Do you wish you had more energy? You are not alone! It’s 2 pm, you still have a few hours of work, and the draw of caffeine feels overwhelming. It’s so tempting to get another coffee or soda. I totally understand. The world spends billions of dollars every year on Starbucks, and Redbull, for that little bit of extra energy that gets us through the day. We tend to rely on things that give us only a temporary boost, at best. The good news is that there is another way to get the energy you need to finish off the afternoon strong, healthy, and productive.
We all know that physical exercise, like running and biking, are well-proven ways to up your energy levels. Meditation works on the brain and body in very similar ways. Our minds and bodies are very busy machines that work really hard, and in order to keep them functioning at an optimal level, we need to unplug and rest up every now and then. Here’s an energizing body scan meditation you can do in as little as one minute that will fill your body and mind with a smooth, natural energy. This is also great for increasing your immunity and clearing your mind when the day seems challenging and stressful.
The body scan is a relaxation technique where you focus on relaxing every part of your body, including your mind. It leaves you refreshed, recharged, and revitalized. By mentally scanning the entire body and visiting one area at a time you will become aware of areas or “hot spots” where you carry tension and can consciously release these areas. This technique teaches you the skills required to be in control of your mind and enjoy a deeply relaxing experience for the mind and the body. I recommend doing this after lunch or mid-afternoon when you would normally be reaching for that midday pick me up. You can also try this with your students as a part of social-emotional learning with many benefits.
- Begin in a comfortable position, either lying on the floor or sitting comfortably in a chair, both feet in contact with the floor, spine naturally straight, with the crown of your head reaching towards the sky. Your shoulders and arms relaxed with your hands resting in your lap.
- Close the eyes if that feels good to you, and begin to observe the natural rhythm of your breath, following each inhale and exhale as they naturally occur for the next three breaths.
- Take a deep breath in and exhale that breath with an open-mouth sigh, allowing the body to release and let go as you exhale.
- Bring your attention to your head. Let’s relax the whole head. Imagine the scalp and hair relaxing and resting.
- Imagine your brain and your mind shutting down and relaxing. It may try to turn itself back on, but just allow it to fade.
- Notice your face, a very busy part of our body. Your forehead. Eyebrows. Even your eyelashes. Your nose, cheeks, mouth. And your jaw, a place where we might carry lots of tension. See if you can relax your whole face.
- Bring your attention to your neck and throat. Allow it to rest and relax.
- And move to your shoulders, another hot spot for many of us. Relax your shoulders and your upper back.
- Now move down to your arms and allow them to rest. See if you can shut down your upper arm. Your elbows, your forearms and now your hands. Let each finger relax and rest. Your thumbs and even your pinky fingers.
- Bring your attention to your belly. Allow it to relax and close down.
- Your hips. Notice how it feels to let your hips relax.
- And now your legs. Your upper legs. Knees. Calves and shins. Your ankle. Foot. Toes. Allow each toe to rest and relax.
- And before you finish this meditation, imagine the whole body, resting and recharging, and deeply relaxed.
- Imagine, as you lay or sit here, that you are being refueled with vital energy. Allow the body to simply soak it up.
- And when you are ready to gently start moving again, open your eyes and just notice how you feel after that simple meditation.
Meditation lays the foundation for a calm, focused, higher level of mind that stimulants like coffee and soda simply can’t touch. This practice will fill you with a feel-good, natural high in the same way that exercise boosts energy levels. Remember: you can recharge at any time throughout your day just by simply doing a body scan and resting every part of your body. So, drop your energy drink and pick up meditation.
Julie Braumberger is an elementary school teacher for grades Kindergarten through grade eight, and is licensed by the Ohio Department of Education. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Notre Dame College. Affectionately called “Mrs. B,” Julie taught third grade in Ohio for more than 10 years before she joined Mind Body Align as the Director of Mindful Education with the mission to find ways to teach children and other teachers how to bring themselves to focused attention and improve their learning. She chose a proven teacher certification program to teach mindful social-emotional learning in schools. Julie developed the MBAwareness Educational Program, a social and emotional learning wellness program for schools which has helped over 90% of teachers and students to manage and reduce stress.