Mindfulness practitioners offer the insight that resisting our pain often deepens our pain.

What can manifest when we resist our pain? When we attempt to cripple our awareness and pain, the inner wisdom will reliably refuse to back down. So, inner wisdom shows itself in a crippled fashion, perhaps in the guise of panic attacks, physical malady, sleep disturbance, rage, dissociative behavior, crisis, abusive self-medicating or other insults to the body, mind and spirit. The mind can become tormented – as the Buddhists characterize it – the “monkey mind.”

I should say that I am not a specialist. I am a peer who used these techniques to good effect early on, and they reliably aid me today. Remember: It is best to leave judgment behind – there is no “right” way to be mindful. Also, if you have a medical history with complications of mobility or breathing, consult a physician first.

1. Color Mindfulness Walk

A 5-minute walk – preferably out of doors and slowly. Before you start, stand in place and feel your feet both firmly planted on the ground. Raise your chest and pull your shoulders back to open your posture. As you start to walk, think of your breath as your “home base.” Be aware of air coming in and going out. As you walk, look around you for primary colors. Locate green, red, blue and yellow. Thank each thing you see for hosting this color. Conclude your walk by noticing your breath.

2. Counting Sensations in Threes

For 5 minutes – listen for 3 sounds, look for 3 things, try to observe 3 smells, touch 3 textures and if you can, taste 3 tastes around you. This will bring you into a present state of attention. Thank each thing you see, touch, smell, taste and hear for hosting this element.

3. Breath Work

This technique is from the discipline of Tai Chi. Sit with both feet firmly planted on the ground and in an upright and alert position that is comfortable. Take 3 short inhales,  let go of 1 long exhale. Repeat this sequence five times.

Try any of these exercises to start. As well, look for other people – individuals or a mindfulness community – to support you in your practice.

Kim Go 2011

Kim Go

I am an artist in the expressive, installation and performance arts. I write because of our shared cultural beliefs about loss offer far too few tools to people working with grief. When I was very young, I thought little about impermanence. Then, my personal encounters with impermanence grew to include such challenges as: my father's death in early childhood, a near-death experience in adolescence, divorce, fertility challenges, death of a soul mate and spouse and subsequent loss of access to stepchildren, mugging and assault, pet loss, job loss, suicide of two close friends, and geographic resettlement. Perhaps we have something in common... perhaps not. I have learned that the specificity of the loss does not matter as much as the condition of the heart to be open to others who are learning to be present and alive regardless of the impermanence in their story.

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