Scan Me!

When I was 14 I had my first (and last) summer camp experience. I don’t truly know why I went there that summer – but  I do think it had something to do with a certain boy whom my parents weren’t too crazy about!  There are a few things I remember about the camp, and it was a beautiful place, set up in some mountains in PA. We hiked and canoed. I helped little kids learn how to swim and care for horses – two things I was very good by that age. There was a farm, we picked and ate fresh foods and even decorated our cabins with fresh flowers. It was a little slice of heaven, as they say. There were also Beth and Tom, honestly, I don’t remember their real names, I saw them once, that was it, but the work they did with us that day has remained with me for all of these years.

“Ok, today we’re going to take a full  body scan. Find a blanket and lie down, please.” Beth and Tom were young, probably college students. There were about 10 of us there that day-all chatty, giggly, little teeny-bopper campers.  They had us lie on a cabin floor and guided us through a meditation and full body scan – two things I had never heard of. “You need to be quiet and try to keep  your eyes closed. If you fall asleep it’s ok, you may get very relaxed,” they told us. “Ha! quiet? US? This is going to be interesting,” I thought to myself.

First we were guided into a short meditation. I don’t recall much of it, but it felt quite nice! Then, we were “awakened” a bit and told to curl up our toes as tight as we could. “What?!,” I worried to myself, “I’m so relaxed, I feel so good! why would I want to do this to myself now?! Beth and Tom are nuts!” But, I followed along, I was always good at following directions. “Now, breathe in, feel your toes, and breathe out, release your toes. Let them go. Wiggle them around. How does that feel?” AHHHH! “WOAH! That felt SO good!” I answered out LOUD. I couldn’t help it, they asked the question.

Tom and Beth continued to move throughout our entire body, having us tense up a certain muscle area, breathe, recall the feeling, then breathe out and release. Let go. I will never forget the blanket I was lying on or how the body scan felt – simply amazing. Not one of us spoke afterwards. It was as if we were in this cloud, floating , relaxed and happy. There were truly no words for the pure bliss we had just been exposed to.

I had never been taught anything like that before, and, sadly, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet up with it again until almost after my college years.  Finally, I  was reunited with things like meditation, yoga, breath work.  I found NIA , an amazing dance flow and Reiki. I’ve become a collector of healing arts. I’ve learned how to meditate while walking. And, of course, I use the body scan, the same one I learned as a young camper, almost daily.

Body scans can be done in a variety of ways. However, the most simple way is to lie down in a comfortable, quiet area and start with your feet and work your way up. Tense and flex your muscles, one at a time, feel your muscles and note any sensations that accompany the movement. Breathe. Then, relax your muscle, breathe out , let go, release and move on. You may want to journal any unique or unusual sensations that you find during your scan afterwards. Making a daily practice out of this can produce amazing results in your health and physical appearance, energy, attitude and awareness.

Be well, go scan & let go.

Sick & Listening

 

For most of us, getting sick isn’t something we want, nor look forward to. I certainly don’t enjoy being sick, but I have discovered that sickness is a tool, something I need to look at and use, evaluate.
By no means am I a medical doctor and I don’t profess to use these techniques to simply get better and move on. If you are ill and not getting better, yes, go and seek a doctor’s assistance. I do seek the help of doctors when I understand that there is a necessity to do so.
Just a few weeks ago, I had a full-blown cold. Not a lot of fun. I went to work, and probably shouldn’t have. However, when I came home, I took some time to evaluate just how I was feeling. Quietly, I meditate and reach into each part of my body by simply placing my thought on each part of my body, starting with my feet and working my way up. What hurts? Where , exactly? What is it that I’m feeling? Where is there tension? I go into organs as well. If something doesn’t hurt I simply thank it for being a healthy , functioning part of my body. Where I do find pain, I ask myself why that pain may be there. If I get an answer, I accept it. If I don’t, I accept that as well and move on.
Fighting a cold or the flu isn’t going to get me anywhere. My body is talking to me and I need to cooperate, not fight. I’m not going to starve my body of anything – including the attention it needs and is asking of from me. In fact, the more attention I pay to each part of my body the more relaxed and less pain I feel. It’s my body’s way of thanking me for recognizing the signals.
“Rest,” I hear as complete my self-evaluation. I’m bad a resting. I sleep at night, but that’s not always enough. I do involve myself in a lot of activities at work and with my family, as well as for other jobs I hold. At times, it may just be too much. “Rest,” should probably be tattooed on my arm or leg somewhere as a daily reminder – I NEED to rest. I accept it.
Know yourself. I know my diet, at times, suffers. I give in to a tasty morsel or two here and there and allow myself to enjoy them. There is nothing wrong with enjoying something REALLY delicious (and a bit “not so healthy”) every so often – as long as it’s just that – every so often. And I make sure that my REALLY delicious foods are worth it. But lately, I’ve noticed that the amounts of sugar in foods are absurd, not just ridiculous, but absurd. I’ve known this, but ignored it. My body isn’t ignoring it though, it’s telling me exactly what it thinks. I listen and accept it.
And now? Am I “cured?” Well, depends on how you look at it. I do feel less pain, but I am still stuffy and sneezing, etc. I tell my body that I understand, I love it and accept the “dis-ease” that is taking place. I thank it for allowing me this opportunity. After this, I do not give it more attention, I just simply make use of the help it has offered me.
The self-evaluation exercise is simple, and takes anywhere from 10-20 minutes to complete. If you’ve never meditated before, you could start with a shorter version of this and scan, or evaluate your body for just 5-10 minutes, but do not rush. You can always do these self evaluations when you are feeling well too. It’s just as important to recognize when we feel good, strong and healthy, as it is to recognize when we have less energy and pain.
Listen to what our bodies are telling us, become more aware. It’s also amazing just how much information we can obtain if we simply get quiet and listen within.
Be well.