“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” Pema Chodron
The next exercise is about using mindfulness in daily life. Practicing mindfulness throughout the day will make you feel a greater sense of peacefulness and fulfilment. Whatever activity you are engaged in, be it walking, eating, even taking a shower, spending a few moments thinking about these activities as you are doing them, will let you experience them in a whole new way. You will really feel the experience, making it even more beneficial to you as a result.
Mindful stretching means slowly stretching each part of your body until you reach the limit of what is comfortable for you (“the edge”) and exploring how this feels to you. It’s important to be aware of your breathing as you practice these stretches. You can do any type of stretching in a mindful way such as:
MINDFUL STANDING: Start by standing up straight with your feet about hip-width apart. Your knees should be flexible, shoulders back, your chest open, and your arms to hanging by the sides of your body. Balance your head on your neck and shoulders. Keep your eyes closed if you can keep your balance.
FEEL SENSATIONS IN YOUR BODY: Take note of your breath as it’s going in and out of your body. Feel the weight of your body upon your feet. Become mindful of areas in your body that feels tense or uncomfortable.
MOVE YOUR ARMS UP AND DOWN: The next step is to move your arms upwards in front of you as you breathe in and back down again as you breathe out. Take note of the physical sensations in your arms and hands as you do this.
STRETCH YOUR ARMS: Raise your arms above your head and feel the stretch. Reach as far as you can, holding the stretch until you feel some discomfort (the edge) and see if you can stay with the feeling of discomfort for a few moments before bringing your arms down again.
ROTATE YOUR SHOULDERS: Rotate your shoulders slowly several times in both directions. Feel any tension that may be there. At the same time, feel your breathing and take note of how it is right at this moment.
GENTLY ROTATE YOUR HEAD FROM SIDE TO SIDE: Caution is needed with this exercise, be careful and do it slowly. Gently lower your left ear towards your left shoulder. Then rotate your head round in front of you and then let your right ear move towards your right shoulder before going back into the centre again.
SHAKE YOUR ARMS AND LEGS: You may like to finish the above exercises by shaking your arms and legs for about half a minute and then stand upright again and feel the sensations throughout your body.
Please play the Mindful Exercise File now. Allow about twenty minutes for this exercise.
- Which part of your body was the most difficult part to stretch?
- Which part was the easiest to stretch?
- Did your body feel heavy or light, or a combination of both?