March 26 , 2020 / 7 minutes, 21 seconds

Mindfulness meditation. Step 1! OBSERVE

Author: Annette K. Scott

Wide shot of Temple tops in Indonesia

If you don’t already have a mindfulness meditation practice, now is definitely the perfect time to start. And if you do already practice it, nows the time to double down! It is a really effective way to help reduce anxiety and future thinking by keeping us focused in the now! And while this pandemic and all the variety of responses to it are still unfolding we continue to presented with the exquisite opportunity to slow down and engage in the mindfulness practice of simply observe.

So here’s the Kodawari Keyword of the Month: OBSERVE!

Mindfulness meditation. Step 1! OBSERVE 1
Opening the senses to the landscape within…mindfulness meditation in practice.

This crazy time is a superb chance for us to bring all our practices – asana, breath work, loving kindness and meditation moments together so that we do some serious inner work! I don’t believe there will ever be a better opportunity to take some time to step back and to observe ourselves. Now is the perfect time to lean in to the discomfort and to practice mindfulness – to watch what goes on inside our internal environment, in the mind, and in the body. It takes practice to be truly observational.

“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”

– Jiddu Krishnamurti

So often we are hijacked and taken out of the present moment by spontaneous, judgmental, nonsensical, or nostalgic thoughts. Use your observational skills to truly experience what’s going on in the present moment – without the lens of your critical, analytical thoughts. Observing and watching things as they are (this is the core of what a mindfulness meditation is) without labeling and assigning meaning to them, gives us the chance to unhook ourselves from the duality of right/wrong and to open the way for compassion and the tender presence of curiosity and kindness.

Mindfulness meditation. Step 1! OBSERVE 2
Be Here Now

Observation is such an underrated tool for staying grounded, increasing self-growth, and developing more soul-centered presence. When we observe what’s happening within us and around us without trying to wrangle it into the, “I like it/It’s good,” OR “I don’t like it/It’s bad,” box and we just open up to whatever is there…

When we simply pay attention to what is happening, without thoughts or stories we can begin to move from a place of steadiness and ease. This is where the mantra of, “It is what it is” comes from. You can begin by imagining being a mirror that simply reflects life: what do you see?

Mindfulness meditation. Step 1! OBSERVE 3

And if you realize that you’ve lost focus on what is actually there, in front of you, it’s likely that you’ve started to attach thoughts to your emotions or sensations. And while the emotions are real, the “story” about them may not always be as valid.

Generally we tend to be looking at all the things that we have no control over which only serves to heighten anxiety and reduce mindfulness. When you catch yourself drifting into storytelling or future thinking and fear, bring your focus back to what you can influence.

What can truly help you stay present is to continue to sweetly and compassionately cultivate this mindfulness practice. Yoga, meditation and journaling are all great as well. And in truth, the method of self-regulation doesn’t matter too much. It just has to work for YOU so don’t get too caught up in the right/wrong of it.

Just know that everything we experience provides us with an opportunity to practice the art of observation. In fact, observation is an integral part of mindfulness — and without developing conscious presence in the here-and-now, we can never spiritually mature.

The beauty of this practice is that observation is grounded in something you have immediate access to you – yourself! Feeling into your five felt senses while acknowledging the “sixth” sense of consciousness – or the “story maker” is always as simple as a breath away.

Try not to judge yourself…The most important thing is to acknowledge how you feel, without judging it.

Mindfulness meditation. Step 1! OBSERVE 4
Practice seeing things as they are – mindfulness, meditation and observation.

A grounding practice can not only help you to come into the present moment (and out of anxiety about what might happen in the future) but it can also help you will find a space that is infinitely pure and peaceful, and oddly empty of time. It is a simple practice. Simply slow down and pay very close attention to touch, sound, smell, taste, and the appearance of things. Allow yourself to be immersed in these senses, without the need for them to change or “be a certain way.” Watch and see whether you can open a space within you that is clear of thoughts and judgments. This timeless, whole state is the essence of what it feels like to inhabit your Soul.

One of my personal, favorite ways to practice this body-centered style of mindful meditation is through yoga nidra. You can find tons of nidras out on the internet but here’s my current favorite teacher: Tanis Fishman

And when the studio reopens I might suggest you look into floating as another way to deepen this practice. But for now, just stay grounded in the breath and attend to the sensations in the body!

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