AWARENESS EXERCISES THAT INCREASE FEELINGS OF PEACE AND SERENITY
Compiled by Joyce Parker, Ph.D.
Jon Kabat-Zinn in his book Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness, provides plenty of help in learning to live with stress, chronic illness and chronic pain. He suggests that we need to have a mindful attitude towards life. Mindfulness is about paying attention on purpose. So being mindful means paying attention, being awake, and owning your moments. It is about being present in the moment. Below are a few of his suggestions for maintaining awareness of the present and being mindful in everyday life.
- Try to be mindful for one minute in every hour.
- Touch base with your breathing throughout the day wherever you are, as often as you can.
- For one week, be aware of one pleasant event per day while it is happening. Record these, as well as your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations, in a calendar and look for patterns.
- During another week do the same for one unpleasant or stressful event per day while it is happening. Again, record your bodily sensations, thoughts, feelings and reactions. Look for underlying patterns.
- Bring awareness to one difficult communication per day during another week, and record what happened, what you wanted from the communication, what the other person wanted, and what actually transpired in a similar calendar. Look for patterns over the week. Does this exercise tell you anything about your own mental states and their consequences as you communicate with others?
- Bring awareness to the connections between physical symptoms of distress that you might be having, such as headaches, increased pain, palpitations, rapid breathing, muscle tension, and preceding mental states and their origins. Keep a calendar of these for one full week.
- Be mindful of your needs for formal meditation, relaxation, exercise, a healthy diet, enough sleep, intimacy and affiliation, and humor, and honor them. These needs are mainstays of your health. If adequately attended to on a regular basis, they will provide a strong foundation for health, increase your resilience to stress and lend greater satisfaction and coherence to your life.
- After a particularly stressful day or event, make sure that you take steps to decompress and restore balance that very day if at all possible. In particular, meditation, cardiovascular exercise, sharing time with friends, and getting enough sleep will help in the recovery process.
The author of this article, and founder of the Therapyinla.com website, Joyce Parker, passed away in 2011. To honor her we are keeping her articles posted at this website.
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