I have begun reading ‘Mindfulness in Eight Weeks’ By Michael Chaskalson
This is a practical application book, based of two different mindfulness approaches; Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), both of which are now being used to treat long standing depression.
This week’s practice is the ‘Body Scan’. There are two versions of it in the book. One that takes 35 minutes and ones that takes 15. I have been using the 15 minute meditation for the last four days. The book is very wordy, with lots of background information, which i suppose if you are new to meditation you may find interesting, but i have found myself skipping paragraphs.
You can access Guided Meditation ~ Body Scan online at http://www.mbsr.co.uk/mp31.php. There are two streams, one for the longer version and one for the shorter one. I don’t find guided meditation very useful and often find them annoying and so although i have tried the shorter version, it is just not for me.
In the book it give two starting positions, either sitting on a straight backed chair or laying on the floor, either of which is no good for me, so i have chosen to lay on my bed and my advice would be, that you find a position that you can comfortable maintain for several minutes at a time.
Focus on the Breath
Don’t try to control the breath, allow it to flow in and out naturally, feeling your belly expand with an in breath and then relax with an out breath.
Scanning the Body
The meditation in the book begins with the toes, in fact the big toe on one foot. I find it quite to take my attention from my breathing to my toes and so what i do is take a breath in and with my out breath, allow my breath and my attention travel down my leg until it reaches my foot and then my toes. It can take a few tries to be able to to do this, but i find it works for me.
Slowly make your way up one leg, feeling each toe, part of your foot, leg, knee, thigh and hip. Then take your attention to the other leg and toes and repeat.
Slowly work your breath up your torso, back, ribs, shoulders, then first down one arm and then down the other, until you reach your hands, then feel each hand and then each finger. Repeat to the other side.
Bring your attention back up your neck, chin, face, head (back), ears, crown of your head.
Takes several breaths and allow yourself to feel your whole body. Accept what you feel, even when there are aches and pains, just let them be.
With everything in life, this takes practice and the first time you complete the body scan you not feel anything and that is fine, but in time you may begin to feel sensations within your body. For some it is difficult to stop the body from moving or the mind from from wandering and that is also fine, just bring your thoughts back to your breath and your breath back to the body.
The book recommends that you practice the body scan for the following six days and record, in a journal, how you feel after each practice. Meditation should not be a chore, or hard work, but it does take regular practice. if you have never meditated before, then have a go. If you want to get your practice back on track this may would be a good way to begin.
My intention is to follow the 8 week course and see if it can deepen my own practice and i shall report back how it is going.