After reading an article on time, embodied living, and academia, I began trying to live with a greater awareness of my body. One method for checking in with myself and for deepening my appreciation for my body is what I call embodied good mornings. I'd like to share this with you all in the hopes of facilitating healthy mind-body connections and self-love!
A note on ability: I am extremely fortunate and grateful to be able-bodied. If any part of my method does not work for you, whether because of physical ability or your relationship with your body, please modify it to suit your needs. The end goal is, again, a greater awareness and appreciation of You, and you know You best!
I like to begin my days with energy: every morning, I try to do some movement, whether it's strength training or yoga or qigong. On mornings when I am low on energy, I do slow stretches to wake up my muscles coupled with deep breathing for as long as it takes to feel awake and aware. In these movements, I focus generally on my presence in space — balance, mass, and form. Do what movements feel most natural to you, or just do some stretches before moving on to the heart of this exercise.
I do this part standing in front of a mirror if possible. As this is about the body, I am usually sparsely clothed; the important thing is to connect your awareness of your body with your reflection (if you are vision-impaired, don't worry! Your other senses will get involved soon). This is an active, tactile scan from head to toe. Close your eyes and begin with a light scalp massage: focus first on the sensation of hair and/or skin under your fingers, then of your fingers on your head. Hear the sound this movement makes in your skull. Run your fingers through your hair if you'd like. This is where you say your first "good morning" aloud: good morning to your head and everything in it, to your hair, to your built-in hat holder.
Open your eyes. Trace the outline of your face with your index fingers. Feel the curls and shells of your ears, and listen to the sound your hands make as you do so. "Good morning." Look at your face as closely as you'd like, letting your hands linger over your temples ("Good morning"), under your eyes ("Good morning"), your nose ("Good morning"), your mouth. Good morning to this sensory nexus, to your unique and glowing smile, to the windows to your soul.
Now your neck, front and back — "good morning" as you roll your head from side to side — and your shoulders — "good morning" as you fan your arms like wings. Say a few "good morning"s to your upper arms, to your elbows, to your forearms, your wrists. Flex your hands and say "good morning" to the tendons that help your fingers curl around each other. Shake hands with yourself. "Good morning." Hold your hand for a moment.
Knock lightly on your chest to feel your sternum and clavicle nestled cozy within, and greet them with a "good morning." Do you hear that? The sound of skin on skin? Knock again. Breathe in deep and watch your chest expand to accommodate your lungs, exhaling your next "good morning." If you can, turn slightly and look over your shoulder to "good morning" your back and your spine; pat it or run your hands along it if you're able.
Moving down your trunk, rest your hands on your stomach and slowly rub in circles. With no bones, this area knows only tenderness. Contribute to that tenderness with a soft "good morning." If you have love handles, show them some love with another "good morning." Put your hands on your hips and stand up a little taller; complement your power pose with a suave "good morning!"
Legs! Bask in your thighs. Femurs are the heaviest bones we have, and they do so much! "Good morning," femurs! Drift up and back to your butt — did you think your butt wouldn't get a "good morning"? Stretch-marked, hairy, bony, fleshy — however it looks, your butt is crucial to so much that you do. Greet it! Your knees, too, as much as they make creak and moan, they keep on going. "Good morning" the backs and fronts, maybe with a tickle. "Good morning" your calves and shins (go up on tiptoe for a second if they're getting sleepy). And oh, your ankles, those wonderful bony things that push away the earth with every step... "Good morning" those, and your feet, too. Let your hands wander around these unassuming powerhouses that hold you up.
Straighten up, stretch, twist around. Look at yourself in and out of the mirror. Breathe deeply... deeper... hold...! And exhale. "Good morning."