Mindfulness: The Beginning of Your Journey to Well-Being

When people on their journey to well-being ask me, "Where do I start?" my answer is always the same. You start with mindfulness. And end with mindfulness. What is between is there for your lessons and entertainment and enjoyment.

In my book Well-Being I start you off with the simplest of mindfulness practices: observing your breath. You are told that when a thought comes, or a feeling comes, simply label each as "thought," "feeling," or "sensation," and return to your breath. If you practice this technique for 5 minutes a day, you will experience a difference in your life. The process provides you with a foundation with which to work on your stress. You are learning nonattachment by experiencing nonattachment, by developing your nonattachment brain muscles. (More technically, you are forming new thought patterns within your brain.) The more you practice mindfulness in this way, the less you will have to be reactive to every thought you have and the more in control of every situation in your life. This is essential for working in harmony with your mental body of consciousness.

Mental Body of Consciousness
Our mental bodies are part of our mind that contain things that we know, what we have been taught, and what we believe on a conscious level to be true. Let's go further and look at the numbers. In general, it is believed that the average brain has 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts each day, 80% of which are negative and 95% of which are repetitive. That's a bit overwhelming. How can we possibly manage all of these thoughts and have a successful life? Truth is, we can not manage them. They are like embedded computer programs, running over and over. They keep popping up as someone says something to us and our Mother button gets pushed and we remember that that's what our mother said and we didn't like it then and we don't like it now and we are off down the track of getting upset and angry and looking for an apology from the other person and taking them home with us mentally and lying in bed thinking about what we should have said to them and on and on. Yes, I know that was a long, run-on sentence. It is exactly what our thoughts do to us unless we have developed the initial skill of mindfulness. At least with mindfulness we have the ability to get off the thought train, return to our breath, and allow all those thoughts to pass freely onward without attaching ourselves to them. With 70,000 thoughts to choose from, we know that once we release the upsetting thought a better thought is sure to follow.

In Well-Being I present techniques like affirmations and guided imagery in addition to mindfulness to help you release your attachment to some of the thoughts you do not want any longer. For me, one of the easiest tools for dealing with thoughts is the Insight Timer app available for most smartphones. I've used the app for years. It started as a way to time mindfulness meditation using singing bowls. Over the years, it has developed into a free app with thousands of contributors. If you like the imagery from a contributor, you can donate directly to that person. I listen daily to at least one imagery or affirmation session.

It's about Shifting the Frequencies
Mindfulness to become less reactive to our thoughts is not enough to shift to the frequencies we want for healing and manifestation and abundance of all good things in our lives. Our Causal or Spiritual Body lives at the frequency level of our soul, our higher self. It is the quiet voice within that guides us along the way. It is the part of us that Knows (with a capital K) what is coming forward to us when we get our mental selves out of the way. Even if we have integrated everything we need to know in the mental body, it still may be difficult to contact this Self, who we really are. Our emotions block the way. Imagine pouring pure Spirit water into a glass through 2 separate filters. After diligence, our mental body filter is in good condition. We no longer attach to our thoughts. We understand that we are different that our thoughts. We can observe our thoughts. Our filter is clean and shiny. But the water goes through another filter before it reaches our bodies. That filter is clogged with debris from emotions experienced in the past, from our birth and before, up to our present now. That debris is housed in the emotional body.

Emotional Body of Consciousness
The emotional body consists of frequencies that early on do their best to protect us from being hurt. As we grow, emotions are set as frequencies within the cells and organs of the body. When I was very young I was outside in the rain and a clap of thunder and lightning came close to me. After that, if I even smelled rain, I would beg my parents to come inside. This fear protected me to the extent that if I went inside when it rained, the fear would lessen. However, this fear also hindered my enjoyment of nature as I constantly looked around expecting rain. On a deeper level, I grew up never being able to please my mother. No matter what I did, it was rarely good enough for her approval. The amygdala cells in my brainstem took these feelings and translated them to the cells in my body saying that, "no matter what I try, I won't be good enough." There are many theories of how to deal with the feelings embedded in the emotional body. My 2 current favorites are from Dr. Alexander Loyd and from Michael Brown. Dr. Alexander Loyd's book, The Healing Codes1, describes ways to release these deeper emotions from our cells and emotional bodies one at a time. Michael Brown, in The Presence Process2, simply says that three emotions clog the emotional body: anger, fear, and grief. Digest these emotions and the energy of Spirit begins to flow unimpeded through the emotional body and into our lives.

