Blue School teacher Annabelle Baylin leads a body scan practice for parents and caregivers--an invitation to slow down, check in with your body, and simply notice.
Meditation - Body Scan Practice for Parents and Caregivers
DAWN WILLIAMS: Welcome to On Balance, a podcast for parents created by Blue School educators. We know that even in ideal circumstances, finding balance at home and in life can be a challenge. And now, we’ve been called on to be 24 hour a day parents while balancing work responsibilities and our own emotions during this difficult moment in time. If you're finding it particularly difficult, we’re here to partner with you. Together, we will find our way.
This is a bonus episode to our interview with Blue School teacher Annabelle Baylin in which Annabelle will share a body scan practice for parents and caregivers.
ANNABELLE BAYLIN: I’m going to lead you through a body scan practice. And a practice that will support you to find different ways to focus on your breath. And this is a practice that you can do while sitting down. But it’s also something that then you can remember and take into your day. So hopefully this can support you in many ways. And this is a practice for parents and caregivers. And perhaps if you would like your child to join you and sit with you and listen, this practice can support the whole family as well.
So I invite you to find a comfortable, seated posture. If you’re sitting in a chair, you can have your feet on the floor. And you can have your hands resting on your knees, or if you prefer you can have on top of the other, palms facing up in your lap. Find what feels comfortable to you. And if you’re sitting on the floor, maybe cross-legged, you can begin to feel your sitting bones connecting to the floor, or the chair beneath you. Feeling that rooting down into the surface beneath you. From that solid foundation you can imagine a gentle upward motion from the base of your spine all the way to the crown of your head. So feeling a gentle lengthening upward while also feeling a gentle motion downward. So movement in both directions. Grounding and lengthening.
And if you haven’t already, you can allow your eyes to gently close. Or if it feels more comfortable, you can find a steady gaze toward the ground. Just a soft, soft gaze. And from here you can begin to bring your attention to your breathing. Noticing the breath coming in through your nose, going out through your nose. Let’s go ahead and take three intentionally deep breaths to begin. You can do this at your own pace, breathing in deep. Breathing out long. Breathing in deep. Breathing out long. Breathing in deep. Breathing out long. So I invite you now, we’re going to be doing a body scan, where we’re going to be noticing each part of our body. Just bringing mindful attention to it and noticing how we’re feeling.
I invite you now before we begin to just check in and do an overall scan, noticing how your body’s feeling. You could even give yourself a number, like one being really not great and five being feeling the best you’ve ever felt physically, kind of put yourself on that scale. And maybe checking in with yourself mentally. Where is your mind right now? Is it one, being all over the place, overwhelmed, to five being maybe feeling very clear and present. And how about emotionally, where are you? One being not so great, five being doing really well, whatever that means for you. It’s good to check in at the beginning, so then we can notice how we feel afterwards as well.
I invite you now to gently bring your attention to your toes. Without moving your toes or wiggling them, see if you can just notice the feeling of your toes. Maybe they’re making contact with a sock or a shoe, or the surface of the floor. Or a chair. Just feeling that contact. And allowing your breath to move all the way down into your toes. Imagine sending your breath all the way down to your toes. And then shifting up into your feet, tops of your feet, heels, whole foot, making contact. Just noticing how that feels.
And shifting up into your shins, your calves. Just noticing here if there’s any tension, any holding on. And if there is, without any judgment, kindness towards yourself, just breathing in through your legs, creating a little bit more space. Moving up again into your legs, your knees, your thighs. Noticing again here any tension, any holding on. Just sending the breath into those spaces. Moving up into the pelvis, hips. Another place where many of us carry a lot of tension. Just noticing your holding on here, and what that feels like. It’s tight, maybe not. And without judgment of whatever your experience is, just sending the breath into your hip and your pelvis and down your thighs. All the way into your toes.
Moving up a bit more to your stomach, your abdomen, your diaphragm, your ribcage, your lower back. All places where we often hold so much tension. Just noticing what that feels like right now, where you are with that. Any sensations arising. Just being present with those for a moment. And sending your breath down into your diaphragm, through your pelvis, down your legs to your toes. Sometimes it helps me to even visualize my breath as having a color. So if that supports you, you might visualize a color moving to all those places. And moving up into your chest, your shoulders, again. Your upper neck, upper back, neck. Another place we often hold so much emotion, hold tension.
Just notice what comes up for you when you put your focus on these areas. See if you can just allow that to be true, whatever’s arising for you. Know that your body’s been working so hard and so diligently for you. And allowing your breath to move into those spaces. Your shoulders, your neck, back of your neck, down your back, through your abdomen, chest. All the way down to your toes. And noticing your face. See if you can notice what your jaw is doing right now, what your teeth are doing. Check in with your tongue. Are they clenched? Is there a holding on? Is there a softness? Just noticing. What about your forehead? Is your brow furrowed? Is it soft? Eyes. Are they tightly closed? Are they gently closed? Do they feel heavy? Light?
And allowing your breath, as you breathe in through your nose, allowing that breath to move through your face. Maybe creating a little bit more space and softening. Now putting your attention on the very top of your head. And imagining that space just above your head. Maybe you feel a gentle pull upwards. Gentle rising upwards when you focus on this space. Now you can allow your body to breathe. From the top of your head all the way down to your toes, allowing your breath to rejuvenate every particle of your body. Allowing your body to just be breathed. Your body is always breathing. You don’t have to do anything. Just noticing what it feels like right now. Allow your breath to move through your body.
Maybe you’re noticing your breath moving into different places from when we started. Maybe you’re noticing just a little bit more space in the body. Maybe you became aware of things that you weren’t aware of in your body before you started this, and maybe signaling a need to do something else to take care of your body, and that’s okay too. Just noticing your breath coming in through your nose. Going out through your nose.
Taking a moment now to just check in again as we did at the beginning. See where would you place yourself on that scale physically. Has anything shifted for you? How about mentally? Your thoughts, racing. Is there a little bit more space maybe between your thoughts? And how about emotionally? Just noticing if anything has shifted. When you feel ready, you can take one more intentionally deep breath on your own. And allow your eyes to open. When you feel comfortable and ready. Or you may choose to just stay here. And that’s okay too. And then I hope that you can carry this feeling of connectedness to your body throughout the day. And also take micro-moments throughout the day as you’re doing the dishes or when you first get out of bed, to just do a quick scan. Notice where you are, and see if there is anywhere you can maybe send the breath to create just a little bit more space. I hope this is supportive. Have a wonderful day.