Using the ACT Matrix to sort through thoughts, feelings, and body sensations is often a very useful way to get some distance from whatever is hooking or triggering us, and reminds us to expand our awareness to remember the people and things we care about most. Taking a moment to pause and sort through what you are experiencing onto an ACT Matrix can be very useful in discovering and taking more effective action that moves us toward the life we want. If you'd like to learn how to use this powerful tool to build a more meaningful and satisfying life, let's meet! You can book an appointment online here. For BeDoThrive clients and those who have experience with the ACT Matrix, please feel free to click on the image to download a .pdf for your personal use.
That's it! I invite you to give this simple practice a try any time to insert a break in the action, and create a small space to choose a new direction. You might set a timer and experiment breathing in this way for a minute or two and see what happens.
What do you notice during and after this practice? Body sensations? Thoughts? Emotions?
Are these inner experiences as solid and unchanging as they at first may have appeared? Do any of them ebb and flow and change?
Now that you've taken a quick break, what are you noticing is most important to give your attention to next in this day?
May you have a meaningful and satisfying week!
“Mr. James Duffy… lived at a little distance from his body.” (James Joyce, 1914) Do you ever feel like Mr. Duffy? Out of touch with your body? Because our body sensations fundamentally influence our behavior, when we are cut-off from our body, we miss an enormous amount of useful information and may end up habitually reactive, irritable, and unsatisfied with our lives… a shadow of the human being that we have the potential to be. So how do we reconnect our body and mind?
Good news! Creating and sustaining an awareness of the body is a skill that can be learned and developed. The Body Scan is a foundational Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) practice that guides you through noticing the sensations of life that are happening in your body in the present moment. It can be a wonderful practice to help calm and gather the mind, and to help you focus and anchor on your experience right now, in this moment. The Body Scan can be a very helpful practice in training your mind to wake up from what might be a habitual, and potentially very stressful, trance of constant thinking.
I invite you to try this body scan practice once a day for a few days, and to notice any effects. You might not notice anything new, however, you might experience all sorts of welcome changes in your life!
You may notice you are able to more easily fall asleep at night, or that you feel more connected to others. You may notice that your chronic pain diminishes a little bit with daily attention. You may find that you have more patience with others and an enhanced ability to deal effectively with irritable people and frustrating situations. You may experience clearer focus, and enhanced decision making and productivity. And possibly you will notice that your world simply seems a bit more beautiful and enjoyable.
The Body Scan Introduction is 2 minutes long and the Body Scan Meditation runs for 23 minutes. Enjoy!
(This Body Scan practice was adapted from the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli and recorded by Cathryn Campbell. More life enhancing practices by Jon Kabat-Zinn, including a 45 minute Body Scan practice, can be found at http://www.mindfulnesscds.com/)
Poetry never really interested me until I heard this poem by Rumi read aloud at a mindfulness retreat. I was struck by Rumi's profound illumination of our inner world, and amused and struck by his advice on how to be in relationship with the myriad of diverse activity, and reactivity, that our human brains constantly produce.
I invite you to read this poem and maybe even try reading it aloud. What does this poem bring up for you? When is the last time you noticed the various "guests" visiting your mind? When you do notice your thoughts and feelings happening, how do you treat them? Do you invite them in, welcome and entertain them? Or, do you notice that you usually shut the door tight and try to keep them out?
I invite you to experiment with noticing the activity of your inner world (thoughts, emotions, body sensations, stories, memories) and inviting it all in (for a moment), allowing it all to be here now, just as it is. How might you let these "guests" guide you in the next action you take today?
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
- Rumi (1207 - 1273)
translation by Coleman Barks
If you are interested in learning to meditate, I highly recommend Andy Puddicombe’s Headspace website (www.headspace.com) and mobile/tablet app. Headspace combines instruction on calming and insight meditation (also known as mindfulness meditation) and is completely non-religious – you won’t be asked to chant mantras, burn incense or even sit cross-legged. Headspace offers a high quality and FREE “Take 10" program which teaches you meditation basics in 10 mins a day over the course of 10 days.