As mothers, when we choose to dedicate our time and intention to taking care of our selves, the benefits emanate out to everyone we are near. If you are thinking, I don’t know if I can do that, or, putting myself first sounds selfish, let me offer you an example most of us are familiar with. When you board an airplane with your children and the flight attendant talks about plane safety, she says in the event of an emergency an oxygen mask will drop down. Put yours on first and then secure those of your children. Why? Because you’re no good to your kids if you’re passed out in the aisle. Though this sounds extreme, so many of us are so crazed and busy that, in effect, we’re already passed out in the aisle. Put on your own oxygen mask by beginning to weave simple practices of relaxation into your every day.
Relaxation in a nutshell This breathing and body awareness practice is something you can do anywhere, anytime—in your home, on a bus, in an airplane, waiting for your turn in line. It is a valuable tool to help you get in touch with your own body sensations and allow you to notice feelings of discomfort as well as refine the quality of your concentration. Do this practice every day and your body will respond in a beautiful way.
- Get comfortable. Begin by sitting or lying down. Either way is fine. Allow your attention to move to your natural breath. Simply notice that you are breathing.
- Notice your breath coming in, pause, and out. It’s like welcoming in a best friend. Natural, easy, effortless, and relaxed. Put your hands on your belly and feel your abdomen rise and fall with your breath.
- Become aware of your body. Feel the contact of your feet with the ground. Feel your hips wide and level, shoulders back and down, head and neck in line with your spine, chin slightly tucked in so the back of your neck can be long.
- Keep your attention on what you can feel, your sense of touch. Bring your awareness to your toes. Allow your attention to rest here. Notice every part of your feet: heels, toes (start with your little toe and count over to your big toe), balls, arches, ankles, enjoy noticing your feet.
- Now bring your awareness to your shins, calves, knees, thighs, pelvis, and buttocks—noticing. If your attention wanders off, gently and firmly bring it back to your body.
- Focus your attention to the back of your body: your spine, shoulders, back of your head—noticing. Now bring your awareness to the front of your body: abdomen, lungs—noticing the rise and fall of each breath, perhaps the beating of your heart. Bring your awareness to your shoulders, arms, elbows, wrists, hands, and fingers. Bring attention to each finger, starting with your little finger and counting over to your thumb.
- Bring your awareness to the back of your throat, jaw, tongue, cheeks, eyes, then your forehead between your eyebrows. Be aware of the crown of your head. Feel your whole body, from the top of your head down to the tips of your toes. Feel how your body is interconnected. Your whole body. Return to your breath and deeply breathe in and out. Notice how you feel right now.
- Rest in this feeling you have created, let it settle into you, wrapping around you.
Do you dedicate time and attention in caring for yourself every day? If not, could you consider trying this above relaxation before you get out of bed in the morning to set the tone for your day, or before you drift off to sleep at night to ensure a good night’s rest? Your body knows how to self-heal when it is allowed to be in a relaxed and still space.
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