Awareness Through the Body - Part 2

By Michael Lisak

There is a question: where in the body should we focus on? In the previous post I wrote about the reasons for diverting attention to the body, let me sum these up:

  • The body is our basic working tool.
  • A behavioral habit is almost always manifested in the body.
  • The body can become a "prison" and this condition manifests itself as physical symptoms.
  • The body enables our most direct encounter with life.
  • The body is an eternal student.

During some of the processes I have gone through with patients, I have seen that most are capable of understanding the importance of paying attention to the body. But one question arises: What part of my body should I pay attention to? My whole body? This would have been nice; however this is not an "all or nothing" situation. Everyone has to pay attention to a different part according to their personal situation.

There are, however, some basic guidelines regarding attention and the body:

  • We focus on parts that are painful: this is obvious, we all pay attention to pain, it gives us no choice, yet, if the pain is still manageable, it may still be possible to "explore" it, to try and notice whether it is short and acute, dim and prolonged, where it begins and where it ends.
  • Another thing is protrusions in the body: scan the body while lying on your back, stopping in protrusions of discomfort: stress, constriction, relaxation. Notice the protrusions without changing them, just letting them be. Sometimes this is enough for something to change.
  • Breathing: is it shallow, short, deep, how far into the body does it reach. Is it constricted to the chest? Does it reach the diaphragm? The lower abdomen? Do the back and shoulders take part in the breathing? Breathing is our most useful tool for diverting attention to the different parts of the body. Breathing will assist us in paying attention to the body as whole and to specific organs as well.
  • Key points in the body: the diaphragm, neck, shoulders and pelvis. Places in which tension or constriction will be easier to spot, being "junctions" in our bodies.

In conclusion, diversion and focusing of attention to the body is an ongoing learning process. If you would like to practice this, it is recommended first to allow proper conditions: not after a heavy meal, not when tired, without constrictive apparel, when the body is comfortable.

Lie on your back, close your eyes and listen to your body. After paying attention to the physical feelings, it is possible to sense more physical phenomena. It is then possible to move on to the next level, the phase where the experiences with the body become interesting: the point where you notice the connection between the physical feelings and atmosphere and emotions. I will attempt to write some other time and elaborate on this.

My insights here are from years of treating people in the Grinberg method.