Over the past few weeks, I’ve had embodiment on my mind. My colleague Fay and I have been working on creating a new online course on mindful movement (The Stillness of Movement), last night’s Weekly Sit included a Compassionate Body Scan , and my practice has been focused on mindful walking, as of late.
This is all down to Rick Hanson, who is a renowned neuropsychologist that happens to be speaking at our conference this June. He made a comment at last month’s membership Live Online Teaching that compared cultivating a mind/body relationship to that of a horse and its rider: a relationship that demands patience, tenderness and trust. This analogy has been nagging (no pun intended) at me ever since. I need to put more energy into my mind/body relationship.
In fact, it is not hard to realize that my body is always speaking to me, I am just not always listening.
For instance, my kids have been on Easter holidays these past few weeks, and over the long weekend we would ALL have long lie-ins, which means extra time spent in bed. After a couple of days of this, my hip was starting to ache with a pain spreading across my back and down my leg. My sciatica was screaming ‘Get out of bed and MOVE’. I ignored it for the most part, as I do. Until on day 3 of lie ins, I had this flash memory back to the last time I experienced sciatica pain, a time where I spent a lot of time in bed. I realized that this was my body telling me that it needed to move. Interestingly, once I did listen, I felt more energetic and much better in myself. I also happened to catch the only moments of sunshine that appear between 5 and 8am on a typical Wicklow day. Somehow, those clouds roll in as the day progresses!!
So how can we put more energy into cultivating this mind/body relationship?
Well this week, on top of doing more mindful movement through my walking practice (a practice you can do ANYWHERE), I have been doing what I like to call the 2 minute stretch. A few times a day, and especially if I have been sitting for any length of time, I stand up and stretch according the demands of my body. It requires me to stand and close my eyes, focusing on the breath for a few moments, and then trusting that my body will lead my movement- whether it be to slowly rotate my shoulders, which then indicates if my neck needs some attention, or my back, and before I know it, I am instinctively moving in response to what my body is telling me. I am usually quite happy that no one can see me as these movements aren’t always pretty. But it always feels great- and because I am listening to my own body, I never push it, only respond.
So this week’s challenge is to do the 2 minute stretch as often as feels necessary. Please remember to bring kindness and compassion to your body, and to not force anything. We’re simply trying to bring some soothing tenderness: a gift from mind to body and back again.
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