Three small words have become much more than just concepts or ideas to me; they have become a favorite daily practice of mine. And they have become a tool I share with parents and children.
Stop. Breathe. Feel.
The first word, stop, is my invitation to step out of the hustle and chaos of life. It’s a calling to pause. When I stop and just BE, I let go of the doingness and find myself more present.
Next, I breathe. This word takes me deeper into the moment by asking me to observe and notice my breath, to take a few breaths that comfort and soothe. For me, this is usually a belly breath or sometimes a balloon breath or even a lion’s breath, when I realize in stopping that i have some energy to let go of.
Once I am in touch with my breath and more settled in the present moment, I feel. I scan my body noticing the sensations that I’m experiencing. I keep a list of feelings on my desktop in case I am not clear on the sensation or want to get more specific– for example, moving from peaceful to mellow or scared to mistrustful. Sometimes there are multiple feelings; I let them all be.
During this step, I name the emotion(s) I am experiencing, and I breathe with intention. Again, these are soothing breaths that feel safe and bring me deeper into the awareness of my body in the moment.
These words have become a ritual that helps me reset my body and mind throughout the day, over and over again. I keep a post-it note with Stop. Breathe. Feel. on my laptop to cue me into the practice.
Each time I settle into my body and name my experiences, I am stepping deeper into self-awareness. And through each cycle of breathing into my emotions, focusing only on letting them be, noticing what they feel like and where they manifest, I find greater self-acceptance and self-love.
Mindfulness is not a practice reserved only for the cushion; this is an intuitive skill that we can hone through regular use. Just as the muscles in our legs get stronger the more lunges we do, our ability to be present and equanimous through the full range of emotions and experiences gets stronger the more we intentionally step into feeling without judgement.
I share this practice with you today because in the midst of wearing the many, diverse hats you do, you deserve (and need, in fact) to breathe with intention. So, get a stack of post its, write these three words on each one, and post them around the spaces you spend time in– the kitchen, your bathroom mirror, the changing table, the dashboard…
Now, I invite you to check in with yourself:
Stop. Breathe. Feel.
You are safe here, and all you have is time, time to BE you.