“Daily life is better when it involves interactions with real people who have a personal investment in their labour, like shopkeepers, than it is with someone ‘just doing my job’ or the infernal self-checkout machine. Julian Baggini
“Get out of the way, you “A-hole”, was the expression shouted across the supermarket.
I was out shopping; picking up some much-needed bread, milk and some lunch. The supermarket was busy and on a Saturday, full of people doing their weekly shop. There was a real hustle and bustle across the shop as people wheeled their trollies, or carried baskets full of groceries. All logic was lost in terms of people going from one end of the supermarket to the other in some sort of order, there was none. It felt like chaos.
All you could do was be patient and go about your shop calmly and slowly. Stepping out of the way of those in a rush. Negotiating the ramming of the trollies; the barging of the baskets and the poor staff trying to restock the shelves at the same time.
Eventually; having collected the groceries I needed; I proceeded to the checkout and that is where even more fun was going on.
There were large queues at the checkout points and someone had obviously got frustrated either with someone not standing clearly in a queue or possibly queue jumping. Hence, the shouted expression that starts this blog post.
It was at this point, that I started a mini body scan meditation.
What on earth is a body scan meditation? How do you practice one; and why did I do it then?
So, let’s start with, what is a body scan meditation?
The body scan as a way to get in touch with the body; let go of feelings of needing to get stuff done, and release pent-up emotions. Just like other forms of meditation, the body scan also trains attention to the present moment. The body scan alternates between a wide and a narrow focus of attention; from focusing on your little toe; along with your leg; up your torso and all the way through the entire body. The body scan trains your mind to be able to move from a detailed focused attention; to a wider and more spacious awareness from one moment to the next.
The body scan can be performed while lying down, sitting, or in other positions. For instance, I can do a mini version, standing up in a supermarket queue!
How do you practice a body scan?
You can begin the practice by lying on the floor, or on a mat, on a sofa, or even on your bed. Basically, you can begin by focusing your attention at the top of your head and then move down the body, or vice versa. It’s a good idea to use a guided practice to help you get a sense of how to move your attention up or down the body. I enclose a link at the end of the post that I follow.
The steps below are an example of a 5 to 10 minute guided meditation designed to be done while lying on a mat or sofa. There are many examples you can follow, all of differing times. You can do a 3 minute exercise, right the way through to one that lasts for up to 45 minutes.
Firstly, find a comfortable position to lie down on. Don’t worry if you have a tendency to start to fall asleep. That is normal and is something not to worry about.
Start by bringing your attention into your body. The whole of your body.
You can close your eyes if that’s comfortable for you.
Notice your body lying down, feeling the weight of your body on the sofa or on the floor.
Take a few deep breaths. And as you take those breaths, notice your breath as is enters and leaves your lungs. The rising and falling of your chest. And as you take a deep breath, bring in more oxygen enlivening the body. And as you exhale, have a sense of relaxing more deeply. For every step below you need to breathe slowly in and out. Taking your time to breathe easily and deeply..
Notice your feet on the floor, notice the sensations of the heels or the soles of your feet touching the floor. The weight and pressure. Vibration. Heat. Coolness.
Notice your legs against the floor. The pressure, pulsing, heaviness, lightness of your legs.
Notice your back against the floor and the weight of you lying against the floor..
Bring your attention into your stomach area. If your stomach is tense or tight, let it soften.
Notice your hands. Are your hands tense or tight. See if you can allow them to soften.
Notice your arms. Feel any sensation in your arms. Let your shoulders be soft.
Notice your neck and throat. Let them be soft. Relax.
Soften your jaw. Let your face and facial muscles be soft as if you are melting slowly.
Then notice your whole body. Here. Present. In the moment. Take one more breath.
Be aware of your whole body as best you can. Take a breath. And then when you’re ready, you can open your eyes.
That is a full body scan. What I did at the checkout was a mini-scan. Why did I do a body scan in a queue?
I use those moments when standing in a queue to recentre myself. To bring attention to myself in that moment. Why? It stops you getting agitated about the queue. I find that by the time I get to the checkout, I am clam, smiling and when I greet the person who is serving me with a smile, it makes them feel better about the day as well.
If you would like to perform a full body scan meditation, give the following a try:
I leave you with the following quote.
About eighty percent of the food on shelves of supermarkets today didn’t exist 100 years ago.” ― Larry McCleary,