Awareness of bodily sensations is another aspect of our experience which we can be aware of. Bodily sensations are whatever we feel in the body, in the present moment. Being aware of bodily sensations grounds us in the body and awareness of our present moment experience. However, we will find out that many sensations are associated with certain thoughts – memories, feelings, emotions and states of mind, in which we can easily be caught up in.
Examples of bodily sensations include;
• Contraction and Expansion
• Different frequencies of vibrations
• Hot and Cold
• Lightness and Heaviness
• Hardness and softness
• Sharp pains
• And all other sensations we perceive within the body
All bodily sensations are vibrations of different frequencies. Bodily sensations are temporary and changing in nature. They have the characteristics of arising, staying for some time and passing. This all happens within our field of awareness.
These bodily sensations may have been triggered by some external or internal stimuli. External stimuli include the senses of hearing, seeing, smelling, touching, and tasting. The external environments contact with the senses, creates a sensation within our body. For example, we would feel the sensation of heat within our bodies if we sat out sunbathing. The vibration of the sun’s heat energy touches our body, this contact creates the vibration/sensation of heat within our bodies, and we then perceive this. Internal stimuli include our thoughts, feelings, emotions and states of mind. We will find our thoughts, feelings, emotions and states of mind are a mix of bodily sensations and mental cognition. Being aware of our bodily sensations, we become aware of its interconnectedness with our mind.
Feelings are a link between the bodily sensations and the mind. Feelings can be associated with our bodily sensations, thoughts, memories, emotions and states of mind. Initially, we are just aware of any sensation as it is and then we perceive an associated feeling, which can be pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. We then label a sensation as unpleasant, pleasant or neutral (neutral being a sensation we don’t pay much attention to). Feelings associated with the bodily sensations then create a movement of thoughts, memories, emotions and states of mind. States of mind, thoughts and emotions may also create sensations within the body. We become aware of the interconnectedness of the different aspects of ourselves.
For example, we may be aware of a sharp penetrating sensation within our body. An unpleasant feeling may arise associated with the bodily sensation. This may create a chain of thoughts that you are experiencing a lot of pain and that you can’t bear it any longer, you may start to fantasize of getting up from your sitting. This creates an unpleasant state of mind. Through identification and reaction to the unpleasant feelings, thoughts and states of mind, we react with aversion and try to suppress such an experience. The more we suppress the experience, the more it will arise with renewed vigour, the more we will suffer with a miserable state of mind, and the more we will react and create a vicious cycle of reaction within us.
As we remain aware of a sensation as a sensation, and gain insight into the impermanent nature of sensations. We become aware of our bodily sensations without identifying and reacting to them with craving (like) and aversion (dislike). The more we remain balanced and aware, the more we become aware of the unconscious cycle of reaction within us and can stop initiating this unconscious process by not feeding it with the energy of identification and reaction.
All bodily sensation arises, stay for some time, and pass within awareness.
All feelings associated with these bodily sensations arise, stay for some time, and pass within awareness.
All thoughts, emotions and states of mind which are associated with these sensations arise, stay for some time and pass within awareness.
Blind identification and reaction arise, stay for some time and pass within awareness.
The whole phenomenon of experience arises, stays for some time and passes within Awareness.
METHODS TO PRACTICE AWARENESS OF BODILY SENSATIONS
In the awareness of breathing meditation, we are aware of the sensations breathing creates in the body. The meditational practices in this section will widen our attention to include all bodily sensations we are aware of within our body. There are different ways in which we can practice being aware of our bodily sensations. Here are a few methods which we may use separately or in conjunction with other awareness meditations;
1. Body scan – Methodically scanning our body with our attention and being aware of any bodily sensations at different area within the body
2. Keeping your attention fixed on one part of the body and observing all sensations which you experience.
3. Moving from awareness of breath to body – here we practice awareness of breathing meditation and then move to awareness of whatever bodily sensation which take hold of our attention. Once the sensation passes, we return to awareness of breathing until some other sensation grabs our attention.
4. Using Noting of body sensations in any of these meditation techniques Awareness of breathing meditation could be used initially to concentrate our attention.
I will be uploading further information on the above meditation techniques with audio guided meditation. I will also share some insights into how these practices can be used during daily life.