Putting well-being first may seem counter-intuitive!
We usually expect it to come after the fact, a result of an accomplishment, achievement, or success. In reality though, it doesn’t often happen that way.
We may feel good about our accomplishment, but the good feeling is conditional, and can slip away quickly as we experience stress or face our next challenge. Intentionally connecting with our ‘center,’ however, can have profound and lasting benefits. The key is frequent or daily practice that builds and sustains the neuro-pathways to mindfulness and well-being.
Remember a time when you felt great for no good reason? That’s how well-being feels – it’s our natural state when we’re not stressed by inner negativity or our reactions to external situations.
There is a mindful pool of peace and calm we can dip into, even when we’re busy, if we learn how to tap into it as we go about our day. The key is to focus our attention on frequent, brief activities that clear our mind, energize our body, and recharge our attitude. We can intentionally schedule short breaks throughout the day for a breathing exercise, a physical activity, or a m!indfulness practice to bring ourselves back to ‘center’. And ‘center’ is where it feels good!
Take a few minutes right now, or any time you feel stress, and try this powerful combination of mind/body exercises: ————————————————————————————————
Focus on the physical sensations of the passage of air in and out as you slowly take the next three breaths, each one a little deeper than before.
Continue to focus on the sensations of your breath moving in and out as you resume normal breathing. Relax your mouth and jaw.
Focus your attention on the palms of your hands until you feel sensation there – warmth, tingling, aliveness, etc. It may take a couple of minutes to feel and grow stronger.
Now expand your awareness to include your feet as well, until you also feel sensation there. Stay with the sensations and let them grow.
Now take a few minutes and bring a soft attention to your whole body and allow the sensations to spread throughout. No need to hurry.
Sit relaxed and quiet, close your eyes, focus on the physical sensations in your body, and follow your breathing for another minute.
When stressful thoughts arise, repeat the three deep breaths.
You’ve just activated the calming effect of your brain’s parasympathetic nervous system and also interrupted the internal thought-stream triggering the stress reaction. The calmness you are beginning to feel will deepen each time you return your focus to your breathing – allowing your mind and body to continue to relax.
As you return to your activities, be grateful for giving yourself positive attention. This is self-compassion in action – available only from you!