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The body scan meditation: Appreciate the here and now

If you want to be more present in your daily life, then the body scan meditation is for you!

In the second week of the Mindfulness Program, you will learn to become more appreciative of the here and now by practising gratitude and reconnecting with your bodily sensations.

Please note that all exercises and meditations are from the book Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Professor Mark Williams and journalist Danny Penman.

Let’s dive into Week Two.

Overview: Week Two Mindfulness

Week Two uses a simple Body Scan meditation to help explore the difference between thinking about a sensation and experiencing it.

We spend so much time living “in our heads” that we almost forget about the world experienced directly through all senses.

The Body Scan meditation helps to train your mind so that you can focus your attention directly on your bodily sensations without judging or analysing them.

This helps you to see, even more clearly, when the mind has begun to wander away by itself so that you gradually learn to “taste” the difference between the “thinking mind” and the “sensing mind”.

The main idea: Appreciation here and now

Happiness is looking at the same things with different eyes.

Life only happens here – at this very moment. So make the best of it. You don’t know how long you have got. This is a positive message. It helps to give appreciative attention to what is here now.

How much appreciative attention do you have for the here and now? Take a moment and look around. How is the “now” for you?

(The dishwasher is on in the background as I am editing this text. Heavy raindrops fall outside my living room window. I see a man walking with a baby stroller down the street.)

You do not have to wait for the future to be an improvement on the present. You can find it here.

In Week One, you may have already discovered how easily we miss beautiful things and how little attention they are given. Take time to pause for simple, daily things. Maybe you can provide a few of these activities or spontaneous events in your life extra attention.

Which activities, things or people in your life make you feel good? Can you give additional appreciative attention and time to these activities? Can you pause for a moment when pleasant moments occur?

– Mark Williams

Help yourself pause by noticing:

  • what body sensations do you feel at these moments?
  • what thoughts are around?
  • what feelings are here?

The 10 finger gratitude exercise

Positive appreciation is something you have control over, it is something you can practice. The gratitude exercise teaches you to pay more positive appreciation for the small things in your life.

It’s a simple practice, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. So be patient and kind to yourself as you embark on this gratitude exercise.

Once a day, think about 10 things you are grateful for, counting them on your fingers. You must get to 10 things, even when it becomes increasingly harder after three or four! That’s the point of the exercise – to become aware of the tiny, previously unnoticed elements of the day.

Simple acts, such as going for a gentle walk or drinking a cup of coffee on the couch, can have a profound effect on your day, but you need to acknowledge this to see the transformative power of such behaviours.

Week Two: The Body Scan Meditation

The Body Scan Meditation is one of my favourite mindfulness exercises. Try it for yourself this week and let me know what you think.

The Body Scan Meditation reveals the Doing mode – the thinking mode that never lets you off the hook, that gets you stuck in relentless and frantic busyness.

It judges everything, it compares the way things are with how you want them to be and strives to make them different to how they are.

It includes being on autopilot most of the time and getting lost in thoughts that you take too literally and personally.

Doing mode includes living in the past or future, and avoiding what you don’t like. Finally, the Doing mode sees the world indirectly, so that you no longer directly experience yourself and the world.

Do you recognise these aspects of the Doing mode?

Each of these can come up during the Body Scan.

Revealing the Doing mode can be emotionally draining at times, but it’s well worth the practice.

I carry out the Body Scan when I am knee-deep in the Doing Mode. It’s extra useful when I have a lot going on at school and work. By stepping into the Being Mode, I create a space for my thoughts and feelings, so I no longer feel as attached to them.

I’ve found the body scan meditation to be useful for when I am stressed, worried and anxious about the future. It helps to come back to the here and now, to close the time window.

Try it for yourself: Meditation Two: The Body Scan

Practices for Week Two

  • The Body Scan meditation, at least twice a day, six out of seven days.
  • Carry out another routine activity mindfully, e.g. brushing your teeth, eating breakfast, taking a shower. Choose a different one from last week.
  • Habit releaser: Go on a walk for at least 15 minutes at least once this week.

Have a fantastic week with the Body Scan! Take care, and stay safe.

Over to you

That’s it for the second week of the Mindfulness Program.

I know it may look like a lot, but remember to be kind to yourself during this process. Approach these exercises with self-compassion and curiosity.

Got any questions? Want to share your progress? Simply reply to any of my emails or comment on this article below. I’m happy to cheer you on. We’re in this together. 🙂 

Thanks for reading.

PS. Did you miss the first week of the program? Don’t fret! You can catch that lesson here: The Body and Breath Meditation.

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