These exercises may be performed one at a time or a number of them in sequence. These practices develop our ability to witness our inner life with compassion.
- Be fully present to your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Notice rising and falling of abdomen and chest. After a few minutes allow breath to expand naturally without changing it. After a few minutes allow it to get longer and slower. Be fully present to its unfolding. Several minutes.
- Notice the beginning, duration and ending of each breath until the next breath begins.
- Notice sounds around you as they appear and disappear. Listen to them as far as you can hear. Listen to the vibration within the sounds.
- Allow thoughts and images to arise and float by like clouds; don’t cling to any of them, and if you begin to identify with any and lose your center, simply come back to minding the breath. Witness these sounds both with compassion and without judgment or interpretation.
- While silently repeating any of the following phrases, reflect on them. You may adapt these phrases with your own wording:
May I be protected and safe. May I be happy.
May I and all beings be free from suffering.
May I accept myself. May I love myself. May I love others.
I wish you happiness, but I cannot be responsible for your choices.
May I come to know my True Nature.
May I have an open and loving heart. May you have an open and loving heart.
May I be healed. May you be healed.
- Be aware of sensations throughout your body. Notice the qualities of the sensations (temperature, size, depth, vibration, speed, etc.) Notice them as they appear, change and disappear without judging or changing them.
- Notice the rising and passing of emotions without judgment, preference or resistance. Be aware of them without pursuing them. Allow them to move through. Notice any places in the body that resonate to particular emotions.
- Label thoughts, images or emotions or sensations as they arise. Identify them without judgment or getting lost in them. For example, simply identify them as anger, abandonment, anxiety, joy, confusion, catastrophizing, justifying, defending, blaming, etc.
The next exercise is useful for exploring limiting emotional patterns:
Become aware of any emotional overreaction. Notice your feelings, thoughts and reactions. Notice feelings underlying other feelings. Allow them to unfold without clinging or acting on them. This will give time to process them without reacting to someone inappropriately. Remember, emotional overreactions are distortions based on false beliefs. These beliefs need to be refuted and challenged, and adaptive emotional experiences need to be linked to our inner resources—need to be allowed to surface in order to free ourselves from limiting patterns—from suffering.