Sitting on my seat, flying back from Athens to London. Comfortable. Consciously alert. Eyes close. Breathe. I-i-in. Expansion. Coolness. A wave of air flowing inside. O-u-ut. A tension on the shoulders. Some background noise. Now a thought: "Will I document this experience well? Will it be interesting?"
[A bodyscan meditation typically is about bringing attention to the head or the toes and steadily moving the attention along the body. While it may sound quite bland and purposeless it’s quite a colourful experience. It may bring about greater sensitivity, often to parts neglected such as the forehead, and awareness of how emotional states manifest themselves on the body. It is also an interesting play with the mind and the flow of thoughts. This is a live documentation of a bodyscan. Perhaps it can give a taste to someone wondering what it’s about.]
...Now a thought: "Will I document this experience well? Will it be interesting?" Leave it. Back to the body. Mild tension around the abdomen. The awareness bringing with it a self-consciousness: what is this abdomen doing? Somehow this attention inhibits the natural flow in the movement, like a shy singer suddenly having eyes on him.
Ok let’s move to the body scan. A few seconds of letting go and let’s start. Good bye breath. Background noise: a crackle – sounds like a crisp packet. A mild movement of some muscles under the eyes. A dispersion, spreading through the body, a defocusing, widening out from the breath outwards, opening, enfolding the whole. Stillness. No breath. Nothing.
A zoom to the left big toe: it’s in the spotlight. Subtle tingling. I wonder, is it real or a design of my imagination? What does ‘real’ mean? That the cells in the toe are exhibiting a particular reaction when observed, as opposed to that sensation being just a construction in my mind? Ok, I’m off in my thoughts. Go back to the toe. An image appears: the toe slightly bent on its knuckle, snugly blanketed by a black woollen sock, the fibres in contact with the skin, yet their touch unnoticeable. A wave of snugness flows out, up the body and through the head. The face has softened, it is wearing a smile.
Now awareness is on the place where the toe is in contact with the next one. And the next one. Moving along them all. Difficult to identify the fourth one. I wonder why.
A desire to wriggle the toes. I refrain. Aware now of the presence of the shoe: the firmness of the sole is particularly prominent, as is the shape around the little toe, a rather confined space manoeuvring it to fold under its neighbour.
Onwards to the rest of the foot: the ankle the heel and now up the shin and calf. The frontier of attention moving up, while on the places it has touched awareness remains. The tingling of places newly brought to attention, particularly prominent in the calf, more so than the shin. Is there something physiological to it? More sensors in muscles than bones perhaps? Or just a figment of my imagination? Ok we’re off thinking again – back to the body scan.
The knee joint, quite refined and delicate. A thought of the knee jerk reflex triggers a tickling in the funny bone. Appreciation of the ‘kneepit’, sitting smugly under the joints, ligaments, cartilage and all the machinery of the joint.
Up the thigh muscle, a subtle yet noticeable degree of relaxation permeating. Rest at the hip joint. The spotlight is now going to be shifted to the right toe. Interesting how there’s so much more aliveness in the left leg than the right as if one is awake and the other asleep.
Rather strong sensation on the right toe, a blend of tingling and numbness. Perhaps because the awareness mechanism has been up and running. It is now easier to wave along all the toes. The tingling, alert, numbness spreading, awakening the sensations of places it brushes over. The contact between toes, a bit of a squeeze as they find their place in the shoe. The arch of the foot hovering over the shoe sole and at its peak hovering over the sock without contact: interesting. Attention now moving along the ankle, up the leg, waking them up.
And we’re off to the torso. Here’s where the body comes alive. The motions of the breath reaching the belly before dissipating down the hips. The trousers belt exerting more pressure across the waist on the in-breath, some of the skin and fat rolling over it. The stomach, with its own signature sensation, where gurgling and queeziness are composed: now it’s resting in contentment.
Up the chest and the breathing motion is more prominent. After so much qi-gung and breathing exercises my natural breathing is still from the chest. I wonder if it will ever shift to the belly. The chest certainly feels natural though.
We are now over the heart. No beat can be felt though. Surprising. Perhaps if I focus more. A few breaths. Focus. Nothing. Accept, move on.
The trapezoids are awake. Very suddenly, as soon as the finger of awareness touches them. Tension on both sides. Not more than before, not that they squeezed or tensed. No, it has always been there. It’s so prominent how did I only just notice? A charge, like electricity, from one trapezoid to the other. And now that I’m aware I can’t let go. Acknowledge. Accept.
Awareness moving down the arms, both of them together. Warmness spreading through the shoulders. Relaxation down the arms, gentle tingling of the fingers. A desire to move them, a curiosity about the myriad of shapes and movements they can create. And the fingertips, so conscious, so aware, such great communicators.
Back up the shoulders and to the neck. Here is where the breath is felt the most, particularly the whoosh of the inhale. The very slightest gulping motion, or other tension, or relaxation, changing the shape of the wind pipe. Breathe. I-i-in. O-u-ut. I-in. O-ut. Appreciation.
Up to the base of the head. Attention of the back brings a prominent, somewhat pleasant pressure through the head, emerging at the eye sockets. A recollection comes to mind of a yoga exercise of imagining a smile at the back of the brain: an “inner smile”. It is now being imagined: a cartoon-like line from one ear to the other. A smile of contentment.
Softening across the eyes. A feeling of muscles below them drooping, a release of tension held unnoticed. What a beautiful feeling, brought on by the thought of the ‘inner smile’!
But let’s not get distracted. Go back to the body scan. Along the nose. Hello air. Hello again breath. The In more prominent than the Out. I wonder why? No wondering. Back to the nose. Sensation from the tip, along the nostrils and down. A coolness, losing its acuteness by the time the air reaches the throat. Struggling to articulate the sensation. A memory of an overly clear nose following too many nose-drops arises, in form of image and feeling. My experience is a milder version of this.
Now the mouth: upper and lower jaws in contact, the teeth pressing against each other. Why are they clenching? Now they’ve let go. A release of the jaw.
Awareness now widening, taking the whole head, the whole body. Everything. Soft gentle waves flowing through, sometimes reflecting back, sometimes dissipating. A nice ending. Will endulge in a few breaths before opening the eyes.