A Grounding Exercise & Body Scan
“ … Most of us come to tango after having had a largely intellectual education. We live in our heads and our computers, not our bodies. We try to process intellectually what is happening to us. This is not effective when learning movement … In your brain there are more neural connections than there are stars in our galaxy … Are you controlling them? Or are they controlling you?“ – from “Why Tango: Essays“ by Veronica Toumanova
What do I hear? There is constant noise. Air vents, a distant television, parents speaking to one another, my fingers tapping on a keyboard. Somebody coughs. My breath. And always a very quiet high-frequency whirr that sings most noticeably in silence. The sounds that I do not create are mildly aversive to me.
What do I taste? I taste a salty, metallic patch where I burned the roof of my mouth. I remember the spices of the garlicy kale concoction that I ate for dinner. These are pleasant.
What can I see? I see my hanging clothes, my door and door knob, and a picture, peripherally. I turn to the left and see books, my plants, a lamp, my laptop screen. My cluttered corkboard of precious cards and other flat gifts. I am drawn to a particularly precious rainbow pinwheel of construction paper saying, “My lovely lady Lauren—reasons I like you.“ Small white boxes, a chair with clothes draped over it … I do not want to continue. Even though these things all have pleasant associations, they seem visually cluttered. They are a little overwhelming in the stillness and attention that I am giving them now.
What do I smell? There is a scent of someone’s distant rice dinner. I am distracted by a memory of the cheddar broccolli rice my mother used to make for us. The hoodie I wear smells of a detergent unlike our current laundry (I dug it up from a bin of winter clothing). With a deeper inhale, I smell my shampoo. These are all pleasant smells.
What do I feel? Body Scan: My feet feel cold, though they are under thick winter sheets. On my back, my toes feel cozily encased, yet uncomfortably compressed by the blankets‘ weight. I think about how I will inevitably turn into a side-lying or fetal position, as I often do, relieving my toes and my back of the minor discomfort. I feel up my calves—there is an itch. And now an itch on a left toe. In my groin, there is a buzzing—not loud, very subdued. Not the sharpness of buzzing, but the constant movement of buzzing. Like waves crashing. My stomach feels weak, as if I walked into a table’s edge, each belly breath stretching out a sore stiffness. My lower back, too, feels weak, as if it does not want to lie flat. Another itch emerges as I travel up—the right breast and armpit, along my bra line. My chest feels a little heavy, as if there was a light book resting upon it. My shoulders and arms feel relaxed. There is a certain bodily happiness in wearing a thick layer of hoodie. There is a tightness by my left elbow. My hands, too, feel relaxed. My fingertips and palms feel a quiet buzzing. I feel a warmth emanating from my palms, and a cool breeze moving through the space between each finger, even though the air in my room is (seems?) still. My neck and my jaw feel stiff. I remember the unending assignments I have for school. I have a headache. Am I distracted, or is my body stressed? The headache is deep, originating between my ears and behind my eyes. My gums have a quiet hum. My tongue laps at the sensitive hard palate that I burned earlier today. My face feels relaxed, my eyelids heavy. My eyes feel sore and teary. There is a gentle throb on my right helix (cartilaginous upper ear) where I replaced a straight barbell piercing for a hoop earring.
GRATITUDE: I’m grateful for being able to type this. I’m grateful for all of the weight and warmth that my body can feel. I’m grateful for my warm home and the kindness of friends and family.