At the end of guiding a body scan meditation, I asked the participants (a group of 10 male parolees) to notice what they feel in their body. Without hesitation, one man (I’ll call him Carl), remarked: “I feel nothing.”
This was the opening I was looking for to create a conversation about the mind/body connection. Me: “Remember if you tell me you feel nothing, that tells me you feel something. Because the work is creating an awareness of feeling something, even if the something is nothing. And if you are present to feeling nothing,then you definitely feel something and that means you are finding the connection between the mind and body. ” Another man (I’ll call him Mike), who in the month he has been in my group has not spoken one word to me suddenly remarked; “That don’t make no sense.” I asked Mike what he thought didn’t make sense which caused the other 9 men in the group to simultaneously comment with their own thoughts.
I interjected: “Guys, let me explain. When I first began guiding yoga to people in recovery I led this same body scan mediation to a recovering heroin addict. At the end of the meditation, he sat up declaring “I didn’t feel nothing.” I asked him to explain what he meant. He said; “i just realize that for the past 10 years I’ve been a heroin addict, this is the first time I’ve noticed that I have no idea what I feel in my own body.” I explained to Mike and the other group members that this man being present for the first time in 10 years to feeling “nothing” opened him up to wanting to experience being present to feelings and sensations in his body. Mike thought about it for a minute, then said; “I got you. For this guy, feeling nothing was the beginning for him to feel something.”
“Yes, that is exactly what I am talking about.”
When we have the ability to settle ourselves enough to actually notice what we feel in our bodies, we begin to understand what it means to be present “in the moment.”