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I have tried similar exercises to this before and I find it quite relaxing. This time, I was cold and had a blanket over me and it took me a minute to get into the meditation – to get settled. I was sometimes unsure if I had been breathing or not as I was so focused on feeling sensations without naming them. I usually have trouble attending to more than one task at a time and found it challenging to breathe while focusing on bodily sensations. I have some areas in my body that are painful right now, but as I focused on them, I found the pain to be milder or undetectable, even though I had anticipated feeling the pain. My mind wandered to how I would use this exercise with clients, and it seemed to take a while for me to notice this and return to the meditation. The exercise seemed to go by rather quickly. With practice noticing sensations without naming, judging, or trying to change them while also checking in on my breathing intermittently could help significantly with concentration while providing opportunity to develop flexibility of attention.
I found it relatively easy to maintain my focus on the object (a smooth stone) at first. I was aware of all of the things that I wouldn’t have ordinarily noticed about it, particularly the temperature and weight. It was so smooth that I brought it to my lips and then I noticed that it was taking on the temperature of my skin whereas it was cooler before I picked it up. Eventually, I became distracted by some work I needed to get done and had a hard time refocusing on the object. This exercise proved particularly grounding for me – almost like “earthing”, and the prompt questions were helpful for me to maintain my focus. I have offered stones like the one I used to clients in my work and this exercise offers a new dimension for using them.
The body scan exercise might be useful for issues such as chronic pain and insomnia. I have used a version of this in my practice in which the client imagines herself as being the size of the statue of liberty with a door in one of the feet that she can visualize entering through. She then moves through her body and finds the areas of discomfort, “fixing” them as she sees fit and then moving on to the next area as needed. I have also used this myself. This version, of course, falls more into the category of visualization with the added component of trying to affect some change in the physiological sensations.
It also reminds me of progressive relaxation exercises but again without the element of changing the physical state. With the other exercise, I think it could be helpful in grounding when a client becomes activated by trauma triggers. As I mentioned previously, I have given clients stones to keep in their pockets for this purpose but with this exercise, I can offer a new dimension of mindfulness practice that might also help them develop their ability to concentrate on the present moment thus potentially reducing anxiety.