The Buddha taught that mindfulness has four foundations. These are mindfulness of body (kayasati), of feelings or sensations (vedanasati), of mind or mental processes (cittasati), and of mental objects or qualities (dhammasati).
Mindfulness training often begins with mindfulness of body. Usually this begins by working with breath during meditation. Eventually there is intimacy with the body, without conceptualizing it -- it's not my body, just body.
But not everybody meditates. Followers of Pure Land and Nichiren Buddhism engage in a focused daily chanting practice instead of silent meditation.. I was thinking today about how to practice mindfulness of body with a chanting practice. Maybe this is something you daily chanters already do, and if so, please tell us how it works for you.
I've spent more of my life singing than chanting, but singing very much lends itself to body mindfulness. Old-school voice teachers will tell you that singing is making music with your whole body, not just your throat. Everything you do with your body, from feet to scalp, affects the sound. So you learn to be mindful of that.
When I first began to sit zazen, I was struck by the similarities between Zen meditation and voice training. Posture and alignment of spine, neck and head are identical. Breathing from the "belly" -- diaphragmatic breathing -- is important to both.
Zen teachers instruct us to rest our consciousness in the hara, a spot about three finger widths below the naval. I once saw a chorus director smack himself in the hara and say, Here! Sing from here!
The singer also learns to pay attention to body sensations, such as a "buzz" in the face bones when a note is pitched forward. Lower notes reverberate in the chest; higher notes in the skull. The tenor singing the soaring, emotional Nessun dorma probably is as focused on his belly and bones as on love for Princess Turandot.
Like singing, Buddhist chanting is something done with whole body and mind. One difference is that while our center-stage tenor is keenly self-conscious, the skillful chanter forgets himself in the chant.
But the larger point is that a great many activities present opportunity for body mindfulness practice.