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Mindful : February 2015
Notice sensations that seem more unpleasant and difficult to be with—such as aching, throbbing, churning, or tight- ening. If it feels manageable, experiment with taking your at- tention to a region of intensity, gently opening to the sensa- tions you find. Be interested in the qualities of and changes in sensation from moment to mo- ment—rises or falls in intensity, or shifts in location or tex ture. If this feels too much, it’s always okay to continue with or return to mindfulness of breathing or body, or to stop practicing for a time. Gentleness is paramount. If you are choosing to stay with the intensity, notice what happens—are there impulses to resist or pull away? Perhaps you find your at tention pulled into thoughts? As best you can, include these reactions in your noticing, allowing space for them to be experienced, along with the sensations themselves. Settle into a upright and uplift- ed sitting posture, and practice mindfulness of breathing and body for a while. If you like, experiment with breathing into the region of in- tensity, opening to sensations on the inbreath, and softening on the outbreath. This isn’t to try to change what’s happen- ing, but rather to offer a skillful relationship to it—flowing with it, as we’ve practiced already with the breath. You could smile softly, and silently say to yourself something like: “It’s okay. I can be with this feeling or thought. Let me experience it fully, in awareness. Let me offer it warmth. Let me stay present with kindness.” This simple practice can help you to turn towards difficulty and lean into fear—approaching rather than avoiding. Try it in small doses at first, and pick difficulties that are not over whelming. Taking time to face difficulty Settle In 3 2 Stay with the intensity only for as long as feels manageable. If you like, gently move your attention away from and then back towards the intensity, noticing what happens. After a period of working in this way, you can return to mindfulness of breathing or body, or bring your formal practice to a close. If there are no strong sensa- tions present at the moment, experiment with bringing to mind a difficult situation that’s alive for you—some troubling issue or problem that you’re working with (it’s best not to choose the most challenging thing in your life right now—let it be something that feels workable to bring to mind and experience). Allow the sense of the difficulty to enter you, invit- ing any sensations that arise, and moving attention to them. If lots of thoughts come up, let go (as best you can) of trying to fix or solve the problem. Just notice the patterns of thinking in awareness. If you find yourself getting caught up in thought, bring your attention down into the body and any sensations you notice here, or come back to mindfulness of breathing, anchoring your attention to the rhythm of the breath. 4 Notice Breathe Stay...Gently 5 Invite Sensations 1 February 2015 mindful 37