Body Scan, Visualisation

Outer Body Scan

A MEDITATION ON PERSPECTIVE

I have this recurring experience in meditation from time to time, where I find myself detached from my body, sitting up in the crook of the moon. One leg’s dangling down, the other one’s bent and I’m just kicking back looking down on tiny little me from millions of miles away.

It’s a meditation that must come when I’m in need of some perspective. Perspective on how unimportant my personal newsreel is – the work dramas, the family issues, and whatever other salacious story is jostling for my mental airtime.

If you, too, find it hard to get outside your own head, try this visualisation meditation for some peace, perspective and clarity.

I call it an outer body scan.

Enjoy xx

Sometimes it can be hard to get outside our heads.

The thoughts turn to stories, then into full on mind-movies, seeming all too big and all too real.

Which is why it’s useful to take a deliberate break from the drama, get out of our heads, out of our bodies, and take a wider perspective of ourselves and our lives.

Just for a moment, think about your entire life so far – what can you remember?

And now think about your entire life to come. What will you remember?

A handful of challenges that you overcame to see the day, but above all else, those who we loved and those who loved us.

It certainly won’t be what the monkey-mind serves us up day-in, day-out.

And when we consider this experience the same for every other human on the planet we realise we’re not alone after all, which can bring incredible comfort… to help us get through life’s challenges and face our fears with courage.

This meditation helps us gain that perspective, a technique we can try when we’re stuck in our heads with the same sad song looping round and round.

MEDITATION

Let’s begin. Bring your attention to your heart. Take a deep breath all the way in to your chest, let it swirl around before exhaling fully and deeply.

Now breath in and allow the breath to spread out across your collar bones, hugging your shoulders… before letting it all out slowly and fully.

Now inhale to the top of your neck, allowing the breath to envelope your throat… and your chin… before breathing out slowly and deeply.

Next breath in through your nose, swirling it around your cheekbones, filling up your eye sockets and then letting it all out in a peaceful exhalation.

Now think about your forehead. Let the in-breath fill up the area, spreading it across the entire surface and all around the back of your head.

It’s time now to leave your body entirely. Rest your attention on top of your head, nestled among the hair or on top of the skin.

As you retract further back, see yourself sitting here, your entire body in one view, meditating here in peace, on your chair, or on your cushion.

If you’re sitting inside, let’s now leave the room – keep your eye on your body but take a wider view of yourself, in context of that space, from above the building.

Let’s zoom out again. Imagine looking down at yourself relative to the whole of your suburb, or town. All the people in all the houses and in their cars, going about their days or evenings, thinking all their thoughts, facing all their challenges. We’re all in this together.

We can zoom out even further to imagine the whole of the city… the whole of the state… the entire country… the entire planet.

Just sitting up there in the crook of the moon… looking down on your body: a tiny little spec among an infinite number of tiny specs that make up this world, this universe, this life.

How does it feel to have some space between you and your body? You and your story?

For the remainder of the meditation, if you’re enjoying this technique, you can continue focusing your view on this wider perspective or zoom right in to where we began, back to the heart, and see which one brings you more contentment.

Open Awareness, Visualisation

Ripe

A MEDITATION ON TURNING THE MUNDANE INTO MAGIC

I wrote recently about the goal of mindfulness meditation being simply about watching what our mind is doing one moment to the next (thinking, focusing, wandering) and trying not to put “metrics” or “KPIs” on the practice (e.g.: If I can reach 10 breaths without any thoughts then my meditation will be a success.)

But something that we can achieve (if we must) by showing up to practice as consistently as possible, is a beautiful level of present moment awareness that, in my experience, can turn even the most mundane, routine tasks into little moments of magic. And with that, a side order of soul-nourishing, real happiness that no cigarettes, caffeine, drink, drug or vice could ever hope to compete with.

What I’m talking about is a warm buzz or energy that washes over you during unexpected moments doing boring things like folding the washing or doing the dishes. Not every time. But sometimes. And when it does, the ‘aha! moment’ that lets us know we are 100% on the right track.

(But seriously? What soul-nourishing magic can come from pairing socks and scrubbing pots?)

Give this meditation a try. xx

This moment is ripe for the picking.

Just like a juicy peach.

Imagine taking a bite; feel your teeth pierce the firm and fuzzy skin and your tongue squelch against the soft fleshy fruit. You taste the sweet and tangy juice and feel the cool nectar drizzle down your wrist.

Life could be as vivid as tasting this juicy peach. All we need to do is stop and pay attention to the finer details of our experience.

Even the mundane ones.

