April 7, 2016

I’m Paying Attention: How an Injury Encouraged Mindfulness.

Flickr/Elizabeth M

I fell in love with my yoga practice, in large part, because I liked the way it made my body feel.

I felt challenged and strong—humbled and raw. And I felt mindful, because everything was new to me.

I paid attention to everything—the breath, the poses, the dance. I started moving slower and more purposefully, with more grace and ease, and less rush and force—usually—even off the mat.

I learned how to get into my body, and with that often comes a space where my mind can check out, like all the way out. For moments in each class, there are sequences when I’m simply sweating through the motions, barely aware of what my body is doing, or why.

Except when I am injured, because when I am injured, I notice everything.

Last night for example, was my first attempt to practice, just nine days post a minor abdominal surgery. My core—still swollen and sore—was not particularly accessible to me, which I knew would make my practice quite different.

“Let pain be your guide,” my surgeon had told me regarding resuming exercise. “If it hurts, don’t do it.” (Which is of course entirely unhelpful to a person like me.) Pain is where I find, push and play with my edge.

If it hurts, then my body says: “Keep going—you’re doing it right. Stay a bit longer.”

But not last night. Last night, I noticed everything. Last night, my practice felt new again.

Each pose felt like an experiment. “What will this be like? How can I modify this? Does this feel good? Am I still breathing?”

At the end of my practice, I felt complete—interested and fresh—and awake.

It wasn’t because I’d worked hard, and it wasn’t because I found my athletic edge or had sweat “enough.”

It was because I’d paid attention to myself for an hour. 

Imagine if every practice were like that—mindful. Imagine if every action were like that—mindful. Imagine if we were in inquiry about our day like that, every day. Imagine if we attended to ourselves.

Imagine a mindful life. 

Today, as I step out into my day, I’m paying attention.

I’m listening, experimenting and exploring. I’m being mindful in how I move, beginning with my intention to be aware—to take in, to notice—and to be grateful for the moment. Each moment.


“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn


Author: Michelle Sweezey

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Flickr/Elizabeth M

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