There are a few things that happen to me when I’m in the grips of a stressful situation. In my youth I was vaguely aware of these sensations in my body, but never gave them much thought. Even as an emotional Mt. Vesuvius was erupting on the outside, it didn’t occur to me that those sensations had been trying to draw attention to something in advance of my outburst. Had I been paying attention; I would have understood that my body was trying to tell me something!
By clues I mean things like; my throat goes dry as I’m becoming anxious, I feel heat in my head that wasn’t there a moment before, my neck and jaw become tense, and sometimes I find that my mind just blanks out as the emotions come rolling in, leaving me with nothing articulate to say, but a body full of feeling to somehow dissipate.
Even though I haven’t always paid attention, my body has consistently given me distinctive clues about my levels of stress and anxiety. The more...
One of the first obstacles we bump into as we begin a mindfulness practice is that we see just how distracted our minds actually are.
As we work towards developing the ‘focused awareness’ that is the goal of most mindfulness practices, we have no choice but to come face to face with all of the distractions running through our minds at any given time. The work of the practice is to learn how to observe these distractions with curiosity and compassion, rather than frustration and judgement.
It’s no easy task especially at the beginning. However, within this practice of observing our distractions, we also have to re-learn what is likely a long-neglected skill: beginning again.
In noticing our thoughts, recognizing distractions, and then instead of being frustrated with our monkey minds, we teach ourselves to just notice, to be compassionate towards ourselves and most importantly, we learn to begin again.
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