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.
Our existence is rooted in the body. We know we are here because we have input from our senses that go directly to our brain and orient us to ourselves, to our surroundings, and to other people. Without these inputs we would be unable to function. Something we do every day, like walking, would become impossible. We wouldn’t feel our foot touch the ground as we take a step. We wouldn’t know to bend our knee and shift weight to the other foot while in stride. And we would promptly fall to the ground.
We obviously take all of this for granted, the continuous loop of information going back and forth between our senses and our brain. And for a good reason. Our attention needs to be elsewhere.
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.
“Wholeness is the smallest subdivision of life” – James Jealous
The musculoskeletal system of the body (the muscles and bones) is one of the last systems to form in embryonic development. It’s the system we most identify with on a day-to-day basis. When we pick up boxes or walk to work we are experiencing our musculoskeletal system. When we look in the mirror what we see under our skin are the outlines of the bones and muscles that make up our physical structure (the musculoskeletal system).