Category Archives: Spiritual Practices
Learning to do a body scan is from “Body Awareness” in The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook. This chapter discusses how the mind and body interact, how to recognize tension in your body, and exercises to recognize and let go of tension in your body.
The body scan is explained on page 16: “Close your eyes. Starting with your toes and moving up your body, ask yourself, “Where am I tense?”
Wherever you discover a tense area, exaggerate it slightly so you become aware of it. Be aware of the muscles in your body that are tense.
Then, for example, say to yourself, “I am tensing my neck muscles….I am hurting myself. I am creating tension in my body.”
Note that all muscular tension is self-produced. At this point, be aware of any life situation that may be causing the tension in your body and what you can do to change it.
On pages 42-43, the authors offer the following inner exploration to open each part of your body:
1) Begin by becoming aware of the rising and falling of your breath in your chest and belly. You can ride the waves of your breath and let it begin to anchor you to the present moment.
2) Bring your attention to the soles of your feet. Notice any sensation that is present there. Without judging or trying to make it different, simply be present with the sensation. After a few moments imagine that your breath is flowing into the soles of your feet. As you breath in and out you might experience an opening or softening and a release of tension. Just simply observe with no expectations.
3) Now bring your attention to the rest of your feet, up to your ankles. Become aware of any sensation in this part of your body. After a few moments imagine that your breath, instead of stopping at the diaphragm, flows all the way down to your feet. Breath into and out of your feet, simply noticing the sensations.
4) Proceed up your body in this manner with all parts of your body—lower legs, knees, upper legs, pelvis, hips and buttocks, lower back, upper back, chest and belly, upper shoulders, neck, head, and face. Take your time as you really feel each body part and notice whatever sensations are present, without forcing them or trying to make them be different, then breath into the body part and let go of it as you move on to the next body part.
5) Go back to your neck and shoulders or any place that has pain, tension, or discomfort. Simply be with the sensations in a nonjudging way. As you breathe, imagine the breath opening up any tight muscles or painful areas and creating more spaciousness. As you breathe out imagine the tension or pain flowing away.
6) When you reach the top of your body, scan your body one last time for any areas of tension or discomfort. Then imagine that you have a breath hole at the top of your head, much like that of a whale or dolphin. Breathe in from the top of your head, bringing the breath all the way down to the soles of your feet and up again. Allow your breath to wash away tension or uncomfortable sensations.
7) Allow 20-30 minutes for a body scan.
Book: The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook: Fifth Edition. Authors: Martha David, Elizabeth Eshelman, and Matthew McKay. ISBN: 1-57224-214-0
To gain inner peace for greatest stability, do the following visualization to strengthen your intuition. Begin with deep breathing. In a comfortable sitting or standing position, expel the air from deep in your lungs. Repeat the deep breathing several times. When you feel energized, you are ready to begin the exercise.
- Lie down on the floor or on the ground and turn over to lie on your stomach. Brooke Medicine Eagle suggests lying there for 15 minutes while picturing a golden cord running from your belly into the heart of the Earth. Afterward, turn over on your back for the same period of time and experience the wind and sunshine passing through your belly.
- While on your stomach, you may reconnect with the feeling of being supported by the Earth. While on your back, you may recall your relationship to the Eternal. If you practice these on a weekly basis, you will feel a need to recommit to preserving your ecosystem.
- Basic warm-up for getting in touch with your intuition: Sit in a chair with your feet on the floor and with your eyes closed. As you breathe, let all thoughts drop away. Concentrate on your breathing to shut down the mind chatter. Notice how your chest expands as the air flows in and out of your diaphragm. Count the inhaling and the exhaling as one cycle. Notice how the different parts of your body react as you relax and shut down. To keep your mind in the now, practice counting the breaths. If you aren’t relaxed at the end of a goal of 50-100 breaths, make the goal longer each time until you reach your optimum length of breaths.
- The inner pilot: Choose a problem that has been bothering you lately. Choose one that is of a minor nature. Write a simple statement that describes the problem. Choose a room that is quiet and has little direct light or sun. If necessary, lie on a blanket on the floor. Don’t wear anything that might be restrictive such as a watch, eyeglasses, shoes, or socks. Lie face up and shut your eyes. Focus on the problem that you’ve selected.
Run through all the arguments pro and con. Examine them in all their possible dimensions. Consider all the nuances of the problem and mentally follow through the possible consequences of every solution. Go into the basic warm up and allow all directed thought to slip away. Concentrate on your breathing and pay close attention to how you feel as images come into your mind.