Self-Awareness Exercise: The Four Point Check-In

The Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Check-in

There are so many wonderful versions of this simple exercise to develop self-awareness.

At its most basic, all you have to do is take a moment to check in with yourself in each of four areas:

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Emotional
  • Spiritual

At the moment I’m writing this, my check-in looks like this:

Physical: It’s early in the morning and I haven’t been outside or active yet today, but my energy feels pretty good and I’m looking forward to a quick walk. I’ve been noticing tension in my arms and wrists lately; I make a mental note to keep an eye on that.

Mental: I’m noticing that I’m sighing a lot, probably because I’m feeling some stress about our upcoming move to a new home. My mind feels calm right now.

Emotional: I feel a bit of tension anticipating a conversation I’ll be having today. I feel a lot of warmth and love when I glance over at the man I love. I’m relieved that even though it’s dark and rainy and autumn, I don’t – today, at least – feel any onset of seasonal affective disorder.

Spiritual: I’m full of gratitude for my practice of spending at least half an hour each morning engaging in some sort of spiritual activity — often reading, sometimes meditation. Even as I recognize some mental anxiety, spiritually I feel grounded and centered.

It’s as easy as that! Took me all of two minutes.

Variations on the Four Point Check-In:

  • A few years ago I participated in a First Nations workshop where we created our own medicine wheel. As I wound the buckskin in each quadrant, I reflected on the areas each quadrant represented. Thanks to Sue Freeman for leading this exercise.
  • Ask a loved one to let you know what they’re observing in you in each of the four areas.
  • Create a space for each of the four areas on the floor. Ask a partner to step, one at a time, into each of them, and spend a minute noticing what arises in him/her as he/she steps into the representation of this aspect of you.
  • Talk to Cynthia Gunsinger about how art journalling can help you explore the four points.
  • Take four photographs, each one representing one of the four aspects of you.
  • Sketch an image that represents to you your current state in each of these areas.
  • Draw a card from a symbolic deck (I like the OSHO Zen cards) for each area. Let the symbols illuminate the area for you.

Do you have your own variation on this exercise? I’d love to have you share it.

Wishing you physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.


Laura McGrath is an Ottawa-based life coach and therapist who views her clients holistically, with attention to the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Would you like to do your four-point check-in in conversation? Laura is more than happy to pick up the phone and talk it over. Get in touch.