I clearly remember the first time I tried a Body Scan meditation. It was both weird and interesting to focus on various parts of the body…like my toes and seeing if I noticed any sensations. Seriously. I never really paid that much attention to my feet and sensations of tingling or warmth in my toes, however, as I followed the guided instructions it was interesting to feel each area. More so, I noticed a gradual feeling of being calm and relaxed. My body’s overall muscle tension and tightness seemed to lighten. It felt good.

I was so impressed by the end of that practice. I really believed everyone should be doing this! I thought I had found a super-highway to feeling calm, relaxed, and less tense…and then I tried it again. This time, my mind felt like it was on a trampoline and bouncing all over: planning my night; what groceries I needed to buy; thinking about a conversation that happened last week; wondering why my muscles were twitching; wondering why my mind was wandering so much, and so forth. This time I did not feel calm. I considered changing my body position or sitting in a different way, because then I would reach a calm and relaxed state again – like I felt the first time, yet the harder I tried to “make” myself calm, the tenser I felt. And here was my introduction and awareness of holding on to expectations. Hello comparative mind. I expected to feel calm (and let’s be real, I wanted to feel this way again!) because this is what I felt the first time I tried this – and every time I do a Body Scan or meditation, I should feel this way. Well, newsflash friends, not so much.

The intention of mindfulness is not to change your experience but rather to notice what you are experiencing in this moment. Perhaps you will notice and feel a sense of calm and relaxation. Perhaps you will also notice (most likely) that your mind wanders and that your body feels lots of things. This is okay. If you do not feel relaxed, this is okay. If you are not relaxed, then what are you feeling? What sensations are you noticing in your body? What happens when you let go of trying so hard to change your experience? What happens when you loosen your grip and that you SHOULD be feeling a certain way? Letting go of expectations is challenging, yet when we soften our grip we may notice that a gradual shift and softening happens from simply being in the moment.

Becoming aware of my expectations was a new experience. I was holding tight to what I thought I should be feeling and experiencing. I was certain I was doing mindfulness wrong because I did not feel calm or relaxed. I also really wanted to be “good” at practicing (more on this later). It was not wrong per se, rather I was actually noticing a moment when I wanted my experience to be different than it was. Well, hello there being human and experiencing everyday life.

If you are new to meditation and mindfulness practices, give yourself some grace and appreciation if you notice that you do not feel relaxed. Notice when you are holding on to feeling a certain way. This is great information about your comparative mind and expectations. When an experience or situation is not what you thought it would be, how do you meet this? What would it be like to be curious about these expectations rather than critical?

There are two body scans available in the resources including both shorter and longer practices. Feel free to try one of the body scans and share what you noticed.  

Be gentle with yourself. You are not doing it wrong. Perhaps you are noticing that your experience is not be what you wanted it to be – and this is a great starting point. The intention is to notice. Soften your grip and see what happens.

Thanks for being here and I appreciate your presence. Feel free to leave a comment about your experiences. Be well and take good care.