The body scan is a wonderful way to get in touch with your body and mind. Do this practice in a comfortable and relaxing environment without distractions. As you practice the body scan, the multitude of sensations and internal experiences can be boiled down to three basic feelings: pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral. Since the body is a dynamic organism that's always changing, no two body scans will ever be completely alike. The body has its own wisdom, and if you listen, it can communicate where physical tension, thoughts, and emotions lie within your body. This investigation into physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions is called the triangle of awareness, since it's a journey into the totality of our human experience.
This fifteen-minute mindful breathing practice will support you in bringing yourself back to the present moment with greater awareness, compassion, and peace. It's a great antidote to all varieties of mind traps and can serve as a strong foundation for meditation practice. At any point in time you can use your breath as an anchor to return to the present moment. Simply focus attention on the breath. Try not to control it, just breathe naturally and normally, and notice where you feel it most prominently in the body. Perform this practice in a comfortable, quiet environment without distractions. You're welcome to practice lying down or sitting up, but if you lie down and find yourself falling asleep, you might try a more upright posture.
"In your meditation practice and in your daily life, can you be in touch, not only with the changing content and intensity of your thoughts and feelings, but also with the vast unwavering reservoir of awareness itself, residing below the surface of your mind? The lake can teach this, remind us of lake within ourselves." Jon Kabat-Zinn
This meditation is normally done in a sitting position, either seated on a cushion on the floor or a chair. The practice begins by sensing into the support you have from the chair or the cushion, paying attention to the actual sensations of contact. Finding a position of stability and poise, upper body balanced over your hips and shoulders in a comfortable but alert posture, hands on your lap or your knees, arms hanging by their own weight.
Stop what you're doing
Take a few deep breaths
Observe your experience just as it is (What thoughts/feelings/sensations are present?)
Proceed with something that will support you
Recognize that a strong emotion is present
Allow the emotion to have space
Investigate: Why do I feel this way? What do I really need right now? Are there actions I could take to nurture and support myself right now?
Non-Identify: You are not your thoughts or feelings; you are the awareness that is there underneath every thought.
Attitudes of Mindfulness
Sense of curiosity, openness
Seeing things anew, as if for the first time
Not labeling thoughts, feelings, or sensations as good/bad, right/wrong
Observing thoughts, feelings, sensations in each moment with impartiality
Deep awareness, acknowledging things as they are
Not trying to get anywhere other than where you are
Meeting yourself where you're at
Understanding the nature of change
Approaching pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral experiences with equal interest
Feeling happy without needing to grasp hold of it; feeling unhappy and being able to gaze upon it without trying to change it into something other than it is
Simply letting things be as they are
No need to try to let go of whatever is present
Seeing for yourself, from your own experience, what is true or untrue
A feeling of trust in your own abilities or efforts
Cultivating love for yourself as you are, without self-blame, criticism, or conditions
Habitual Thoughts/Mind Traps
Read the list below and check off any that you might engage in. The purpose isn't to judge yourself for the number or frequency of check marks, but to increase your awareness of a style of thinking that may be automatically operating to keep you stuck. With this increased awareness comes an opportunity and ability to choose to look at the situation differently or to view your thoughts as simply events, rather than facts.
Automatically imagining the worst possible outcome
"What if" game of worst case scenarios
Exaggerating the negative/discounting the positive
Positive experiences downplayed or not acknowledged
Negative details are magnified
Explore with the language of “but” and “and”
“I’m doing better at work, but I’m still making mistakes.” Discounts the first phrase.
"I’m doing better at work, and I’m still making mistakes." Acknowledges both phrases.
Convincing yourself that you know what other people are thinking and feeling
Why they act the way they do
No actual evidence, just assumptions.
Being the Eternal Expert
When being wrong isn’t an option
You’re continually on trial to defend your opinions and actions
Constantly on guard
A list of unbreakable rules for yourself or others
Breaking the rules results in feelings of guilt, anger, stress
When other break the rules, it results in resentment, frustration, anger
Holding others responsible for your own pain, or holding yourself responsible for others’ pain/problems
Always something outside of yourself that causes suffering and pain
We can’t change others, can’t change our circumstances in general, we can only change ourselves.
If you perceive the solution lies outside of you, you deprive yourself of the power to effect change.
"The root of suffering is attachment." Buddha
What do you hold onto?
What do you push away? Ignore? Numb?
We are constantly pulled between trying to get what we want and trying to avoid what we don't want. Each doing we react to things going right and things going wrong.
"Shoulds" and "shouldn'ts" -- reacting to the way something "should" or "shouldn't" be rather than the way things actually are strips us from the present moment.
Things are the way they are. We have a choice to be in reaction to how things are.
"Practice catching ourselves when we feel attraction or aversion, before it hardens into grasping or negativity." Pema Chodron
Thoughts & Attachment/Aversion
If we hold our thoughts too closely, they take up free rent space in the mind
If we push our thoughts out, or ignore them, we end up with secondary thoughts (e.g. berating yourself)
No thought deserves a gold medal or a reprimand. Not that we should act upon every thought.
A quality of wisdom, evenness, steadiness of the mind that comprehends the nature of change.
Approaching pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral experiences with equal interest, weight, attention.
Change is the only constant.
Dealing with Conflict
As we grow up, we typically settle on one of these strategies as a habitual strategy for dealing with conflict. Which one do you tend to use the most?
Demand: hold firm, fight
Attitude:"My way or the highway"
Action: push until you get your way, highly assertive
Result: I win (my needs are satisfied)
Belief: What I need/want is most important
Accommodate: Be nice, freeze
Attitude: "Go along to get along;" "Don't make waves"
Action: give in, conform to reduce conflict, make peace
Result: You win (your needs are satisfied)
Belief: What you need/want is most important
Withdraw: Walk away, flight
Attitude: "I don't care;" "I'm not going to play this game"
Action: withdraw, avoid, retreat
Result: No one wins (no ones needs are satisfied)
Belief: It's too difficult to deal with
The most common strategy:
Compromise: We each give a little
Attitude: "I give some, you give some"
Action: settle for "half a loaf," cut both goals in half and glue together; split the difference
Result: We win half way (we each give up some of our needs to satisfy the other's)
Belief: We can be a team.
But there's another way:
Blend: We both get our needs met
Attitude: "Let's be creative & explore a solution"
Action: Requires mindful awareness and exploration of behavior, feelings, needs (both yours and theirs); discovery and inquiry into other party's intentions and root goals; mutual exploration of potential solutions satisfying intention and root goals of both parties
Result: We both win (discover potential solutions that meet both parties' needs)
Belief: Both of our needs matter.
*For more about resolving conflicts in this way, research Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg.