Embracing your experience

Pause and notice what you feel. 

What happens when you notice a pleasant or unpleasant sensation or emotion? Most of us try to escape unpleasant sensations, and some of us even try to escape pleasant sensations. Imagine if you were to increase your ability to stay in the experiences rather than avoid or numb from them. What could you gain by having a greater capacity to be more fully in your emotions and sensations? I believe this is a pathway to having a richer and more fulfilling life. 

Let’s practice deepening our experience now. 

In this moment I am aware of the sound of birds chirping outside and of my cat purring in my lap. I am aware of the light and shadows in this room from the lamps. I am aware of the sensation of my fingers tapping the keys on my laptop, as well as slight pain from muscle tension in my left shoulder. Emotionally, I feel appreciation for the moderate temperature of the room from the open window, love for my cat, curiosity about the words that are flowing onto my screen, and annoyance with my tight shoulder. 

If I want a part of my experience to be more intense, I can choose to focus on that aspect. I can pause from typing and listen to the birds. As I do this, I notice my face smiling and I feel joy. If I shift my focus to the slight pain in my shoulder, I can be with this sensation both from a place of accepting the experience and also of relaxing into the sensation, both of which ease the tension a bit. If I focused instead of how annoyed I feel about the sensation, the pain would likely intensify because my muscles will tense further if I increase the feeling of annoyance. 

I encourage you to try this practice. Begin by noticing sensation and emotion in this moment. Now choose one sensation or emotion to embrace and enhance. After being in this for at least a minute, shift your awareness to a sensation or emotion that seems slightly unpleasant and practice awareness of this without judgment as good or bad for about a minute. Now again bring your awareness to a pleasant sensation or emotion and sit with this experience as your focus. After a minute, scan with your five senses and emotions for additional pleasant aspects of this moment to add more depth to this enjoyable experience. 

Look for opportunities throughout your week to practice your ability to choose where you place your attention and how deeply you can experience each moment.