Scroll down for transcription of this episode.
Try this body-scan meditation to ground your mind in the present moment and in your body, guided by Spring Washam.
How to do this practice:
Find a comfortable seat where you can relax your body.
2. Beginning with the top of your head, relax any sense of tension, one body part at a time.
3. Slowly scan down to your face, neck, upper arms, hands, feeling their presence.
4. You might want to place your hands on your belly to feel your breath and let go.
5. End by placing your hand on your heart and offer your body some kindness.
Today’s Happiness Break Host:
Spring Washam has been a devoted Buddhist practitioner in both the Theravada and Tibetan schools of Buddhism for more than 25 years. She is a founding teacher of The East Bay Meditation Center and has spent more than a decade studying Shamanic indigenous healing practices. She is also the author of the forthcoming book, The Spirit of Harriet Tubman: Awakening from the Underground.
Learn more about Spring and her book: https://www.springwasham.com/
Follow Spring on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/springwasham/
Check out Spring’s YouTube channel: https://tinyurl.com/22njyd29
More Resources from the Greater Good Science Center:
Six Minutes to Connect with Your Body: https://tinyurl.com/2337f85e
How a Body Scan Can Help with Strong Emotions: https://tinyurl.com/58wfsvnd
Krista Tippett on Being Grounded in Your Body: https://tinyurl.com/59pkp324
Turning Into Your Body Can Make You More Resilient: https://tinyurl.com/5av68v62
Your Anxiety Might Be Coming From Your Body: https://tinyurl.com/dwb9vvue
What Self-Compassion Feels Like in Your Body: https://tinyurl.com/2p9rdepk
Seven Ways to Have a Healthier Relationship with Stress: https://tinyurl.com/m6mbv2np
We love hearing from you! Tell us about your experience of embodiment meditation. Email us at email@example.com or use the hashtag #happinesspod.
Find us on Apple Podcasts: https://tinyurl.com/2p9h5aap
Help us share Happiness Break! Leave us a 5-star review and copy and share this link: https://tinyurl.com/2p9h5aap
We’re living through a mental health crisis. Between the stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, burnout — we all could use a break to feel better. That’s where Happiness Break comes in. In each biweekly podcast episode, instructors guide you through research-backed practices and meditations that you can do in real-time. These relaxing and uplifting practices have been shown in a lab to help you cultivate calm, compassion, connection, mindfulness, and more — what the latest science says will directly support your well-being. All in less than ten minutes. A little break in your day.
Dacher Keltner I’m Dacher Keltner, welcome to Happiness Break, a series by the science of happiness that provides research backed practices to give you a boost in your day, all in under 10 minutes. Today we’re going to do a short meditation that will help get us into our bodies.
Embodied awareness is the idea that our minds are not only connected to our bodies—but neuro-physical processes below the brain stem influence the contents of thought.
Research shows body-focused meditations can help reduce anxiety and give us a better sense of self-control during stressful times. They also create more space for self-acceptance, mindful and empathy.
Guiding our Happiness Break today is Spring Washam, a meditation teacher and author of The Spirit of Harriet Tubman: Awakening from the Underground. Here’s Spring.
Spring Washam So let’s begin to do a meditation on embodied presence through the doorway of the body. So wherever you are, find a comfortable seat, comfortable position that you can relax your body into. It’s nice to be upright where you can feel the flow of the breath. As you said, you want to be able to connect to the energy of the breath and feel your sensations. And also, we want to do this with some sense of being attentive, aware, present.
So as you begin to feel into your body, I always like to begin this process with a body scan. So as you begin to slow down and quiet the mind and close your eyes, begin by feeling the top of your head and you might need to move your neck and head around a little bit. What we want to do is relax all of the tension, any sense of tightness. Sometimes we don’t like to come into the body because it feels tense or sick or tired. But you’ll notice that the more you bring your awareness in, the more you’ll feel a sense of lightness, a sense of flow, and a sense of ease. Your own presence is what creates this ease in the body.
So as you’re sitting and you’re feeling your head and your neck, begin to settle and let your breath just breathe. Feeling, sensing. Relax your face and your jaw. Now bringing your awareness into your shoulders. And softening. We soften. We let go on the out-breath. Feeling your upper arms. And now bringing your attention into your hands. Notice your hands. How are they placed? And as you do that, we’re just letting go of tension. Often we’re unaware that we are bracing, that we are clenching. So as you sweep your awareness through your body, soften any area of tightness or tension.
And now bringing your awareness into the heart area. The chest area. And noticing what you feel. Happy. Sad. Joy. Fear. Just noticing. Sensation. Tingling, lightness. Hardness. And just feeling into this area in your body. And relaxing with the in-breath and the out-breath.
Then moving your awareness down to the belly area. Right under your belly button. You might want to put your hand there as a way to feel into this area of your body. This is a powerful place. So as you breathe in and out, imagine that your breath is coming in and out of this belly area. And on the out-breath you’re letting go of tension. You’re letting go of anything that you’re holding on to. This is where we really feel embodied when we feel our belly. When we’re in connection to our belly we are more connected to our power. So soften, this is not only where we digest food, but we digest life. We digest emotions in the belly. We digest energy. So let your whole belly expand. As you breathe in, and you breathe out.
And now, as you bring your attention deeper into the body, feel your sitting bones making contact with wherever, wherever you’re sitting. The contact. The sensations of the contact. Fully present. If the mind wanders, just gently bring it back to just feeling the contact. Feeling your body touching. Connecting to our body in the sensations is how we connect to the present moment. The body is always in the present moment. It’s the mind that gets lost. So your body is always this anchor for your awareness. Now filling your upper legs. Feel your knees.
Now bring your full attention to your knees. Notice how they are. There’s a sensation. Notice your posture. And just begin to feel into your knee area. Feel your lower legs, your calves now and your ankles. And now filling your feet and whatever way they’re placed, if they’re folded or they’re touching a surface, bringing your attention to the bottom of your feet.
And now becoming aware of your full body from the top of your head sweeping through. The face, the neck, the shoulders, the arms. You’re putting your attention inward, feeling the flow.
And the breath. We always come back to the breath. Embodiment, wholeness and presence within the body. It’s a wonderful practice to anchor your mind, your heart. Moments of refuge from the storm of the mind. We connect to this ever present. Flow of sensation. One moment at a time. And as we close this meditation, I always like to end with placing my hand on my heart and just offering some kindness. The sense of well-being and joy.
May this body be happy and peaceful.
May this heart be happy, peaceful, and at ease in this moment.