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  • Thomas Bien

Mindfulness of the Body

How do we actually practice mindfulness?

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The Buddha recommended four major ways to practice mindfulness. The first of these is mindfulness of form—meaning primarily the body.

To practice mindfulness of the body means to keep bringing our attention to what is going on with our body. First of all, we can notice the position the body is in—whether sitting, lying, standing or walking. We can also begin to notice the transitions from one position to another. When we move from sitting to standing, for example, there is a lot going on. We can notice everything about how this transition works including what muscles are involved. From there we can begin to become aware of all the movements of the body: when we reach for something, knowing that we are reaching. When we turn our heads, knowing that we are turning our heads. When we write or type something, noticing all the movements and micromovements involved.

Finally, we can be aware of the body breathing in and breathing out. It helps to do this by attending to the pleasantness of drawing and releasing breath. Attention to our breathing brings body and mind together, unifying and harmonizing our consciousness.

When we are more aware of our bodies, we become more grounded, more in the here and now, less caught in the endless stories and mental elaborations that constitute the essence of what makes life difficult and sorrowful. We focus on enjoying a sense of our embodied presence in a way that deeply promotes our well-being and healing.

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