Welcome back to demystifying meditation! This series of blog posts are written to bring accessibility and understanding to a practice that is literally thousands of years old. In the hurry and hustle culture we live in today, finding time to be present and still is becoming increasingly more difficult. The fact that you are working to make that happen in your life is incredible and to be commended.
Last week, we introduced a simple breath focused meditation that could be helpful in beginning this habit in your daily life. It is a good tool to use when you are stuck in traffic, stressed at work, or arguing with a significant other. Deep, focused breathing calms our nervous system, decreases the intensity of our emotions, and clears our mind. It can be the reset we all need in the middle of a busy day.
This week’s meditation will focus on our body. While our thoughts can wander into all sorts of past and future places, our bodies always remain in the present. Between our daily responsibilities, work, families, and just the craziness of the times we are in, it can be easy for our attention to be anywhere but the moment we are in. This body scan meditation will help you come back to the moment through drawing awareness to your physical self.
Begin in the same way—find a comfortable, upright seat with your feet firmly rooted into the floor and your palms face down on your legs. Choose to close your eyes or leave them open, softly gazing at one point in front of you. Notice and settle into your natural breathing; if it feels good, slow and deepen your breath. After a couple cycles of your breath, shift your focus to the bottoms of your feet. Notice their connection to the floor, notice their connection to your ankles. Walk your attention from your ankles to your shins, up to your knees, and to your legs. Notice your leg’s connection with your chair. From your legs, shift your attention to your hips, your seat rooted into your chair. Notice any tension in your hips and soften into your seat. Notice your abdomen and low back; walk your attention up your mid back, your upper back, into the tops of your shoulders. If there is any tension in the shoulders, soften them down into your back. Notice your chest, upper arms, elbows, and forearms. Notice your hands and soften into their connection to your legs. Shift your attention back to your shoulders, walk your attention into your neck, your face, and soften the muscles around your eyes and your forehead. Notice the back of your skull; bring your attention to the top of your head. Take a deep breath in and exhale out. When you feel ready, gently begin to open your eyes or refocus your gaze around you. Acknowledge yourself, your breath, and your body for carrying you through each and every day.
This meditation is a bit longer, so it may be helpful for someone to either read it to you or read it to yourself before beginning. Try not to rush through the process. Spend time with each part of your body, breathe into any tension you are experiencing, and maybe even give a thank you to each body part for what it does for you throughout the day! If this meditation brought up anything you wish to discuss with a counselor and are in the Chicago area, please feel free to contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc. at 708-633-8000. We will be back soon for Demystifying Meditation Part 3!
Written by Kathryn
2021 Graduate Intern