As the author John Green once wrote, "Pain demands to be felt." Mental and physical pain are part of the existential experience, and you cannot have the good feelings without sometimes experiencing the bad. But pain does not have to control us or hinder us. We learn to live with pain in many forms, and sometimes we can even gain from it. Like many things, we can choose let it overcome us, or we can use it as tool to build endurance, strength, and resilience. However, sometimes the pain is demanding to felt quite strongly, and we can seek some relief in mindfulness. Next time the pain is persisting, whether it be emotional or physical, try these simple techniques to ground yourself.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Take three deep breaths and feel your diaphragm move. Feel how each breath fills your lungs, sends oxygen to your muscles and organs, and sustains you.
- Take a few moments to feel grateful for this body, this extraordinary gift that you possess.
- Now imagine that your breath could carry your awareness into any part of your body. With your next inhale, picture the breath gong down the left side of the body and bringing awareness with it. Breathe awareness down the left arm to the finger tips. Let your full awareness settle into the fingers. Just notice whatever sensations are arising and falling. If there's no sensation, that's okay too. You don't need to create any.
- Now breathe awareness down to the left leg and all the way down the left foot. Bring it further until it comes out of your toes. Let your awareness settle into the toes. Spend a moment to acknowledge how your toes have been masterfully constructed to help you walk ad carry your weight. Picture your toes from the inside, filled with muscles, tendons, and bones, al working in concert. Feel a sense of gratitude and thankfulness to them. As you breathe, you may even visualize them filling with breath, bringing even more awareness to this part of the body. Do this now for a few moments. When you are ready to move on to the next part of the foot, exhale to release attention on the toes.
- Now with your next breath, carry awareness down to the ankles, taking time to fully experience any sensations that are present. You can imagine the inside of this part of your body, bow it is both flexible and strong enough to help you pict and change directions. Allow yourself to let go of any sensations so as to contact the next sensation as it appears. In this way, you can contact new sensations as they appear in this moment, and the next, and the next. If your mind wanders off at any time, that's okay. Just notice where your mind has gone - you can label it as "mind wandering" or "thinking" - and then bring your attention back to moment-by-moment focus of the ankles. You can label wherever your mind goes - if it has a picture in the mind's eye, just label it as "seeing." If a sound hijacks your mind, just label that as "hearing," then return to the sensing of your body.
- Continue to move up the left side o your body. Take a breath and picture that breath bringing awareness to each part as you sense the shin/ calf, knee, hand, lower arm, upper arm, shoulder, back, spine, neck, head, face, and scalp. After reaching the top of your body, you can complete the body scan by moving down the right side of the body until you reach the toes of the right foot.
- The extremities can be surfed or, optionally, you can also scan internal body parts, including the heart, intestines, stomach, entails, kidneys, liver, spine, and brain, as well as other sense organs that assist in your well being.
- When you have completed the practice by addressing all of you body, let yourself rest for a few moments in the presence of it. Give thanks and ask your body to guide you in doing what is best for it. Let your body know that you will pay attention to the signals it sends you, and that you will follow up any warning signals by getting check ups and taking care of it through learning about health and preventative measures.