I wrote last week about using the body to practice mindfulness, rather than attempting to transcend the body in an effort toward mindfulness.
The first step in mindfulness actually is the body, but we don’t hear much about that.
To feel more grounded, more centered, and more certain, practice mindfulness of the body.
These tips take no to little time.
Here’s how you can do it.
Bring the thoughts that run in your head, down into your chest. This moves your thinking from your head to your heart. Calmess, and wisdom reside in the heart. You’ll immediately feel a difference in your sense of peace.
Heighten your attention to the physical sensations of daily tasks.
Feel the shampoo as it rolls down your back.
Breathe in the steam from a hot washcloth at the end of the day.
Feel textures. Feel the textures of your clothing, the sponge you use to clean the dishes, your hair, your skin…
Notice temperatures. Notice how at the same time, some things feel cool and others feel warm.
Practice balance poses inspired by yoga and Pilates. Balancing and doing static, whole body poses connect you with your core. Rushing through a set of crunches is the opposite. You want to slow down . Feel the muscles engage as you breath in and breathe out. Focus on a strong pelvic floor. Pull your lowest, smallest ribs down as you bring tone and awareness to your core muscles.
Walk like a gymnast around your house. Have you seen how the USA Gymnastics team enters the arena? They’re giving attention to every muscle and every movement as they walk across the room.
Focus on your breath. Feel it enter and fill your lungs. Experiment with filling one side of your chest more than the other then reverse. Instead of focusing on the air as it enters your nose or mouth, imagine instead, that it’s coming up from the earth and entering your feet or your seat.
Try different types of exhalation.
Really squeeze all the extra air out of your lungs, or
make a gentle “haaaa” noise as you exhale, or
blow the air out like you’re blowing out a candle.
Pay attention to a part of your body you usually ignore. Have a visit with your little toe. Have a conversation with it.
Ask your body if it needs anything from you. Does it need you to listen to it? Does it need more or less activity? Does it need some nutritional support?
Go outside. Feel the breeze across your skin. Feel the soil under your feet. What’s the air smell like? Feel textures of leaves, soil, trees, flowers, etc.
Try a weighted blanket. Gentle compression of the body has a calming effect. Again, it brings us out of our heads and into our bodies. Joint compressions are a form of treatment for children with sensory integration issues.
Coexist with the sensations of your body. Sometimes the body’s full of pain, and the temptation is to do anything you can to numb it or avoid it. Instead, sit side by side with any unpleasant sensation in your body. Coexist with it. You can feel this pain, and you can be happy and at ease at the same time.
Your body is your friend, not your enemy.
It was designed to take care of you. It only has your best interest in mind. Return the favor by practicing mindfulness of the body as you go about your day.
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