Body, breath and senses, the reliable three anchors of Mindfulness, provide a safe haven when we’re blown about by the wind of mindlessness.
Blown about when we’re overloaded, overwhelmed or over-obligated. Mindless because we’ve switched onto automatic. Speeding on autopilot, we inadvertently trigger flight and fight, the stress response.
Our charged-up state, driven perhaps by insecurity or rumination, keeps fight and flight firmly in place. We wonder how to switch off the anxious feelings and discover the ease that we crave.
How can we find a reliable island of stability, dry land?
Mindfulness can reverse the situation and calm the choppy waves because it reclaims the territory of stability: the present moment. It shores us up on the island of sanity. Think of it this way: stress reactions are by nature automatic and unconscious. “When we bring awareness to whatever’s happening, it changes the situation dramatically” says Jon Kabat-Zinn, a well-known mindfulness pioneer.
How do we access this elusive present moment? The lifebuoy that seems so distant when trapped in past and future, fight and flight, hope and fear, is easily accessible. We just need to remember to make a simple adjustment. We need to remind ourselves to connect to one of the mindfulness anchors: body, breath and /or senses.
The techniques of body sensing, mindful breathing and mindful seeing, enhance clarity by bringing us powerfully into the present moment. (more details below)
Returning Again and Again
Over and over, we practice returning to body, breath and/or senses when autopilot or rumination sweeps us away. By doing so, again and again, we create a new habit. Instead of the old habit of freaking out we create the new habit of returning and stabilising. In that way we build new neural pathways in the brain. We learn a new way of facing stress. Eventually, the mindful response- taking the support of body, breath and senses- will become our new default.
No matter how busy we are, we can grab moments to ease back on our island of mindfulness and savour life.
The 'HOW-TO' of Mindful Body, Breath and Senses
BODY SENSING- Bring your awareness into the body by feeling into the body itself. Feel your feet planted on the ground. Feel the weight of being actually in a body.
TAKE IT FURTHER- sense into the sensations you can feel. Where do you experience sensation, such as tingling or pulsing? What quality does it have?
MORE- Take a class! Yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong are designed to optimise body awareness.
CONNECT TO THE BREATH. As soon as you notice tension arising, make a point of slowing and deepening your breath. Avoid shallow chest breathing; breathe from the abdomen instead.
TAKE IT FURTHER- in dire situations, slow your breath to the magic six breaths per minute, that is, 10 second per breath.
SEE whatever is immediately in front of you! (This practice can be life changing, believe me!) That’s right, pause and look: look directly at the ordinariness of the objects that happen to be right in front of you right now. It might not turn out to be as ordinary as it seems …. Give it a try!
TAKE IT FURTHER- apply the ‘pause and experience’ to the other senses. What are you hearing? Tasting? Smelling? What textures meet your body? We can only experience the senses in real time, the present moment, so they are brilliant Mindfulness tools.
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