~ Something to write with: a journal is preferred and you can use a word document, a voice recorder if you like to speak your thoughts out, make a video with your device if you choose. The goal is to not just think your thoughts, it’s to get out of your head and get into your heart space.
~ Some space in your place. Try to create a small space for yourself somewhere. Even if it’s a chair, a corner, or space in front of your bed or couch. Find a space you can rely on.
~ One final tip: If you are new to the practice, please give yourself a little extra time to get familiar with each step. Open the survey, view the Wheel of Emotions tool, and watch the videos at least once before getting started. Then give yourself a few days to get the hang of the practice without judging your progress.
Remember – there is no “I failed.” There is no “I am doing it wrong.”
There is you doing what you can.
Let’s make the connection.
First ~ Assess your Physical State: The Body Budget
Step-by-Step ~ Complete the Body and Breathe Check
The Body and Breathe Check is a three step process.
First, you will squeeze your muscles, ligaments, and tendons in groups to release any tension you many have. Next, you will lightly stretch the body using the same groupings. Finally, you will do a round of deep breathing with a moment of stillness.
First ~ Release Your Tension
Have you ever had an aching back or pain in your neck when you were anxious or stressed? When you have anxiety or stress in your life, one of the ways your body responds is with muscle tension. Progressive muscle relaxation is a method that helps relieve that tension.
To make our connection we will do our best to identify the tough spots we find in our bodies and pay them particular attention as we let go.
Simply flex every muscle, tendon and ligament from your toes to your face and holding the tension while focusing on the body. Once you have the body part tightly wound – you release and let go.
Tips: It is best to do this standing up and you can also do it in other positions. It is also an effective way to release tension before bed.
Next ~ A Light Stretch
Remember when you were very small and you could run and run without really getting tired? Or how about how you would bend yourself in all sorts of positions? When you were like four or five, you were as limber as could be with absolutely no sense of distance!
Now we are all tense and tight. We sit too much and we don’t sleep in the best positions. Many of us aren’t exercising enough and so we are not loose.
Your goal with this light stretch is to simply make a series of circles from your feet and go up to your head. As we do let’s continue to identify where we may have pain, tightness, and/or tension.
Locate it so that you can let it go.
1. Inhale fully in and expand belly muscles – 3 to 5 seconds to fill the diaphragm
2. Exhale out and release and relax belly – Don’t force the air out.
3. Chose the most comfortable nose/ mouth pattern.
Tips: Repeat this process for 10 to 30 repetitions. Go at your own pace and note you might get a little light-headed or even nauseous which is normal. While you do this practice try putting one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart so you can feel the rise and fall of your core and breathe into your whole body.
Through each breath focus you attention on your body. Find the remaining tension and let it go. If there is pain or discomfort identify the level of intensity. Breath into and through the discomfort and let it go.
As you finish your last breathe still your entire being for at least one minute. Keep your hand on your heart and belly. Try to feel the emotion(s) you identified on the wheel. Seek the emotion(s) out. See where it exists in your body.
Finally~ Journal and Circle Back
Remember: hindsight, insight, and foresight.
Remember to refer back to the statement you wrote about your physical state.
Questions to ask yourself:
What is moving in me as I consider my practice?
In hindsight, did I accurately assess my energy and mood?
Is there a pattern to you often misreading the sensations you feel?
Am I being honest with myself?
What insight can I take from the experience today?
Was I right about my body budget?
Did my emotions shift as I was practicing?
Where is the emotion showing up in my body?
What do I think is causing this emotion?
What foresightcan you offer my future self.
Can I write down and mentally rehearse what I want to do with what I discovered in the future?
What goal can I set for myself?
What can I give thanks for right now?
The journaling process shouldn’t take you long maybe 3 to 7 minutes is all you really need to just get the thoughts out of your head. Do feel free to go as long as you feel you need to in order to discover something new.
A New Beginning
You have reached the end of the practices, which is just the beginning of the next moment when you can take all that you have uncovered into life.
Go forth and be as present in every moment as you have been just now.