What if someone handed you the keys to a peaceful, joyful life? Would you use them to unlock your full potential? Mitra Somerville offers two helpful practices to help open up doors to our inner peace.
Live in Feeling
The practice of Integral Yoga helps us to have less distracting and detrimental thoughts by showing us how to live more in feeling and in our hearts rather than in our heads. What do I mean by living in feeling? Living in feeling means to become aware of the sensations in the body and the movement of breath, as well as to notice any uplifting or challenging emotions that may be arising.
Staying in touch with the sensations of the body, the breath, and the emotions helps to keep us in the present moment or the ‘now.’ The ‘now’ is where our peace and true happiness is, not in the past or the future.
Knowing how we are feeling is valuable information. If we feel some tension in the body, we can release it by adjusting our posture, stretching, or relaxing. If we notice a difficult emotion surfacing, we can let it go by feeling it, by breathing slowly and deeply, or by witnessing it.
If we notice that the body is relaxed or the emotions are positive, we can consciously keep creating the same types of thoughts and actions.
The most subtle form of feeling is the act of experiencing our Spiritual Self or True Self. This feeling could be one of stillness, contentment, or peace. It could be a feeling of love, compassion, or connection with others; it could be a feeling of happiness or joyfulness. We can experience the qualities of our True Self when the mind becomes quiet and when we’re able to open our hearts.
See if you can become more aware of how you are feeling as you move through your day. Living in feeling is one of the master keys to a happier life.
Witnessing or observing is another master key to greater wellbeing. When we witness the body, emotions, mind, and the people and situations around us, it helps us to be less judgmental and reactive. Our minds naturally become more calm and clear when we practice witnessing. We become more in touch with our intuition and creativity. Greater use of witnessing also leads to a more relaxed and healthy body as we are creating less tension.
Build your witnessing skills by choosing to observe something simple like a tree or piece of furniture. Just look at the object with a gentle gaze (blink normally). If the mind starts to describe or judge the object, just go back to observing. All other distractions are treated as something else to observe.
Once you feel comfortable observing simple objects, you can practice observing people (most of us find this more challenging). Do this unobtrusively. If you find yourself judging the person, just come back to observing them. Observing instead of judging leads to greater acceptance of others. Stick with it, and you’ll notice an improvement in your relationships.
We can observe any challenging emotions that come up. This leads to a dissipation of these emotions, as we are no longer feeding in the same type of thoughts that created these emotions in the first place.
We can also observe the mind to help it become clearer and less distracted. The mind will then be more available when you really need it, such as to solve a problem or to do your job efficiently. The deepest level of witnessing is observing from our inner peace, from our True Self.