Connecting with our inner selves is often times a difficult task for most people. We start with our breathing, focusing on the in and out breathes, until we find a nice, natural rhythm of our own. In my last blog, I had you then focus on various body parts and acknowledge what you notice. So what are the next steps? As a Star Wars fan, and an even bigger Yoda fan, the Jedi's offers some of the best lessons about mindfulness:
- Do not overlook the obvious: Once you have body awareness, start to focus on how you are feeling in reference to physical sensations. Do you feel warm? Does the breeze feel cool? Do your clothes feel rough or silky? Do you like the music that is playing in the background or the birds chirping? Focus on what you feel in terms of like/dislike, comfort/discomfort, pleasant/unpleasant, or maybe it is neutral. Apply the acknowledgment of feelings to both your physical self and your surroundings. Do not judge or justify why you feel that way, just notice it and accept it.
- Focus on the here and now: Next, start to pay attention to your emotional and mental state. Which emotions does the feeling of liking or comfortable conjure up for you? Is it happy, joyful, or excited? Is it calm and peaceful? Do you feel reassured or safe? What about when you feel dislike? Do the feelings of discomfort or unpleasantness evoke the emotions of anxiety, fear, or anger? Does it bring forth emotions of sadness or loneliness? Notice it and acknowledge it. Again, there is no right or wrong. Everyone has different feelings and emotions to the same stimuli. Focus on which emotions are brought forth at any given moment and be present with it.
- The force is all around you: Once you can associate which emotions are connected to the different feelings, you can become more aware of the your physical, emotional, and mental state. As you learn to listen to yourself and develop the skills of mindfulness, you will become more aware of your train of thoughts and actions, both inside and out. You will realize when you are being negative, feel unhappy, or are being harsh toward others. You then have the choice to either continue down that path, or to change and redirect your feelings and emotions in a calmer, more pleasant, and optimistic direction. You have the power to choose, your surroundings do not determine it for you.
- Concentrate: Mindfulness takes time and patience. You will have to concentrate and focus on what your body, mind, and soul is telling you. If you let your mind wander, you lose track of where you are going. You stop listening to what you are being told. You will miss out on important details and ignore the warnings of danger or the insight to help heal you.
Once you learn the art of listening to yourself on the various levels, you will learn how to understand the wants and needs of your body and emotional states. This will thus turn into learning how to be happier and healthier. It will bring about greater harmony both within and without.