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Embodied Presence: A mindfulness exercise

Donna Varnau shares her practice of Embodied Presence. This page is also available as a printable PDF.

The Practice of the PAUSE

Listening to your "thinking mind" alone takes you out of the present moment and dissociates you from the emotional, relational, and spiritual intelligence available with embodied attention. The practice of Pausing and Grounding cultivates inner spaciousnes and access to the fresh and new experience of your life right now.

How to practice PAUSING and GROUNDING: 


* With eyes open or closed, going slowly, bring your attention INSIDE YOUR FEET and sense their connection with the earth beneath them. Then ask yourself: "How does it feel to inhabit my FEET right now?" Wait until for a felt sense to show you the answer.

*Slowly keeping your attention inside your body as you move up the legs, sense the WEIGHT of your SEAT and the sitting bones there, and ask yourself: "What is my sense of the weight of my SEAT right now?" With your attention inside your SEAT, wait for a felt sense of the answer.

*Finally, bring your attention to your BACK AND SPINE, sensing how it feels to be supported or BACKED UP and ask yourself: "How does it feel to be alive in my spine and back right now? How does it feel to find support inside?" Wait until you have a felt sense of the answer.

You can be with others, even talking to them, as you silently walk yourself through this process of pausing and grounding. FEET, SEAT, SPINE is the short version!

Now bring your attention to the FRONT OF THE BODY and begin to sense in the same way:

* SOFT EYES: Slowly bring your attention to the front of the body and sense your eyes. See if you can soften them and even sense the space behind them. Softer and softer, letting go. Sense how it feels to have soft eyes. See if softening the eyes helps relax the thinking mind.

*SOFT HEART: Then come to the heart/diaphragm area. Soften the chest. "How does it feel to have a soft and receptive heart here in my chest? Can I meet life with this softness here in my chest?"

*BREATH: Now sense the in and out of your breath. Gently begin "balloon" breathing, where you inhale and balloon your belly front, back and both sides all at the same time. See if you can make your breathing even and smooth, with the same count on the in-breath as on the out-breath.

When you get to the top of the inhale, gently begin the exhale, not pausing at either the top or the bottom of the breathing cycle. See if you can create a steady flow of breath, in the shape of a flower bud opening and closing in slow motion.

You can practice Pausing and Grounding throughout your day. This helps develop a practice of resting more in the calm sense of embodied Presence than turning towards the habitual worries and concerns that easily grab our attention.







This page is also available as a printable PDF

See also conversation with Donna Varnau on Embodied Presence

Donna Varnau: “At a young age I felt connected to a calm, loving presence within me. Yet, as I grew older and had to interact more with others, I became increasingly anxious. Personal suffering propelled me to explore psycho-spiritual practices that would ground me in a sense of embodied Presence, no matter what I was doing. This has been life-changing for me. My body is now one of my most important allies. Born into an intellectual family, I was conditioned to go to my head to find solutions to my life "problems". With study and dedicated practice, I have discovered deep wisdom embedded in my whole body, not just my brain. In 1992, I got an M.A. in body-centered psychotherapy and have also become a certified Focusing trainer and labyrinth facilitator. Today I offer a program called ‘The Practice of Embodied Presence’, an embodied way to access both personal and spiritual intelligence.” See website.

Mindfulness exercises

mindfulness exercises

See: Mindfulness, Meaning & Purpose

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