Mindfulness of emotion in the body

You can practice this exercise whenever you feel stress in daily


Notice your posture on the chair as if you were

seeing yourself from the outside. Feeling your body

humming with sensation. Entering into your body and

into the world of sensations occurring in this very


Now bringing attention to your heart region.

Placing your hand over your heart to reminding yourself

to bring loving attention to your experience. 

Finding your breath in the heart region and

beginning to practice mindfulness of breathing. Feeling

your chest move as you breathe. When your mind

wanders, bringing it back to the sensation of breathing. 

After a few minutes, releasing your attention to

your breath and letting yourself recall the difficult

emotion. If you wish, remember the situation in which

you felt the emotion. 

Now expanding your awareness to your body as a

whole. While you recall the emotion, scanning your body

for where you feel it the most. In your mind’s eye,

sweeping your body from head to toe, stopping where

you can sense a little tension or discomfort. 

Now choose a single location in your body where

the feeling expresses itself most strongly, perhaps as a

point of muscle tension or an achy feeling, like a

heartache. In your mind, inclining gently toward that spot

as if you were inclining toward a child or a beloved pet.

Continuing to breathe naturally, allowing the sensation to

be there, just as it is. If you wish, placing your hand over

your heart as you continue to breathe. Allowing the

gentle, rhythmic motion of the breath to soothe your


Now that you have located the stress and emotion in your

body Begin softening into that location in your body. Letting

the muscles be soft without a requirement that they become

soft, like simply applying heat to sore muscles.

Softening...softening...softening... Remember that we are not

trying to make the sensation go away—you are just holding it

in a tender embrace. 

If you wish, letting yourself just soften around the

edges, like around the edges of a pancake. No need to go

all the way in. 

If you experience too much discomfort with an

emotion, just staying with your breath until you feel


Now, starting to soothe yourself because you

struggle in this way. Perhaps putting your hand over your

heart again and feeling your body breathe. Perhaps

bringing kind or encouraging words to mind, such as, “Oh,

it’s so hard to feel this. May I be kind to myself.” “May I

hold myself in loving awareness.” 

If you wish, directing kindness to an

uncomfortable part of your body by placing your hand

over that place. Maybe even thinking of your body as if it

were the body of a beloved child, and gently


Finally, allowing the discomfort to be there.

Letting go of the wish for discomfort to disappear.

Allowing the discomfort to come and go as it pleases, like

a guest in your own home. Allowing...allowing...allowing 


Softening...soothing...allowing. Repeating these words like

a mantra, if you wish, reminding yourself to incline with

tenderness toward your suffering. 

As you do this exercise you may find that the

emotion moves in your body, or even changes into

another emotion. Try staying with your experience,

continuing to use the technique of soften-soothe-allow. 

Slowly open your eyes when you’re ready. 

Natalie Lucken

Human Welfare Activist/ Counsellor