Have you ever wished you could turn your brain off… stop it whirling round and round in ever-increasing circles? Most of us know that breathing is a good way to relax. But did you know there’s a way to turbo-charge that relaxation process?
Last night I couldn’t sleep. I tried some mindful meditation: bringing my focus to my breath as it flowed in and out; returning my awareness to my breath every time it wandered off. But it wasn’t enough – my mind seemed to wander off more quickly than I could catch it!
And then I remembered Betty Martin’s advice that our bodies are a powerful tool when it comes to helping still the mind. As she points out: it’s not about turning the mind off so much as switching your body on.
On a physiological level bringing our attention to sensation in our skin actually helps switch the brain from being ‘active’ (all that over-thinking, chattering and judging) into being ‘receptive’ – switching our nervous systems from the ‘Sympathetic’ (fight-or-flight mode) to the ‘Parasympathetic’ (relaxation mode).
As I lay awake I wondered whether some of the techniques I use with my clients to help connect them with what they can actually feel in their body might also help me quieten down my over-active grey matter.
Alongside our lips and our genitals our hands contain the highest concentration of nerve endings in our body. If you want to kick-start sensation, even without getting sexy, then hands are a great place to go to!
So here’s a 5 minute sensate-focus exercise you can benefit from as a meditation any time, anywhere to help get you out of your mind and into your body. And maybe even off to sleep!
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