The most valuable gift I can give myself is my own undivided attention. Sounds easy enough and on days where I have managed to have my needs met this can be a much easier undertaking. However, there are also those days when I have not been sleeping well or I have fallen into the habit of eating nutrient empty foods while taking long flights and/or isolating myself that make it feel impossible to give me my undivided attention. It is at times like these that meeting this goal can be most daunting.
Episodes of self-judgement and expectations, or dwelling on my past pain, collude with the stories I have about myself requiring me to stay focused and not distract myself. Here are a few strategies that I have found help me to drop into my body.
One important practice that I consistently turn to is the ceremony of “Smudging”. If you are blessed enough to have been raised in an Indigenous culture, you will already know what this is. For those of you who do not know, Smudging is the act of wholistically cleansing stored energies from our minds, bodies, hearts and spirits. This is done by burning a dried bundle of sacred medicines, sage in my practice, waving the smoke all around me while praying for good thoughts, actions and energies to surround me. There are many other traditions and practices from a great diversity of Peoples from around the world that serve the same purposes as Smudging serves in my life.
I have also become aware of the need for a space that I feel very comfortable in. I find that when the space is uncluttered and open this allows me to relax more easily. Also I have found some beautiful hidden spots in nature and have found them to be amazing to practice in so long as there are not too many people around.
This next one is very significant for me in my practice of giving myself my undivided attention. I have found that the right music can really help me to tune inwards. I choose music that is melodic with no or few words as that can sometimes lead me to start thinking excessively which pulls my focus outwards.
Lastly, it is important to do your best not to think too hard about what to do. You may not do anything at all. Some days I just lay and listen and observe subtle changes. other days I may be quite active. Just do your best to allow what is needed in the moment, do your best to release agendas or goals that you have in your practice.
With practice, like anything else, this time it takes to become clearly connected to myself can become shorter and the path more known. This is a practice of self- observation. I do my best to keep this self-observation as the root of my movement practice. This allows me to become a more avid listener. I do my best to move how my body needs to move before I begin to work on other goals for myself. This allows me to be more effective when working towards the movement goal-oriented practice like working towards a stalder press as an example.
I have noticed that once I have listened to my body and moved in a way that allows me to feel more connected to myself and my body, I feel a very clear difference in how movements feel to me. I want to do astonishing things with my body, and I want to feel amazing while I move in ways I never thought possible for myself. I hope this is helpful to your movement, yoga, or life practice. I certainly have observed the positive effects that this practice of giving me my undivided attention has brought into my life.
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