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bodily awareness with nursery rhymes



The Buddha described the path to liberation in one sentence: "present moment awareness directed toward the body."


That's it.


In my experience, there are two difficulties here:


(1) we simply forget to direct awareness toward the body


(2) when we try, it quickly becomes boring and/or compulsive, or we get easily distracted


Here's a technique to overcome those difficulties: use songs like "The Hokey Pokey" & "Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes."


Here's how to use the Hokey Pokey:

  • the next time you're feeling outta sorts, bring the Hokey Pokey to mind

  • pick a body part you could Hokey Pokey with: left hand, right knee, head, chest...

  • bring your awareness to that part of the body

  • feel it

  • notice that you're feeling it

  • maintain this awareness for no longer than it takes to sing one verse of Hokey Pokey

  • wait at least 1 minute before repeating with a different body part

Here's how to use Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes:

  • the next time you're feeling outta sorts, bring Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes to mind

  • pick one of those four: head, shoulders, knees, or toes

  • bring your awareness to that part of the body

  • feel it

  • notice that you're feeling it

  • maintain this awareness for no longer than it takes to sing one verse of Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes

  • wait at least 1 minute before repeating with a different body part

I put the limits in place to prevent the activity from becoming compulsive. We benefit more when the activity is undertaken deliberately & mindfully. Doing the activity compulsively can become counterproductive, especially if we start stressing about it. Try to engage the activity freshly each time. Be lighthearted about it. If it's becoming a chore, set it aside for a while, & return only when you feel called.

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