This helpful exercise moves focus and awareness around the body; it aims to focus special attention on areas of tension and discomfort. Then the practice is to gently smile and breathe ‘into’ each tense area.
- Relaxing, which harder to do when stressed, make it simple.
- If it is simpler, sit erect in the straight-backed chair in a relaxed posture.
- When lying, relax allowing legs to gently still, arms to soften at each side.
- Close the eyes, relaxing eyelids.
- Allow shoulders, neck, back, and face to let go. Feel all the points of contact between the body and the floor or chair.
- Gather awareness around the sensations of breathing. Feel it in the chest, the stomach, the back.
- Feel the whole body expand and contract as you breathe.
- Guide awareness to the first area of tension.
- Allow the breath to soothe and massage it for a few minutes. Saturate the breath with kindness. If it feels too intense, broaden awareness to include the whole body.
- Focus awareness on the next area of tension.
- Follow breath into it for a few minutes…
Then focus on the next area…
Open eyes and gently move the whole body.
Research has show mindfulness can reduce physical pain by 90%.
Frowning makes you unhappy. And a tense neck, back, or shoulders can trigger anxiety and stress.
But it’s not just emotions that are driven by such vicious cycles.
Pain is cyclic. Pain creates tension in the body, which feeds back into the brain, which responds by turning up the ‘volume’ on its pain amplifiers, therefore creating even more suffering.
In one famous study, a group of students watched cartoons rate how funny they were. Some students held a pencil between their lips, forcing them to mimic a scowl. While others watched cartoons with the pencil between their teeth, simulating a smile.
Take a hint – smile today even if feelings don’t warrant it.
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