Mindfulness: the Importance of Checking In with Your Body

Illustration by: Joanne Liu

Many of us have experienced tremendous changes, loss, and grief over the last few years. Loss of social connection. Loss of a sense of normalcy. Loss of employment. Loss of loved ones.

When we experience change, loss, or grief, we are tempted to ruminate about the past or future. We may dwell on how good life used to be and grieve what we do not have. Or, our thoughts may be consumed by the future: Will I find a job? Can I still retire as planned? It is difficult to thrive if we are not aware of how grief affects us. One way to manage grief is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment, and not judging ourselves. Some people may think mindfulness is just about paying attention to our minds, feelings, and thoughts. But our body actually plays a very important role because it serves as an anchor. While our thoughts often travel to the past or future, our body is always rooted in the here and now. Here are a few things you may try:

1. Mindful breathing

Mindful breathing is different from deep breathing. Deep breathing is breathing from the diaphragm (rather than the chest) so as to relieve anxiety. Mindful breathing is less about stress reduction (though most people find that to be true). It is primarily a way to cultivate awareness of the present moment. Our breath is a neutral anchor on which we place our attention. Whenever our mind wanders somewhere else, we gently but firmly turn our attention back to our breath.

2. Check in with your body

Where am I holding tension in my body today? The three most common places we carry tension are: the chest, gut, and jaw. We grind our teeth in our sleep. We feel tight or heavy when we are stressed. This 3-minute body scan may be a good way to help you reconnect with your body. By scanning and focusing your attention to the different parts of your body, you may notice tension in places that you didn’t know existed before. Good times to check in with your body may include: when you get up from your desk after a long meeting, after a difficult conversation, or before you go to bed.

3. Grounding

When you start feeling overwhelmed or disoriented, grounding can be a helpful tool. Focusing on each of your five senses can be effective in bringing yourself back to the present moment. As you engage with each sense, be slow and deliberate. Notice how different parts of your body feels as you experience each of the senses.

  1. Sight: notice one thing that is in your immediate surrounding
  2. Smell: a candle, food stewing on the stove-top, herbs, or a house plant
  3. Hearing: close your eyes and see if you can differentiate the sounds you hear
  4. Taste: a piece of chocolate, a sip of coffee
  5. Touch: a soft piece of fabric, your comforter, or your pet

4. Repeat a mantra

Grief can feel disorienting as it often signals a loss of control. We may feel helpless in the face of a pandemic. David Brooks describes the struggles many have with an existential feeling of unsafety. Repeating a mantra that is personal or meaningful can orient and anchor you in moments of uncertainty. A mantra can be a word or a short phrase, “Come, Lord Jesus,” “be still,” “love,” or “peace.” Repeated practice allows the mantra to move from the mind to the heart.

5. Move your body

Movement is good because it forces you out of your mind and into your body. You may find walking in solitude particularly helpful to connect with your body during this stay-at-home order. You can do a walking meditation to build awareness of your internal sensations and external surroundings. If you are spiritual or religious, this guide from the Franciscan Order is another option for you to encounter God and pray during a walk. Others have found movements such as gardening or weeding to be helpful.

About the Author

Joey Fung

Joey Fung

Dr. Joey Fung is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary. Her research interests lie in parenting, mindfulness, and culture and child psychopathology. Together with her students and colleagues, she is conducting research on school-based prevention intervention for ethnic minority youths, spirituality and mindfulness, and identifying nontraditional delivery systems of mental health care in international settings.


  1. ANNA on July 1, 2020 at 7:34 pm

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in writing this website. I’m hoping to check out the same high-grade content by you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own site now 😉

  2. GerardDHavey on June 22, 2020 at 6:17 am

    Thanks to get a marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed
    reading it, you happen to be an incredible author.
    I am going to make certain to bookmark your blog and may eventually keep coming back
    in the future. I would like to encourage you continue your great work, have got a nice morning!

    my page: GerardDHavey

  3. LanceJCotman on June 20, 2020 at 5:23 am

    Hi, I log on to your new stuff like every week.
    Your humoristic style is awesome, keep doing
    what you’re doing!

    Here is my webpage; LanceJCotman

  4. g on June 16, 2020 at 3:26 am

    Greetings! I’ve been reading your weblog for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you
    a shout out from New Caney Texas! Just wanted to tell you keep up the great job!

  5. MervinXIhm on June 11, 2020 at 6:46 am

    Your mode of describing everything in this particular part of writing is genuinely good, all be able to simply know it,
    Thanks a lot.

    My web page MervinXIhm

  6. FrancieENavy on June 10, 2020 at 7:46 am

    I got this website from my friend who shared with me concerning this website and at the moment this time I am browsing this web site and reading very informative content here.

  7. 바카라사이트 on June 5, 2020 at 3:17 am

    Very energetic post, I enjoyed that a lot. Will there be a part 2

  8. Tamatha Juan on May 4, 2020 at 5:47 pm

    I’ve been looking for this kind of article is great and let me help someone, how i
    end anxiety and panic attacks here: https://bit.ly/2KYwZ5H

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

* indicates required