Making Mindfulness Easy
An invitation to center pleasure, ease, and joy
If mindfulness can be defined as activities that allow one to be fully present, embodiment work can be defined as using awareness of physical sensations in the body to be fully present, undistracted by the outside world. Virtually any activity that tethers you to the present and pulls your awareness into your body can be an embodiment exercise.
Even though you’ve probably seen a lot of portrayals of ascetic iterations of mindfulness practices, using pleasure and joy to ground us is far more appealing and sustainable than self-denial. There is no wrong way to tether yourself to the present. If you've found developing a meditation practice too challenging (or too boring) embodiment work might be for you. Concentrating on sensations of pleasure in the body has the power to both calm your restless mind and maximize your satisfaction. Anything that allows you to drop into the present moment and stay there can be used as a mindfulness practice. Activities that involve moving the body and doing something that you naturally find engaging are an organic and intuitive way to get into a flow state. The benefits of mindfulness exercises remain the same regardless of how hard you work for it.
Making joy and pleasure key traits you look for in wellbeing practices has the added benefit of teaching you to recognize what these positive sensations feel like in your body. We all know what injustice feels like, what frustration, rage, and grief feel like. But what about contentment, satisfaction, justice, or autonomy? You are entitled to experiencing the full range of human emotion. Life is full of ups and downs so being blissed out 24/7 isn’t possible but to access a wider range of experience is within our reach.
In a productivity obsessed world it stands to reason that pleasure’s power is undermined. It only makes sense that you doubt the value of things that don’t involve hard work. But joy and following your feel-good have just as big of a role to play in our healing work as legitimized serious emotions.
Folks of color are socialized to strive, work themselves to the bone, and prioritize productivity over well-being more so than other members of the working class. During your formative years did an adult ever model for you that fun and joy are just as important for adults as for children? Or were you taught as most of us were that fun is for fools and irresponsible people? Were you taught that even children should strive to be as productive as possible?
After years of being told that fun and joy aren’t for people like me, learning that pleasure is a powerful healing tool and a fundamental part of a healthy adult’s life was a revelation.
A pleasure-centered embodiment practice is self-sustaining. Taxed, stressed out marginalized people are being set up for failure when given advice to add burdensome to-dos to our day. In contrast a making pleasure the focus of an embodiment practice can help reduce anxious thoughts and create a greater sense of calm and empowerment by engaging the body, inviting your overactive mind to take a break.
Instead of telling you exactly what to do as a joyful embodiment practice, I’m giving you exploratory homework.
Here are some general ideas of activities that some have found so rapturous they’ve effortlessly bound them to the present.
Playing with kids
Making play dough or slime
Playing an instrument
Creative Writing in one of your weaker languages
Try anything that grabs your attention or that pops into your head as another option when you scan the list. Dedicate time to your chosen activity and note what you find. If the first activity you try doesn’t feel like the one, keep experimenting. Next month we’ll specifically be exploring eating as a pleasure focused embodiment exercise.
As promised this month’s paid supporter goodie is a Peace at Work meditation
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