Mindful Mobility – Stepping in and out of the river

Dear Toby,

Building inner flexibility and mobility are really core parts of an integrated mindfulness practice, in the article below I explain two core practices for building mindful mobility.

In the spirit of mindful perspective taking,

Toby


Mindful Mobility – Stepping in and out of the river (& from self to other)

One of the fundamental skills that we are trying to develop as mindfulness practitioners is to be able to shift consciously from one perspective to another, and use these perspectives appropriately. In this article we will be exploring how to shift between subjective and objective perspectives, and between self and other.

Moving from subjective to objective; Stepping in and out of the river of your consciousness
Imagine your mind is like a river, with the stream of thoughts, images, memories and sensory impressions being like the water. Spend some time in the river ‘being the water’; as thoughts, emotions and feelings come up experience yourself as them; be the thought, feel the emotion as if you are the emotion, let your attention absorb into the senses. This is experiencing your mind subjectively, from the inside.
After a while imagine yourself ‘stepping out’ of the river of your consciousness onto the river bank. Spend some time watching your mind as an observer, as a witness; watching the river flow by with a clear gap between yourself and the ‘water’ of the thoughts, images, feelings and senses in your mind. Watch your mind like a scientist; this is mindfully watching your mind objectively, from the outside.
The aim of doing this practice is to be able to consciously shift ‘at will’ from observer to subject, from subject to observer. This then enables us to:

  • Enjoy our emotions, thoughts, feelings, memories, senses (etc…) fully by entering into them and ‘owning’ them
  • Detach from our experiences when we need to so that we can see them more clearly and make more objective decisions and rational choices

Moving from self to other and extending care
In this second exercise you imagine yourself with another person, or a group of people. It might be a situation where there is a little tension between yourself and the others for whatever reason.
Stage 1: The eyes of self – See yourself in the situation and view it through your eyes, from your subjective point of view. Experience what your point of view feels and sounds like. If you do this mindfully you may well become aware of aspects of your experience that you had not been aware of before!
Stage 2: Become a fly on the wall – Look at the situation and group from the outside for a while, as if you were a fly on the wall. This is like ‘stepping out of the river’ from the previous exercise; it gives you an objective, witnessing perspective.
Stage 3: Becoming other – Enter into the shoes and see through the eyes of the other person, or group or people. See the situation from their point of view, what do they see? How are they feeling? Why are they acting the way they act? Use your imagination to mindfully understand as far as possible where they are coming from.
Stage 4: Go back, extend care – At the end of this exercise, go back to seeing through the eyes of self (stage 1) and spend a while extending care to the other person/people based on the understanding of then you have gained in stage 3, ‘becoming other’. Back in ‘your shoes’ extend care, compassion and understanding to them.

These two exercises are ‘mindful mobility exercises’ that, if practiced regularly will greatly increase your mental flexibility and ‘range of motion’ as you go about your daily life, as well as having the basic side effect or most mindfulness practices; greater peace of mind and centered-ness.

© Toby Ouvry 2016, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


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