If there’s any part of my body in need of healing, whether from a fall or other injury, from being ill, or tension caused by stress, sadness or resentment — there’s a simple healing visualization meditation using the breath that I’ve found always helps me feel better.
· In a quiet, private place, sit in a comfortable seated posture that you can hold for a long period with your core supporting you (not against a backrest), or, if you’ll be more comfortable, lie down in savasana. Close your eyes throughout the meditation, and bring the focus of your mind’s eye to your body.
· Breathe deeply and steadily in through your nostrils into your tummy, then into your chest and heart space then up to your shoulders and neck — and slowly and intentionally release down in reverse order from the neck through the bottom of the tummy. Inhale only through the nose, but you can exhale through both the nose and mouth, allowing whatever is most easeful for each breath.
· Make the length of your breath on a 1 to 2 ratio. So if you do a 4-count inhale, do an 8-count exhale. Find a comfortable, sustainable pace, and don’t focus too much on the exact timing – it’s just a rough guide – but don’t forget to remind yourself either when needed. Your body will inform you with each breath what it most needs.
· Once you’ve found a steady pace at about this 1:2 ratio, continue breathing long, deep breaths in this manner, and, as you inhale, visualize sending the breath all the way to the place in your body that needs healing and allowing that part of your body to fill up with healing energy, as your torso fills with breath. As you exhale, visualize the body gently releasing some of the pain, resistance, anxiety, sadness, or toxins from that part of your body, and the out-breath carrying it away, out of you.
· At any point, it may happen that the part of the body you are focusing upon suddenly feels much more easeful or less painful, and seems to have had ‘enough’ healing for now, and some other part of the body will register the need for healing energy. When it happens, honor it, give thanks to that part of your body for healing itself – and with your next breath, you can shift your visualization of healing energy to the next point in your body asking for it.
· This works on any part of the body, not just over the parts over which you have conscious control — even your brain, your heart, the insides of your bones, your eyes, anywhere — you don’t need to be able to consciously control the function of a part of your body in order to send healing energy there.
· Continue for at least a few minutes, as long as you wish, up to a few hours even.
If at first you can’t feel your healing energy focusing itself where you’re visualizing, don’t worry – it’s in you. This will become more apparent the more you relax into it. Often, I know it’s beginning to work because I feel a mild tingling in that region of my body I’m focused on – quite literally, my cardiovascular system is relaxing in that area, allowing more blood to flow in, and with it, more healing happens – more nutrients, oxygen, and white-blood cells go to that part of me — and more red blood cells to carry away by-products and toxins. With some practice, you will be able to focus your healing energy wherever it is most needed with ease, and the sensations will be unmistakable.If you’re comfortable with this simple practice, you can experiment — as you breathe out, while keeping focused in the flow of healing energy through the body with the breath, you can experiment with different out-breaths and sounds — nose-only, mouth-only, sighing, cooing — whatever is most easeful, whatever provides the most release. One that really helps me is to sigh like I’ve just finished a big job.
For those with old emotional wounds – often currently expressing themselves through depression, anxiety, compulsivity, or trouble focusing or sleeping — coupling this exercise with yogic postures can help accelerate the healing process tremendously. Deep emotional releases may occur, as there are often many tensions held in the body from un-processed events over the years. For example, bodywork healers have long known there is often tension stored in the deep musculature of the hips to do with old injuries to one’s emotional security.
One such experience I have had is of emotional memories coming up of the loss of my grandfather, who was I’m told was my ‘best buddy’ as a small child, until I was two years old, when my family emigrated to America. He died shortly thereafter. I have no visual, cognitive, olfactory or other memory of my grandfather, but I did have emotional memories of my loss of him held deep within my body, that came up through the combination of this deep releasing breath and pigeon pose on my left side. I found myself quietly crying tears I had needed to for nearly thirty years, re-connecting with the spirit of a man I had long thought I’d lost, and feeling my load in life is a good bit lighter ever since.
As soon as you’re just a bit comfortable with this practice and can quickly focus your healing energy — you can try to do it any time of day while doing anything – simply taking a deep breath and directing the healing energy to whatever part of your body may be tight or troubled. For me, it works especially well to direct the healing energy to the front of the brain when I’m a bit mentally astir about something, and the tummy when I’m anxious. I’ve done it often at my desk at work, in the line at the store, walking down the street, even in the middle of a challenging conversation. When I can do it, it always helps me — let me know if it helps you too!