Updated: Aug 15, 2022
Mindfulness of the Body
It is possible to be mindful of anything. There is nothing in this world of mental and material phenomena that is inherently outside of the sphere of mindfulness. In our Vipassana meditation practice we bring non-judgmental awareness to all aspects of body and mind. This leads to understanding ourselves and our world in general and, specifically, how suffering is created and let go of. We can come to this understanding by being aware of anything and how we are relating to it. Yet, there is one object that can be particularly helpful to be aware of, both when doing the formal practice and when going about our daily lives. This object is nothing other than our own body.
Many things that we can be aware of are present sometimes and at other times are not. This is not true of the body. The body is always present and is always available to be known (felt). This makes the body a unique and wonderful object of awareness. Mindfulness of the body means remembering to keep the body in mind, which means remembering to feel the body. Because the body is always present and because we are always inhabiting our body, it is a great place to bring our awareness to during our everyday lives. We are always using the body: walking, standing, sitting down, moving in this way and that. The question for us is, can we remember to be aware of (feel) our bodies when it’s doing all of these things?
There are many practices and benefits of using the body as a meditation object. Those will wait to be discussed at another time. For now, we begin by understanding that the body is an omnipresent object that we can be aware of. Our society acculturates us to be up in our heads, paying more attention to the intellect. Our bodies are pretty much left out of the picture. So, many of us come to this practice in a pretty disembodied state. It can take time to begin to be able to feel our bodies again. If we keep up with it though, the momentum of body awareness grows, and inhabiting our bodies begins to feel like being home. The Buddha taught mindfulness of the body as the first object to be mindful of. He did that for a reason. The reason is that we want body awareness to be the foundation of our practice.