Lesson 9 – Sensing Your Body

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One of my favorite mediations is a full-body scan where I systematically focus my attention on each area of my body, starting from my toes and continuing all the way to the crown of my head. When I first started doing this meditation, I was underwhelmed. If you’ve been following this series, patience has never been my strongpoint. The only part of my body I could actually feel, in a “distinguished” way, were my calves, which seemed to have a few twitches each time I did this particular meditation. Of course, I clung onto those twitches with thoughts of diagnosing myself with restless leg syndrome, to thoughts of when I actually went to the gym daily and spent a considerable amount of time pushing up from the balls of my feet to exercise my calves. The point is that there’s a difference between traditional exercise and simply sensing your body.

My favorite meditations now are the ones that allow me to focus on parts of my body. I actually wiggle my toes and thank them for keeping me balanced when I walk. I also visualize my skeleton and become curious about how this part is connected to that part. This is then followed up with an anatomy Google search post-mediation. Once you start to “sense” your body and really focus on different parts of it for 5 minutes every day, you will be amazed at how interested (and grateful) you’ll become — and how proactively protective you become of it.

Thinking about the body as a set of cooperative, working parts makes self-care very personal, and over time, helps you make better choices naturally. Saying “yes” to taking on a project you aren’t fully excited about becomes way less tempting because you now know that the spot at the base of your skull will not be happy and will ache until the project ends. It will probably even ache for a few more days as you recover from making that bad choice. The image above reminds me of how beautiful things, like better choices, are offshoots of a larger, well-cared-for body.

Today, we’re going to do another 5-minute exercise that will hopefully inspire you to spend some quiet time with your body. Click through to get the details on this exercise. –Caitlin

Image above: Helen Dealtry for Design*Sponge downloads

Here are the simple steps to lead you to a deeper relationship with your body:

  1. Find 5 minutes to sit, stand or lie quietly with your eyes closed, if that is comfortable and safe for you.
  2. Concentrate on diaphragmatic breathing during this exercise to calm the nervous system and deliver the maximum amount of oxygen to your body and its parts.
  3. Focus all of your attention on these body parts for 30 seconds per body area (in order). When I first started body scan meditation, imagining I was feeling each area for the first time helped me focus my attention. It also helps focus to visualize a highlight or glow around the body area.
  • Feet, Toes, Ankles
  • Calves, Shins
  • Knees
  • Upper Legs
  • Spine/Back (all the way up to your shoulders)
  • Shoulders
  • Arms/Hands/Fingers
  • Neck
  • Face/Eyes/Nose/Mouth/Jaw
  • Head/Ears

Open your eyes or take in your surroundings if your eyes are closed. Try this for a few days, and I think you’ll feel a little of that after-massage bliss. Please leave a comment and share what area(s) of your body you felt more aware of or connected with the most.


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