Have you ever noticed how we’re always on the lookout for danger and things going wrong? And that we pay much greater attention to criticism than praise?
This is perfectly normal, and there are sound survival reasons why we do this.
However, in the society and environment most of us in the west are lucky enough to live in today, this tendency can give us a skewed sense of reality. And, in terms of our own personal growth, health and well-being, this emphasis does not do us any favors.
I know if I write a blog post, for instance, and five people tell me it’s great, and they can relate to what I’m saying, but one person doesn’t like what I’ve written or even disagrees with one point I make, if I’m not careful all my attention will go to that one criticism and I’ll be upset about writing a rubbish blog. However valid the criticism might be, only focusing on this is not giving me the whole picture, and it’s certainly not doing me any favors in terms of my peace of mind.
In so many ways, we like to make things hard for ourselves, even when they can be easy.
We can see this in our body as well.
Do a quick scan right now (no more than a couple of seconds), and find one place in your body which stands out in your attention.
If you’re like the vast majority of us, your attention will immediately notice somewhere painful, uncomfortable or tense. Again there are sound reasons for this. Pain, after all is a warning and should not be ignored.
However, it is not the whole picture. And in normal circumstances it is NOT helpful to only pay attention to the uncomfortable aspects of what is going on in us.
Let’s do another quick two-second body scan. This time, however, I want you to find somewhere in your body where you’re experiencing relative ease – somewhere that is even just a little less tense, just slightly more comfortable than the first spot you noticed.
I’ve been experimenting a LOT with this way of thinking over the last few weeks*, and have also introduced this idea to my clients.
What I have discovered is:
- When you pay attention to ease, you become more easeful all over – you release tension generally. Conversely, when you pay attention to tension, you become more tense all over.
- When you deliberately practice paying attention to ease regularly (at least twice a day), you will find yourself noticing ease more often, even when you’re not intentionally looking for it. It starts to become more natural in the way you operate.
- When you pay attention to the ease in you, all your movements and activities become more efficient and less strenuous. You get more “flow.”
It turns out that paying attention to ease has a positive knock-on effect in other areas too. It means I feel less stressed and am calmer and less reactive, which is not only beneficial to me personally, but also for my work and my business. It helps in my interactions with others. If I feel at ease, I also feel more confident, more able to be myself and present my ideas coherently.
Indeed, it helps significantly as I sit here at my computer writing this blog post. If I’m paying attention to ease as I type, I become more at ease as I look at the screen, and I am more poised, less sucked into what’s in front of me. I feel more clear-headed, and it feels much pleasanter and more comfortable to be here.
Being aware of our ease is absolutely not about ignoring pain. It’s about shifting the balance in our attention so pain is not all we notice, so we get a more accurate picture of our whole self. And this, it turns out, has a multitude of benefits.
So experiment with paying attention to the ease in you today. I’m sure you’ll feel better for it.
As always, I’d love to hear from you. The comments function is still not working properly here on the blog. In the meantime, if you have an observation, question or comment for me, please hop over to my Facebook page and leave it there.
* I would like to fully acknowledge the work of Alexander Technique Teacher, Mio Morales, from whom I have been learning about this approach to ease.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net