A note on
meditation: There is no
"right" way to reflect. You might want to simply read through
the following, or you might want to print off this page and have someone read it
to you, or you can make a tape of yourself reading the words. You can do a
relaxation first, or not. You might want to have a journal ready to write
down what you feel as you finish the meditation.
If you feel like you need to stop at any time,
please do so. You may experience powerful feelings from doing meditation,
or no feelings, or anything in between. If you have painful emotions emerge,
please treat yourself gently. Doing an exercise that puts you in touch with your
body may put you in touch with emotions you have "lived above the
chin" to avoid. Treat yourself with compassion. You might like some
comforting - a hug or a soothing bath or a talk with a trusted
friend. Consider writing down what you are feeling.
The following meditation is excerpted
from our book Great Shape: The
First Fitness Guide for Women:
This is a relaxation and visualization
exercise designed to help you get to know your desire to move. It is
easier to do if you either have someone you trust read slowly to you while you
close your eyes, or tape-record yourself reading slowly and replay it with your
You can do this exercise more than
once; in fact, it can be a daily practice to help you identify what sort of
movement you want.
First, lie down on a comfortable
surface and loosen any constricting clothing so you can relax and breathe.
Gently close your eyes and let your attention come to rest on your
breathing. You are not trying to change your breathing, you are just
noticing it, trusting that after all this time your breathing can take care of
itself. In and out, in and out, let the rhythm lull you.
Imagine the path of your breath as it
comes into your body, warming your insides. It flows through your nose,
down your throat, into your lungs. You can imagine that it keeps flowing
down, warming your stomach, your pelvis, and radiating into your arms and legs,
all the way to the tips of your fingers and toes.
Your breath washes through the blocked
places in your body, and as you breathe out, it takes with it any tension.
Like an ocean wave, it brings in warmth and nourishment, and takes out waste and
tension. Feel the waves flowing in and out for a few moments.
Now begin at your feet and check each
part of your body. What would your feet like? Do your toes need to
curl and stretch? Experiment with curling your toes tightly and then stretching
them out and away from one another, then let them relax.
Move up to your ankles. Flex,
then point your feet and circle them one way and then the other. What do
your calves need? Do they feel itchy, wanting to be warmed in
movement? Tense and hold them, then release. Move up to your knees
and thighs. Often the big muscles in your thighs hunger to be moved.
Make them hard and tight for a moment. Squeeze them and feel the pleasure
of that warmth, then release.
Move to your buttocks. Tense one
cheek, then the other, then both. Squeeze hard and hold, then
release. Draw your attention to your abdominal muscles. Press your
lower back down onto the surface you're lying on so there's no gap. Push
down, down, then release. Feel the flow of relaxation moving up your
body. Continue upward, squeezing your shoulder blades together tightly,
and feel the pleasure of stretching, then release. Notice the feeling in
your hands. Squeeze your fingers into tight fists, hold them for a moment,
then relax and let your hands uncurl gently.
Finally, screw your face up tightly,
pursing your lips, squeezing your eyes, and wrinkling your nose and
forehead. Hold tightly, then release.
Your body is now warm and
relaxed. What sort of movement do you see in your mind at this time?
Try on a few ideas. Imagine how your muscles would feel doing
something. Slow and easy? Or do you need something stronger, something to
pump heat? Smooth, fluid motion? Or harder, tighter movements? Where
in your body do you feel a readiness for hard work? Take a few moments to
localize your desire.
Do you want this activity to be in
water or on land? Do you want to move to music? Do you want fast or
slow pacing? Steady or a variety? Do you want to be alone or with
friends? Let your imagination call on every sense to paint a picture for
What do you see? What do you
hear? What fragrance is in the air? Who is there?
Give yourself a few minutes to really embellish the scene.
When you feel ready, let your attention
return to your breath. Then slowly open your eyes.
back to top
The purpose is to take the time to check in with your physical
self and get to know your feelings about movement. The exercise is only
one method of doing this and will be more helpful to some people than
others. If you try the same exercise again, you may have a different
experience. But if nothing much happens for you after several attempts,
you might simply ask yourself direct questions about what sort of movement
appeals to you.
If you did come up with some images of the kind of movement
you wanted, it might have surprised you, given what you thought about yourself
up to now. How can you use this information?
Location of the hunger: If
you felt the "itch to move" in your thigh muscles, you need something
that will work those muscles. Brisk walking, cycling, jogging, non-impact
aerobics, or resistance work with leg presses will work your thighs.
Lifting weights, racquet sports, and swimming can work your arms.
Type of movement:
Slow, easy movements are the norm in t'ai chi, yoga, and some kinds of ethnic
dance. Harder, tighter movements are required for the martial arts or
aerobics. What appealed to you at this time?
Land or water sports? Alone or with companions? Individual or team?
Do you want to hear an underwater stillness? The noisy commotion of a
squash court? The pulsating rhythms of a dance class? Do you want
the privacy of your own thoughts? The companionship of a close
friend? The heat of full-out competition? Use this information to
help you choose among the endless variety of ways to move.
You may have a better idea about what sort of movement you'd like, but it's
equally important to get an idea about your resistances to movement - the
fears, concerns, distaste, and turnoffs you experience when you think about it.
And don't assume that such resistances prove you're a born couch potato.
Everyone has them , just as everyone has the counter-urge to move. The important
thing is to find out what your negative feelings are and then figure out which
of them are realistic and what you can do to make things easier on yourself.
Now you may want to write about the feelings that came up for you during the
meditation. Remember, you may have had powerful feelings or no feelings,
or anything in between. There is no "right" set of feelings or images.
Try to encourage an attitude of curiosity and respect for whatever your