Mindfulness activity of the day #3

How’s that neck of yours, out there? Stiff? Tight shoulders? Maybe sore feet after a long day? Headache from too much screen time? Good! Let’s use the pain!

This is intended to be more of a mindfulness exercise than an exercise in pain management mindfulness, so if you’re actually in pain this might not be the best idea. I am still not a doctor (getting there! Updates to come! Teehee!). I was hoping more for a bit of stiffness, or simply a particular sensation that you notice.

Get comfortable. Scratch the inevitable itches, mess the pillows around, try again.

Every mindfulness activity usually begins with spending a few minutes thinking about your breath. You don’t have to do anything to it (no need to regulate it, change the speed, or breathe more deeply), just think about it. Feel it go into your body, and out again. Find a spot in which the sensation of the air is most salient. For me it’s a combo of my nostrils and my rib cage, partly because I like to imagine the breath going through the airway, because it helps me focus. Some people like the throat, or the diaphragm or belly. Feel each breath there.*

Once you feel like you’ve spent a good several minutes on this, and you feel centred, or a bit more relaxed, it’s time to move your attention to the spot of discomfort (or ecstasy, whatever).

A brief outline of my plan here would be:

1) Think about the discomfort. Try to really feel it, not just imagine it, or visualize it.

2) Try to pinpoint its location. If it seems general, start with a big body part, and prod your body with your mind until you can narrow it down to a small spot.

3) Think about all the areas connected with that spot, one by one. Feel them out. Feel if the pain radiates to other areas, or if other areas are tense or clenching.

This needn’t be a relaxation exercise, although it can be if you want. The point is simply to pay attention to an area of the body. Having a point that is uncomfortable (or incredibly comfortable) makes it easier to focus on, because it’s more obvious. Have fun!

*If this sounds too new age, try to think of breathing as a more scientific activity? It’s worth trying it, simply to have a few minutes in which one is doing nothing, or to improve attention. If this doesn’t sound new age enough, I wiggle my nose at you.

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