Breathe in~Breathe out

Happy July everyone!

I hope you all have been having a beautiful summer so far. With over a month left of the kiddos. Being out of school, I thought I would share some challenges my own household has seen with the kids being home. Now if you don't have children, don’t click that back button just yet, the techniques I’m going to share below are for ages 5-95. 

Every summer we like to take a small family trip somewhere. In the past we have visited family in Upstate New York, or even just spent a few days at our favorite resort in Orlando just laying by the pool and relaxing. This year we decided to go to Tennessee. It’s been one of my favorite places since I was a kid. My mom would take us every year in the summer to visit one of her closest friends, and we would explore the forests and swim in creeks. I really wanted my own family to experience the magic of losing yourself in nature. Sounds blissful, right? Life is never that Hallmark movie that’s always got a good feeling to it. It’s never that perfect Instagram feed that only shows the best parts. It’s filled with messy chaotic moments too. Our trip was fantastic, but there were moments when were all crammed in the car 13 hours there, and 13 hours back that got hectic. There were moments in the hotel room that the kids having no bedrooms to escape to, ending in a he said she said battle. These moments are unavoidable, and are bound to happen. Expecting anything else will only set yourself up for failure. 

If you have a few techniques up your sleeve however, you can quickly de-escalate the situation and get back to the path of fun and harmony. Now like I said before, these Techniques are not just for kids, but adults also. If your having a rough day on the job, or running errands is overwhelming, the practices will save your sanity also. I needed this just as much as the kids on that trip….maybe more.

So what are the practices I’m talking about?

Body Scan meditation exercises

There's numerous ways you can do these, and really can be tailored to your preferences. There's just one main component you don’t want to change, and that is doing a full body scan, not just the breathing. I’ll share with you below a few different ways i use these for myself and my children, but first lets go over why these are important and helpful.

Our emotions are felt and experienced in our bodies. Intense emotions like anger, and frustration trigger body reactions that we may or may not even notice at times. Our bodies can also send us signals that tell us about how we are feeling even before our minds are aware of those feelings. 

The goal of the body scan meditation is to simply become aware of the sensations in your body. You should not try to avoid difficult or unpleasant sensations, but to accept them and let them be. Let them come and go, just be aware of the sensations and feelings as they arise.

Try it for yourself:

Get into a comfortable position (sitting or lying down). Close your eyes if you like or find a comfortable gaze that’s not distracting.

Focus awareness on the breath. Breathe in….Breathe out. Notice the rise and fall of your belly.

Feet

Bring awareness to whatever is felt in your feet: coolness, warmth, tingling, dryness. Notice whatever sensation is felt in this part of your body.

Legs

Scan up your legs and down your legs, your ankles, then your calves, your thighs and then your knees. Bring awareness to what is felt.

Hips, abdomen, torso

Feel all the muscles as you scan up and down, feel bones, or joints, Bring awareness to what is felt.

Lower, then upper back

Scan all the muscles, and all the vertebrae in your back, Notice your ribs expand with each breath. Notice your heartbeat, and bring awareness to whatever is felt.

Shoulders

Slowly scan from your shoulders down your arms, your elbows, lower arms, then hands. Scan each finger, then move back up to your neck.

Face

Scan your chin, cheeks, nose, eyes, eyebrows and forehead. Notice the sensations and bring awareness to them.

Head

Scan from above your forehead and all the way back to the back of your head, then move to the sides and scan your ears.

Whole body

Bring awareness to your whole body, from your toes to your head. Breathe in, breathe out.

As I said this exercise is just to bring awareness. What may at first present itself as anger after doing a body scan, other emotions might be found underneath. Fear, embarrassment, hunger. Other emotions are usually at the source of intense emotions. When we acknowledge them, they then can pass quickly.

I can honestly tell you that after doing these techniques with my own kiddos, they are much quicker to stop whatever behavior was causing distress, apologize and move on. Or even just to slow the excited frenzy they were in. Children tend to lump several emotions together, and they aren't able to sort them out as well as adults. Sometimes just taking a moment to breathe is enough to slow their busy minds and come back to a more natural flow.

I myself have a very busy mind. My husband often jokes that sometimes when he looks at me he can see the 1,752 open tabs in my brain! LOL It’s true though, I often am thinking about so many things I have to do, things that I want to do, schedules, grocery lists, and the families needs all at once. Moms are amazing, aren't they? We are, but too many nights I have found myself in bed unable to close all the tabs. I used to have many nights of insomnia because I just could not shut my brain off. Luckily since I've been doing body scans, I very rarely have that problem. Below I’m going to share the nighttime body scan method.

So as before your are going to get comfortable, this time lying down in bed, with your eyes closed. Starting at your feet again and moving all the way up to your head just like before.

The only thing your going to change is instead of focusing on the sensations your are feeling you are going to focus strictly on the muscles. Feel every muscle relax. You’ll be surprised with the muscles you didn’t even realize were tense. Keep your breathing steady and if you find yourself wandering in your thoughts, just return to your breath, and continue the scan. If you get to your head and still feel tense, turn around and work your way back down. You will be sleeping like a log before you know it.

Well i hope these tips help you and your family for the rest of the summer and all year long. Leave a comment below on your experience with the body scan meditation, or share your own version. 

Happy Summer ya’ll!

~Ashley

Posted on July 1, 2019 .