Like driving to work. Not a mind-numbing routine to tune out from till our destination, but a road trip of sights and sounds and speeds; an adventure of the senses. The vibrant colours of landscapes and street signs. The interesting shapes of buildings and architecture. All the different shades of all the different cars; the shiny chrome features; the individuals behind the wheels.

Like folding the washing. Not a chore that’s getting in the way of what we really want to be doing, but the chance to stop for 10 minutes and drop into our body. Taking in all the colours, and different weaves of fabric. Feeling the textures against our fingers. Breathing in the lovely scent of newly-laundered clothing. Connecting this task to those we love, or simply, to ourselves.

Like doing the groceries. Just pushing the trolley to get through the list, or a ripe opportunity to feel connected to something greater than ourselves? All the different people we’ve never met but with whom have something in common. That they tread the same aisles. That they’re thinking about what meals to prepare.

All the different foods and products on the shelves, and all the people near and afar that were involved in producing that food. From the farmers to the pickers to the food technicians to the marketing teams. How many countless people just like us, who also push their trolleys, who were involved in producing this food that we are about to enjoy?

Driving, washing, groceries.

All ripe situations ready to be picked and enjoyed and savoured.

And each new day brings a new fruit to be tasted, never exactly the same colour, flavour or texture as before.

MEDITATION

For this meditation consider each moment as you sit here as ripe for the picking.

Each moment as you sit here as deserving as that juicy peach to give your full and undivided attention.

Your breath. Your body. Your emotions. Your surroundings.

To relish a single moment fully until it passes on its own. Not rushing it through impatiently or ignoring it in favour of distractions.

Just appreciating each and every aspect of experience; whether sight, sound, texture or smell.

Giving your senses the space and the freedom of your awareness to spread their wings and really do what they were designed to do.

To receive non-judgementally.

Enjoy.

Visualisation

The Mountain

A VISUALISATION MEDITATION INSPIRED BY JON KABAT-ZINN

 There are metaphors everywhere for mindfulness – clouds coming and going, actors in a play, sitting at the bus stop but not catching the bus. And perhaps one of the most famous is The Mountain by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

I love this one because it’s just so easy to imagine we are, in fact, a mountain! And once settled into the meditation, embodying all the qualities that the mountain possesses – solid, unflappable, beautiful – those qualities seem to transfer to the experience of the meditation itself. In other words, a grounded, peaceful, clear-thinking meditation.

This is my adaptation of The Mountain.

This mediation is a take on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s metaphor of a mountain.

Before we begin, spend some time adjusting your body.

Relaxing the shoulders, sitting up nice and straight, supporting your own posture, and relaxing your belly.

Bringing awareness to your face and head. Relaxing the jaw. Relaxing the neck and throat. Relaxing the temples. Relaxing the forehead.

Taking a deep breath – in through the nose – and out through the mouth.

And resting our hands naturally in our laps.


If you can, try to bring to mind an image of a magnificent mountain. Or if that doesn’t come easily, try and get a sense or feeling for what a mountain embodies.

Solid and unmoving. Triangular in shape.

A sturdy, wide foundation, rooted in the earth.

Angling up high towards its pointed peak in the sky.

And noticing the finer details of all that this mountain is.

Perhaps: a dense landscape of trees. Narrow winding roads. Houses dotted in and around. Animals and birdlife.

An impressive home to life and creation.

Now imagine what your mountain might look like as the seasons change.

Snow-capped peaks in winter.

Lush and dewy in spring.

Bright and dry in summer.

A blazing-red canopy in autumn.

And just as the mountain stays a mountain – with its trees and roads and wildlife – no matter what the changing seasons bring, so too, do we.

For no matter if we’re experiencing sunny thoughts or gloomy ones, frosty or balmy conditions, underneath our mental weather patterns, our true nature sits solid and unwavering.

And with that understanding it can be useful to imagine we are that mountain.

Grounded here firmly to the chair, stool or cushion.

Sitting upright towards the sky.

Experiencing whatever conditions are presented to us, just as they are, without any judgement.

Just sitting and accepting. Still and composed.

Allowing thoughts to come and go. Allowing sounds and sensations to pass us by.

Just sitting as a mountain does.

In peaceful equanimity.

MEDITATION

For the remainder of the meditation, if you’re connecting with this metaphor, continue feeling the breath and visualising yourself as the mountain.

Observing thoughts as they come and go; observing sounds, sensations and smells.

Knowing that you are not your thoughts. Just as the mountain is not the weather.

Taking solace in this realisation.

Breathing in and breathing out.

Sitting centred and upright, moment by moment.

Simply, being the mountain.