Our normal daily life creates a pattern of mental focus that often takes us out of our physical, present moment reality. Our attention goes away and in many directions, often for long periods of time. This way of being, while it may seem necessary, productive, and even creative has many limitations.
The primary limitation is that it accentuates the mind/body disconnection- our body is doing one thing, our mind is doing many other things. This disconnection makes us highly susceptible to physiological stress or sympathetic nervous system arousal. That means our bodies are revving up to prepare for danger and emergency, its information is based on our conscious and unconscious thoughts and feelings, and in most cases there is no danger- the threat and thus the stress is in fact, unnecessary. This unconscious and unnecessary ‘’revving” of our nervous system agitates, confuses, and exhausts us creating less productivity and more vulnerability to illness and accident.
The secondary limitation of our attention moving around constantly away from the present moment, is that we do not get to live our moments fully. We in fact feel less because our senses are not activated and our emotions are not integrated into what we are doing. While this can be a relief sometimes to just “do” life, if this doing prevails we are more prone to over-indulge the senses- which in turn exacerbates physiological stress, and we are easily overwhelmed by our feelings.
With the Mindfulness practices offered below, you can begin to gradually shift your attention back to the present moment reality. This simple act of harnessing your attention, will help you develop your mind body connection, reduce and manage stress, and bring more beauty and balance to your life. With practice, you will see that learning to attend to yourself is an act of intelligence and self-worth and that you are better able to attend gracefully to all that is needed in your life.
- Be aware of your breath. Simply notice. No thinking necessary.
- Be aware of your body sensations. Simply notice. No thinking necessary.
- Move your body mindfully, focusing on the experience of sensation. No thinking necessary.
- Shake. Rattle. Roll. Rub. Hop. Yawn. Sigh. Stomp- whatever connects you to your body now.
- Be aware of raw feeling states. The feeling of yes. The feeling of no. The feeling of maybe-so.
- It doesn’t matter what you feel. It does matter that you notice how you are feeling.
- Notice your thinking, imaging, inner dialogue. Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it skillful?
- Notice that awareness- this faculty that can notice- is bigger than thinking.
- Sensations, emotions, thoughts drive impulses, actions, behaviors, consequences.
- The future is shaped moment by moment- be intentional and notice when you’re not.
- No judgment necessary.
Natasha Korshak is a long-time teacher and trainer of yoga, meditation, mindfulness and MBSR, and has been working in the field of integrative health and wellness her entire professional career. She is a graduate of the Interfaith Theological Seminary and an ordained Interfaith Minister specializing in contemplative practice, grief processing, and spiritual direction. Her study and training of mind/body/spirit methods is extensive and she has learned from many of the pioneers in their discipline. As the founder and director of the Sol Center she is well regarded for her depth, warmth, authenticity, and the smile in her voice.