Paying attention to your body is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.
Primary School Drama
When I was aged nine or so, a slightly hippieish teacher used to come to my primary school once a week to teach drama. At the end of every session, this teacher would get us all to lie down on the slightly smelly floor of the school hall and close our eyes. Then she would talk us through a simple body scan relaxation. I can’t remember anything about the rest of the drama classes, but I will never forget the lovely feeling of calm that washed over me as I lay on my back, eyes shut, paying attention to each part of my body in turn as I listened to her guiding voice. That was my first experience of a body scan meditation.
I also recall that this teacher called us collectively “people” instead of “children”. She really was quite alternative for a 1970s village primary school!
Where do you feel it in your body?
Fast forward forty-plus years, and I remain utterly convinced of the calming power of the simple body scan. When you notice how your body is feeling, you are beginning to give yourself the attention you deserve. Our bodies react to our environment and life events in remarkable and sensitive ways. Simply noticing this is often enough to slow us down and help us understand what is really going on.
Stressful jobs and angry arguments
Our bodies have their own ways of responding to stress. They give us crucial clues about what is really going on. When I was working in a particularly difficult role as a midwife, I realised that I had begun to grind my teeth at night and develop pains in my jaw. This realisation convinced me that the stress was excessive and something needed to change. Shortly afterwards I begun the process of finding a new job.
I have also discovered that one of the best ways to de-fuse tension in an argument is to stop and ask: Where do you feel it in your body? This can move the whole discussion onto a completely different and more productive level. Suddenly you are both paying attention to feelings instead of focusing on why you are right.
Paying Attention to your Body for Calm and Relaxation
But you don’t have to be in a demanding job or an angry argument to benefit from paying attention to your body. A simple body scan relaxation can help you feel calm at any time. Today’s short exercise is to stop for ten minutes and pay attention to your body. Here’s how to do it.
Body Scan Relaxation
At the end of this blog there is a link to a video of me talking you through a simple body scan. You might like to use that today.
Find a quiet place to sit or lie down, hopefully where you will not be disturbed for ten minutes. If you only have limited time in your busy day, set a timer before you begin. This can help you not to worry about the time.
Make sure you are comfortable. Lie on your back on the floor if you can, or sit on an upright chair with your feet planted on the floor.
Take two or three long, slow breaths. Then close your eyes.
Feel what you are sitting or lying on. Feel the ground underneath you. Become aware of the space around you – below, above and on each side.
Bring your attention to your body. Begin at the top of your head and start to travel downwards.
Taking each part of your body in turn, simply notice how it feels. Just acknowledge each part of your body as your mind scans downwards, from your head down to your face, neck, shoulders, and so on.
Let your attention keep moving, slowly and steadily. Just notice how each part of your body feels right now.
Try not to think of feelings as good or bad. Some parts of you might feel tight or achey. Other parts might feel fine. Don’t feel any pressure to change anything. Your job is simply to pay attention.
If you find it difficult to slow your mind down enough to notice how the body feels, you can try tensing and relaxing each part of the body in turn. This helps bring more focus to that area.
Keep on scanning down like this until you get all the way to your toes.
Then just rest and relax. Lie or sit for a few minutes more, if you can. Notice how you feel now.
When you are ready, get up slowly and get on with your day.
Paying attention to your body is easy, and it makes you feel better too
Paying attention to your body is easy and it makes you feel better. The body, mind and emotions are all connected. Get out of your stressed head and listen to your body. Your body and mind will thank you for it.
Thanks for reading this blog post. I am writing a series of 31 blogs every day this August. I plan to publish them later in the year as a book entitled, ‘Finding Your Calm Space – 31 Ways to Find Calm in a Crazy World’.
I’m Karen. I am a Yoga teacher, Reflexologist and busy mum of seven. I live with my family in Billericay, Essex, UK. In the past I have worked as a Midwife, Health Visitor, Baby Signing teacher and Tax Inspector. I love getting outdoors, swimming in the sea, walking and writing. Helping people relax is one of the things I do best.
You can learn more about my Yoga classes and Reflexology at my website www.thecalmspace.co.uk