Empty the self completely;
Embrace perfect peace.
The world will rise and move;
Watch it return to rest.
All the flourishing things
Will return to their source.
Our bodies and our minds are always communicating our wants and needs to ourselves. These messages can be at times be loud and clear, or, as is so often the case, subtle or obscure. Yoga, meditation and skillful self care practices can help us grow in our ability to feel, recognize, understand, and respond to the communications from within without judgement or fear. This in turn can be at the root of gaining more inner freedom, enhancing wellbeing, and supporting growth even in challenging circumstances.
Yogis have long realized that being stress free is a function of being fully in the present moment. The definition of stress many Yogis use, and I refer to time and again is that stress is resistance to what is. The skill of releasing resistance and re-activity of the mind that can keep us from getting lost in our thoughts, emotions and all that would take us out of the moment is at the root of Yoga and Meditation practice.
The Body Scan mindfulness practice described below is just what is sounds like, a practice of awakening and being fully present by paying bare attention to to the felt experience of the body. It is a simple and elegant way to derive the benefits of using a clear awareness to, as Lao Tze describes above, “Empty the self completely; Embrace perfect peace.”
To attend to the experience of our bodies without the filter of our thoughts and emotions can create surprising and powerful changes within in and of itself.
To practice a Body Scan:
Lie comfortably on a soft but firm surface, feet apart, arms at your side. (You may also do this sitting comfortably, spine erect and body relaxed).
Begin the meditation with a few slow easy breaths to relax yourself. Focus simple on the feelings of breathing.
After a minute or two focus your attention on a particular muscle area or body component with each INHALE. On each EXHALE, stay with your attention on sensations that are felt there.
Stay with each area for several breaths and allow, no force, the patterns of feeling to change over time as awareness deepens.
For a systematic and complete scan you can start with your head, neck, shoulders, arms. Then scan your chest and stomach, back, legs and feet in the same manner.
If you are lying down now let yourself lie limp. Slowly open your eyes. You’ll see what it’s like to be completely aware yet completely relaxed and alert though the power of presence alone.
****Take you time to carefully move, stretch and re-ground yourself to come back to a normal waking state before moving on with your daily activities.
***As always, when practicing any Yoga or meditation techniques you accept responsibility for all you do and work in accordance with your medical and other needs and limitations. It is not a substitute for any medical or psychiatric treatment!
Read this disclaimer for more information. I encourage you to seek out instruction and guidance from a teacher as you need to answer any questions and to help ensure sure the most positive outcome of this and any practice.