MINDFULNESS OF THE BODY
Mindfulness of the body is important, because the body is the house of the soul. Anyone who meditates regularly will tell you that meditation becomes much, much harder if we’re ill or in pain, as it triples the number of distractions we normally face.
For this reason, it is essential to cultivate a relaxed awareness of your body at all times. So often, we wear our body like a cheap suit, ignoring the pain we put it through, and treating it badly. As a massage therapist, I regularly treat people who have chronic muscular tension and inflexibility in certain parts of their body, through moving their body incorrectly, or attachment to lazy postures.
The best way to prevent this sort of pain is to adopt an awareness of how to use and move your body, so that such things never occur.
Let’s start by looking at the way we walk and stand.
When stood upright, do you have a tendency to slouch forwards, or hunch your shoulder? It is advisable to avoid this, as, besides causing muscular tension in our shoulders and neck, it also compresses our chest muscles, reducing our capacity to breath easily and deeply. Rather, our shoulders should be broad, rounded, yet relaxed, causing our chest to inflate.
One good way to reverse this is ‘The Emperor’s Walk’ in which we walk with our hands clasped behind our back, like Prince Charles. This effortless stance bring our shoulders blades together, broadens our chest, and straightens our posture and spine. It’ll also make you feel pretty important and wistful!
One word of advice from Tai Chi masters is that ‘Raising our head raises our spirits.’ Many of us walk around with our gazes lowered, looking at the floor. But when we keep our head and neck upright, and gaze directly before us, not only does it correct out posture, but it helps us to feel more aware, alert, confident, and strong. How can you be truly mindful of yourself and your surroundings if you’re looking at the ground all the time? Raise your head, confront reality, and you’ll feel much better!
In general, when it comes to walking and moving, so long as you remain upright, yet relaxed, you will be in much greater harmony with your body and the world around you.