After you read the blog - be sure to review the Mindful Living tips, check out the guided meditation and answer the prompts in the Reflect & Journal section.
Noticing is one of the foundations of mindfulness. It is the very practice that puts us in touch with our personal realities. When we are noticing the mindful way, we see with fresh, curious eyes and become aware of the wide spectrum of feelings and physical sensations in our minds, hearts and bodies in the present moment, without reactivity. For some individuals, tapping into what the heart is saying (or feeling internally) is a natural inclination. For others, an outward expression or discussion of the experience is easier. There’s no right or wrong way to shine a light on our path of awareness, as long as we don’t push our feelings aside, suppress them or shut them down.
To start paying attention to your feelings, check in to see where they’re located in your body. A simple way to reveal where in your body your emotions are stored is to ask yourself whether you feel expanded or contracted, energized or drained, or heavier or lighter because of what is happening in the moment. For instance, when we find it challenging to express our opinion, we may experience tightness in our throat or experience a peculiar sensation in our gut area. By tuning into these bodily cues, we can respond with appropriate self-care strategies. The striking thing is that the body’s wisdom can provide key information, both emotionally and physically.
When I’m dealing with challenging feelings or pain, I often get stuck in self-doubt, thinking that something is wrong with me, or just trying to please people. Rather than acknowledging and validating my experience, I turn to my mind for strategies so I miss noticing the cues my body and heart are offering me. For example, I experience body wisdom when I feel joint pain in my shoulders due to lupus. The pain is a signal from my body that something is out of balance and needs my attention. However, my mind often responds by imagining worst-case scenarios and my heart hardens. During such moments, I find that incorporating mindful breathing techniques can be incredibly helpful in soothing my nervous system, regulating my thoughts and cultivating self-compassion.
Through meditation, self-discovery and ordinary life, I’ve come to understand that the body and heart can embrace whatever is arising – pleasant or unpleasant. When we experience moments of joy and love our heart can expand with tenderness. When we face betrayal and grief, it can feel like our heart hardens, protecting us from further pain. Despite this, it’s important to remember that the heart is resilient and can soften again with time and healing.
Ultimately, the practice of noticing can be considered a “super-power” because it can enhance our appreciation of the moment and lead us to a more fulfilling, happier and meaningful life. So, why not take the time to notice, ask yourself questions and listen closely to your innate intelligence? Over time, you’ll discover that your body is a trustworthy guide when it comes to your awareness of yourself and the world that surrounds you.