I know I’ve been struggling to get enough deep rest as we approach the darkest day of the year. Anyone else?
This week I want to share with you another practice that cultivates rest that I lead in almost every workshop I teach. It’s called a Body Scan.
I love body scanning because it adds structure and specificity to the practice of lying down, and it is one of the quickest ways I know to center in my body and nurture my body awareness.
I also love it because it trains our ability to imagine. In Body Scanning, we use imagery – a vital artistic tool – to direct attention, elicit sensation, and self-heal.
I’ve been working with Body Scan for so long I don’t remember when and where I learned it! Various teachers have added their styles, so here’s my personal stew of another simple tool to bring you back to life.
The best part of this practice is that it’s portable, easygoing with time, and there’s no such thing as an overdose!
Body Scan for AWARENESS OF SENSATION and RELAXATION
Tips for Practicing: Read all the way through, then begin by gently talking yourself through the practice with as much as you can remember. OR Record yourself reading the steps, taking your time, then play it back as you do the practice. OR another creative way you invent!
- Prepare the Space
- Lie down on the floor. For work-day practice, turn away from your screen, sit tall on the edge of your seat, and rest your hands in your lap. For parenting at home, try this while washing dishes (maybe skip the close your eyes part ;).
- Consider Time
- I love taking at least 10 minutes for this practice. It can also be done in 2. Try it all depending on your needs. In only takes a shift of awareness to begin.
- Shift the Energy
- Bring your body into healthy alignment: Visualize a long vertical line of energy from head to toe and align your hips, ribcage, and head along this axis. If you’re lying down, the floor is doing this for you.
- Close your eyes.
- As we bring attention to parts of the body, imagine warm rays of sunshine passing over those parts, inviting letting go, softening, and relaxation.
- Bring your attention to the top of your head. What sensations do you notice? Can you feel temperature? Pressure? Can you feel your scalp?
- As you imagine sun warming your face, soften the space between your eyes. Relax your ears.
- Allow your brain to relax inside your skull.
- Relax the roof of your mouth, your tongue. Relax your throat and neck.
- Allow your shoulders to soften, as if warm water was rolling off your shoulders draining all unnecessary tension with it.
- Let the warm sunshine spread down your upper arms, elbows, forearm, wrist, hand, and fingers. What sensations do you notice? Allow yourself to linger and listen.
- Moving down your spine, softening you upper back, mid-back, the space behind the heart.
- Now allow the release of any unnecessary tension in your low back. Let the floor or chair truly support you here.
- Soften the contents of your abdomen and allow them to rest in the bowl of the pelvis.
- Relax inside your hip sockets.
- Let the awareness spread between your legs.
- Now your upper thighs, knees, shins, ankles, tops of your feet, toes soles of your feet.
- Feel your body bathed in sunlight. Make another invitation to your entire body to let go of any unnecessary tension.
- Breathe. Receive Sensation. Feel.
- Slowly open your eyes and let in the light.
- Wiggle fingers and toes, breathe deeply, and stretch if you feel the urge.
- Slowly roll to one side. Pause.
- Sit up slowly. Pause.
- Stand up slowly. Pause. (If you did this sitting, I encourage you to take a walk around before your next task).
- Do you notice any changes in the way your body feels? Any changes in your energy level? Your emotional states? Your focus or clarity?
It’s fundamental to understand that whatever you are feeling is your truth. The body scan may leave your more tired, more energized, aware of an area of tension needing attention, more relaxed, or….and each time will be different.
This is a BODY AWARENESS practice. It is to bring YOU closer to YOUR BODY.
I invite you try this ONCE this week – before Friday. Tell me about it below!
I’ll be taking some time off at the end of the year, so the next post will be on Monday, January 11.
BEFORE THE BREAK, I AM DANCING FOR PEACE IN BOULDER. WOULD YOU JOIN ME?
SUNDAY DECEMBER 20: Flocking for Peace
Flocking for peace is an embodied movement for peace. We are gathering 50-100 people on Sunday, Dec 20, in North Boulder Park to move together like a flock of birds with the intention of creating a unified field of possibility for peace on earth. I’m part of the leadership team, which includes some incredible seasoned spiritual leaders, choreographers, activists, and artists. Read More and Join the Movement on our Facebook Page. Open to all ages! No dance or movement experience needed.
Enjoy the dark nights, the bright stars, and your tender body as this year comes to a close.
In the spirit of and in service to joy,
PS – Know anyone who could use some straightforward self-healing guidance? Or who is an educator and might benefit from learning about the body scan for leading it in their classroom? Please forward this post! Thank you!