Reading the first round of student homework from the University Somatics Course I am co-teaching, was a great example of the multiple positive results from simply being aware of living in a body.
Students chose to practice a body scan meditation, a walking meditation, or a Feldenkrais exercise five days in a row. After a week, student comments included feeling as if they had given their whole body a massage with the mind, noticing less joint cracking while walking, walking taller and lighter, becoming aware of a habit of walking with the head down (smart phone), becoming aware of how many sounds they unconsciously blocked out, linking pain to body use or emotions, gaining some control over mind wandering, feeling more in touch with nature if they practiced outside, feeling an increase in heat and blood flow to injured body areas, and feeling grateful for the opportunity to get in touch with their bodies on a daily basis. It’s worth noting that not every practice session ran smoothly, but they did practice every day — or so they reported ;).
Also a good reminder to me not to complicate experience with theory. There’s so much to light up the mind – from neuroscience to the latest theories of trauma, from a century of Western somatics to 5,00 years of Eastern practices – but the most important element, regardless of modality, is awareness.
The key ingredients seem to be setting aside time to be aware, and then reflecting.