Archives for posts with tag: body scan

Parents often tell me that their children are “very verbal”. Typically, this means that their child talks a lot. Sometimes, it also means that their child has a creative way with language or that he or she is particularly bright. The children who fit the latter description, also tend to talk more than average.

My first and last negative report card comment was in kindergarten, “talks during rest time.” I am verbal. I talk a lot. I like to think that I have a lot to say. Whether I have a lot to say is debatable, but what I believe is a quite objective truth is that my mind has a lot to think and that a lot of those thoughts are verbal. There’s a lot of talking that goes on in my head. No worries, people! It is my voice that is doing the talking.

There are a lot of advantages to having a busy verbal mind. I have a quick sense of humor. I am good at observing and solving problems. My thoughts are useful in my writing, in my interactions, and in my daily contemplation.

Sometimes, however, I can’t get it to stop. My thoughts are worried and frenetic. They keep me up at night. At other times, they are relentlessly busy conveying boring but mindsucking information. I generally dislike Talk Radio. Talk talk talk. Going nowhere. Taking up space where meaningful existence could occur.

At many times, the most meaningful existence is rest. It’s slowing down. I love the holidays. But the hustle and bustle amid the dark drizzly days of the northern latitudes can be difficult. Tonight will be the longest night of the year. There will be about 8 hours of daylight tomorrow. We have 16 hours of daylight on our longest day. If you tell me it makes no difference, I would guess that you live at the Equator. I get tired when it gets dark. During the holidays, there is a lot to do during the lowest energy time of the year.

You’d think during this time of year since my body slows down that my thoughts would, too. You would be wrong, I’m afraid. Although the Talk Radio in my head does not seem to require much energy to produce, it certainly takes energy from me.

The holidays are not the best time to take on a campaign for changing my habits. But I did just that when I decided to complete a self-directed course on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. The current formal mindfulness meditation is the body scan. The body scan is just that. It’s a guided meditation during which I shift my attention and awareness to different parts of my body. The particular scan I am doing  takes 32 minutes.

An advantage of the body scan, compared to other formal meditations, is that it can be done in bed. My Fitbit has recently confirmed that I am a very restless sleeper. Consequently, I often awake not feeling altogether rested and happy to stay in bed to do the body scan. I’ve been doing the daily body scan practice for over a week now.

At first, my thoughts constantly interrupted the words of the recorded voice on the body scan. This has been such an issue in the past that I decided against doing guided meditation for nearly three years after first giving it a try. It was like an exercise in voices interrupting one another, mine and the voice of the recording. This time, I decided to give this another try.

My young cats, Leeloo and Basie, have added an extra element of challenge. They are energetic and social. They like to use me as a blanket and running path while I am meditating. I also experienced one meditation, using my tablet since my phone was not working. Unfortunately, my tablet was set up to turn itself off every 5 minutes. So, I had to turn it back on every 5 minutes.

I have enough experience with mindfulness meditation to just keep going with my meditation, redirecting myself back to the exercise, even if it is very interrupted. I will obviously try to plan better for the next meditation, if there are factors I can control. If not, I go with it. In the past, I would have stopped meditating because I was frustrated that I was not “doing it right”.

One of the things I love most about mindfulness meditation is that all of my experience is part of the meditation as long as I stick with the process of trying. Sometimes I have a “good” meditation. Sometimes, I have a “bad” meditation. But every meditation is a meditation. Every meditation counts.

I have found over the course of my body scans that my thoughts are slowing down, bit by bit. I still have fits and starts. Sometimes I fall asleep or zone out. But it is a helpful process, a useful one.

Arguing with the Talk Radio in my mind has not been useful in my life. However, listening followed by redirection, has changed the channel.

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I attended a professional workshop last month on mindfulness. There were a number of exercises, one of which was a 30 minute long body scan. Afterward, we discussed our physical sensations as well as the overall experience in a small group. In a body scan, one focuses on and notices one body part at a time, moving to different locations in the body. I shared the observation that when we were instructed to focus on our torso that I found it difficult to shift my attention from the parts of my body that are numb from my mastectomy and reconstruction. One of the women in our group said to me, “I’ve been through that. I had a mastectomy 20 years ago. I thought my life would never be the same. But I don’t even think about it any more.”

I know that she was trying to be encouraging but my first thoughts were, “Wait a minute! You can’t take my cancer away from me!”

I hate that I’ve had breast cancer but I love how I changed my life in reaction to it. I don’t want my life to be the same as it was before. I want to stay mindful and appreciative of the preciousness of life. There’s only one person who could really take that away from me and that person is me.

I’ll keep doing my best to keep myself in line.

 

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