Create your body’s GPS
Checking in with your body is a very helpful way to relax. But because our physical selves are intricate, entwined systems, it can sometimes be hard to find a way in.
What happens when you hear the suggestion to relax your body? Uh, right, yeah… I don’t even know where to start.
And when a meditation instruction invites you to scan the body… What does scanning my body mean—is my body a barcode? Do I go from the top down, bottom up? Do I stay in one place, or keep moving around?
How fluent are you in body-ese?
I sensed that discomfort with my client, Grace, who was not very fluent in body-ese. Over the last several months, she’d really appreciated my guided reflections—both in our sessions and recordings for her to listen to later. But on her own, she couldn’t get out of her mind and connected with her body.
To help her practice her own connection, I asked if Grace could lead the first minute of a body reflection. She tried, but felt lost doing it on her own.
While it can be helpful to listen to a guided body reflection, it’s not quite enough. When you have the skill within, you strengthen your ability to shift your nervous system more easily.
I realized that if she had a map—her own personal GPS to connect with her body— she could create familiar internal spaces to navigate to her deeper self.
Rest area landmarks
We started with landmarks that had clearly resonated when she learned the 7 Pathways to Rest. These landmarks are part of my own lullaby when sleep seems far away (maybe sleep’s off bar-hopping or whatever it does at night when it’s making itself scarce).
I suggested Grace might notice any sensations of each landmark, and see if the area could release even just 5-10% of tension.
I invited her to hang out in a landmark as long as she’d like, and feel free to move to the next “rest area” when it called to her. She could repeat this journey or take any detours she wanted, to allow rest to grow.
Your inner road trip
Here are some of the landmarks Grace and I created. Feel free to create a lovely inner road trip into your body, inhabiting it and releasing the tension you don’t need at the moment.
Start by being aware of the shape your body is taking in space, and make yourself more comfortable.
Notice whatever draws in awareness of your head. Do you feel your scalp, face, back of the neck?
Visit the eyes. Can you feel the smooth sockets cradling your eyes? Can your brows release just a little bit? Breathe into the back of your eyes, imagining a larger “rest area” for them.
Travel down to the back of your neck, and see if you can sense it lengthening, getting wider. If you’re lying down, lightly press your head more deeply into the pillows to increase this sensation.
The next stop is your lovely heart. Can you use your breath to sense your lungs giving your heart a little hug, then releasing?
Let your attention shift down to your belly, perhaps placing a hand on it… wherever you focus is a good spot. Notice if you feel tingling, vibrations, tension, digestion, or just your hand resting on your belly. Let your belly feel the appreciation you have for its work.
Travel down your legs to your feet. Can you feel your toes in your socks or under the covers? Wiggle your toes if you’d like, to feel their aliveness.
Come back again to notice your body as a whole: the presence it has, your connection to gravity. Appreciate whatever this reflection provided, whether it was deeper rest or just a nanosecond of openness, release, or being less caught in your thoughts.
This is just a roadmap. Feel free to make as many detours and stops that work for your body.
At first, it wasn’t easy for Grace to practice connecting with her body’s GPS. It seemed like work, when she just wanted letting go to happen by itself.
But it became easier over time, a gift she was giving herself with her road trip. Maybe no awesome views of the Grand Canyon, but that deep exploration of what’s underneath the surface.
Do you know any exhausted and depleted people who might be curious about working with me? Please let them know about my free consultation, as I have some spaces for new clients. Thanks!