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The Body Scan: Mindful Body Awareness

Author: Anna Frinzi

Being mindful in today’s society of busyness, non-stop errands, high pressure careers, family/work priorities, social media, and Netflix binging (to name a few) can seem nearly impossible. Who has the time to meditate or be mindful when we have so many other tasks to complete? The words “mindfulness” and “meditation” are increasing in popularity as we recognize the need to take a moment to be more aware of our activities and slow the pace down. Contrary to popular belief, mindfulness does not require sitting perfectly still on a blanket with candles. Rather, it can be incorporated into everyday life while moving and being active throughout the day. Even if you are running around, taking a walk, or completing those monotonous tasks of your routine–you can still be mindful! Being mindful is simply being aware and conscious of the present moment. We will focus on one specific part of mindfulness, which originates from a Buddhist text, Kayagata-sati Sutta, which is known as Mindfulness Immersed in the Body (Kayagata-sati Sutta).

We #NoomNerds will let you in on a little secret: mindfulness can be practiced with any type of movement! The Kayagata-sati Sutta text states that “mindfulness immersed in the body, when developed and pursued…is to be of great fruit and great benefit”.

A simple way to work on connecting with the physical being is a body scan, which is a technique that focuses on different parts of your body and changes your attention from body part to body part until you have gone through your entire physical body. This helps to bring your awareness and attention to the physical sensations inside of you. Noom offers their own body scan meditation to work on honing this mindfulness in your body. Ask your goal specialist about this meditation today!

Along with the body scan, there are some additional ways to progress mindfulness in the body, as provided by the Buddhist text. Here are four simple steps to try: 

1. Be aware of your body: While sitting, standing, walking, lying down, or any other position, stay attuned to how your posture changes throughout the day.

2. Stay present in activities engaging your body: When eating, drinking, chewing, waking up, talking, gardening, washing dishes, or completing any other tasks throughout the day, stay mindful and be aware of every tiny motion your body makes. Try moving in slow motion while completing a mundane task such as cleaning the toilet, showering, brushing your teeth and be aware of each movement.

3. Reflect on each body part: This goes along with the body scan where you become aware of each part of your body, part by part. The Buddhist text includes 31 parts of the body, with the 32nd added at the end, the brain. Arguably, the most important piece!

4. Incorporate the 4 elements: According to the Buddhist text, Earth, Water, Fire, and Wind are the four basic parts of the world. Relating this to the body, earth is the solidity of our body, such as the framework of our bones and muscles. Water is the fluid and movement of liquids in us such as blood and saliva. Fire is the heated part of us, which involves our temperature and digestion. Finally, wind includes the movement of oxygen in our lunges and motion inside of us. Applying this concept to life, it is essential to be in tune of the elements around us, so that your own emotions/thoughts do not rule your mind or life. Think about how you affect the world and how your body’s elements work together to create you.

You may be thinking that some of these ideas seem a bit wonky or odd, but developing mindfulness in your body is all about discovering what feels right for you.  Scientific research has discovered that the more we focus our attention to bodily sensations, the more we activate growth in the brain and specific neural firing patterns. Even just a few short moments of mindfulness each day can create incredible benefits. Choose one or two ideas that resonate with you and add them into your daily routine!