Mindfulness is about paying attention to what is occurring in our daily lives without judgement. Seems simple, right? But, we live in a very busy world that makes it hard for us to pay attention to the details of what is happening around us.
We spend most of our time in a state of reaction to the last thing that was said to us, the most recent frustration or the latest facebook post in our feed. But, always reacting instead of paying attention to what is happening in the moment will lead, at some point, to our body making noise; its whisper will be “food,” “rest,” “I’m sad,” “I’m frustrated,” “I need to be alone.”
Normally we wave off these whispers, telling them we will get to them once our list is checked off, once we get to where we need to go. Sometimes, our whispers will wait, but other times the whispers just get louder. “FEED ME!” “HOLD ME!” “LET ME REST!” And, these whispers can cause us pain.
Mindfulness has become an everyday word for many of us. We hear it in the news, in our social groups, as well as our spiritual groups. We think it needs to be profound but really the simple acknowledgment of the internal whispers our bodies make can make dramatic changes in how we feel.
In my practice, I invite patients into mindfulness practice by asking them to pay attention to where they are feeling emotions in their body. If it is saddness they are feeling, I offer a simple exercise to touch the part of their body that feels sad (normally the chest), and say “sadness,” or touch the part of them that feels worried or anxious (normally the stomach) and say “worried.”
This simple practice of acknowledging where we experience emotions in our body can disarm and transform the story we are telling ourselves about what it is that is causing the feeling. It allows us to not worry so much about the “why” we are sad or anxious. There is healing power in just acknowledging the feeling and identifying where, in the body, we are feeling it.
This mindfulness practice is simple but it works because it allows our hearts to open and through that opening find compassion for ourselves. It is so simple, but so effective.