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.
READ THIS PARAGRAPH, THEN LOOK AWAY FROM YOUR COMPUTER SCREEN: Take a moment to look out a window, or gaze at an object right in front of you. Take a few, deep breaths; relax your jaw and drop 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 breaths’ time to observe the object without any strong judgment. Take another deep breath. Notice the change in your level of calm.
You have just tasted a sample of what Buddhist teachings sometimes call mindfulness, or direct experience, and Western psychology sometimes refers to as the “felt sense” or being in the “flow.” Direct experience gives us the opportunity to see an object, a place or 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 yet also relaxed and content.
Direct experience practices are an important counter-balance to life in the information age.
This state of calm, alert, vivid connection helps build healthy neural networks in the brain. 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 laptops and smartphones. Direct experience practices are an important counter-balance in the new era of technology and can help us get the most out of our knowledge-based world. By practicing the 40 Days of Letting Go Detox for Your Brain, you have been building a tool box that will help you encounter and share direct experience on a daily basis, building the capacity to reset your nervous system in times of stress, thereby improving your ability to connect with peers in a meaningful way, plan and follow through with important life goals, and overcome setbacks.
The above post and worksheet are excerpts from Center Points For Emerging Adults – Building Identity, intimacy, and youthful wisdom through contemplative practices.
For more information on the Center Points project, contact Donna Torney. Visit mindful hub this November when we will be sharing more information on the Center Points series.
We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!