Direct Experience – an oasis in a digital world

Take a moment to stop what you are doing and look out the window, or gaze at an object right in front of you. Take a few, deep breaths, relax your jaw and imagesdrop your shoulders.  Call upon all your senses to directly experience the object of your gaze.  Get specific about colors, shades and shapes.  Now expand your awareness to the space around the object.  Add the sense of sound, and scent to further observe the object.  Depending on where you are and what you are doing you might even be able to employ the senses of taste, and touch.  Continue for a few breath’s time to observe the object without any strong judgement. Take another deep breath.  Notice the change in your level of calm.

Here’s what direct experience feels like:

You will feel a moment of calm and peace

You will catch a break from anxiety and depression

You will feel like someone turned the lights on, and turned the volume down

You will feel like your eyesight just improve slightly…..

Then your busy mind will sneak back in and direct experience will fade into the background….

…. but don’t despair!   Every time you touch base with the elusive direct experience you will become more skilled at catching your next glimpse.

You have just tasted a sample of what Buddhist teachings sometimes call direct experience, and Western psychology sometimes refers to as the “felt sense.”  Direct experience gives us the opportunity to see an object, a place, even a person just as they are, to feel a sense of connection to the present moment that makes us feel whole, connected, alert and relaxed at the same time.  This practice helps cultivate a side of our nature that is unbiased, neutral, calm and centered.  It is an important and powerful stress-reduction technique.  Direct experience practice has a cumulative effect that can help us have a better handle on our emotions, and even build stronger bonds with loved ones and our community.  Many moments of direct experience add up to a life well-lived.  Although technology has many benefits, it is difficult to cultivate an understanding of direct experience through our lap tops and smart phones.  That’s why direct experience practices are an important counter-balance in the new era of technology.

Here’s what direct experience feels like:

You will feel a moment of calm and peace

You will catch a break from anxiety and depression

You will feel like someone turned the lights on, and turned the volume down

You will feel like your eyesight just improve slightly…..

Then your busy mind will sneak back in and direct experience will fade into the background….

…. but don’t despair!   Every time you touch base with the elusive direct experience you will become more skilled at catching your next glimpse.

Throughout Center Points, my upcoming workbook series that presents contemplative practices for different life stages, you will build a tool box that will help you practice and share the idea of direct experience on a daily basis, building the capacity to re-set your nervous system in times of stress, thereby improving your ability to connect with peers and loved ones in a meaningful way, plan and follow through with important life goals, build wholesome habits and overcome set-backs.

Keep an eye out for Center Points for Young Adults, and Center Points for Mid-life Bliss.

In the mean time, take a look at these mindful hub tools that will help you practice well-being, right now:

Easy ways to integrate mindfulness into your day

Authenic joy through mindfulness 

We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!

 

 

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