mindful of the body

Time stress is rife in our culture, and is a silent killer, being responsible for some forms of heart disease and other ailments according to some research. Time stress can lead to competitiveness, cynicism, anger and hostility which have been called ‘coronary-prone’ behaviour.

Many clues appear in our bodies which we ignore because we are on auto-pilot and stuck in automaticity. One of the first places to begin to learn mindfulness is to pay attention to our bodies. Our 5 senses operate as a kind of outer rim of awareness of what is outside our body. Daniel J Siegel talks about the sixth sense, which is the ability to be aware of what is going on in our bodies.One of the ways we can do this is to start paying attention to our breath.

The breath belongs to no one, we take it with us wherever we go and it often indicates to us when we are stressed or not. For example I do a simple exercise of counting my in-breath, followed by my out-breath.

‘Inhale one, exhale one…’ and so on up to a count of ten. If I lose count I start again. There are many mindful breathing exercises. Will van der Hart and Rob Waller have one in their book ‘The Worry Book’. The key thing is practice and repitition.

The body and the spirit are good and belong together – it is not ‘body bad – spirit good’. That is bad theology. There is much more to be said about this. But think about those who have given their bodies for you?

As a Christian I believe Christ gave his body for me. My mother housed me in her womb, and fed me from her body. My father has protected me with his body from a drunk. The body and the spirit  belong together in God’s redeeming wholeness.

Listen to your body today and its messages, it might just save your life.

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