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!

Articles

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!

Difficult Emotions

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A MEDITATION TO EASE THE ANXIETY OF CORONAVIRUS 
INSPIRED BY THE COVID-19 POEM
AND THE PEOPLE STAYED HOME BY KITTY O’MEARA

It’s April 2020 and coronavirus has shut down the world. People have lost their lives and livelihoods; and we find ourselves contained to the four walls of our homes in an effort to reduce the spread of a virus that as yet has no cure or vaccine.

I’ve felt a rollercoaster of emotions the past few weeks. A conflicting concoction of relief to have some breathing room from an overcrowded schedule and the panic of uncertainty around work, money, and – toilet paper!

Thankfully, my news feed has been filled with funny memes, inspiring stories, and poems of a higher purpose to the global pandemic.

This particular one was a source of comfort, so thanks, Kitty O’Meara, whoever you are.

INTRO

This is a meditation that might help ease the fear and anxiety of coronavirus; inspired by Kitty O’Meara’s poem And the People Stayed Home. 

First getting yourself nice and comfortable, in a relaxed position where you can be somewhat alert. 

And I’d just like to say; it’s really lovely to be connecting with you at this time; whoever you are.   

CHECKING IN 

This time that you’ve set aside for yourself right now is an opportunity to step away from the news, social media and phone calls with friends; and perhaps for the first time today, just be present with what’s happening. 

So I invite you to check in with yourself by asking the question:  

 In this moment, what is happening? 

What is happening in my mind? This is simple a noticing game. No judgement here. Is it busy, worried, relaxed or something else?   

What is happening in my body? Can you notice any tension, energy, pulsing or pain rising to the surface now that you’ve stopped and become still? 

What is happening in my environment? What sounds can you hear. Is there any interesting about those? What aromas can you smell, what temperatures can you feel in and around your body? 

BREATH 

Of course another way we can be present is to know that we’re breathing. So let’s remind ourselves what it feels like to breathe, by taking some deliberate, mindful breaths.   

And if it feels good for you, wherever you are, you may even like to make these breaths a quite audible sigh.  

Deep full in-breath and an even longer out-breath. 

A couple more times. 

Deep, full in-breath; even longer out-breath.  

And when it feels right, letting the breath return to its regular rhythm. 

MEDITATION 

And as we each grapple with this very new way of life; the uncertainty and how quickly things are changing, I just wanted to note that it’s going to be quite normal and necessary for some processing of your situation to occur within meditation.  

You may find that many of your meditations over the coming weeks and months are spent largely in thought and that those moments of sustained stillness or concentration are a little harder to come by. 

This is totally OK; it doesn’t make these meditations any less worthwhile and nor does it mean you should be forcing extra effort to attain some particular state of mind.   

I think now more than ever, an attitude of kindness and self-care is the intention of our practice. 

COVID-19 POEM

And so with this in mind, I’d like to share with you a poem written by Kitty O’Meara, in response to coronavirus, whose words you may find comforting and helpful.   

It’s called: And the People Stayed Home  

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being and were still. And listened more deeply.

Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows.

And the people began to think differently. And the people healed.

And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

I’ll leave you here with these words and if you wish you can take them into your own meditation. Going with whatever style practice is appropriate for you at this time, with whatever you’re going through. 

Take care.