Body Scan, Gratitude

Feeling meh? This eyes-open meditation and body scan will lift your spirits

Gratitude and an inner body scan that’s more than skin deep.

This eyes-open meditation and body scan is inspired by all the walks out in the neighbourhood while we’ve been isolated at home during coronavirus. Having the simple pleasure of time to notice the little things in and around the streets of where we live and even within our houses.

It reminds me of being a tourist in a brand new country. As soon as we land, our eyes are wide open, looking all around and marvelling at the things that we’ve never seen before. Our camera is out, ready to take a photograph of the most simple things. The welcome sign at the airport! An interesting rooftop, or a collection of colourful plants on a windowsill.

Something about this backyard mushroom is really, quite, magical!

In Stephen Batchelor’s book, After Buddhism, he refers to this concept as the ‘everyday sublime.’

The quality of beginner’s mind – the mind of a traveller exploring new sights – that brings unexpected joy; bliss and a reverence for life, even in our own backyard.

So despite isolation; of not being able to travel very far, we can still take a trip at any time, just like the tourist.

The Tourist

– MEDITATION –

Grab your headphones, settle in and hit listen in browser.

Welcome. Today’s practice helps us notice and appreciate the very things right in front of us.

So, spending a few moments setting yourself up. Getting cosy. In whatever position feels appropriate for you for the kind of day you’re having.

And before you close your eyes, take some time to bring yourself fully into your surroundings.

WHAT CAN YOU SEE?

Glancing around at all the things you can see in your midst… Looking at your environment… like you’re a tourist

What things grab your attention? What things have you never really looked at before in any detail?

Perhaps it’s as ordinary as the weave of the carpet. Or something so basic as the shapes and sharp edges of a remote control. Or some other object that’s right before you.

Just opening your eyes to all the sights like you’ve never been in this place before.

Using the gift of vision to become present and to be open to receiving a glimpse of something quite magical you’ve not ever spotted before. The awe in the ordinary.

EXPERIENCE THE BREATH

So now, if you’d like to do so, you’re welcome to close your eyes.

And make a connection with your breathing however you perceive it best. Taking the inquisitive nature of the tourist to really experience the breath like it’s the first breath.

You might like to place a hand on your tummy… and feel the rise and fall as the oxygen travels in, and the carbon dioxide travels out.

And just like a tourist, taking a snapshot of the in-breath. Maybe at the top.

And a snapshot of the out-breath. Perhaps at the bottom.

scan the BODY

And as you continue to breathe, the next destination on this little itinerary is the body.

And today we’ll explore the body beginning from the outside and travelling in.

FEEL THE SKIN

And so, we’ll start things off with the skin.

Just gently resting your attention on whichever part of the skin is most obvious, or sensitive to you.

Perhaps for you, it’s the hands, or the face, that are exposed to the cool air… or perhaps it’s a place where you can feel a lot of warmth… where the clothes are hugging snuggly against your body.

And breathing into the skin and out through the skin.

Pausing to observe all the different sensations that you can feel on your skin.

DISCOVER THE FLESH

For our next stop, we’ll travel a little deeper. Breathing into the flesh that lies beneath the skin. Inviting an awareness of the tender flesh just underneath. Breathing in and out through this soft layer of the body.

RELAX THE MUSCLES

And breathing more deeply still, going further within, next aware of your muscles… noticing any tightness that your muscles may be experiencing. …And using the breath to ever-so-slightly relax and dissolve this tension.

SCAN THE SPINE

Beyond the muscles lay the bones; like the spine, the ribcage, collar and shoulder bones. Perhaps you’d like to scan the spine… From top, down to bottom, and back up again.

FIND YOUR HEART

And for our final stop the organs. Discovering the kidneys. Lungs. Liver and Heart.

And as we draw to the end of this internal body scan, you might like to place a hand on your heart.

BREATHE IN LIFE

And just breathe. … Breathe life into all the layers of the body, from outside to within. Breathing life into every tiny little cell.

And if you feel like continuing, when you’re ready, transition into your own meditation. Allow the moments unfold … and for thoughts, emotions, and interruptions to be a welcome part of your experience.

Bon, voyage!

Body Scan

Unwind from stress with this grounding body scan meditation

Thinking harder doesn’t solve problems. Creating headspace does.

This working from home bizzo has seen the English language adopt a new phrase: Zoom fatigue. And with a sample size of me, I concur – this sh*t is real! From work and homeschooling to catchups with family and friends, our screentime has ballooned (as has my waistline) and my eyes have never been so stingy and dry.

Zoom fatigue is real! But not with my new glasses.

And that’s just the physical side effects. Without the twice-daily commute and alone time in the car, I’ve definitely noticed, come 5pm, my head is so chock-full with thoughts, tasks and deadlines I can barely string together a sentence.

It’s at this point I realise the alarm bells have been ringing for some time but I’ve only just bothered to look up and see what the fuss is. Oh yeah.

GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD.

But if we’re not in our heads, then where can we be? Here, in our body. Back down on Earth.

Here’s a grounding body scan meditation you can try to relax, unwind and clear that mental mud. xx

Gravity

– MEDITATION –

Grab your headphones, settle in and enjoy.


Hello.

Get yourself set up, nice and comfortable, wherever it is that you are.

MOVEMENT

Perhaps doing some gentle stretches to start things off. Tilting the head from side to side. Feeling the lovely stretch up the sides of the neck. Rolling the shoulders backwards three or four times… and then forwards.

And if it doesn’t feel too odd, try rocking your body; gently swaying from side to side as a way of preparing for stillness.

And if you’re laying down then you might like to move your hands and feet in a circular motion a few times one way and a few times another.

