To manage the ever growing list of demands we are all facing these days, today we will be trying any exercise designed by New York Times bestselling author and teacher of Buddhist meditation practices Sharon Salzberg. Before we get started, grab a piece of paper or open a new word processing document on your computer, they will be needed for this exercise. Ready? Let’s jump in!
One of the aspirational goals of mindfulness is cultivating equanimity, a state of mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temperedness, especially during difficult situations. Unfortunately, many of us only strive toward equanimity during such trying times when, in reality, we would benefit from working toward this at least a little bit each day, as we start our day. Learning to do this will help you respond rather than react to your thoughts and emotions. While you cannot always control the mind, you can encourage it to be more at ease, and this is the goal of today’s exercise, so let’s begin.
Today, we will reflect on practicing mindfulness while living in chaotic times. Right now, the United States finds itself still grappling with COVID-19 and its far reaching impact on daily life, from education to elections and beyond. To describe this as chaotic at times would be an understatement. The mindfulness exercise for today was written earlier in the pandemic, when so many things were still freshly turned upside down, but many of those usual reference points that we took for granted remain disrupted and so we would all do well to find ways to remain steady in these challenging moments.
Today’s Mindfulness Monday exercise brings our attention back to our body. We recognize that incorporating mindfulness into your already busy day can be a challenge, and so we like to occasionally offer very brief mindfulness based interventions to help you on your way.
Today, we offer and abbreviated version of one of the most common mindfulness-based exercises, the body scan. The purpose of the body scan is to purposely shift your attention to what is going on in your body and, in doing so, reconnect to your physical self rather than the multitude of stimuli and demands in your environment. In this practice, we try to simply and notice any sensations we’re feeling without judgement. While some may find the body scan relaxing, relaxation is not always the primary goal. The goal instead is to train your attention as to become more open and aware of your sensory experiences, recognizing what is happening in each sense, and accepting it just as it is. With time and practice, the body scan can boost your ability to focus and be fully present. Let’s begin.
Every Monday, the Daily Dose is dedicated to starting your week right with a brief guided mindfulness exercise. We recognize that as you build your mindfulness practice it may be easier to incorporate exercises into the beginning or end of your day, whereas building it into the workday may be more challenging, though that is often where mindfulness is needed the most. Today, instead of reaching for a coffee when you’re feeling tired in the afternoon, try the Calm.com Afternoon Reset. You can do this mindful movement session at your desk!
Self-soothing is something many of us learned to varying degrees from the time we were infants, through childhood, and something we refine throughout the rest of our lives. The core question when self-soothing is what simple thing can we do to make us feel better? These are usually based in the physical world, appearing to our five senses. The goal is to use them both proactively as well as when we are feeling distressed, when you feel that you cannot tolerate a situation anymore and cannot leave it. Today’s mindfulness exercise is brought to us by Tamara Levitt at Calm.com, who guides us through a 10-minute mindfulness meditation that can serve as an introduction to incorporating self-soothing into your day.