In my last blog post: For The Best Self-Care, Get Self-Aware! I talked about how important it is to find self-care activities that feed the needs of your body, mind and spirit. Here, I want to show you a simple way to become firstly more self-aware. And all it takes is a minute.
Find a moment when you can stop what you are doing and there is nothing that is likely to distract you. Come to a standstill (standing is better than sitting, although if this is too problematic, you can also do this sitting) and close your eyes. You are going to spend the next minute getting a feel for what is happening in your body and your mind; closing your eyes will help you shut out visual stimulation and focus on what is happening internally. You can set a 1 minute timer, if it is important for you that you’ll neither undershoot nor overshoot the minute.
Once you’ve stopped moving, don’t change anything – the way you are breathing, how you are standing or sitting or what’s going through your head; just notice each of these things. Is your breathing regular or irregular, shallow or deep, fast or slow? Do you feel tension, pain or any other sensations in your body? How are you holding your body? Is it balanced, wonky or slumped? How fast are your thoughts racing? What are they concerned with? If this is an unusual practice for you, you may spend most of your time being aware of your thoughts. Try to focus on what is happening within your body as well. And what about your emotions? Are you pleased to pause for a while in your busy life or are you impatient because you’ve got so many things on your to-do list? Are you holding onto feelings of anger or joy from something that happened earlier in the day? Where do you feel these emotions in your body?
Once the minute is over, you can get on with life. But repeat the exercise later in the day. What do you notice this time when you stop? Is the experience similar or different, and if it’s different, in what ways?
Do the Just A Minute! practice 2-3 times daily for several days; you may start to notice patterns in how you hold your body, breathe, think or feel. (You might want to record your responses in a notebook so you can easily track what is happening for you). Try to become more aware of the sensations and emotions in your body. Many of us spend too much time in our heads, thinking about the things that have to be done today or what went wrong yesterday. If you are able to spend time connecting with your body, you are not only being ‘present in the moment’ and learning about yourself in a new way, you will also be giving your mind a well-earned rest.
In my next blog post, I will suggest how you can build on this exercise to take care of yourself in a way that is totally personal and right for you.