Welcome to Day 2 of the 12 Days of Christmas project! (If you are just joining the project now, you can get the full low-down here: http://thighhighbootcamp.com/2012/12/18/welcome-to-the-12-days-of-christmas-project/ and I really recommend that you start the project at Day 1 to get the full benefit!)
On the 1st Day of Christmas, it was all about getting in touch with our senses, learning to notice the difference between feeling satisfied and feeling full, learning to be present when eating and learning how rituals can nourish us at many different levels (it’s not only food that nourishes us!). Most of all, yesterday was about pleasure – really understanding the finer distinctions of what pleasure means to you within the context of eating. I’m sure that many of you will have been surprised by the experience and I look forward to hearing about what you learned!
If you remember right back to the project launch post (the one with the wee video about cross-country skiing :)), I mentioned that a big part of this project was all about your learning to listen to your body’s signals, decode the signals effectively and then respect the signals by taking congruent action. Some people would call this getting in touch with your natural body wisdom – the part of you that knows how to regulate your appetite for your optimal health and your optimal weight.
So. Here’s the thing. If you want to be able to pay attention to your body’s signals, you really need to be in your body to get the full message! And that’s what the 2nd Day of Christmas is all about : your getting back into your body. Sounds weird? Well, many of us who have struggled with our weight often retreat to our heads and dissociate ourselves from our body. We don’t feel comfortable with our body, so we do (what seems to be) the perfectly rational thing and get out! The only thing is, when we leave our body in this way, we also lose touch with its very important body messages (like “I told you to stop eating : you are completely satisfied, so put down your knife and fork and back away from the table with your arms in the air!” or “Hey – you are not hungry, you are just tired and emotional : go to bed!”.. you get the picture, right? :)) – the very messages that, when respected, would help us to experience increasing comfort and confidence in our own body.
That’s right folks, today we’re going in! And to support your going in, here’s a lovely exercise to help you to move out of your head and into your body. Most people find it really relaxing 🙂 and some people find that certain emotions may come up as they begin to re-connect with a very vital part of who they are. Everyone who does this exercise learns something : and I wonder how curious you are discover what you’ll learn that is of importance to your weight loss journey?
Getting Ready Get yourself comfortable in a chair. Make sure it’s quiet and that external distractions (noise, for example) are kept to a minimum, where possible. You can also do this in the bath or the shower!
Step 1 : Close your eyes and move your attention to your breathing.
Where are you breathing from? Is it deep or shallow? How slowly are you breathing? How is the rest of your body responding to your breathing? When you inhale, what is happening in the rest of your body (allow your abdomen to expand as you take in a each new breath)? When you exhale, what is happening in the rest of your body (allow your abdomen to contract as you exhale each breath)? Are you able to breath from your abdomen? What are you noticing about your breathing as you pay more attention to it? And as you are becoming more connected to your breathing ….
Step 2 : Allowing your breathing to dictate the rhythm and speed of exploration, begin to expand your awareness further into your body (outwards from the point in your body where your breathing starts.)
Just like ripples in a pond, as you exhale, spread your awareness further into your body by gradual increments. As you inhale, bring your awareness back to the core, back to the location where your breathing begins.
On each exhale, focus on the new field of awareness. What are you noticing? How are you experiencing your body now? On each exhale, bring all your insights back to the core. The slower you go, the more you’ll notice 🙂
Repeat this process, until your awareness has reached the outer layers of your body and the extremities (your head, toes, fingers and so on). Oh – and here’s a top tip : make sure you become aware of your heart and your stomach (they are both really worth a visit! After all, if you’ve had a bellyful of not being happy with your body, it’s really worth getting to the heart of the matter J)
Step 3 : Get connected! With fully expanded awareness, and returning to the core of your breathing with every in-breath , consider the following questions :
What are you noticing about the rhythm of YOU? Where in your body is the very source of you? Where is your real rhythm ? How connected do you feel to your body right now? How would you describe that connection? What’s present that’s usually missing? What’s missing that’s usually present? Who or what are you in this very moment?
Step 4 : Keep The Connection Keeping your attention on the location where your breathing begins and keeping your attention on the rhythm of your breathing, open your eyes. As you open your eyes, begin to spread your awareness to your surroundings. Pay attention to what you are seeing, hearing and smelling – and to external tactile sensations (What does the chair feel like against your legs? What is the temperature of the room like?). And (this is the clincher!), as you begin to move your awareness to the outside, make sure you keep connected to your breathing on the inside! (This may take a little practice!)
And that’s us for the 2nd Day of Christmas! And, of course, this is something that you can do as often as you like, to condition being present in your body. This way, sooner or later, your natural body-state of being will be “presence”.
Again, I recommend that you journal this experience, just noticing new insights each time you get fully associated, each time you get connected to your physical body. Also, feel free to make the process your own – modify it to fit you and your body.
Okay – so it’s the 26th December and that’s a special ritual day for me. It means a long post-breakfast run. So, I’ll leave you to open more “presence” 🙂
Gotta run! 🙂
© Jane Talbot 2012