I have spent years learning about the Indigenous ways of knowing and being. My Masters work revolved around Indigenous ways of learning and leading. We have so much to learn from the Indigenous Peoples and the ways their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual worldviews align, and have aligned for thousands of years, with what we’ve come to understand as being mindful. I have come to understand and interpret these in my own practice and life.
Physical: being mindful of your body is realizing what a miracle it is. Take some time to simply look at your toes. Send thanks to the creator, whatever it is you believe in, for your feet. Then move your way up your legs and consider all the things you are able to do. Send thanks again. Keep going. Tara Brach says, “what we constantly think about, that becomes the inclination of our minds.” Think about your body and notice, observe, what comes up. Notice the parts of your body you don’t have a healthy relationship with. What memories are triggered that have shaped this? This is very powerful for teens who are beginning to form their body image or distorted body image. Also consider this, you are made up of the same molecular makeup as the universe. You are the universe. The interconnectedness makes us more aware of the oneness we tend to forget in our busy lives.
Mental: We only have the ability to feel emotions for 60-90 seconds. Everything is temporary. The fact that we feel or relive emotions is because we either repeat them to someone else or to ourselves. This in turns creates paths in our brain, a default per se, that redirects us to these emotions. Eventually, this takes a toll on our bodies, as our bodies don’t know the difference between you reliving the event in real life or in your mind. We re-traumatize ourselves over and over. Our mental state can be changed. Change the energy around you. Play music, take a nap, go for a walk, start a note in your phone with the date. Track these thoughts and soon you’ll see how they follow a pattern. As Eckhart Tolle has described this as your “pain body,” you’ll soon realize that your mental state has a pattern. Finding the triggers and working through this is where the real work begins. This is where we find peace in our minds. When we sort out the triggers, the patterns, and figure out our wiring. Eventually, our brains start to love this, and this becomes our default.
Emotional and Spiritual: Understanding that our emotional and spiritual worlds are connected to our physical and mental is crucial. Our emotions can be felt in our bodies, not our minds. We have come to believe that simply because we can articulate our emotions, we can manage them in our minds. Becoming mindful of our bodies, allows us to become mindful when emotions arise. Notice sensations, notice how a comment makes you feel? Is that triggering? Where did you feel that? Your tummy? Your heart? Tension in your head? These are all signs that your body knows what you feel, no matter how much you try to hide it or suppress it. If we don’t observe these changes when they are in the state of whispers, they eventually will become, as Mark Groves states, a 2x4. Your body will shut down to prevent you from continuing this to yourself. You will experience health issues. The universe will stop you in your tracks, because as Carolyne Myss says, “the universe is law.” Our bodes know what we feel and feelings are intelligent, even fear and sadness. They teach us something. They direct us. The notion of “don’t worry be happy” does not serve us here. In order for us to be happy, we must understand that happiness is not a blissful state some people are always in and some other aren’t privy to that for one reason or another.
Everyone has a different happiness set point. We don’t all need the same things to be happy. Happiness is relative. Some of us need to feel creative in order to be happy. Others need to make money to be happy and others are happy following a workout routine. Being mindful means you have the right to make your own rules about your feelings and that you have the right to them. Be compassionate to others and ask for grace and a safe circle where you are encouraged to express how you feel without shame or judgment.