Healing Awareness of Body and Mind
The following pages include various mindfulness exercises. They have been proven to be effective means that help people to strengthen inner resources for wellbeing and peace. They come from Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and from traditional Buddhist mindfulness practice and meditation.
In our workshops, we』ll give you an introduction to the principles underlying these methods. Very likely, we won』t have time to try out every method that is being described on the following pages. But, once you know the principles, you will be able to explore them for yourself.
All these exercises are quite simple, yet they need to be practised regularly. Only then will they lead to a positive and lasting outcome.
Regular practice of these methods can help you:
· To become familiar with the workings of your mind,
· to be kind to yourself instead of wishing things were different,
· to notice the times when you are at risk of getting caught in negative patterns of thought that lead to downward mood spirals,
· to explore ways of freeing yourself from those patterns and, if you choose, enter a different way of being,
· to appreciate the beauty and pleasures in the world around you,
to live from resourcefulness and well-wishing rather than from anxiety and fear.
HEALING AWARENESS OF THE BODY
Body Scan: Exploring sensations
Experience the sensations in your body. Start by being aware of your toes and then gradually work up your body to your head—always paying close attention to the immediate qualities of your experience: the sense of touch and temperature, flow of energy. (Alternatively, try out to work 『top-down』, i.e. starting with the sensations in the crown of your head and gradually moving down until you come to the toes.)
Move through the sensations in your own pace. If thoughts and inner comments arise, notice and then let go of them, always coming back to the immediate experience.
At the end, finish with five minutes of watching the breath, but keeping your awareness grounded in your physical experience.
Exploring how the breath affects the whole body
Take your awareness through the body (as above) and notice the subtle effect that your breathing has on each part of the body (e.g., legs, feet, even the finger tips).
As an alternative, you may wish to stay with a broad awareness of your whole body and then explore the effects of the breathing.
Let a sensation of ease and wellbeing come to you with each in-breath, and let go of unease and tension with each out-breath. (If you wish you can experiment with images that, for you, represent wellness and relaxation during in- and out-breath.)
Bringing kindness into the awareness of the body
Start the practice by becoming aware of your body (as above). But this time consciously bring an attitude of kind awareness into your experience. This does not mean trying to change your sensations, though. It rather means that you aim to receive all experiences as they are, yet welcome them with a kind openness and receptivity.
Then sit quietly for a few minutes and notice if there is a quality of kindness in your experience.
Experiencing the body with an intention of well-wishing
Start by going through your body (using kind awareness as above), occasionally adding the phrase, 『may I be well』. (Don』t mechanically repeat the phrase, but give yourself time to explore the actual feeling tone connected with the well-wishing.)
After a while, gently allow your good will to radiate into your surroundings, perhaps saying to yourself, 『may my family and friends be well』 (my neighbours, doctors, and people further away).