‘The past is already gone. The future is not here. There is only one moment for you to live. That is the present time.’ – The Buddha
When the Buddha spoke about being mindful of the feelings, he meant both bodily sensations, such as warmth, hunger or physical pain, and feelings such as happiness, sadness, boredom and so on.
But unless we are being rocked by some big emotion, many of us find it quite difficult to identify what we are feeling emotionally; we tend to blank off from it, yet the feelings are often there beneath the surface causing a kind of underlying lack of ease, worry or sadness that we may carry as tension or even pain in our physical body.
Becoming mindful of our feelings, instead of consciously or unconsciously suppressing them, enables us to understand what is going on, and find peace and healing – and more energy and happiness too.
And we can do that now. As the body and emotions are so closely linked, noticing how our body is feeling is a good way of opening the door to awareness of the state of our emotions too. We can do it with this quick check:
Quick body check
This is a quick scan that you can do in less than 5 minutes, sitting at your desk, or wherever you happen to be.
Pause whatever you are doing, and if it is safe to do so, close your eyes.
Take a mindfulness breath: feel the air entering and leaving your nostrils, grounding, calming and centring you.
Then continue to breathe mindfully for a few breaths, gently, opening your awareness to the state of your body from top to toe.
So, noticing tensions and feelings in the body, and letting them go, open your awareness to:
• The crown of your head and over your face: are your eyes tight, your jaws clenched, any other areas of tension? Release the tension; let it go.
• Your neck, is it tense? Are your shoulders hunched? Shrug your shoulders a few times to loosen them, let the tension go.
• Your upper arms, and down the arms to your hands – maybe shake your lower arms and hands. Relax your palms and fingers.
• Next, your chest, abdomen and lower back down to the base of the spine.
• Then move down to your thighs, knees, shins and ankles, feet and toes, tensing and relaxing them in turn, letting the tension go.
• Then take a mindfulness ‘body breath’ or two, feeling as if you are breathing life-giving air into your whole body, stretch a little and open your eyes, and come back to your life refreshed.