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Mind Matters, Issue #001 -- Feet and Seat
September 24, 2008
This ezine is from www.theMindtoLead.com and Suzanne Kryder, Ph.D.
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One of the most popular mindful awareness practices (MAPs) that I teach is “Feet and Seat.” Leaders like it because it’s easy and instantly calming. I like sharing it not only because mindfulness teachers like Sharon Salzberg recommend it, but a research study confirmed that it works.
On a six-week mindfulness retreat I sat in 2001, Sharon said that it might sound simplistic, but the best thing to do when you’re upset is to feel your feet on the floor. I remember thinking, “That’s ridiculous. It’s too simple.” A few days later, I was taking a shower and feeling incredibly sad. I missed my life and my freedom. At certain points, a long retreat is sheer bliss. At other times, it feels like prison because you’ve got very little control over much of anything.
I was so upset and lonely in the shower, but at some point, I remembered Sharon’s suggestion. Leaving my sad thoughts behind, my awareness took the elevator to the bottom floor. Yep, there’s my feet. They were wet and slippery. The old tile floor was slippery and wet, too. Nothing profound. Just sensations of being alive.
My upsetting thoughts hadn’t stopped. But wet feet on wet tile won out. Simple sensations blandly filled the foreground of my mind and calmed me down while sadness brewed in the background. My choice was clear: being upset or being.
It wasn’t easy to stay focused on my feet. There’s not much excitement in cool, slippery pressure when the theater next door is playing heartache and terror. So, I had to gently return awareness to wet feet. It was an effective way to pull my mind out of overdrive and get calm.
Next, notice that you’re sitting in a chair. Move the awareness into the back of your legs where they contact the chair. Move your awareness up the backs of your legs, across your seat, and up your back to the point where it no longer contacts the chair. Sense the pressure, temperature, and vibration in the back side of your body, your seat. Take a deep breath in. As you exhale, let your seat be heavy and sink into the chair.
If possible, expand your awareness to hold your feet and seat simultaneously, or if you prefer, you can hold awareness of just one. Take a deep breath in. As you exhale, let your feet and seat be heavy and sink down.
I’d love to hear your questions or comments about this technique.
Email me here.
Suzanne Kryder, Ph.D.
"By Suzanne Kryder, Ph.D. of The Mind to Lead.com. Please visit Suzanne's web site at www.theMindtoLead.com for additional articles and resources on developing Calm Confident Power." (Make sure the link is live if placed in an eZine or in a web site.)
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