Our attention is habitually drawn to problems. However, we can train ourselves to notice rest and relaxation hiding within our regular routine. Setting aside some time to get more acquainted with what rest feels like in the body can support this exploration.
Practice in Life
When you notice restfulness in the body, take a few seconds to enjoy it. See how many times you can find it occurring in the midst of your ordinary routine.
Let curiosity rather than perfectionism drive this exploration. There is no expectation that you spend more than a few seconds on this, but some situations will allow for a bit more practice time.
Waiting tends to be full of rest, but we miss the opportunity because we’re busy thinking and planning what comes next. Try to spend some fraction of your waiting time seeking and savoring rest.
See if you can find a situation where there is absolutely no restfulness present in the body at all. This is not the same as being completely relaxed. There could be plenty of other things going on — some of them even unpleasant — yet there could be subtle rest present.
Remember that you always have the option to intentionally create rest in the body. This counts the same as finding it. Either way, really focus for a few seconds on the available quality of rest in the body.
Practice in Stillness
Decide how much time you’re able to commit to practice. The duration of the practice is not nearly as significant as the consistency.
- Start the timer.
- Check in. What does your body feel like right now? Is there any sense at all that your body should feel different than it does? If so, what happens when you consider that, in reality, your body should feel exactly as it does right now?
- Restrict your attention to exploring restful states. Allow all other activity to operate in the background.
- Every few seconds, aim your attention on a particular occurrence of rest in the body, then let your attention linger there for a few seconds or until it goes away. The optional label is FEEL REST.
- Whenever you realize that something other than rest in the body has become the primary focus of your attention, gently reestablish the rhythm of clearly noticing and savoring rest.
- Instead of making a problem out of an internal or external distraction, try to find any restfulness that has appeared in reaction to it. Be open to unexpectedly pleasant reactions even to unpleasant distractions.
- Continue working in this way until the timer goes off.