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Mindful : June 2014
3 Practices to Relax the Eyes, Face, and Head Thanks to prolonged com- puter and sma rtphone use, TV watching, and other forms of focusing that were little practiced before the 20th century, our senses are extremely busy. They’re con- ditioned to process a steady stream of information. When we’re asked to pull back from that strea m, a withdrawal response ca n ensue, one that ’s a little bit like detoxing from drug use. After two hours of fairly unconscious meandering around the internet, we might experience a gap where our awareness and sense organs spontaneously wake up and attune to the inner and outer sensory environ- ment. Some things that keep us from surrendering to this gap of self-awareness are the unconscious mental, physical, and emotional contractions that have accrued during our sojourn into The Huffington Post and our friend’s Facebook baby pictures. After a brief moment of relief that comes from being back in the present moment, we find ourselves having to pay the toll of the last two hours by experiencing a ny of a series of unpleasant sensa- tions: tightness in the fore- head a nd neck, a sense that the eyes are exhausted but simultaneously wanting new content to focus on, ambient discomfort throughout the body, and fatigue mixed with currents of compulsive energy looking for new objects and activities to attach to. The three practices below work with the role our eyes, facial muscles, and head posi- tion have in cultivating stable rela xation and attention. They ask us to make micro- adjustments to how our focus is affecting our body. Work- ing with them immediately after a period of prolonged unconsciousness—and before attempting to re-direct atten- tion deeper into the body— can be extremely helpful. → When Tibetan meditation manuals advise beginners to focus their attention firmly, the instructions are aimed at a very different reader than the average city-dweller in the 21st century. in practice insight June 2014 mindful 73 www.spcare.org Inspire ~ Transform ~ Care Online Courses Study with like-minded peers wherever you are ~ Cultivating Compassionate Presence — 7-week course for healthcare professionals ~ Caring for Others, Caring for Ourselves — 8-week course for family members and loved ones Contemplative End-of-Life Care A certificate program for healthcare professionals inspired by The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche September-December, 2014 Online learning with 8-day residential session, near Ithaca, New York CE’s available. Contact us at