Getting Real

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I’ve decided it’s time to get a little more real, a little more honest with myself about my own BS. How? By plugging into the body and paying attention.

Like most people, I can easily live in the density of my stories—stories I’ve created about the past and stories about the future. I’ve even created stories about why those stories get in the way of thriving wholeheartedly in the present.

So, I’m practicing recognizing my stories. One way into my stories, and the emotions attached to them, is through body scan meditation.

Why? Our bodies hold an incredible amount of information about our emotions and states of being, particularly those highly charged emotions like anger, shame, vulnerability, guilt, relief, fear, happiness, and love.

I was on the phone recently with another senior leader at work, discussing a particularly challenging business in our portfolio. As I listened on one side of the phone, I disagreed strongly with the perspective being shared, and I became impatient, even jumpy.

For a split second, I dropped into the envelope of the body and just paid attention. I felt my jaw tighten, blood flow through my limbs, and the pit of my stomach contract. I recognized my urge to interrupt, to talk over the other person, and “course correct” his thinking.

I took a breath and created a space to observe, in that moment and without judgment, my physical sensations. I took another breath. I relaxed the tight jaw, exhaled more deeply, and softened my grip on the phone.

Mindfulness, that pause I took to plug into my body, changed the course of the conversation. It allowed me a moment to become acutely aware of what I was about to unload onto my colleague and to recognize that my response would be unproductive. Ah, how well the body informs us, if we listen.

A body scan meditation, even as brief as the one I just described, enables us to do that—to listen, to notice physical sensations one body part at a time, to suspend judgement, and then to move on. Doing this on the fly and in the moment can be incredibly helpful in situations that are highly charged or just plain uncomfortable whether at work or at home.

The good news? It’s a technique that can be learned. At the end of this blog is a link to a body scan meditation, a gift from me to you. This meditation lasts 25 minutes. I recommend you use it as a regular way to incorporate the body scan concept into your daily life. As you become more familiar with the technique, you can create your own mini version to check in and become more aware and a little more real.

Select one area of the body, take a breath, observe any physical sensations with a gentle curiosity, and then release the focus to let go. I recommend starting with the feet and moving sequentially to other areas of the body from feet to head. If another starting point works better for you, use it.

I like to do this before I get out of bed each morning as a check-in for a couple of minutes. You might prefer the evening, recognizing and exploring the physical sensations stored during that day. Your choice—there’s no right or wrong.

Let me know how it goes. For more ways to deepen your awareness, regulate emotions, improve your focus and become more effective in life— join us at one of our upcoming events. Enjoy!


Ashley Nelson