Mindfulness is a meditative awareness practice that develops a capacity to attend to the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations, and external stimuli with a receptive, non-invasive attitude.
In order to develop this attitude of sensitive, non-manipulative attention, we need to develop proprioception during our classes (the term proprioception is used to describe the sensory information that contributes to the sense of position of self and movement). The way to cultivate proprioception is through simplifying what we are doing, slowing down to observe what is happening and create a space for reflection. This is why it is good to do a quiet practice in order to discover what’s going on in our body moment to moment.
Below is a list of things to do to help increasing proprioception and amplify our capacity for this receptive attention -
- Simplifying a position
- Narrowing the range of movement
- Providing props, such as blocks and straps for support
- Choosing a different position
Your own body will let you know how to do it as all of us can perform movements that will help to ease up our experience. This is all about bringing awareness to the bodily sensations once proprioception is in light, and the question then is; how I can bring this body more comfort using the breath as a companion? Then, how I can get still, move with awareness or stay with everything in place? This is somatic intelligence.
As we start to understand our bodies and accept what is in the present moment as we work with the use of props and the body intelligence to modify a posture, the ease we are trying to feel in the exercises or postures will come, we just need to hear what the body needs, and then acceptance itself shifts our experience.
In mindfulness practice we are neither controlling what is happening to us, nor wallowing in resignation of our fate. We are simultaneously accepting what is here, and allowing room for the potential of change. This attitude becomes the foundation for authentically befriending our self.
Sometimes emotions of frustration will be triggered or feelings of confusion can arrest us, this is all natural, it is the old habits and conditioning being exposed, but this old stuff is not us. As Sarah Powers, a Yin Yoga leader teacher, says -
“When we can include rather than deny or fight with what is really true within us, the emotion becomes a little more porous. We can then inhabit the feeling consciously, discovering how every feeling feels inside our body. While we are exploring the immediate body sensations, we also relax believing the story we might be telling ourselves, whether we are justifying, blaming, or feeding self-condemnation for having these feelings. Instead of analyzing, we stay with the direct immediacy of our experience as it is unfolding in the body, giving our feelings room to breathe. Since emotions are not static, we will naturally notice how they morph into other feelings. As they shift, we continue to allow these changes without self-definition. In this way we learn to know anger or sadness directly, free of creating a permanent self or me out of them. We remain fluid within our moments, with a wider range of capacity for allowing the totality of human emotions to move through us”.
Marcela teaches ‘Body & Mind’ and ‘Men’s Stretch & Strength’ classes here at The Yard. Look out for the second part of her blog next week on how the mind-body works!