Week 5 - Feeling Emotions in the Body 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. (pause) 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. (pause) 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. (short pause) 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. In this practice, we will be exploring the feeling of a few specific emotions within our body. Taking happiness, worry, and peacefulness as our starting points, we will pay close attention to where and how the feelings show up in the body. Remember that we’re just observing the sensations in the body as they reflect the energy of these feelings. We’re not trying to change anything. Remember, too, that at any time you can bring your mind back to focus on your breath, using your breath as an anchor. (pause) Let’s start with happiness. See if you can experience what happiness feels like in your body. To help you do this, you can remember a time when you felt happy. Or, you can simply evoke a general feeling of happiness in your body and mind. (pause) Notice the sensations in your body - where are they present? What are the sensations like? They could be warm... light... bright.l. loud..l or quiet? As you sit here feeling happiness, be curious about this feeling. Notice if it gets stronger….. …. Or if it fades away. (pause) Now choose to investigate a mild but slightly uncomfortable feeling… some small concern or worry that you have. See if you can begin to experience the mild dis-ease in your body that signals a worry. Notice any sensations, …. perhaps in your belly, …. Or in your shoulders or back, ….or  in your forehead or jaw. (pause) What are the sensations like? They could be slightly warm... tight... burning... Maybe cold... Maybe sharp? Do they move around? … or are they at one place? (pause) As you sit here, be curious about this feeling. Notice if it gets stronger….. …. Of if it fades away. See if you can just observe it without pushing it away, or getting entangled in it. (pause) Now completely let go of the worry.  And take three relaxing breaths. Long breath in. Long breath out through the mouth.  Let your body relax with each breath. (pause) Now allow a feeling of peacefulness to come to mind. What does peacefulness feel like in your body? To help you do this, you allow a time when you felt peaceful to surface. Or, simply let a the sense of peacefulness come into your mind. (short pause) Notice the sensations in your body. What are the sensations like? Are they in one place or throughout your body? (pause) Be curious about this feeling. Notice if it gets stronger….. ….or if it fades away. (pause) Notice the connections between your feelings and the sensations in your body. Perhaps different feelings are connected to different sensations. We can learn to notice the feelings and sensations, and watch them move and change. And, at any point, we can return our attention to an anchor, like the breath, when we want to feel more balanced and secure. To close our practice, let’s bring to mind a sense of gratitude for emotions. All our emotions are a natural part of life and all of us experience a wide range of emotions. They have a tremendous value for our survival by alerting us and preparing us for urgent needs and threats, for enabling and enhancing relationships with others, for providing rich texture in our experiences, and for making possible the experience of art and beauty. Take a moment to also appreciate our ability to to not simply be driven by emotions, but also to be aware and reflective towards the whole range of emotions without having to judge them or alter them. As humans, we have this amazing opportunity to be aware, to notice, and to be reflective about these emotions as they occur in our experience. (pause) 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.