Online Retreat
Mindfulness, self-compassion and the healing embrace of God
PART 2
Contemplation and mindfulness: becoming present to Presence
Introduction to the mornign retreat
Talk 2 Becoming present to Presence

At the end of the talk, listen to this beautiful song by Sarah McLachlan, called "Ordinary Miracle":

SOME MINDFULNESS EXERCISES

 

One-Minute Practice: Inner Spaciousness

  • Whatever you are doing right now, pause and become aware of your physical, mental, and emotional state, including your breath. Don’t try to change anything. Just notice what is happening within you.

  • Now notice the weight and feeling of your body. Begin to let yourself de-compress—by letting your muscles lighten, lengthen and open. Just think about and invite these changes; no pushing or fixing. Bring attention to your head/neck joint—way up high, almost between the ears—and think about allowing this joint to have a little more space. Imagine you had something heavy resting on your head that was just removed. Allow your spine to gently follow your head upwards.

  • You may shift in your chair as you allow your bones to move and release away from one another in response to de-compressing. Invite a little more fullness into your back and sides, and under your arms, letting your ribs move with breath. As you observe your breath, breathe out with a long, soft exhale, so that your lungs are emptied of most of the air. Allow your breath to return easily, widening your whole torso. If you notice any areas in your body where your breathing seems limited or impeded, think about softening there, releasing whatever holding you may unconsciously be doing.

  • Let your eyes take in your environment. Look around you for a few seconds and let something into your vision that you haven’t noticed before.

  • As you return to what you were doing previously, notice your easy breathing and allow room for all that’s inside you—organs, fluids, veins, nerves, tendons, connective tissue. All this internal stuff is elastic and moveable. When you open into length and width, there’s enough room inside. Allow yourself a sensation of aliveness. Notice, has your mental state shifted?  Allow this soft, enjoyable expansion to influence your whole self as you go about the rest of your day.

 

Mindful Tea Drinking

Make yourself a cup of tea (or coffee), exactly the way you like it! Find somewhere to sit where you are relaxed and comfortable.

Drink your tea very slowly, and try to bring your attention to the small and the flavour of the tea. Drink each mouthful slowly, savouring it fully. Try not to think about the next mouthful, or the time when your tea is finished, or how you should drink all of your cups of tea this way. Just stay with this mouthful, and enjoy it.

 

10-minute exercise with your senses

Find somewhere to sit where you are comfortable and relaxed. In this exercise you will spend two minutes focusing on each of your senses. It will be helpful to have a timer with you that you can set for 2-minute intervals.

1.    Sight

Spend 2 minutes just looking at what is around you. If your mind wanders, gently let go of the thoughts and bring your attention back to what you are seeing. Try not to name anything, or to think about how beautiful or ugly it is, just look.

2.    Sound

Spend 2 minutes just listening to the sounds that are around you. Start with sounds that are nearby, and then gradually notice the sounds that are further away. If your mind wanders, gently let go of the thoughts and bring your attention back to what you are hearing. Again try not to name anything, or to judge the sounds in any way, just listen.

3.    Touch

Spend 2 minutes becoming aware of what your skin is feeling. You could feel the texture of your clothes against your body, or the ground under your feet, or the breeze against your skin. You could also get a sense of the temperature that you are feeling, and become aware of how this feels to your body. If your mind wanders, gently let go of the thoughts and bring your attention back to becoming aware of your sense of touch.

4.    Taste

Spend 2 minutes becoming aware of what your mouth is tasting. At first you might think that there is no taste, since you are not eating or drinking something, but after a while you should notice a subtle flavor in your mouth. Spend this time being aware of this flavor. If your mind wanders, gently let go of the thoughts and bring your attention back to becoming aware of your sense of taste.

5.    Smell

Spend 2 minutes becoming aware of any odours that your nose is sensing. If you don’t notice any odours, try sniffing the grass, or a nearby flower. If your mind wanders, gently let go of the thoughts and bring your attention back to becoming aware of your sense of smell.

Mindful walking exercise

Find a place where you can walk in a relaxed and unselfconscious way.

•      Begin by standing still for a while and becoming aware of your surroundings. Take a few deep breaths.

•      Now bring your attention to how your body feels. Move your shoulders around a bit to relax them, twist at your waste a few times, and bend forward at your hips to feel a slight stretch up the backs of your legs.

•      Now stand in a relaxed way, and when you are ready walk forward slowly, in time with your breathing.

•      When you breathe in, take a slow, steady step. Bring your attention to the soles of your feet, and become aware of the contact between your foot and the ground. Bring your attention down from the level of the brain to the soles of your feet.

•      When you breathe out, take another slow step, feeling the movement throughout your body as you do this. Again become aware of the contact between your foot and the ground.

•      Continue walking slowly like this for at least 10 minutes. When you notice your mind drifting, gently let go of the thoughts and bring your attention back to the feeling of your body as you walk.

RETREAT
CENTRE

Tel: 082 465 1514            Email: bestill@solitude.org.za

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