The following guided meditation was inspired by recent unfortunate events in the United States. Many of my students and clients have been impacted directly or know people who have.
During times of distress like this, you can definitely feel the heaviness and weight in a yoga room.
I spontaneously guided my class in the following meditation and body inquiry last week, and I saw a shift in my students' bodies—from tense, agitated, nervous, to relaxed, soft, and at ease—after this 10 minute intervention.
Because it worked so well, I decided to share it with all of you.
If you are feeling particularly tense and wound up the past few weeks, I invite you to try the following guided meditation and body inquiry exercise. The following script is not only great for grief, but also for bringing body awareness to your day-to-day physical discomforts as your own invitation to explore these tensions with curiosity rather than denial, frustration, or dislike.
I have included an audio clip below so you can follow along while you lie down in a comfortable position.
A Guided Meditation and Body Inquiry for Physical and emotional Discomforts
Lie down in a comfortable position, with your knees propped with a bolster so your back can rest easily on the floor. Allow yourself to be fully supported by the Earth. Let yourself be heavy and effortless. Lay quietly with natural, easy breaths. Nothing forced. Nothing strained.
Slowly scan your body, from your toes all the way to the crown of your head. Notice your toes and your feet. Notice your lower legs and your knees. Notice your thighs and your hips. Notice your lower back, mid-back, and upper back. Notice your belly and chest. Notice your shoulders and arms. Notice your hands and fingers. Notice your neck and throat. Notice your cheeks, jaw, and forehead.
As you scan these areas of your body, do you feel any particular area that is holding tension, that is gripping, that is uncomfortable? Where are these areas? Bring your attention to these areas. If you like, you may place your hands over these areas.
Continue to breathe quietly and naturally without changing your breath as you bring your attention to these uncomfortable, tense areas.
Breathe in and out easily.
Notice all the sensations and qualities of one of the uncomfortable spots. Does it feel dull and throbbing? Is it sharp and piercing? Does it feel cool, cold, warm, or hot? Can you feel a pulse there? Is this sensation new, or has it been there for a long time? Is the sensation localized or does it spread? Can you feel your breath in that spot?
Now, let's take a deeper look at these physical sensations and discomforts. Take an easy breath in, and an easy breath out. Look again at the uncomfortable area you are focusing on. Is there a memory, thought, or story behind the physical sensation? As you focus on that spot of discomfort, does it evoke any imageries or emotions? If it does, let them come. Let them come. Let the emotions fill your entire being. Let your emotions move and flow through you. Keep breathing in and out easily.
Continue to explore your body with these same questions if there is another area in your body that is experiencing discomfort. Try to keep your attention on the sensations and qualities.
Breathe in and out easily. Allow the sensations and emotions to keep flowing and moving.
Oftentimes, our physical discomforts stem from more subtle manifestations of our emotions. Emotions create physical manifestations in our bodies. We need to let these emotions play out physically without suppressing them, without holding our bodies tightly in.
Breathe in and out easily. Nothing forced. Nothing strained.
Direct and channel your breaths to the surrounding areas of your bodily discomforts, where your emotions are playing out their physical manifestations. With gentle, nurturing, and healing breaths, can you soften the edges around these physical discomforts?
Bring your breath, so gentle, nurturing, and healing, to these areas of discomforts, and soften around the edges of these discomforts. Do not attack it, do not pierce straight into their centers, but breathe around their edges.
Continue to soften the physical and emotional tensions with your nurturing breaths. Breathing easily in and out.
Stay for another minute, and continue to send your soft, nurturing, healing breaths to the surrounding edges of your physical discomforts.
When you are ready to return, take a deep breath in, and let a cleansing breath out. Bring your attention back to your whole body. Your whole body that is supported by the Earth underneath you. Still lying down with your eyes closed, explore this: Is there a shift in your body? Is there something different with the way you hold your body now? Do you feel more relaxed? Do you feel less physical sensations and discomforts? Do you feel warmer or cooler? Do you feel heavier or lighter? Notice any shifts in your physical, mental, and/or emotional bodies.
Take another deep breath in, and a cleansing breath out. Then, very slowly, bring your knees in towards your chest and hug your arms around your shins. Roll to one side and curl up into a fetal position with your head supported by your bottom arm. Give yourself another few breaths here. When you feel ready, use your arms to press yourself up into a seated position.
This is the end of our guided meditation and relaxation. You may stay seated quietly for as long as you like or return to the course of your day.