As often as I can, I do an unguided body scan.
I read a story to my 4 year old son when I put him to bed at 7 every night. Knowing that dinner won’t be ready until after 7:30, I open up the curtains, the blind and a window. I lie down and set my alarm for 5 or 10 minutes. Sometimes I don’t. Even on the colder nights, I keep the window open. Instead of letting my mind ruminate every so often after I’ve directed to the tension in my legs (tight hamstrings and calves from an old running injury) or something else, noises outside ground me in reality.
What I’ve described above started as a guided body scan when listening to a 15 minute audio track. I tried many different mindfulness techniques – mindfulness of sound, 3 min breathing space, walking, breathing, etc. The unguided body scan works best for me. I don’t have to lie there for 15 minutes. I can set the timer for anything from 1 minute upwards. All of my favourite aspects of mindfulness are there in that moment: doing nothing (usually working off an endless to do list), noticing my natural breathing, returning to the breath when my thoughts though natural, threaten to ruminate and the sounds that surround me. On one of those nights a few months back, I noticed ‘heaviness’ around my head. The simple action of paying attention instead of moving to the next thing made that feeling go away.
Taking at least 3 minutes or more ‘breathing space’ to stop what you’re doing and appreciate who you are as you breathe quietly is an amazing thing. You must have the intention to stop, followed by focusing your attention. Lastly, if you have the right attitude of kindness towards yourself, you could ‘heal’ yourself. None of us have the time to do this in each moment but it’s a way of living that can cultivate a little at a time. You will feel the difference.
Take time to do nothing.
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