Mindfulness and the body

Becoming mindful of the body is a great way to begin our mindfulness journey and as as long as we are not in chronic pain the sensations or feelings we experience in the body are very consistent and are not as dynamic as emotions or thoughts.

The body becomes a great starting point when we are trying to develop a non judgmental observation of what is arising in this moment. Thoughts and emotion have beliefs and values associated with them so we can understand why imposing a non judgmental approach to these two aspects of our humanity can be difficult in the beginning.

Mindfulness of the body is a great way to observe our subtle attitudes to perceived frustrating or enjoyable sensations. It give us opportunities to practice acceptance on the superficial level the body. For example beginning to accept the feeling of a headache or the pins and needles of a foot that has ‘fallen asleep’ can be a lot more digestible than accepting ones anxieties and limiting beliefs one has of themselves.

Mindfulness of the body starts us on the road to acceptance and equanimity

Hedonic Tone

Hedonic ToneHedonic tone is the term given to emotional tones that we feel in the body due to an evaluation of a subject, event or situation. This can occur when we evaluate situations on a subconscious level. The immune system responds to these evaluations and these responses can be emotional or physical and are triggered on an unconscious level.

For example if you were walking in your workplace and noticed a co-worker walking towards you .Who you didn’t get along with. Let’s say the simple sight of this person produced a knot in your stomach and a feeling of anxiety. This would be hedonic tone emerging. Because this feeling emerged without any conscious thought as it was due to an evaluation on a subconscious level.

By practising mindfulness of the body and emotions we can become aware of our subconscious evaluations. Enabling us to address them on a very subtle level before they gain momentum leaving us to address our stress responses to these evaluations when they are overwhelming.

Mindfulness offers one of the most direct ways to reduce stress as we target these stress response and emotional tones head on.

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Self Regulation

Self regulationSelf regulation is the ability to change our emotional and mental state. This inturn relaxes one on physiological level.

When we are stressed or anxious we usually find that there are two main ways that we try to self regulate and calm the nervous system down.

  1. Self Regulating Internally:

The first way that we self-regulate is to attending to ourselves. This can take the form of meditation, self-enquiry, reflecting on our experience and taking some time out to relax or go for a walk.

  1. Self Regulating externally

The second way we can try to self-regulate is through external sources. That could be spending time with friends to distract ourselves from our pain. Self-medicating through alcohol and drugs or sex and avoiding our internal issues through excessive work.

Obviously the first category of self regulation is more beneficial and this is where mindfulness comes into the picture.

Through learning how to calm our immune system and practice mindfulness we gain and a meta-skill that will help us self-regulate when we are feeling excessive stress and anxiety.

Once we become more accustomed to our internal experience we find out what our emotional triggers are. And how to manage them and ultimately how to live a life that is less stressful and more productive.

Not only is the practice of mindfulness one of self-regulation. It is also one of self-discovery as we learn how to manage ourselves and learn what makes us tick and why.
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Interpersonal Impulse Control

Interpersonal impulse control

We gain very deep insights about ourselves when we practise mindfulness.

Along with many other things we learn about ourselves our impulse control is one of them.

Ram dass has a great saying and that is. “If you think you are enlightened, spend a week with your family”.

That really points to what we are talking about here. We are focused on impulse control in our relationships.

Impulse control is the control of your interpersonal impulses and these impulses differ in each relationship.

Our Impulse to say the first funny thing that pops into our heads. when we are having a funny conversation with our good friend may be very fast.

However our interpersonal Impulse control may be substantial when dealing with an overbearing work manager. Our impulses may be even shorter when trying to control our children or dealing with our pets in the home.

It may not be necessary to monitor our interpersonal impulse control. if there is no negative implications. However when our personal relationships are suffering impulse control then becomes a very important factor.

This can best be seen in intimate relationships were communication breaks down. Either when we say whatever we want or when we engage in the opposite extreme and shut off. Remember our impulses to not communicate are impulses none the less.

So how do we practise interpersonal impulse control? With mindfulness of course!

Becoming aware of our emotions reactivity, attitudes and physical stress. Will always give us a gauge of how impulsive we are feeling. Simply noticing where our impulse control threshold is sitting. Gives us the opportunity to decide if we want to react to it or not.

We may not always win the battle but one thing we do know is mindfulness brings us to the table so to speak to make these changes.

Keep in mind the decision to not react to an Impulse is hard in any context. I’m this blog i am only talking about impulse control in regards to interpersonal communication.

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Natural Mindfulness

Natural Mindfulness

When one first discovers the practice of mindfulness, it can seem like a never-ending rigorous pursuit of self-development that must always be done in each moment.

However, once we have decided to consciously become more aware in each moment, interesting insights begin to emerge.

One of these insights is what I call natural mindfulness. Or becoming aware naturally in the present moment.

We find that when we engage in different behaviors. Or we are immersed in particular environments, we naturally become more aware.

If you have ever been to an art gallery, seen live music or maybe even learned to surf.  Your attention would have been on the task at hand, even if that task was appreciating art.

Most sports have the capacity to take us into this awareness. When we have a strong focus on the task at hand.

So what does this all mean?

Well once we begin to notice when these natural occurrences of awareness happen, We realize that mindfulness is a natural process.

This allows us to be easier on ourselves when we feel that we aren’t getting anywhere with the practice.

Not only is recognizing our natural mindfulness a great achievement in itself. It also gives us the insight to recognize when we are not mindful. When our attention isn’t on being mindful as a goal. So this insight has two great benefits.

Characteristics of Mindfulness

Characteristics of Mindfulness

If there is any attitude that we could say mindfulness encourages it would be a non-judgmental attitude.

Once we understand that mindfulness is an experience it’s important to notice how and why we develop a non-judgmental attitude. Without using any belief system’s or imposing rigid values on ourselves or others.

The first thing we notice in the journey of adopting acceptance into our lives is the characteristics of this awareness.

We know that when we are aware that the experience is all inclusive. It doesn’t discriminate any bodily sensations thoughts or emotions.

Bare perceiving doesn’t discriminate on any sensory information either it is thinking that does through our opinions. For instance you’re eye’s don’t have any opinion about what you are seeing they simply let light in to be interpreted by the brain.

So once we start to embody this awareness we become more interested in the observation of what’s going on internally and externally.

This bare experience automatically takes us out of the thinking mind. Having said that this does not mean we don’t experience pain. Let down, or depression, but the observation does dilute the engagement and identification with these emotional states which in turn decreases stress.

This is the first step in moving towards a non-judgmental attitude.

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What is Mindfulness?

What is mindfulness

Mindfulness has a lot of definitions some definitions are.

  • Being in the present moment
  • Discovering you’re true nature
  • Consciousness
  • Awareness
  • Becoming fully human

However i like to define mindfulness as an experience.

I say this because while other definitions are valid they can have a tendency to imply mindfulness is a spiritual practise. That we need to attain or on the other hand an intellectual pursuit.

A lot of people still consider mindfulness thoughtfulness, being considerate or even uncovering belief systems. These are definitely by products of being aware but they don’t point to the direct experience.

When i say mindfulness is an experience i mean it is something to be done NOT THOUGHT ABOUT. I also mean it’s an ever present experience.

While u are reading this post you are already aware and not in deep sleep. However if you pause you’re thinking for even 1 second you would notice you are still aware without thoughts and your mental story. So we are talking about bare consciousness.

Essentially you are experiencing what you already are.