Back to Mindfulness
There is a way to begin to clear the emotional body right now with a slight variation on what you are doing in your mindfulness practice.

  1. Begin by sitting in your usual way for mindfulness, following the breath in and out of your nose, returning to the breath when you realize you have attached to a thought. Remember that you have attached to a thought when you find one thought leading to another and to another. When you recognize that you have begun to tell yourself a story again, go back to the breath.
  2. Continue to breathe and begin to notice what emotions come up as you sit there. Feelings of sadness, or frustration, or joy, or love. Instead of going back to observing your breath, go into the feeling. Notice the feeling's quality (strong, weak, sharp, tender). Notice the intensity of the feeling (1-10), Notice where you feel the feeling on your body. And just let it be there. Observing without judging. Letting it be. Suzanne Scurlock-Durana's Full Body Presence3 is a good reference for further work here.
  3. Allow the feeling to deepen, even if it is fear, or pain, or anger, or grief, or restlessness, or joy. Go deeper into the feeling without losing yourself. These feelings are part of you, the hidden part that wants to come out into the light. You don't need to tell yourself a story about the feeling or remember when it occurred, or how it occurred. Stories are in the mental body and we are releasing the clutter in the emotional body right now.
  4. Ride the feeling as if you were training a horse for saddle and it was bucking. You are in control. You can always stop when you've had enough. Ride as long and far as you can and you will reach a place beyond the feeling where the feeling gives up and you feel at peace. That peace comes because you are no longer afraid of having that feeling. You have given your cells new instructions. They are OK even if that feeling starts to come up again. They do not have to tense up. They are OK. And you are OK, too.

This is a beginning practice. (I have included resources in the footnotes that I have found helpful in deepening my practice.) Clearing the emotional body is one of the things most of us decided to put on our curriculums when we came here. As we clear our emotions, we clear the emotions of those around us because they no longer have us with whom to fight. A clearing of emotions is quite necessary right now for the survival of the story we call civilization.

I don't think we can find peace through our minds. When asked, "How are you today?" I usually respond with, "Fine,"and it's often not true. Peace comes when we are peaceful. We are peaceful when cells in our bodies are peaceful, when our emotions are peaceful, when our minds are peaceful because we have given up judgment and chatter, faced our fears, walked through the shadows and came out all right. We walk through these shadows when we react to our thoughts and when bury our emotions. We don't need to keep telling everyone our thoughts; we just want to quietly observe them and let them go. We don't need to tell everyone about our emotions—just honor them in quiet and let them be a source of nourishment as we let them go.

I honor the place in you where you know that you are exactly where you are, doing exactly what you are doing or you wouldn't be there. I honor your path to higher light and wisdom. And I honor your willingness to say along with me, "I will not scare myself today, I will choose to love myself instead."

Jill Henry, EdD

1. Loyd, A. (2010). The Healing Code. New York: Hachette.
2. Brown, M. (2010). The Presence Process. Vancouver: NAMASTE.
3. Scurlock-Durana, S. (2010). Full Body Presence: Learning to Listen to Your Body's Wisdom. Novato: New World Library.

About Jill Henry

Jill Henry, EdD, PT, APP, is an explorer, facilitator, and advancer of well-being in the metaphysical and alternative healing fields. She practices Polarity Therapy and Energy Body Integrations (EBI), writes articles, and ...

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