Posts Tagged ‘Body’

Mindfulness Practice: Body Awareness (or Body) Scan

August 4, 2013

The following guidance is taken from the Afterword written by Dr. Susan Bauer-Wu of A Mindful Nation by Tim Ryan, which is a book that the healthymemory blog highly recommends.

“ Here is a wonderful practice, that helps to ground you and tune you into your body, experiencing as it is right now. You may do this practice sitting in a chair or on the floor, lying down, or standing.

  • Allow yourself to settle into a comfortable position in which you feel supported and relaxed, yet will not lead you to fall asleep.

  • You may close your eyes or keep them slightly open with a soft gaze, not focusing on anything in particular.

  • Rest for a few moments in awareness of the natural rhythm of your breathing.

  • Once your body and mind are settled, bring awareness to your body as a whole. Be aware of your body resting and being supported by the chair, mattress, or floor.

  • Bring awareness to different parts of your body. You may choose to focus on one particular area of the body or scan your body in a sequence like this one: toes, feet (sole, heel, top of foot), through the legs, pelvis, abdomen, lower back, upper back, chest, shoulders, arms down to fingers, shoulders, neck, different parts of the face and head.

  • For each part of the body, linger for a few moments and notice the different sensations, their quality, intensity, and constancy.

  • The moment you notice that your mind has wandered, return your attention to the part of the body you last remember.

Mindfulness Practice: Awareness of Breathing

July 31, 2013

The following guidance is taken from the Afterword written by Dr. Susan Bauer-Wu from A Mindful Nation by Tim Ryan, which is a book that the healthymemory blog highly recommends.

“ Do this practice at a time of the day and location when you’re less likely to have interruptions or feel sleepy. It may mean that you close your office door and turn off your phone and computer in the middle of the work day, or you get up 15 minutes earlier in the morning, or in the evening you go into a separate room in your home and ask your family to not disturb you for a little while.

There is no need to have a particular goal in mind. You’re not trying to feel a certain way, do anything special, or get anything specific out of it. You’re simply being present in yourself by stilling the body, tuning in, and quieting the mind for a few minutes. The breathing practice below presents a practice you can do over and over again whenever you choose, You can find more details in the books mentioned at the beginning of the resource section (In the book by Tim Ryan).

  • Settle into a steady and comfortable sitting posture—in a chair or on a cushion on the floor. The back is relatively straight, but not rigid, allowing the breathing to be open and easy. Hands can be placed on the thighs or resting loosely on the lap. The head and neck are balanced. You may either close your eyes or just lower them in a soft gaze.

  • Bring your awareness to the sensation of your body touching the chair or cushion, your feet touching the floor, the feeling of the air in the room.

  • Gently bring awareness to the breath as it moves in and out.

  • Notice where the breath is most vivid for you. This may be at the nostrils or at the chest as it rises and falls, or maybe right at the belly as you notice the expanding and releasing.

  • You may be aware of the brief pause between the in=breath and the out-breath.

  • Notice the rhythm of your breathing, and be aware of the sensations of the air coming into and filling your body, and then releasing itself and leaving your body.

  • Stay present with the experience of breathing. Just allow yourself to breathe in a natural and comfortable way, riding the waves of in-breath and out-breath.

  • If your attention has wandered off the breath (and it will), gently escort it back to awareness of breathing. Allow thoughts or emotions to arise without pushing them away or holding on to them. Simply observe them with a very light and gentle curiosity. No need to get carried away by them, or to judge or interpret them.

  • That’s it.”

Brain, Mind, and Body

August 7, 2010

This blog post is another in the series inspired by the book, The Scientific American Brave New Brain.1 That book presents a table contrasting the way the brain once was regarded, the way it is presently regarded and some conjectures about what tomorrow might hold. This blog also draws upon a recent book published by National Geographic,2 which will be reviewed in a subsequent post.

According to The Scientific American Brave New Brain, brain, mind, and body are separate. Now this was true quite some time ago. According to the National Geographic book, the ancient Egyptians thought the brain to be worthless, thinking that the heart contained the soul and the mind. Although there seemed to be some dispute regarding this among the ancient Greeks, Hippocrates wrote that “The eyes and ears and tongue and hands and feet do whatsoever the brain determines. It is the brain that is the messenger to the understanding [and] the brain that interprets the understanding.” So it was fairly long ago that it was believed that the brain and the body were linked.

Apparently, it was not until Descartes came along that the mind was addressed. His famous cogito ergo sum, I think therefore I am, made the mind central. External reality was not known directly but rather was interpreted in the mind. Good science, as well as successful negotiations with and in the environment are dependent upon our internal reality being in some correspondence with external reality. There still is some question as to what is meant by mind. Is it consciousness? What role does it play. Some might contend that consciousness is epiphenomenal, that it is like a movie playing in our head for our own entertainment. They would argue that the brain determines our decisions and behavior and that consciousness has no role. This is a rather extreme view that will be addressed in later posts. Brave New Brain contends that the current belief that brain, mind and body are intertwined and inseparable. That, indeed, is the current consensus.

Brave New Brain offers the conjecture that tomorrow brain, mind, and body are enhanced by machines and computers. Here a little thought might give rise to the question, “are not our brains and bodies already enhanced by machines and computers?” There are already seemingly countless machines aiding our bodies, and computers aiding our minds seem to be omnipresent. I believe that Brave New Brain is offering the conjecture of sci-fi type interventions of machines and computers along the lines of Kurzweil’s singularity.3 Kurzweil believes that in the near future technology will advance to the point where silicon chips will replace neurons, that we shall transcend biology and become effectively immortal. Kurzweil himself has change his lifestyle and diet to extend his life to the point where technology will be ready to take over before he dies.

It should be noted that an enormous leap is involved here. We have the conscious experience of our own senses and minds. And we can look at electronic recordings of our minds and senses and view brain images of our mind and senses. Nevertheless, we have no understanding of how this occurs other than to say our consciousness is an emergent phenomenon. Whether consciousness will emerge from silicon is a very large question indeed.

1Horstman, J. (2010). San Francisco” Jossey-Bass.

2Sweeney, M.S. (2010). Brain The Complete Mind: How It Develops, How It Works, and How to Keep It Sharp.

3Kurzweil, R. (2006). The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology.

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