Learning to Sense the Body without the Mind

I would like to dedicate this section to Martina Hughes of Tantric Blossoming. She has taught me how to stay present with my feelings and my body and that has been such a crucial step in my own healing journey.

To explain this step, I will take a very simple example to illustrate my point and then we will apply it to our situation.

Imagine that you are feeling cold. It’s windy, you are outside and even though you are wearing warm layers, you still feel the chill inside your bones. Do you remember the stream of thoughts that occur? they go something like…

  • Oh man! its freaking cold
  • I hate this weather
  • Why am I feeling so cold?
  • Only if I could get home
  • I want to be in my bed
  • I don’t want to be outside
  • I should move to a warmer place
  • Why is winter so cold?
  • Can the wind just go away?
  • and on and on….

Your brain just wouldn’t stop. It will keep thinking and re-thinking in ways that it could make you feel better and safe. This is its job.

If you stop listening to these thoughts for a minute and focus on the sensations in your body – you may notice these:

  • Cold fingers and toes
  • Numbness
  • Contracted muscles
  • Feeling cold or maybe hungry

The feelings don’t have a story attached to them.

When you listen to your brain’s incessant stories, they may make you feel worse as you get frustrated that you can’t get out of feeling cold. When you focus on the sensations, you just focus on the sensations.

When extreme emotions occur, the key is to stay with the sensation.

If you can do that, you will make it easier on yourself because you will not be taken by the stories of your brain. But of course, if extreme emotion occur, it may be very hard to stay with the sensation so we need to practice. If we can teach ourselves to stay with the feelings and sensations, it is more likely that we stay there in the extreme situations as well.

So here is the practice:

  1. Sit in a comfortable spot and in a way where your arms can reach any part of your body.
  2. Silence is good but if you wanted to, you can play some nice relaxing music; you can be outdoors or indoors; just somewhere where you feel comfortable and cosy.
  3. Take a few deep breaths.
  4. Start placing your hands on various parts of your body and feel the sensation. You can start from the top and go down or you can start from the soles of your feet and move up.
  5. Name that sensation. Is it cold, warm, numb, tight, open, nauseous, contracted, relaxed, nothing? Whatever it may be, just feel it and name it.
  6. Place your hands on as many places as you can: soles of the feet; top of the feet; calves; shins; knees, thighs; buttocks; pelvic area; genitals; stomach; lower back; upper back; neck; chest; breasts (if you have them); arms; elbows; hands; fingers; face; cheeks; forehead; back of the head; front of the head; crown of the head.
  7. It may take you about 15-20 minutes depending upon how you go.

Initially, you may not feel anything. Don’t worry, its perfectly normal to not feel anything. If you are not used to connecting with your body sensations, it will take you some time to get going. But once you do, your progress will accelerate 🙂

Do this as much as you desire. Every day is really good coz it will really help your brain re-train itself and when extreme feelings come up for you, it will be very natural for you to stay with the feelings.