Health & Healing
Become Mindful: A Practice
Melissa Blacker takes us on a moment-to-moment journey through our experience of the now, exploring the reactions, judgments, and preferences we lay on the present.
Allow yourself to find a comfortable resting position, either lying on the floor or sitting in a chair. Begin by closing or lowering your eyes, and become aware of the condition of your body in this moment. Notice the feeling of your body at rest. Also notice any sensations of contact between your body and what supports you. Begin to bring your attention to the breath as it enters and leaves your body, letting the breath breathe itself, witnessing this, not having to make it happen.
Expand awareness to include the entire body, from the tips of the toes to the crown of the head. You may notice all kinds of sensations, including uncomfortable or even painful ones. You may also be aware of the absence of sensation in some parts of the body. Stay curious and present to whatever sensations are arising, and notice that you may enjoy some of them and disapprove of others.
See if you can bring a soft, curious, and even friendly awareness to these feelings of liking and disliking. Begin to expand awareness to sounds, smells, all of the senses, continuing to notice what is present. Notice any qualities of liking or disliking, of moving toward some experiences and away from others. You can even do this with any thoughts or emotions that may be coming and going in the mind and body from moment to moment, whether these thoughts and emotions are pleasant or unpleasant.
Do your best to be fully present to your experience of the moment, of whatever is here in terms of sensations, thoughts, and emotions. Notice especially the strong or subtle sense of wanting things to be different than the way they are. You may notice feelings of grief, irritation, or amusement arise as you watch this play of judgments and opinions about what is happening inside and outside you.
Continue to stay present to whatever is here. When you feel ready, open or raise your eyes, stretch your body, and move on to your next activity, perhaps bringing this gentle, curious, and friendly attention to whatever you may find yourself doing next.
Melissa Blacker is senior teacher and co-director of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction professional trainings at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.