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Keeping the Mind in the Body

This is a bit of an extension on my recent blog post about Staying Present but I feel it might be helpful information and of some value to some.

Recently I've been trying to practise this more and more and that is bringing my conscious concentration or focus into my body as often as I can. This is an age old practise related to meditation and other schools of thought like yoga, tai, qi gong etc.

A lot of the time in our waking lives our focus is centered around the head/mind/brain area. Whether it's thinking, reading of focusing on what's going on around us, our energy or activity is raised up.

Unfortunately this is a very common and easy way to be as we're so absorbed in the consumption of information including news, entertainment and social media that we forget how important it is to draw this activity downward into the body and to feel what's happening inside of it. Indeed, the more time we spend in our minds, the more challenging it can be to bring ourselves downward into the body.

There are of course many activities that bring this energy into our physicality such as running, swimming, surfing, sports in general and other things that bring us into the moment or into a state of flow. This is a great way to clear the mind and facilitate the dispersion of activity and energy around the body however this can also be done consciously without the need for physical exertion. Not that we should do less physical activity, on the contrary it is something that we need more of in our society with rising levels of obesity and health conditions. But bringing conscious attention into the body whilst performing normal day to day tasks such as making a cup of tea, doing the washing, answering emails and even engaging in entertainment can be very beneficial in the long term.

The trick to this practise is first trying to become aware of how our bodies feel. For example, as there are many nerve receptors in our hands, you can concentrate on your hand and notice the fuzzy and electrical impulses and feelings that that are your nerves waiting to receive input from the outside world which are sent directly to your brain to interpret. What has happened when doing this small practise is your concentration has moved from predominantly thinking about something, to feeling the quality of sensations in your hand. In this respect you've moved your attention and focus into your body, that being your hand.

This is the first step! Noticing the difference of feeling when concentrating on a body part such as a hand or foot, and how it feels in your head/brain when thinking about something that happened yesterday or what you need to do tomorrow is a great starting point to becoming aware of where your focus/attention is being held. Over time the difference becomes more noticeable and it gives you the opportunity to either be fully in your mind, or to bring your attention down into you body.

It can be challenging to start this focusing of attention, and like anything it take practise to improve. However becoming adept at knowing where your attention and concentration are gives you the ability to stay present more often, and it can help us to get better at dealing with emotions as emotions are very much felt in the body. Over time we can understand how and why emotions are triggered by being aware of our bodies and feeling where an emotion arises when it does e.g. in the chest or gut.

As we're trying to draw energy downwards and away from the mind, it is helpful to focus concentration on lower parts of the body such as below the navel or on the feet. The area below the navel is very important in energetic medicines such as Chinese Medicine where lies the water element and the root of our being. If our root is weak, we tend to be more in our mind, restless and over active. Getting this area balanced will help strengthen our root and help us to find peace within.

It is important to never feel tense or strained when doing this practise. When trying to focus on e.g. below the navel, the mind can have a tendency to strain and tighten as it tries to feel this area. Notice this and try to relax your mind, this shouldn't be a process of tension. Concentration is best when it comes from a relaxed state.

Acupuncture is one of those therapies that helps to facilitate the harmony between upper and lower parts of the body and in this way if there is too much activity above, it can help to draw it down and improve overall balance of the body systems. If you're having trouble with anxiety, overthinking, worry, headaches, sleep problems and more, get in touch with an acupuncturist to help correct the internal flow of your body/mind.

Harry is a fully qualified and licensed acupuncturist working from three clinics based in East Grinstead and Croydon. The Ohara Sanctuary in East Grinstead, ICOM in East Grinstead and Wellness Centre in Croydon. Visit my website for more information - Elemental Acupuncture

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