* Settle in a meditative posture, a posture you can sit as comfortably in for the duration of the meditation
This often means body relaxed and hanging off of an upright and extended spine
* Attempt to feel the physical sensation wherever in the body first pulls you
— Make contact with, encounter, sense, feel, be with, open to, allow the sensation
— Let your awareness deeply sink into the sensations of the area, like water in a sponge
— Get to know the sensations from the inside. Let them become your whole world for a little bit.
* Make a label (either inside your head, most commonly, or out loud, if you are alone and sleepy) where in the body you are attending to as you bring your mind there. Examples of labels would be “left knee”, “right ear”, “face”, “torso front”, “right sole “, “heart”, “whole body”, etc.
* The sensation that you are noticing can be small (just the left pinky fingernail) or large (the whole body). They can be intense or subtle, rapidly vibrating or slowly humming, they can be expanding or contracting, and they can be experienced as painful, pleasant, or neutral. They can be any sort of sensation at all.
* Hold your attention in the spot for a second or two, fully, deeply, richly feeling it. After that, if your attention is drawn to another part of the body, move your attention to that other part; your attention can also stay in the same place, if that’s what it naturally wants to do. With a steady rhythmic pacing, allow awareness to float and roam freely wherever it wants, wherever sensations pull it.
* The rate of change between where you feel sensations may of course be rapid or slow. But, try to not let your verbal labels get too fast – keep them steady and calm. Watch out for “machine gun labeling”, when your labeling moves so fast that it makes you anxious. If you start getting tripped up, intentionally slow down the rate at which your awareness moves from sensation to sensation. It’s OK to let some sensations go, and just pick one to label regularly every few seconds.
* Do not try to change sensations or regulate them
— You are not trying to make anything in particular happen. You are just intimately
noticing what is actually there and happening right now.
— If your sensations disappear, find another sensation. If they stay, just calmly stay
there with them. Just notice them as they are, letting them change or stay as they do.
— Be precisely aware of sensations exactly as they are, but also be openly allowing of them.
Experience their perfection, exactly as they are.
— See if you can enter deeply the primordial world of pure feeling, without thinking.
— Get closer to your sensations. Get to know your sensations, and see if you can discover
something new about them by experiencing them more intimately.
* Try to sink your awareness into the subtle, ever changing vibration of each body sensation as you feel it. Do your best to be aware of the dynamic change through time of the sensation, its constant vibration of expansion and contraction.
* Keep your awareness fluid, relaxed, open, receptive, and alert. Cultivate a pure awareness that is independent of what it is aware of – neither for or against, just deeply aware.
* As you become aware of each body sensation, you may feel a sense of opening, relaxing, enlivening, rejuvenation that your awareness brings. You may feel a sense of the knots, resistances, and dead spots of your body unraveling, flowing, and sprouting in health, vitality, and integrity. Or you may not. Do not visualize this or try to force this to happen – just do your best to open to and allow whatever sensations you find, be with them as they are, pleasant or unpleasant/painful, and some relaxing and unraveling may happen naturally.
* If your mind wanders off into thoughts, plans, memories, sounds, emotions, wondering what you are doing, or anything else that is not a body sensation – as best you are able, gently let go of that other object of mind, and notice where in your body you feel the sensations that go along that experience. If you hear a real-world sound, have an emotion, or think a thought, where does that impact you, inside of your body? Bring your full awareness to that part of the body, and deeply experience what you find there.
Try to let the whole inner and outer universes fall away, except for how they impact you in your body awareness. Think of it as like training a puppy to sit in its box – do not be harsh, just patiently keep picking the puppy/mind up and bringing it back. You may want to briefly label the type of distraction that has come up for you:
— “hear in”, for thinking that is internal conversations, analysis, evaluations, and music stuck in your head
— “hear out”, for words and sounds in the outside world that you hear with your actual ears
— “see in”, for images, pictures, and movies that you see in your thoughts, in your mind’s eye
— “see out”, for actual images that you see in the external world, if your eyes are open
as a way of letting go of it. Then, again, gently bring your awareness back to the body sensation you are working with.
