Mindfulness and Well-Being Techniques to build Compassion and Empathy
Being diagnosed with both Colon and Breast Cancer at the same time heightened my self-awareness big time! It slapped me in the face and said, “girl, you better appreciate each precious moment you’re given because this fight is fluid as is life.”
I wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone but facing your mortality can be seen as a blessing. It affords you a second chance to treasure your life, family, and friends, like never before.
Since then, I’ve made it a priority to cherish the time spent. Heck, I even named this blog, Livinginthemoment2015, marking my year of living with cancer and its impact.
However, you don’t have to wait for some tragedy or moment of truth to start living a mindful and conscious life. Take advantage of this post and the current series – “Mindfulness and Meditation” by Dr. Richard J. Davidson and use it as an opportunity to learn to appreciate the silence in meditation and the awareness it brings.
Make it a practice to live in the here and now, not the past or the future. Realize that NOW is the only reality there is.
“Certain meditation exercises have been proven to lower stress, anxiety, and depression. They have also been shown to change the self-awareness, attention, and resilience dimensions of emotional style.” Dr. Richard J. Davidson
The goals of Dr. Davidson’s meditation techniques are:
° To foster a routine of daily practice for cultivating well-being.
° Establish a simple meditation process taking a few minutes a day.
° Recognition that one size does not fit all.
° Making meditation work for you.
This lesson focuses on the technique of “Mindfulness Breathing Meditation”
“If we can pay attention to our breathing, we can pay attention to almost anything.”
Led by Beverly Hays Center for HealthyMinds – University of Wisconsin-Madison
Sit comfortably, spine straight and strong but not rigid, body relaxed. Release any tension in your jaw, shoulders, neck or anywhere that you may have the habit of holding stress.
Breathing through your nose, take a gentle but deep inhale. And as you release the exhale, allow your eyes to drift closed, or if you prefer, just lower and soften your gaze. Begin to turn your attention inward, taking a moment to notice your inner landscape, the state of your mind.
Are there emotions present? Are you sleepy or energized? Mind buzzing or calm? Without forming an opinion or passing judgment, just notice this.
Now, with a deep inhale, imagine that you are gathering in any mental residue from your day. Any problem or unfinished business that is tugging at your attention. And with a complete exhale, release it, and see it all drop away.
Notice your breath as you set your intention to be present for this meditation.
Letting the breath come to you, without attempting to change or control it. Just notice as it falls into a natural rhythm.
Breathe in, breathe out. When thoughts arise, which they will just notice them, and let them pass away.
Gently return your attention to breathing. Calming, centering, constant. There is only this moment, this breath; connecting mind and body.
When you’re ready, take a deep, intentional inhale, and with your exhale, release your attention to the breath, and open your eyes.
“As you move through your day, it may be helpful to remember that breath is always with you and can be used, in the moment, as a method to calm and focus your mind.”
I use this Breathing Meditation to take myself out of my surroundings and re-focus on feeling centered and present. Taking a body scan* is also an effective way to gauge your emotions. Do I feel anxious, tension, pain? Being aware of your emotions helps with empathy and compassion. Often times we lash out at others when feeling anxiety or anger. Recognizing this internal state can allow us to halt the impulse and take a breath.
Why are we feeling this way? A lot of times our anger has nothing to do with the moment or the person on the receiving end. I know I’ve been guilty of holding onto anger until finally exploding over something that has nothing to do with the current situation.
* “The Body Scan Meditation”
Next time we’ll delve into this technique to garner a further understanding and awareness of self; using the silence of meditation to practice being in the moment and your present self.