“Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf.” Ravindranath Tagore
In my last InSpire, we focused on how to understand the nervous system, and “weed the garden” of our thoughts and actions to invite more positive feelings into our daily lives. The idea is easy to imagine when we are feeling relaxed and well, and less simple to apply when we are feeling emotionally down, or are stuck in a challenging situation. So, how to find our way even in “stuck” moments?
Mindfulness isn’t all about being constantly happy - it is simply permission to experience what you are feeling at any one moment, without attachment to those feelings, whether they be “good” or “bad”. By allowing ourselves to notice, experience and investigate our thoughts, feelings and/or emotions that seem to demand our attention, we slowly become better equipped to arrive in acceptance of what arises, and not feel overwhelmed and gripped by challenging emotions, thoughts and feelings that we feel we cannot control.
A powerful tool to support this process is Journaling, “taking notice and taking notes”. We will start with taking notice...
- The art of paying attention We have so many distractions in our daily lives, which often then exacerbate our ability to sort through challenging thoughts, feelings or emotions. We will start by simply pausing, softening and connecting to our breath at specific times during our day. Choose the times when you can commit to doing this, even if it is only for 1 minute - set your timer if you need to. How often you do this, depends on your day - make it realistic so you can commit. In that 1 - 5 minute break, as you rest on your breath, notice 4 aspects of yourself: Your mental state Your physical body Your emotional state Your immediate surroundings
Notice them without the need to comment, change, or criticize. Just notice. Let all experiences from your observation come and go on your breath. To deepen this exercise, note down anything that arises from your experience, even if it is only a few key words. Practice this exercise for at least one week, and then go on to include the next one, or alternate between them.
The art of Being, doing nothing In your 1 - 5 minute break or even in your lunch break, pause, soften and connect to your breath. Either find a comfortable place to sit or go for a walk without a specific destination in mind. Simply Be. Watch your breath, relax your body, and Be. Again, notice anything that arises, like we did in the previous exercise, and keep returning to your breath. Just Being, not doing. If you wish, jot down how it feels to just Be in the moment without any specific objective. Notice how your observations change from moment to moment, day to day.
The art of unfolding details In your 1 minute break, first pause, soften and connect to your breath. Find an object/view in your surroundings that draws your attention, something that is pleasant to observe and helps you to soften (eg. Something in nature). Rest your eyes softly on it, watching without formulating any opinion or judgment, just observing. Start to describe it in detail. Then describe your feelings in response to observing this object/view.
If these exercises feel challenging or frustrating for you, do some yoga poses first. Simple stretching will allow the natural energy of the body to flow more freely in you, making it easier to be receptive. If you are not sure what to do, I recommend my sitting sequence, or the first few minutes of Joan’s Sequence, on my online platform.