This practice combines mindful breathing, the body scan, and mindfulness of thoughts withmindful self-inquiry. Mindful self-inquiry is an investigation into the nature of one’s own mind and being. That inquiry looks into physical sensations, emotions, and thoughts that may be contributing to stress and anxiety. In your daily life, you may be so busy doing that you feel you have little or no time for self-reflection. Yet this exploration is extremely worthwhile, asFearsoften lie beneath the surface of awareness.
When you practice mindful self inquiry you bring kind awareness and acknowledgment to any stressed or anxious feelings in the body and mind and simply allow them to be. This means staying with those feelings without analyzing, suppressing, or encouraging them. Although this may seem scary in and of itself, realize that when you allow yourself to feel and acknowledge your worries, irritations, painful memories, and other difficult thoughts and emotions, this often helps them dissipate. By going with what’s happening rather than expending energy fighting or turning away from it, you create the opportunity to gain insight into what’s driving your concerns. When you begin to understand the underlying causes of your apprehension, freedom and a sense of spaciousness naturally emerge. In essence, this is a process of learning to trust and stay with feelings of discomfort rather than trying to escape from or analyze them. This often leads to a remarkable shift; time and again your feelings will show you everything you need to know about them—and something you need to know for your own well-being.
To allow you to fully experience this meditation, we recommend that you listen to the audio version. However, you can also simply read the text below. If you choose to do so, read through the entire script first to familiarize yourself with the practice, then do the practice, referring back to the text as needed and pausing briefly after each paragraph. Take about thirty minutes for the practice. You can do this practice in a seated position, standing, or even lying down. Choose a position in which you can be comfortable and alert.
As we begin this practice, let’s take a moment to welcome and congratulate ourselves in being here — that we’re actually taking this time to be present, to go inside, into our own lives.
Let’s take a few moments to feel that we are in the mind and body with amindful check in : Feeling any sensations, any holdings, any tightness in the body as well as feeling into your mood, feeling into our emotions, and just acknowledging whatever’s being felt and letting be. Just feeling how we are with awareness and acknowledging whatever there is to be felt.
Now very gently, withdrawing the awareness from the mindful check-in, let’s bring our attention to the breath: Being mindful of the breath in the abdomen, expanding on an inhalation and falling on an exhalation. Breathing in and breathing out with awareness. Breathing normally and breathing naturally, feeling the rise and fall of the abdomen. This type of mindful breathing can help calm us down when we are feeling anxious, feeling fearful, so just be mindful of the breath coming in and going out — breathing in and out with awareness.
If we find in the silences that our mind has wandered off, compassionately, gently making them note “wandering” and coming back to the breath and the abdomen, breathing in and breathing out with awareness. Slowing our lives down, taking it one inhalation and one exhalation at a time. Breathing in and breathing out with awareness — breathing in and breathing out, moment to moment.
Now gently withdrawing the awareness from breathing, we’ll shift our focus to a body scan.Feeling into this body, into the world of sensations, thoughts, and emotions, and acknowledging whatever is being experienced— just like a meteorologist will objectively report the weather and the outside, we as mindfulness practitioners are like internal meteorologists reporting the weather objectively on the inside. So whatever it is that we’re feeling in the body, in the mind, let’s just acknowledge whatever is being felt and let be.
Let’s bring the focus of our awareness into the soles of each of our feet, getting to feel the heels, bottom of the feet, the toes, the top of the feet, behind into the Achilles tendon, and gently above into the ankles joints, feeling each of the feet up to the ankles with awareness and just acknowledging whatever is felt in the body or potentially in the mind. Feeling into the feet, into the ankles, letting the awareness rise up into each of the lower legs, and to the calves, the shins, and coming up into the knee joints — feeling into the body with awareness.
Now, letting the awareness rise up from the lower legs and knees into the upper legs, into the thighs, our hamstrings, quadriceps, feeling into the upper legs, and feeling its connection up into the hip joints, feeling sensations, the felt sense of the body. Feeling into the thighs, into the hips, and letting be. Letting the awareness come up into the hips, into the pelvic girdle, into the center of the body, feeling the sit bones, the buttocks, genital region — great systems within of elimination, reproduction — feeling into the center of this body with awareness, within the hips and the pelvic girdle. Whatever arises in the body, or perhaps at times even in the mind and emotions, acknowledging and letting be. Letting the awareness rise into the tailbone and then gently coming up into the lower back, up the spine into the middle, eventually into the upper back, feeling sensations in the back with awareness, and letting be.
As we go through this body we may notice from time to time tensions, tightness, achy-ness, and if we can allow any of these areas to soften, by all means, let that happen. It’s also important to know that if we are unable to soften, our practice informs us to let be. Let whatever sensations ripple and resonate wherever they need to go — the same applies even to our thoughts and emotions, letting them be.
Feeling into the back with awareness, letting the awareness begin rise up into each of the shoulders and the shoulder blades. Then gently bringing the awareness down each of the upper arms, into the elbows, into the forearms, the wrists, and the hands, feeling sensations from the shoulders to the fingertips and letting be.