Skin – skeleton – breath

skin - skeleton - breathA meditation in lying, sitting and standing

Lying

Settling
Start lying on your back, either with your knees bent and feet standing on the floor hip-width apart (good if you have any lower back tension) or with your legs long

Skin
Bring your awareness to your skin by slapping your hands on your thigh muscles to encourage them to let go and the legs to settle; rest your hands on the floor and feel the skin of the palms tingling
Rub your hands together, palms and backs, to warm the skin and bring it more into your awareness
Close your eyes and bring your palms over your eyes, with the base of the hand resting on the bony eye socket, the soft centre of the palm over the eyes and the fingers on the forehead
Use the contact of your hands on your face to allow the skin to soften; also let the eyes rest back in the sockets, and the lips, jaw and tongue to release tension

Skeleton
Now bring the arms to rest on the floor beside you, and sense the weight of their bones settling onto the floor
Let your awareness expand to sense the weight of the rest of your skeleton resting on the floor
Feel the weight of the skull, the shoulders, the pelvis and the long bones of the legs all giving their weight to the ground
Sense into the back of the ribcage – can you feel any vertebrae making contact with the floor
Let your head roll a little to the right and to the left to help feel it’s weight on the ground – keep within a comfortable range of movement

Breath
Bring your hands to rest on your belly
Notice how the belly responds to the action of your breath, maybe rising as you breathe in and falling back as you exhale
If your mind wanders, keep gently bringing your attention back to rest with the sensations of your breathing
Allow your attention to expand outwards to experience the whole of your body – can you hold the breath, skeleton and skin in your awareness at the same time

Sitting

Settling
Chose a comfortable sitting position
Think about sitting ‘down’ rather than ‘up’, resting the weight of your body on the ground, rather than holding yourself upright
Bring your hands to your belly and gather your awareness into your pelvis to help encourage it to settle on the ground

Skin
Slide your hands from your belly over the skin of your thighs, lower legs and feet
Continue up your sides, over your belly, back and chest
Smooth your hands up the back of your neck, over your scalp and down across the skin of your face
Carry on sliding your hands down your arms, finally bringing the hands to rest on the thighs
Close your eyes and sense the whole outer layer of your body

Skeleton
Bring your attention to the contact of the sitting bones on the floor, cushion or chair
Sense the weight of the large bones of the pelvis and legs dropping down into the ground
From the feeling of the your heavy pelvis, imagine your spine growing upwards, vertebrae by vertebrae, to where the skull balances on the top
Drop your attention down to the shoulders and sense the collarbones in the front and the shoulderblades in the back
Feel the weight of the bones of the arms hanging from the shoulders
Let the bones of the hands rest on the thighs
Then bring your hands to your low side ribs, feeling how they can move with the breath

Breath
Notice how you can experience both the skeleton and the breath in the movement of the low side ribs
Rest your hands back down and continue to feel the movement of the ribcage in your awareness
See if you can sense into the centre of the ribcage and find a point from which it feels that you expand in all directions with the inhalation and to which you narrow and contract when you breathe out

Standing

Settling
Come up into standing in a way that is comfortable for you
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, close your eyes and let your weight settle into your footprints

Skin
Let your awareness come to your skin, the outer layer of yourself, your point of contact with the world
Feel the air on the places where your skin is bare – face, hands, feet
Sense the shape of yourself in standing

Skeleton
Start to slowly shift your weight over one leg and foot and then the other
As you rock to the left, and then to the right, sense your weight resting down though the large bones of the legs and the smaller bones of the feet
Eventually stop rocking, and settle your weight down through the bones of both legs
Sense the weight of the pelvis dropping to the floor through the legs
Imagine the spine stacking up above the pelvis and feel the head resting on the top
Let your arms hang and palms soften

Breath
Bring your hands somewhere to the front of your body that helps you make contact with your breathing
Let your awareness settle with the movement of your breath in your body

Finish with a sense of your whole self standing – skin, muscle, skeleton, breath, feelings, thoughts

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