I recently went to a book release of a zen priest, who shared her point of view on her zen training over the past three years at a dojo, Chozen-ji, in Kalihi Valley. An interesting point she brought up was the concept of mindfulness, yet how she perceived her zen training as being more, “bodyfulness” (which she admitted is a mouthful to say).

She felt that mindfulness has been the focus of many influencers over the last 10 years – for people to be more conscious of their thoughts, whether negative or positive. Mindfulness encourages individuals to recognize when they are triggered and to be consciously aware of their behavior patterns that enforce a response. My interpretation of what she was conveying about bodyfulness is being conscious of your body.  With the repetition in her trainings, it led to becoming aware of her actions and thoughts that come up.

This made me contemplate what the mind body connection is. Hence, I coined the term “body-ness”, which seemed less wordy and focuses on being present with your body. Having been in practice for the past 25 years, I have witnessed how our body gives us all the messages and signals that we need to become aware of what mental and emotional issues we may not be acknowledging. The trick is to check in with your body when any symptom arises that is worrisome or disturbs the quality of your life.

Change is usually the culprit – whether the change is perceived as good or bad. In general, most of us do not like change, even though change is inevitable. Nothing stays the same, just as the changing of the seasons and with each passing day. The importance of embracing body-ness is to give you more confidence in navigating a health issue or challenge that you are presented with.

First create a practice of making body assessments such as:

  • How does your breath feel?
  • Where are the areas of tension and ease in your body?
  • What is your energy level – low or high?
  • Are you craving sweets?
  • Are you drinking adequate amounts of water?
  • Do you find yourself feeling tired even after a supposed good night’s sleep?
  • Are you pushing yourself and drinking more than one cup of coffee a day?
  • Are you finding yourself taking more medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and/or diabetes?

These questions are just a guideline that you can use, and I urge you to create your own practice that is unique to you. What you will gain with body-ness is a stronger connection with your body, and you give yourself a greater chance of being proactive in addressing health issues before they become a bigger issue.

Like mindfulness, body-ness is a choice that you make. You are choosing to be more empowered with your health and overall wellness and quality of life. Know that in order to create and build a trusting relationship with your body, you need patience and dedication, because it will not happen overnight. You may second guess yourself at first and go to a professional or doctor to get their opinion, but all they can give you is their advice, and you still have to choose. The more time you take checking in with your body and listening to its subtle cues, the more you will build and develop your intuition. Developing your intuition is essential, because it is your guiding light when you have conflicting evidence and have to decide what is right for you.

In closing, if you combine body-ness with mindfulness, you greatly enhance your ability to live your life authentically with the power to choose, versus react to situations as they occur. Especially post-Covid, I feel that it’s almost imperative for you to know what feels right for you and to not let fear influence your choices. Trust yourself, and if you are aligned with your body, you have your best ally. Keep checking in with your body and discover your own unique “body language.”


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