An 8 Week Long Book Review : Week 2 – Mindfulness Starts Here

2013 September 8


I just finished my first week with ‘Mindfulness Starts Here: An Eight Week Guide to Skillful Living‘ and am reacquainting myself with the power of the Body Scan. Dear Reader. I don’t want you to think that’s all I’ve been obsessing with all this time, but in my case, it has been the most profound of all of the practices that I’ve been personally engaging with during my first week of this Mindfulness Based Stress Relief (MBSR) program within the pages of this book.

I have to admit that I was a bit resistant to the body scan and in Chapter Two that I’m currently starting to work with, there is mention to the obstacles that folks encounter in their experience of mindfulness training. My main obstacle has been grief mixed with guilt and silliness (yeah strange mix I know) when doing these body scans as it takes me back to memories of a dear friend and teacher who used the body scan technique as part of a program I helped co-facilitate with him. The attendees in the class LOVED J’s body scan work and found it so soothing however I was focused on being an arsehole. Unintentionally.

You see. During the body scan, J would really give a deep scan. I mean we were scanning tissues, muscles and sinew and well.. he led us to focus our attention on our anus and to loosen it and that did it for me. My infantile giggle mind took over and I was left with my body scanner on the fritz while the rest of my body tried to stifle laughter from the others who were much more adult in their body scan work than me.

So I’m left with this legacy of grief for missing my old friend, guilt at laughing at hearing his voice telling us to relax our ass muscles and shame at being a big doo-doo idiot for laughing at the idea of relaxing my ass muscles to begin with. Body scans are now tinged with that perspective and here’s hoping that after this book and scanning myself for the full eight weeks, I’ll be able to break the tendency to hear a laugh track behind any soothing voice encouraging me to do this kind of guided meditation. Please don’t send me mp3’s punking me with soothing pan flute music only to mention ass muscles.

But I digress. Week two is upon me and yes, more body scanning. This chapter gets into the obstacles behind the practice so it was essential given my, ahem, blockage. Some of my old old friends appear in this chapter too. Lack of time. Doubts about the practice. Oh I know you well.

This chapter titled ‘Meeting the Difficult and Unwanted’ really resonated with the negative self concepts that can emerge about whenΒ  one starts to see the chatter of the monkey mind. It’s amazing how hard we can be when we are engaging in working with our minds. This was a gentle chapter that helped me feel like less of a doofus. Well, a bit less πŸ™‚ I have several lifetimes of doofusness to work through πŸ™‚

One item that stuck with me from this chapter was the mention that the body scan isn’t intended to make one feel better. It’s more about getting in touch with what’s going on and to help bring awareness to our experience. Letting go of the experience of giggling of over a relaxed butt. Letting go of missing a dear friend and teacher. Letting go of feeling like a jerk for laughing about this in the first place.

So this week it’s back to more body scanning and this time with an intention to apply a bit more gentleness to the practice and be with what comes up.


3 Responses
  1. September 8, 2013

    You’re incredible! I will not be able to deliver the Body Scan on Tuesday without cracking up! “Now shifting your attention to your anus, sensing into what is present…” You’ve ruined me, McG!

    I am truly taken by the depth of your inquiry at this stage of the practice. Of course, why would you not be given your practiced waaay pre-dated this little book! Two things in your post remind me of the intent of the practice: first, that the intent is to notice the whole field of experience, the missing, the harsh self-talk, the sensations that accompany all of that.

    The other is to explore how, in my own grief and shame over some unwitting action, I hope that practice will make it go away. What might happen, I ask myself, if I let go of wanting that laugh track to go away? What might happen if I let go, not of missing a dear friend but of all the sensations that emerge including the self-blame.

    Letting go presumes a holding on is happening, a tight grip on something. When I release that grip and open my hand, it sits there and I can see it. And, it can see me. That release is the intent of practice; that is the true letting go.

    Thank you, Dear One. I will try not to interfere with your journey over these weeks. πŸ˜‰

    • Tanya McGinnity permalink*
      September 16, 2013

      Oh much appreciated πŸ™‚ Interfere away!

      My attention has shifted from my anus. I repeat. The grip on my anus has been loosened.

  2. Natalie permalink
    September 9, 2013

    I’m loving these posts so much. Sharing your “arseholeness” is a way to help us all feel more human.

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