Body awareness requires having a sense and understanding of one’s body and mind. It involves being aware of internal physical sensations and being able to integrate this information. This can include sensations such as pain and tightness. As well, it can include sensations such as strength or relaxation.
If someone is feeling pain or anxiety, however, they may not want to be aware of the feelings within their body. As a result, they may disconnect from feeling their body. Yet, at the same time, their bodies are still feeling and sensing things.
In some cases, their bodies can’t seem to stop moving. I often see this in clients who are dealing with anxiety. Their bodies are always moving, even though they may not be aware of it. A foot may be tapping. They may be clenching their fists or impulsively reaching out for a cell phone that isn’t there.
While in other cases, their bodies may be constricted. I often see this in those who are experiencing pain. Their body may appear tense or clenched. Their faces may be grimacing and they just look uncomfortable. The source of their pain may be physical, mental, or emotional. Sometimes the pain is a combination of all of the above.
Mindfulness as a Way to Enhance Body Awareness
Whether a person is experiencing anxiety or pain, mindfulness can help. Mindfulness involves taking a curious, nonjudgmental interest in one’s present moment experience. By practicing mindfulness, one can enhance their body awareness.
This is because mindfulness helps a person to reconnect to their bodies. For example, mindfulness practices can bring one’s awareness to their breath. A prompt for this is to notice the deep inhale and exhale of your breath and to stay with this awareness. Likewise, mindfulness can be encouraged by doing a body scan and taking note of what you feel as you move through the different muscle groups.
Mindfulness is often associated with meditation practices, such as sitting or walking meditations. However, for some people, these mindfulness practices are too difficult. Sitting still might be too much, or maybe the silence is deafening. For whatever reason, they need a different approach to cultivate mindfulness for themselves.
Fortunately, other activities can also serve as a form of mindfulness practice. Music is one of these ways. Since I’ve written in the past on ways that music can serve as a mindfulness practice, I won’t go into detail here about that.
Cultivating Body Awareness Through Music
Instead, I want to highlight a few ways that music can cultivate body awareness. The ability of music to cultivate body awareness is in part due to how music can enhance mindfulness. Yet, that’s not the only reason.
As a sensory experience, music is engaging in a complex way. When we hear a sound, our ears take it in and our brains process the sound. This can cause an emotional response or a mental response. We might get goosebumps or some other physiological sensation from the music.
Because of this, music allows us to use and understand our bodies and feelings in different ways. It can cause us to feel things that we might otherwise refuse to feel. This is because the use of music makes it feel safe and manageable to experience or express. The music is there to support us and we can engage with it as much as we feel comfortable doing in the present moment.
Actively making music requires the use of our bodies. For example, we have to move our arm and hand in space in order to play the drum or to press down on the guitar strings or piano keys. That sensation gets felt in our bodies. We have some level of awareness of how we’re using or moving our bodies.
Likewise, the act of making music may require us to use our bodies in different ways. This can bring up different sensations and awareness about what’s going on inside. For example, singing requires deep breathing and a tall, open, and relaxed posture. Tightness in the jaw or in the neck will affect how your voice sounds. As well, the thoughts or beliefs you have about your voice also affects how your body responds to singing.
Additionally, mindfully listening to music can enhance body awareness. This can be done in a few ways. One is active and involves mindfully moving to music. As you listen, you remain open to moving how your body wants to respond to the music. While doing so, you can take note of how your body feels moving to the music.
Another way to do this is through guided meditations with music. However, there are different kinds of guided meditations out there. Some, like the one I shared last week, focus on empowerment or resilience. With guided meditations to develop body awareness and being in the present moment, the focus should be on those things.
Guided meditations with music work in a twofold way. First, the script provides direct guidance for you to become aware of your body. The music then provides a supportive container for you to simply be in. It can help soothe your nervous system so that you can follow the script.
The following guided meditation invites you to be “right here, right now.” In doing so, you can reconnect to yourself and the present moment. As you listen, allow the music and the words to support you in tapping into how your body feels “right here, right now.” You can listen with your eyes open or closed. Just find a place where you can be comfortable for a few minutes.
Source of the Guided Meditation Script
The script is from the book, “Diving Deeper: 30 Guided Visualization Scripts for Individual and Group Work.” It was written by my friend and music therapist colleague, Stephanie Bolton, MA, MT-BC. She’s a Fellow of the Association for Music and Imagery and practices Guided Imagery in Music (GIM). If you want to experience GIM yourself, she offers telehealth sessions through her practice, Healing Sounds Music Therapy.
Looking to Enhance Your Body Awareness?
Otherwise, if you’re looking to enhance your body awareness through music, be sure to contact me. I offer a free 15-minute phone consultation. With this consultation, we can talk more about your situation and what you need. This will allow me to see how I might be able to help you. You can schedule here.