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The Body Scan Benefits

The Cause of Suffering: There is suffering when we don’t accept the present moment reality as it is. That is, we want the current situation to be different from what it is. Either we crave for something to hap- pen that is not happening or we want something that is happening to end. These afflictions of cravings and aversions create dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

The Unconscious Mind and Hidden Sensations: The main problem is that many of these afflictions are happening at an unconscious level. In each moment our contact with sensory objects, thoughts, and emotions give rise to sensations in the body. Our unconscious mind is constantly judging these sensations as pleasant or unpleasant. This judgment prompts a habitual reaction favoring the pleasant sensa- tions and avoiding unpleasant sensations. These unconscious reac- tions keep us trapped in habitual reactivity of desiring pleasant experi- ences and avoiding unpleasant ones. By acting on this unconscious reactivity we further reinforce old habits of affliction, which perpetu- ates the cycle of suffering.

Breaking The Cycle: The way to break out of this cycle of suffering is at the point of discerning the body sensations. Instead of uncon- sciously reacting to the body sensations, if we can recognize the body sensation arising in the body and the associated judgments, we can choose to not give into old reactive behaviors of craving and aversion. Such observation with clarity and non reactivity also allows us to see one essential characteristic of any phenomenon, which is imperma- nence. Whatever arises will also dissolve. When we stay long enough with an uncomfortable sensation with equanimity, we will see its changing nature, in intensity, quality, and eventually its dissolution.

Developing A New Faculty: This requires the development of our fac- ulty to discern the subtle sensations arising in the body with equanim- ity. The body scan develops the faculty to discern the subtlest sensa-

tions arising in the body with focus and equanimity. In fact, the activity of body scan, which many people find very boring and frustrating gives many opportunities to people to practice observing the arising sensations associated with unpleasant experiences. And by not giving into the usual patterns of reactivity we are slowly eradicating the roots of suffering. Eventually, the cravings and aversions will stop appearing all-together. But till then we need to practice careful observation with equanimity.


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