* If you want to try an advanced level practice – try to precisely notice and experience the exact moment that each body sensation disappears, right before your attention is drawn to a new sensation.
From Ken Wilber, in “No Boundary: Eastern And Western Approaches To Personal Growth“:
Begin to explore your bodily feelings. Don’t try to feel anything, don’t force feelings, just let your attention flow through your body and note if any feelings, positive or negativities, is present in the various parts of your body. Note which parts of the body seem alive with feeling, full and strong and vital, and which parts seem dull, heavy, lifeless, dimmer, tight, or painful … notice how often your attention might leave the body and wander into daydreams. Does it strike you as odd how difficult it is to stay in your body?
From Ken Wilber, in “One Taste : The Journals of Ken Wilber“:
Look now at the sensations in your own body. You can be aware of whatever bodily feelings are present – perhaps pressure where you are sitting, perhaps warmth in your tummy, maybe tightness in your neck. But if even these feelings are tight and tense, you can easily be aware of them. These feelings arise in your present awareness, and that awareness is simple, easy, effortless, spontaneous. You simply and effortlessly witness them … You can feel bodily feelings, because you are not those feelings – you are the witness of those feelings. I have feelings, but I am not those feelings.
From Christopher Germer, in “The Mindful Path To Self-Compassion“:
Just be with the physical sensations in your body as they come and go, without choosing to pay attention to any particular one. If it’s a pleasant one, feel it and let it go. If it’s an unpleasant one, also feel it and let it go. Perhaps you feel warmth in your hands, pressure on the seat, tingling in the forehead? Notice those sensations as a mother would gaze at a newborn baby, wondering what it’s feeling. Just notice whatever arises, one sensation after another. Take your time.
From Shinzen Young, in “Introduction To Meditation“:
I’m going to start you out meditating on the aspect of experience, which is the feeling in your body. The way that we are going to note is by labeling the most prominent location, or locations, in your body, as the feelings come up. I’m going to give you an example by making the labels vocal, and I’m going to note for myself :
Right eye … face … hands and face … whole body … left hand … left hand … front of body … left ear … ears and eyes … whole body … left arm … fingers … OK?
That was just where the awareness was floating to. I was not trying to make the awareness go any particular place, neither was I trying to hold it on any particular place, neither was I trying to pull it away from any particular place that it may have been staying in. Just a “hands-off attitude”, letting the awareness go where it wanted, or stay where it wanted. However, I was aware of the prominent patterns. And also there was a certain matter-of-factness, almost an impersonality to it, as in, OK, now this is happening, now this is happening, now this is happening.
From Shinzen Young, in “Sources of Body Sensation“:
Physical sensation can come from:
* The physical impact of your environment (such as the touch or feeling of what you are sitting on, your clothes, the air, jewelry watches and glasses, or another part of your body)
* Ordinary body processes, temporary states of the body, and other internal factors (such as respiration, digestion, muscle twitches, blood circulation, aches and pains, heart beat, itches, full bladder, rumbling stomach, posture, or tiredness/freshness)
* Body sensations triggered in reaction to the other senses on your body (for example, hearing – for example, smiling when hearing a bird chirp, cringing when hearing nails on a blackboard), seeing (for example, the body may feel different with eyes closed as opposed to open – specific visual objects may cause distinct body reactions), smell, or taste)
* Body sensations associated with moods and emotions (for example, anger, love, fear, excitement, amusement, sadness, shame, relaxation, joy, repose, fascination, disgust, or pleasurable concentration)
* A physical reaction to something that you think about (a reaction to internal talk and internal imagery)
* Body sensations from reactions to other body sensations (for example, agitation, fear, or “poor me” sensations may arise in reaction to physical pain)
* Body sensations associated with urges and desires (for example, driven-ness, impatience, compulsion, agitation, curiosity or urges to know, motivation, tempting memories of pleasure, aversive memories of discomfort, or an urge to understand)