Glimpse: Body Language

We all overlook what our bodies need from time to time. Try this body-scan practice from Mindful's February issue to get more grounded and reconnected.

Illustration by Jason Lee

In Mindful we often talk about how when we’re caught up with a drive to achieve it’s more difficult to connect with others, including ourselves. In the February issue, Susan Bauer-Wu, PhD, RN, takes us through a head-to-toe mindfulness practice called the body scan.

Bauer-Wu is director of the Compassionate Care Initiative at the University of Virginia School of Nursing and the author of Leaves Falling Gently: Living Fully with Serious & Life Threatening Illness through Mindfulness, Compassion, & Connectedness. She researches chronic stress, pain, and how mindfulness and compassion can help. When she’s teaching mindfulness, she often sees people get frustrated about where to start and how to feel—unable just to be present in their own bodies.

“People feel like they’re wasting their time because they’re not doing anything,” says Bauer-Wu. “My advice is to begin where you are and just allow the experience to be as simple and uncomplicated as possible.”

That’s what the body scan offers: a practice that emphasizes shifting attention among the various parts of the body—checking in with that vessel we feed, water, and rest. (You know, the one that also enables us to experience the world). It’s a bonus that lying on the floor for 10 or 20 minutes counts as a meditation practice. And it’s another way to “sprinkle in many moments of practice into a day,” says Bauer-Wu. She says the body scan helps her stay even keel amid the “dizziness of what’s happening during the day. My days can be really non-stop and by inserting these moments of getting grounded, of tuning in to my body, of just recognizing how I’m relating to others, it helps me to feel more in control of my day and my circumstances.”

For more than just this Glimpse:

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