This simple practice of turning a searchlight on our own experience can reveal how we’re meeting life in real time and can be done at any time of the day. In 5-10 minutes, we can gain awareness of thoughts and feelings as well as how we’re feeling physically.
1. Begin standing or sitting with both feet on the floor, noticing the surface under the feet, the sensation of the whole foot meeting the floor. Then scan through the rest of the body noticing what sensations might be there - tingling, softness, tension, itching, temperatures, whatever is present. Notice, too, the breath as it flows in and out of the body. Is it shallow rapid, deep, halted, smooth? Taking mental notes without judgement.
2. Then directing attention to the emotions- what are the feelings I’m experiencing right now. These can be varied — expectation, excitement, dread, love, anger, warmth, sentiment, affection, sadness, loss, pressure, fear, or a feeling of nothing, a kind of emptiness. The key is to allow what emerges to be there. In this exercise, you’re like a meteorologist checking the weather and reporting it to yourself.
3. Then inviting your awareness to turn toward thoughts. Notice the climate in your mind: calm, busy, stormy, bright, dark? What is the nature of your thoughts: words, images, patterns? What is the attitude of the mind? Again, simply noticing with open curiosity, suspending judgement.
4. Once you’ve checked in, reflecting on the experience and jotting down some notes or verbalizing to another person can anchor the awareness even more.