“Nothing first comes into the body as a thought. Nothing comes into the body as a feeling. Everything comes into the body as a sensation” -Laurie Leitch, Phd It can be helpful to begin our practice in mindfulness by first noticing the sensations of the body, both because our sense perceptions are always available and because they are fundamentally non-conceptual, that is, they are a direct experience. We may label these sensations afterwards with terms like “warm, tingly, hunger, soreness”. This can be helpful in acknowledging these sensations. A gentle way of saying, “I see you”. Nevertheless, the experience of our bodily sensations are bigger than the confines of concept. They are directly knowable, precise, non-conceptual, and even pre-verbal.
We can try a short practice. The invitation here is to place both feet on the ground if possible. Beginning to notice the pressure of the feet against the ground; feeling the sensation of the bottoms of your feet. Then perhaps if you’re sitting, noticing the sensations of the body in contact with the seat. Seeing if any part of the body feels particularly alive right now. Now feeling the air against the skin. You could then label if you wish. Is the air cool on the skin? Warm? Humid? Can you be with the sensation as it is before labeling? This practice can help us relate to the direct experience of sensations in the body. We could continue feeling into different parts of the body as best we can, or even flash on this sense of feeling into the body as a whole. This ability for us to feel into the body is called interoception and is an integral part of self regulation, for both us as teachers and for our students as well. Feeling into the body can help us recognize our deeper emotional needs in a given situation, and can help us respond more appropriately as we’re more in tune with our experience as it is arising. Tracking bodily sensations can also deepen our understanding of how we are relating to others, and our subtle reactions to them. It has the power to short circuit our tendency to be wound up in thinking, and not present with the person we are with. Thoughts will arise of course, but we are able to see them as thoughts that are arising and not the totality of our experience. Rather than being caught up in what we are about to say we can tune in and listen more deeply, and better respond relative to what is arising.
Our aspiration as educators is to be full-heartedly open and tuned in to our students needs; to be a nurturing component of their lives. How beneficial then to be embodied, receptive and present in this way.
How do we apply this in our music classroom?
Please feel encouraged to comment on how we can apply this foundation into the classroom settings. An example: