Updated: Nov 18, 2022
The way to stop getting caught in painful cycles of emotional reactivity is to become more embodied.
The invitation is to be aware of breathing and respond compassionately to physical tension throughout the day. Then, you may arrive home in your body. You could start by sensing the calm places in you and let them expand in your awareness. Perhaps feel the sensations in the hands, feet, hip bones, or spine, or wherever feels comfortable. Be curious.
The body is a safe refuge. If we are not aware of our bodies, and dissociated in thoughts and acting out behaviour patterns, then we are less safe. Although the body may have discomfort and unpleasant sensations as well as neutral and pleasant feelings, experiencing it is important. Your body is there to live life with you.
As you practise embodied awareness, you may feel comfortable experiencing the lower belly, the centre of gravity and the area where your breath may be felt expanding and contracting. You may also be aware of the breath coming in and out of the nose and is it moves down your neck and torso. With the soft attention you may give to a newborn baby, you could experience the entirity of the breath moving through your whole body.
As much as you can, you could steadily become more and more aware of breathing and responding to tension, releasing it with care and love throughout the day. You can let go of tightness with each compassionate breath. Awareness of breath is a key to emotional self-regulation and whole body and mind relaxation.
Experiencing strong emotions such as fear, anger, sorrow or even sexual excitement may require some gentle witnessing and letting go to give you freedom and focus.
Simply gently notice your awareness of breathing, and offer a gentle inner gaze to any areas of tension in your body, which gradually may respond with relaxation, when they're ready.
Practise breathing through your nose rather than your mouth, if possible. This is most soothing. If you have difficulty breathing through your nose, practise. If you simply cannot, then breathe through your mouth for now, but practise nose breathing when you can.
Please don't ever force yourself to relax, or to breathe in a special way. Simply ease yourself in and out of mindful, compassionate breathing as feels comfortable for you. This is something to do while sitting down, laying down and during daily life. Your body and mind are interrelated and inseparable. With kindness in your attention, you can transform body and mind, into a healthy, happy place to dwell.