In my previous post I wrote about the two ways in which we respond to pain. In this post my intention is to help you embrace a simple but powerful tool that will positively affect every aspect of your life…if you spend as little as a minute 3-5 times a day practicing it.
That simple tool is Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is not some mystical practice only saints, gurus, and enlightened people can aspire to. My guess is that you and I probably need it more than the gurus and saints. Simply put, you’re mindful when your body and mind are in the same place. This is not our experience most of the time. We’re talking on the cell phone and reaching into the refrigerator for a cold drink. Or you’re walking the dog and texting a friend. We multitask all the time.
Mindfulness is about focused attention. You do one thing at a time. And that ONE THING only.
Read this paragraph. Then close your eyes and follow the steps as I teach you. Become aware of your breath. Where do you notice the breath flow in and out of your body? Nostrils? Belly? Ribcage? Notice how warm or cool your body feels. What smells are around you? How is the light? Feel the texture of clothes on your skin. The pressure of your body sitting in the chair. Just notice and be present with it.
The more you practice, the more easily you’ll drop into present-moment awareness. In this awareness there is no past; there is no future. There is only Now. This moment. And the next. And the next…
Why is mindfulness important when it comes to pain?
When you tune into an unpleasant sensation or feeling, you may notice that your first impulse is to resist it. Or perhaps it pulls you in and you begin to drown. But if you overcome resistance and drowning, you begin to “lean into” that pain. There is an opening, a softening. And you begin to see that pain is ever-changing. It changes from this moment to the next…even if the change is minuscule.
When you allow pain to simply be present, your attitude toward it is caring. Think of yourself as a mother who cradles her baby who is in pain. The idea is to soothe and comfort. Your tender response will ease your pain in the moment.
When the pain of loss rushes over you, practice this:
- Close your eyes and place a hand on the part of your body where you feel the pain. It could be your heart, gut or solar plexus.
- Simply breathe into that place.
- With every breath, feel your heart or gut soften. Feel a softening where there was tightness.
- Just being mindful makes you more receptive to your experience.
- Practice this every time you are able to, and you’ll soon begin to see how your judgment and criticism fall away.
Leave a comment about how this practice is working for you.