Three of my friends and I are playing a sort of game for the month of February called The Daily Dose. We each wrote down a small activity for every day of the month on strips of paper, then folded and sealed them. We met for a masked hike and exchanged our paper strips so that we all ended up with 28. I put mine in a bowl on my nightstand, and first thing each morning I pull one out and see my surprise activity for the day.
My daily doses have invited me to pretend I was packing something for a tropical vacation, to wear flip flops all day, to do something nice for three people, to meditate and take 10 deep breaths, to write down in my journal something important that my mother told me, to listen to James Taylor sing You’ve Got a Friend, and more.
This “prescription” has been a delicious diversion from cold winter days made even more bleak by Covid restrictions. Yet at the same time, it has been a way for me to stay with sensation, to be fully in the moment I’m in. As I have savored each dose, my mind has not wandered to all the places it can find to go. I’ve been wholly present to the delight (I danced while listening to James) and the discomfort (flip flops in February!). I’ve chuckled, felt wistful, calmed myself and even cried.
Staying with sensation–pleasant, unpleasant, and everything in between–allows us to fully live our unique, authentic experience of what is being offered to us in this life. It’s so tempting to let the mind hi-jack us. We do all sorts of things to divert our attention from what is, but isn’t what is what life is all about?
Staying with sensation is not natural for me. I suffer from the cultural conditioning that ties worth to accomplishment, so I’m a skilled “doer” who has to work on “being.” And I’m a trauma survivor who developed finely honed tools for avoiding my feelings. At a certain point in my life, I survived by not staying with sensation. But as my consciousness shifts to new ways of being, the avoidance tools feel heavy, and I want to put them down. I want to be free to embrace my intuition rather than be chained by my inhibition, and staying in the moment, fully feeling sensation, is my key.
This takes practice, and the best way I know how is with my body. I’ll share a three-step process I learned in a Qoya class:
- Attune to your breath
- Notice what you are feeling in your body
- Follow that feeling (with movement or by simply relaxing into it)
Want to try it? You can put on one of your favorite songs and do the three steps. You can do a simple yoga pose and do the three steps. You can take a walk and do the three steps. You can even lie on the ground and do the three steps. Whatever works for you, just draw your attention to your body. Breathe, notice, follow. If the sensation shifts, follow that. If you lose your way, go back to Step 1.
As I continue to practice staying with sensation in my body, I know I’ll become more adept at savoring all of the sensation in my life. And even though my Daily Dose will come to an end, I will have all the medicine I need.