A couple of years ago, I attended a seminar with the wonderful Zoë Brenner, a Japanese-style acupuncturist based in Washington DC. The majority of the weekend was based on refining acupuncture skills and learning to treat based on Daoist principles. But among the non-technical gems she shared was an exercise that she learned from a nurse she worked with in a fertility and IVF center.
Many times we can find ourselves stressed and caught up in the up and downs of the world. We run late, we forget something, we feel the adrenaline rushing. And even when a moment of time comes up when we can take rest, our mind sometimes won’t stop racing. In these situations, our body pain and sensations can increase. If you find yourself in this situation, I invite you to try the following exercise:
Begin by noticing the space between your head and the top of the ceiling. Resting your awareness on the space that is present between you and the ceiling, allow the breath to flow naturally for about 30 seconds or 10 breaths, whichever seems easier to keep in mind. Notice the expansive quality of this space between your head and the ceiling. Notice that this space allows your head the freedom of movement without bumping into anything. After the 30 seconds or 10 breaths, choose another space near you.
It’s easier to start with larger spaces, so maybe the space between a piece of furniture and the wall furthest from it. Again, notice the space between the two objects. Rest your awareness on the expansive nature of this space. Notice your breath as you pay attention to the space and allow it to slow down and deepen if it wants to. You can continue this exercise as many times as you’d like, playing with different sizes of space.
What I have found is that directing our attention to the space around us helps soften our mind. The never-ending to-do list, the stories that run our daily lives, the unpleasant sensations we may experience in our bodies tend to ease up as well because focusing on space invites new possibilities. It also activates the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing the body to relax.
In a similar way, when doing an acupuncture session, I focus on helping the body find more space within itself. There are spaces in our joints, muscles, and fascia that are habitually contracted, movement stuck in time. If you are curious to explore how to unravel some of these patterns and live with more ease in the body, please don’t hesitate to be in touch. Many patients find this approach to treatment to be very relaxing.