Mindful Moments: Body Stories
I am feeling exhausted. Change in my life, including immigration, is leaving me unsettled. I remember to breathe. I allow my body to slump into a position that feels true. I wait a few moments there, breathing and slumping. I have a gap in my day so I can follow my body for a few conscious moments. As I wait and breathe, I notice my feet. They have energy. They want to move. I wriggle my toes and feel the ground beneath my feet. Spontaneously I tap out a rhythm with my feet on the ground. Delightful energy rises upwards through my legs that also move to the rhythm. All the while I am sitting on my chair at my desk.
One feeling inside me is tired and heavy. I associate this with a sense of burden around not feeling settled. The other is energized and rhythmic. I associate this with a quickening inside me that has been growing over the past year as I prepare for a new phase in my professional life.
How do these two energies live together inside me? The one feels proactive. The other slows me down. Besides immigration I would not be able to move out into the world as fully as I plan to because of still taking care of a young daughter at home. So there it is, a true story reflected in my body. The surprising part is that as I listen to my body in this way, my spirits lift and it only takes a couple of minutes. I return to my work with greater levity.
In my head I might have stopped and complained or worried about the lethargy that has been with me. Instead I remember to turn to my body. If I were not to find delight in my feet I might have asked myself how I might support my body now and follow ideas that come. I might discover that I can take a few deep breaths and loosen up my shoulders or jaw, or massage my temples and my mood might lift. As a result I might discover fresh creative flow in my thinking. I might also discover that I do not need to fear my feelings so much.
Our bodies and the feelings contained in them are always in the moment. It is only our thoughts that can drift away. So taking mini breaks now and again through the day to attend to body feelings can be like a mindfulness practice.
This idea of turning to the body when we feel stressed or emotional might not come naturally in our culture of intellectualizing, avoiding and generally being busy. Yet pausing for a mindful moment by tuning into feelings in a caring, curious, embodied way can make a positive difference. It can be good for our emotions and our brains that open to wiser, more insightful and compassionate functioning when we are calmer and in touch with ourselves.