This is one example of the kind of guided meditations I lead my patients in during clinical sessions. It is a simple way to begin the settling and embodiment process for those not used to relating to their body. It’s also the place to start when learning to self-regulate.
Self-regulation is a term used by the field of affective neuroscience to describe an individual’s ability to consciously and unconsciously manage and modify arousal states. It describes an the ongoing process of finding an equilibrium of the whole in the face of change. Learning how to self-regulate is fundamental to the manifestation and maintenance of health over time. The foundation of self-regulation is embodiment. The only way to begin learning how to be embodied is by developing a relationship with the body. This is done through finding the body in space and being present with the changes happening on a physiological level without expectation or judgment, but rather with an ever expanding sense of curiosity. Another word for this is mindfulness.
“For age is opportunity no less than youth, itself, though in another dress. And as the evening twilight fades away the sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.”
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
We often forget that an aging body has the ability to accomplish the same functions as a youthful body. It retains the ability to regenerate itself, to perform life-sustaining physiological functions, and to learn and adapt to an ever-changing environment. The goal of an aging body is the same as that of a youthful body: optimal functioning through the constant pursuit of health.
Sometimes it’s hard to get up in the morning and remember that today is not the same as yesterday. Often that’s because today looks the same as yesterday. The routine is the same, the people are the same, the problems are the same, and the thoughts and emotions are the same. On the surface everything looks the same, and yet there is very little about today that is actually the same as yesterday.
In the search for health, our body looks for opportunities to disengage from the sympathetic state (fight/flight) and enter into the parasympathetic state (rest/digest). In order to heal, the body must go from maintenance mode to repair mode. The only way to do this is by slowing down.
Our brain is a magnificent tool. Beyond its intricately complicated physiological functions, it helps our conscious mind navigate the world. In milliseconds it can think through a circumstance, all the possible outcomes, make a decision, and initiate action on that decision.
Occasionally it helps us to get lost as well. We think ourselves into a rut; a conscious, mental and emotional muddle that sometimes we can’t get out of for months or even years.
Even when we may not be sure about who we are, what we are doing, or why we are doing it, we are physically never lost. We can always locate ourselves by locating our body.