menu though) and about how I spend my time off work. Most importantly though, I learned to deal with the situations when unsettling anxiety-like sensations take over the body and start taking over the mind. I retreat for a minute or five if I can, to sit quietly and take a look at that mini-tornado. As I look and face it and ask myself whether it is possible to be with whatever it is, it settles, in both the belly and the mind.
For me it has been an interesting journey, learning to be truly patient and compassionate. By repeating the simple body scans, I became a little clearer, a little steadier. I learned to be more open and to “make friends with the whole picture”. It is in a way like being a child and discovering the world again. Or being like Peanuts or Snoopy.
Making friends wherever you go…