Let’s begin with a mindful centering practice. Wherever you just came from or whatever you were just doing before this moment, let’s fully settle into this space now.
First, notice your body posture at this moment and begin to make adjustments to sit in an upright position that will allow you to pay attention fully in the next few moments.
You can let go of anything you may be holding onto - worries, stress, concerns. Bring your feet flat on the floor, back straight but not stiff, shoulders relaxed, facial muscles relaxed, and hands resting comfortably on your thighs or in your lap. Let your eyes gently close.
Often it happens that our body is here but our mind is wandering somewhere else. The intention of mindful centering is to bring our mind back to the body and to the present moment.
To do that, let’s take a few deep breaths as an invitation for the mind and body to come together. Experience a deep breath through your nose, and let the breath come out through your mouth. Make the exhalation slow and long. Let’s do this two or three more times. Watch the body relax as you exhale slow and long.
Now let your breath move at its own relaxed pace and just pay attention to the flow of the breath in and out. Notice the sensations of breathing for a few moments.
As you do this you may notice that your mind starts to wander. You may start thinking about other things. If this happens, it’s not a problem, but is instead quite natural. Just notice what took your attention away without any judgement. Then simply let it go and redirect your attention back to the breathing.
Now, let’s explore what is happening in our body and mind.
First, bring your attention to your physical body and see what sensations you can notice.
Now, bring your attention to your mind and see what thoughts are there. When you notice a thought, just label it as “thinking”.
Now, begin to notice any emotions in the body. When you notice any emotional sensations, just label them as “feeling”.
Remember that the purpose is not to make any judgements about what or how much can you notice. The purpose is simply to notice what is happening inside of us.
Now in this practice we will be focusing on generating the feeling of care and compassion for others using imagery and our breath. We will also focus on expanding our awareness of our own sensations in our body and mind as we engage in this process.
Begin to tune in once again to your breath, focusing on the natural process that we reflected on last week of giving and receiving through each round of breath.
Now, imagine a person you deeply care about in front of you such as a family member, friend, mentor, or a pet. Take a moment to see them in your mind’s eye as clearly as you can.
Now with each exhale, begin to send care and love to this person. Imagine your breath actually transports directly this feeling of care and love you feel for this other being and they receive it into their own body.
Notice how it feels in your own body to send love and care to the person or being in front of you.
Now, let each inhale bring you nourishment and loving care in the same way you just practiced exhaling and giving love and care to another. With each inhale, receive nourishment and care from the air, environment around you and your infinite interdependent web of support that we explored last week.
With each inhale, receive care and support into your body and mind and with each exhale share compassion and care with the person or being in front of you.
You can say quietly in your mind - “breathing for me, breathing for you.”
Notice how it feels to share and receive love and care in this way. What do you notice in your body?
Now, let’s return to your breath and anchor your attention there again.
For a few moments, pay attention to the rise and fall of each breath and the feeling of the breath inside the body.
Let your mind rest in the natural cycle of your breath.
There is no need to do anything right now.
Just resting in the experience of your breath.
To close our practice, let’s bring to mind a sense of gratitude. Take a moment to feel the sense of appreciation for all the times we have received care for and support in our life along with all of the opportunities we have had to give care and support to our loved ones and positively influenced their lives. Reflect on and appreciate this dynamic we find ourselves in as human beings of giving and receiving care throughout our lives.
See if you can during the rest of your the day, begin to be more aware of small moments in which you both receive and give care and how that feels in your body and mind.
Now, slowly begin to bring some movement into your fingers and toes, bring some movement into the whole body, stretching gently, and then allow the eyes to open when you’re ready. Take your time.