Just feeling into what the body is experiencing with these gentle movements.

And when you’re ready just becoming centred and still, readjusting yourself into your preferred meditation position.

BREATH

So, I invite you to make contact with the breath now.

Taking a deep refreshing inhalation… and a long cleansing exhalation.

Really feeling the chest open up and expand as the oxygen comes into the lungs. And allowing gravity to pull your muscles downward as you expel all the air out of the body.

Repeating that a few more times. Breathing in that energising in-breath. And on the out-breath allowing the body, and the muscles, to sink further and further towards the earth, allowing gravity to do its thing.

BODY SCAN

In times of stress, busyness or anxiety, feeling grounded and supported by the earth can help us relax, unwind and give us the headspace to navigate difficult situations.

And so, with your breathing returned to its natural state, what might be helpful now is to visit each part of the body and consciously invite gravity to connect it down with the earth.

We’ll start with the most obvious place: the feet. For as Thich Nhat Hanh said, it’s the feet that kiss the earth every time we walk.

Allowing the feet to sink into the floor, imagining if you can, or getting a sense that, they are rooted into the earth.

Then, feeling the underside of the thighs and the bottom making contact with your cushion or the chair… Allowing gravity to draw this base towards the earth, creating a sturdy and solid foundation. Feeling supported by the earth.

Moving upward a little to the pelvis and stomach. Allowing these body parts to yield to gravity. Taking a breath and letting the tummy hang loose. Giving permission for everything to relax and soften and be supported by your base. Your foundation.

As you’re sitting here breathing, you may be able to detect the ribs and the chest expanding and contracting. Moving in and out. So, on the exhale, as the chest contracts, let the gravity centre you, and root you further towards the earth. Imagining that out-breath is like a chord travelling downward, plugging into the earth, like a tether.

So, next, we’ll move up to the shoulders and the arms and surrender these to gravity. Letting them hang and drop, very comfortably and loose.

And finally, reaching the head and the neck. Noticing if there’s any tension… in temples, the jaw, the eyes. The neck.

Allowing the shoulders to support the neck and the head.
Allowing the chest and the ribs to support the shoulders and the arms.
Allowing the pelvis and the tummy to support the chest and the ribs.
Allowing the legs, the buttocks and the feet to support the pelvis and the tummy.
And allowing the earth to support your entire body.

Feeling that gravity attract you further down. Down, down, down towards the earth. The earth that is here to support you. And gravity that’s holding you here in place.

CHECK-IN

So, have a little check-in with the breath, once more. Perhaps, for you, it’s flowing a little more freely now. Or maybe it’s not and that’s okay. Whatever your experience, is completely valid. It will be different every time you meditate.

So, for now, I’ll leave you to go on with your own unguided practice and finish up in your own time.

See you next time.

Uncategorized

6 things I’m doing to self-isolate from negative thinking during coronavirus

SOME TIPS ON SURVIVING LOCKDOWN DURING COVID-19

1. Writing a gratitude journal

Okay, so I’m not doing this the old-fashioned way, putting pen to paper inside a padlocked diary or anything. I’m doing it via Instagram and Facebook stories, which for me is way more fun and it also helps me tick off tip number three, below.

I have found this to be really, really helpful. And because I’m publishing mine to social media, it’s keeping me accountable to show up every day and think of at least one thing that’s bought a smile to my face, even for just a moment.

I know I’m in a much better position than so many that have been affected by coronavirus. My family and I all have our health. We have a home. My husband and I have our jobs. We all have each other. I can’t compare any suffering I’ve felt the past few weeks with that of so many others.

But I truly believe this gratitude practice has kept me from turning to the dark side of a spiral of negative thinking. So I’m keeping it going indefinitely.

2. Meditating, obviously

Ha! This goes without saying. But actually, when COVID hit, my meditation practice went AWOL. It was temporarily replaced with obsessive news-watching, social-media checking and phone calls with friends.

Thankfully, my meditation group was able to move online pretty quickly, and now that the dust has settled a little (and toilet paper’s not such a hot commodity), I’ve found my practice is returning and I’m remembering how bloody good it feels.

Here are a 10 meditations that may help ease coronavirus anxiety:

3. Creating more than I consume

This one’s hard. The urge to watch news and check social media can be fierce! But I know how I feel in my body if I’ve consumed too much Instagram or Facebook. I know how it feels to have sat around watching news report after news report.

On the other hand, creating is so much more rewarding. It doesn’t need to be artistic. It can be cooking, making, planning, problem-solving, caring, building, entertaining, practising or inspiring – doing these things yourself instead of watching others do it on YouTube.

My family and I are currently doing what ScoMo said we all should: stay home and do puzzles. This thousand-piece patience tester will hopefully end up the Lion King motif it is meant to.

4. Moving my body

Another thing I’m SO grateful is that my hubby has become the family PT! He’s had us out doing laps of the local oval, riding bikes, walking, shooting hoops and doing circuit training at home. Our very own PE Joe!

My Pilates studio has also recorded these YouTube workouts which is great (and my pelvic floor thanks me.)

5. Connecting with others

Even though we can’t see each other like we used to, how amazing is technology!? It’s not quite the real thing to catch up with friends and family over Zoom, but it’s a pretty decent substitute. We may not be able to have a change of scenery but these FaceTime catch-ups make all the difference.

6. Limiting news coverage

I’ve never been a big consumer of news. Anything important that I need to know has always managed to find me. I’ve probably watched more news in the past few weeks than I have in 12 months. Even so, I’m still limiting my news intake to once per day, and it’s usually via The Project.

I’d love to hear your tips for staying sane during COVID-19. Share your ideas in the comments below!