One of the aspects of my spiritual practice is mindfulness, and many, if not all, teachers say that the main way to be in the present moment is to “be in your body”. As humans we experience the world through our five senses, then getting in touch with how the body experiences each of these senses with our feelings attached to it puts us in the NOW.
Last week I tried a bit of breathing awareness. As often as I could remember, I would notice my breath and come back to it, letting my environment take the back stage for a moment. Then on with my day. It was a lovely practice that was grounding.
Last night I had an interesting experience. I’m almost certain I have a phobia of earthquakes. And yeah, I live in earthquake territory: the SF Bay Area. I also live on the third floor of our building and so we feel the building’s sway much more acutely than if we were on the ground floor.
About a month ago, I woke up in the middle of the night hearing and feeling what I thought was an earthquake. Golf, my husband, didn’t feel a thing and didn’t know what I was talking about. The next day I looked up on the USGS website that we did indeed get an earthquake, a 1.0, but I was correct, it was an earthquake and even a 1.0 got my heart rate up much to high.
So last night I heard a loud noise from the building, but no shaking. Golf heard it too, and I don’t know if it was earthquake related. But it did freak me out enough to lay there dreaming up all sorts of earthquake disaster scenarios. I did fall asleep, or I was at least dozing, when these images came to me.
What fear actually feels like
I knew I was safe, but I took note of how my body felt when the waves of fear washed over me. I had a strong tingling on the top of my head and it would course over my head and shoulders very quickly and in waves. When people describe “waves of fear washing” it is because the physical sensation really does feel like that.
Then the heart would pound and adrenaline would pump from my heart. What is interesting is that logically, during this time, I knew I was safe, so I really made an effort to pause and simply observe. What is my body doing now? How is it feeling? What is this emotion that I’m experiencing?
Getting tuned in
I’ve learned how to find different spots on the body where I need to release the tension as I begin my meditation – tight, constricted areas that I never knew were that way until I focused my attention on them.
But connecting emotions with the body is still something I need to get more familiar with. The other day as I was on my walking route, I noticed how I was feeling a little bit angry at something, I don’t remember what it was, but I remembered to be mindful of my anger. I noticed my anger and then I asked, how does my body feel? I did notice a tightening in my chest. This is the first time I’ve ever stopped to ask myself these things.
Like most people, I have just felt my emotions and reacted to them, not really examining myself. Now it is just a matter of REMEMBERING to do it.