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MIDL 2/52: Experiencing Your Whole Body

question

During the previous Mindfulness Training you developed sensitivity to the elemental quality of your body in a very general way. It is now time to develop the accuracy of your attention by intentionally moving your awareness part by part through your body. By experiencing and relaxing into to any sensations present, sensitivity to your whole body as a field of sensation will start to open. Submit Your Question

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Trouble Remaining Still

Your Question: I am just wondering if you can provide any insight as to why body scans are so difficult to remain still? I find body scans and meditations like yoga nidra to be the most difficult for me - it is almost like my skin begins to crawl, whereas I can sit in other meditations of the same duration without that problem?

Stephen Procter: Understanding this reaction to scanning your body comes from understanding the relationship between your mind and body. Our body reflects the state of our mind and responds by producing emotions, these emotional reactions if experienced for a period of time can store within our body long after the initial painful experience has passed. Often our mind will avoid clearly experiencing our body in order to avoid feeling the pain of emotions within it. I see this avoidance and disconnect with the experience of the body when working with people experiencing severe trauma. The one place their mind does not want to go is to the experience of sensations within their body.

The reason you can sit in other meditations without this reaction may be because the development of concentration is suppressing the experience of your body rather than opening it up and clarifying it; this suppression through concentration is common to many meditation techniques. During body scans your focus is towards experiencing your body and this increases your sensitivity towards the different sensations within it. Many of these sensations are connected to suppressed emotional pain that you may have been avoiding. When meditating on sensations within your body your mind can become agitated and restless as unpleasant emotional sensations within your body start to open and become clearer. This will then cause the reactions that you describe.

Your task as a meditator is to be gentle with yourself and to allow yourself to feel these different reactions within your body. This means relaxing into what you are experiencing allowing the emotion to move and release. Sometimes your body may even twitch or jolt around as the energy moves and releases. Just relax and allow. Learning the skill of being with and relaxing into your aversion towards what you are experiencing will allow healing to occur. The next three MIDL Mindfulness Trainings 3 - 5/52 will develop your skill in softening any resistance that you are experiencing, allowing you to fully benefit from this body scan.


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Can't Feel All Sensations

Your Question: During this meditation I am not able to experience sensations in all the areas that you ask me too. How do I make these sensations more clear to me?

Stephen Procter: As you move your attention throughout your body it is not necessary to clearly experience sensations within every part of your body. In some places within your body you may very clearly experience different sensations, within other parts it may feel as if there is nothing there. The important part in this training is not the sensations themselves but rather the clarity in which you can know ‘what is present to you’.

By focussing on increasing the accuracy and clarity of your awareness of each point within your body, both mindfulness and concentration will develop. As these two mental factors develop the sensate quality of your body will open to you and you will start to experience sensations in areas that you never did before.

But this opening up to the experience of your body does not come by trying to experience sensations that aren’t present to you but rather from being very clear about what you are experiencing right now.


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Do I Tense and Relax?

Your Question: During this meditation I don't understand fully if I have to tense every part then slowly relax each part of my body or if I have to search for any tension in my body. Can you help me to understand?

Stephen Procter: During MIDL Mindfulness Meditation Training 2/52 we do not tense and release our muscles in order to create relaxation but rather observe and relax our relationship towards any tension that is already present to us.

The ability to experience sensations within our body begins with MIDL Mindfulness Training 1/ 52 which helps us to develop the skill of becoming sensitive to different sensations within our body in a very general way. MIDL Mindfulness Training 2/52 then helps us to develop more accuracy of attention by mindfully turning it towards these sensations.

Again, we are just developing sensitivity towards the sensations that are present; there is no need to try to make anything happen. After experiencing the sensations present within each point of our body we then use a few slow, gentle breaths to soften / relax our relationship towards what we are experiencing.

This relaxation is mental not physical. As we learn the skill of mentally relaxing into the experience of the sensations, any tension within those sensations will also relax. The skill of relaxing into these sensations in each area of your body is the first introduction to the MIDL Softening skill which you will start to develop in MIDL exercise 3/52.


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This Body Scan is Boring

Your Question: When doing this body scan I become really bored.

Stephen Procter: Whenever anything arises in your mindfulness meditation practice it is an opportunity to observe and understand it. What does it mean to be bored, how do you even know that you are bored? What is boredom, where do you experience it?

Are there sensations within your body or mind that reflect the experience of boredom?

When observed boredom is a combination of two mental states: aversion and delusion. Boredom is literally a lack of attention - aversion to what is being experienced now - it is a state of not knowing. The antidote for boredom is Mindfulness, when Mindfulness is present then boredom can not exist.

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Please Explain Attention

Your Question: What do you mean by moving my attention during this meditation? Also I can not always feel the sensations you describe.

Stephen Procter: The word 'attention' is being used as a meditation language to describe three functions of awareness. When I use the word 'attention' it means:
1."The focusing of awareness to one point."
2. "The clarity of awareness of the sensate quality (sensations) at that point."
3. "The movement of the focus of awareness between experiences whether intentional or unintentional."

To get the most out of this exercise focus on:
1. intentionally moving and placing your awareness on one point within your body and holding it there for the desired time.
2. Mentally 'feeling' any sensations at that point.
3. Observing every time your awareness shifts from the chosen point within your body, acknowledge this movement of attention and bringing it back. Your description of experiencing many sensations is a sign that this aspect of your attention is being trained.

Do not be too concerned if you can not feel the breathing or sensations in a particular area, guided meditations need to be generic. Whatever you experience is correct, there is no need to try to experience something that is not yet present to you.


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