Thursday, July 1, 2010

Mind Befriends Body

Have you ever had a friend who doesn't really listen to you? You try to explain something and this person talks right over you. It isn't much of a friendship, is it? Now think about your body and mind as two friends. Body continues to quietly speak to Mind, but Mind is oblivious and simply talks over Body. Not much of a relationship in that scenario. When we practice mindfulness through body scanning, we can think of the practice as strengthening this relationship by letting Mind (attention) be led by Body (sensation). This is a way for Mind to befriend Body, creating a deeper bond and better communication between the two - just like with friends. Practice body scanning in a seated or reclined position (see below for how to do a body scan). It is a wonderful skill and perfect for a more internal summertime practice.

What we are practicing now...
Body scanning is a kinesthetic mindfulness practice that brings your attention inward. Begin by finding a quiet, comfortable position, either seated or reclined. Try to place your body in such a way so that there is minimal sensation, using props if necessary.

Bring your awareness to the surface of your skin and notice your weight on the floor or chair. Let your breath be organic and notice how breathing in and out moves your clothing and skin. Release your weight a little more and notice the air all around you. Feel the whole back surface of your body and the whole front surface. Notice your left side and your right side.

Now bring your attention beneath the surface of your skin and turn your mind fully towards your body. Notice any part of your body that is calling for attention and rest your awareness fully there. As your breathe, be aware of how the sensation in this area changes. If you feel tension coming from this area, try exhaling through your mouth like you have just dropped a heavy load; repeat this as many times as you feel you need it. If another part of your body calls for attention, allow your mind to fully rest there. Continue to move your awareness through your body this way, letting your mind be led by sensation rather than thought. If thoughts arise, notice them but don't engage them and return to your practice, beginning at the surface of your skin, if necessary.

Practice this kinesthetic mindfulness for several minutes, then release it. Notice how you feel - mentally and physically. Return your attention slowly to the surface of your skin, clothing, floor/chair, air. Move into your next practice or simply come out.

Note: this practice is a combination of ingredients given to me by several teachers; my gratitude to Cheri Clampett, Arturo Peal, Kelly McGonigal and Sharon Allen. Namaste.

Schedule updates and events... see Schedule for complete class listing
  • Saturday, July 10th: celebrate Lorien's 40th birthday with a free beach yoga class at Moran Lake Beach in Santa Cruz; class begins at 10:30am. Bring water, towel and sun protection; there is limited parking on site. Immediately following the class, there will be a drum circle at the beach house 2 blocks away. Please join us if you are interested - no experience needed, you cannot do this wrong!
  • Yin & Yang Yoga Retreat Oct 1-3 in Sonoma, CA. See Special Events for more details.
  • Cancer support lecture and workshop with Michelle Duguay is set for September 25 at Soula Power Yoga in downtown San Jose. Look for more information coming soon!