Sensing the Body (Teaching Mindfulness to Youth Pt. 3)
February 1, 2010
Adolescence is a time of constant, drastic physical changes. It is common for pubescent youth to feel overwhelmed and confused about their transforming bodies. Mindfulness practices offer youth the opportunity to relate with their bodies in ways that can increase awareness and promote positive body image.
The following technique asks youth to consciously observe and feel the sensations in their bodies.
Step One: Lay down in a comfortable, symmetrical position. Close the eyes gently or gaze at one spot. Spend a few minutes relaxing the body from toes to head. Become aware of the inhalation and exhalation, slowly deepening each breath.
Step Two: As the body and mind begin to settle, observe the sensations in the body. At first it may be difficult to focus the mind on the body. If the mind wander, gently guide it back to the body using the inhale. Notice the feelings on the surfaces of the body. As you notice a sensation, mentally note it. For example, if you feel an itch, note “itch” in your thoughts. Then, continue to scan the body and notice other sensations.
Step Three: Move your awareness to the internal body now. Sense the pulsation of the heartbeat. Continue to make mental notes of the sensation. Explore the sensations in the belly region, back and head. Observe and make mental notes for 4-6 minutes to start.
Step Four: Bring the attention back to the breath. Follow the inhale and exhale for 10 cycles. Feel the floor supporting the body and the space all around. Slowly open the eyes, bringing the attention into the surrounding room.
After this exercise, let students share their observations with a partner or journal about their experience. Remind students that it is not necessary to judge the sensations of the body, that simply being with the feelings is the goal.
*image by visionary artist and yogi, Alex Grey.)