December 22, 2020
On this Solstice day, the longest night in the northern hemisphere yields to increasing light each day for 6 months. Given the last 6 months of decreasing light, of a country in turmoil in so many aspects of our lives, much of it out of our control, what do we desire during this time of emerging from the dark?
One thing we do have control over is how we treat ourselves and our bodies. We can contact our bodies in a way that conveys love and gratitude, regardless of the context we live in; regardless of the amount of ease, tension, function, or dysfunction we experience both physically and emotionally.
My hope is that doing the following practice, you’ll release tensions, relieve pain, increase your ease, and your self-caring. You’ll be creating a positive feedback loop in your nervous system–possible even during these challenging times.
This practice may take 30 minutes or more. You’ll be going through your body, part by part, moving it, feeling it, thanking it for helping you do the things you want to do and helping you through troubled times. If that’s too long to spend any given day, focus on just one segment or part per day. Or your whole body, spending more time with one area than another. What’s most important is to enjoy the process and be authentic with the practice. Adapt the instructions to meet your needs.
Body Gratitude Practice and Self-Care
1. Make yourself comfortable sitting. (Lying down is okay too, but I will be asking you to hold different parts of your legs.)
2. Feel your body’s weight on the surface that supports it. Are left and right sides similar or different? Just notice, nothing else to do. Just notice. And notice your breath—is it easy? Full? Shallow? Just notice. And your body’s tone, energy both physical and emotional? This is a baseline for now.
3. Now wiggle your toes. Thank them for helping you to take each step, to walk, run, or reach up high on tip-toes. If you’ve had discomfort in your toes, thank them anyway. Despite callouses, nerve pain, whatever, they’ve still helped you to take each step. Terrific Toes. If you can reach them easily, give them a little thank you hug.
4. Next, rotate your feet on your ankles. Notice how your foot feels and how the ankle joint feels. Thank the joint for the amount of flexibility that it has, even if the tiniest amount. “Thank you, Foot. Thank you, Ankle, for your agility and ability. You both help me walk, dance, and …” If you can gently hold your foot and ankle as you say this, please, yes, do. Feel its aliveness.
5. Next tune into your lower leg and calf. Knee. Thigh. Hip joint. Hold them, move them. Make up complimentary terms. Reframe “bad,” “it hates me,” “weak,” or “lame,” so that Lousy Leg becomes So-Alive Leg. Nasty Knee shifts to Noble Knee. Gimpy Hip becomes Heroic Hip (thank you, Cathy D, for that particular one!)—That part has worked so hard to function and support your activities despite whatever ails it!
6. Continue your awareness, your contact, and your gratitude upwards through your body: your pelvis, including guts and reproductive organs. Your ribs and chest. Your diaphragm that invites your breath. Your heart, your lungs. Thank each of these, contacting them as you thank them. If there’s a description to add, bring it along. Remember though, only positive adjectives. Those parts that aren’t as happy as you’d like have been working extra hard to hold up their end of the bargain to get you through the day!
7. After your torso, bring your focus to your (awesome) arms, shoulders, elbows, fingers and thumb. Your neck. Embrace them, thank them, move them around. Truly feel your body alive and functioning, even after all the havoc this year.
8. Finally your Head/skull that safely houses such vital pieces, your jaws, eyes, nose, ears, brain. Touch. Move those parts that move. Thank them all.
9. If you want to thank your blood and other fluids, connective tissue, nerves, spine bones and discs, do that now.
10. Scan your whole body. Get a sense of it. Hug yourself. Thank your body for being such an incredible “vehicle” for your spirit all these years. Thank yourself for loving your body as best as you could all these years. Forgive yourself any errors you’ve made along the way, and let yourself know all be all right. Give thanks for what you have and who you are.
11. With that last whole body scan, notice your breath, the balance between left and right, places of ease and harmony, places of tension. Notice your energetic tone. Whatever changes–or stasis–just notice. And thank yourself for doing the practice.
Should you want a guide to do this practice, so you can focus on the experience instead of the instructions, please call 510.526.5414 or email and we’ll set that up.
Please, take care, be well, this winter season.