We’ve all gone for a drive or walk and suddenly noticed we’re near our destination but missed have part of the journey because we were off in thought. When we perceive the world, our mind evaluates and interprets what comes in through the senses and overlays raw reality. It can end up hovering over what we experience, without fully connecting with it and possibly missing what’s happening in the moment altogether.
Also, when our attention is distracted in automatic thoughts, we can sometimes even forget that we have a body at all. Unlike our mind, which can wander off in thoughts about the past and future, our body is only ever in the present moment. So, building body awareness is an important foundation of mindfulness as it connects us right into the only time we experience being alive.
In the West, we tend to notice our bodies when we’re ill, feel pain or tension, or occasionally feel the effects of exercise. As consumers, we tend to be more concerned about our body image, how we look from the outside, and much less about what’s going on inside. When you explore how the body works, even in a rudimentary way, it’s amazing how complex and sophisticated it is and how it all works. It’s also something many of us take for granted. For instance, there are some wonderful self-sustaining and inter-connected systems that transfer energy from our environment into our bodies – like the respiratory, circulatory and digestive systems, all working for us without conscious effort. Although you may be grateful for what’s in front of you to eat when was the last time you expressed gratitude for your digestive system?
Then there are the skeletal and muscular systems that provide form and movement, moving our body for us, which our mind tells us “we do”. When you next reach for a cup of coffee, or tea, stand back and appreciate the subtle learned movements, how your hand turns, and fingers automatically grasp the handle. At one level it sounds mundane, but when you look with awareness, you’re experiencing an amazing achievement of evolution.
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