Living in Our Heads
Before I dive in to week 2 of the meditation series, I thought I’d start off by posing the question, How did it go?
For me, I chose to brush my teeth mindfully. Initially, it felt like a very very long ordeal, but by the end of the week, it didn’t seem so arduous, and I noticed flossing was much easier too.
I also chose to do my body scan before bed. I have been having some trouble with insomnia, so it really did help me to fall asleep. I can remember getting to about my mid-body and zzzzzzz. Getting to sleep easier, has translated to a more relaxed me during the day.
I would love to know how people fared and what you think so far? So post your thoughts in the comments section.
Now on to Week 2!
The aim of MBSR is for us to be more aware, more often. The thought that comes to my mind is “Be here, now.” One of the things that can impede us from being present in our lives is the thought that we or something we are doing isn’t good enough or less than we expected some how. These thoughts can sometimes make us blame ourselves or judge things and ourselves negatively. These patterns can often be automatic and therefore “mindless”. What we want to do is interrupt the pattern. When we do that, we can consciously make a choice.
That all sounds wonderfully easy. It isn’t. It requires practice. We are after all trying to break some well-entrenched and sometimes unconscious habits. One of the first steps though is by noticing and acknowledging what our situation is. Just that, noticing, not changing. The body-scan is a tool to help us do that. It allows us to acknowledge and bring attention to an area without changing anything. There is no good or bad, no goal to achieve or not, you just are.
Mindful Breathing is another tool that helps us to ground us and bring gentle awareness to ourselves without judgment or need to change anything about our situation. We simply breathe and notice our body as we do so. I tend to have a challenge doing this one on my own and need to listen to a guided meditation. I find I am able to focus on my breath with more attention having someone guide me than if I did this on my own. Its ok if your mind wanders while you practice, it is completely normal and expected. So don’t judge or think you failed. Just notice the thoughts or the fact that you have wandered, and refocus on your breath. If it happens again (and it probably will) just acknowledge and refocus. That’s the beauty of breathing; every breath is a new opportunity to start again.
Activities for week 2 below. Week 1 can be found HERE.
Activity 1: Pleasant Events
This week is an opportunity to really become aware of our thoughts, feelings, and sensations around positive or pleasant events. So everyday notice and record (for yourself) in detail how you felt. You can use the chart below as a reference.
What was the experience?
How did your body feel, in detail during this experience?
What moods and feelings accompanied this experience?
What thoughts went through your mind?
What thoughts are in your mind as you write this down?
Came home to a happy wiggly dog
Lightness across the face, awareness of shoulders dropping. Smiling
Happiness, Pleasure, Relief
“What a warm welcome”
“I feel so loved”
“I didn’t feel appreciated today until I got home.” “Rufus really loves me!”
Meditation 1: Body Scan
Begin with a 45-minute body scan (see below).
Meditation 2: Mindful Breathing (See Below)
- Using a comfortable straight-backed chair, sit in an upright position (not slouching) to help, use a pillow to help you stay off the back of the chair. If you chose to sit on the floor or cross-legged, make sure you are supported by a soft surface (comfort so you avoid numb bum) and that you are elevated enough that your knees are lower than your hips.
- Once seated, you want an erect spine, and if in a chair, feet flat on the floor, legs uncrossed.
- Gently close your eyes.
- Bring your attention to your body; the physical sensations of your body pressure where it makes contact, any tension, just like in the body scan.
- Now bring attention to your breath.
- Try to focus your awareness on the sensations in your lower abdomen as you breathe in and out (sometimes it helps if you place your hand on your belly).
- Try to follow your breath as you breathe in and out. Notice the changes and physical sensations and you breathe.
- You don’t need to try to control your breathing in any way, just let it happen.
- Sooner or later (probably sooner) your mind will wander. It OK! It happens and that’s what our minds do. It isn’t wrong or a mistake or a failure. It is an opportunity to refocus on your breath again. It ok it this keeps happening too. Just remind yourself to refocus and start again. Every breath is a new beginning.
- Continue this practice for 10 – 15 minutes (or more if you like). Remember that the intention is simply to be aware of your experience in each moment as best as you can. Use your breath as an anchor to reconnect you to the moment if your mind wanders.
- Do the body scan 6x for week 2
- Record what you notice each time you do the practice.
- At different times during the week, practice 10-15 min of mindful breathing, 5-6x.
- Activity 1 – Pleasant Events awareness
- Choose a new routine activity to do mindfully (see description week 1).
www.guilford.com/MBCT_audio, track 4 (Requires creating a user account)
Tips for the Body Scan
- Regardless of what happens (you fall asleep, lose concentration, focus on the wrong body part) keep practicing.
- If your mind wanders, just note the thoughts and bring your mind back to the scan or your breath.
- Let go of success or failure, this isn’t a competition. Be open and allow it to happen.
- Let go of expectations what the scan will do for you.
- Approach your experience with non-judgment, curiosity and openness.
- Your breath is an anchor.
- Be aware, be non-striving, be in the moment, and accept things as they are.