I’m just about to head offline for a long holiday weekend, but before I do, I wanted to share a simple, yet powerful practice that recently came into my life and has been making a huge difference in my world.
The practice is called “Taking in the Good” and was created by a well renowned neuropsychologist, Rick Hanson. He is the author of several books including Buddha’s Brain and Hardwiring Happiness, which is where I originally learned about this practice.
Especially this time of year as we enter the holiday season there is often a wide range of emotional experience: joy, gratitude, irritation, disappointment, happiness, grief, you name it, if it’s in you, it’s likely going to come up with the heightened attention on social and familial gatherings and another seasonal marking of the passage of time. Sometimes it can be a lot to reckon with the paradox that inevitably emerges for most of us. To support yourself, you can practice this four part process and the best part is that you can do it anywhere without anybody else even knowing! I hope that it brings calm, presence and joy into your life, just as it has into mine.
Taking in the Good
by Rick Hanson, Ph.D.
1. Have a positive experience.
Notice something positive that is already present, no matter how simple. Some great examples are relishing the taste of a delicious bite of food, or the soft and cozy feeling of your clothing against your skin. If there is nothing in your immediate awareness that feels positive, you can create a positive experience by thinking about a person that you love wholeheartedly or bringing to mind something you are grateful for. Once you have thought of something, however, It is important to go beyond thinking, and support your mind, body and emotions to experience the positivity fully.
2. Enrich it.
Give your attention to this positive experience for ten seconds or more. Really relish the experience. With care and tenderness coax the experience to be more vivid. Discover something new or intriguing about this positive experience it. Notice it and appreciate how it supports you in your life. This helps to get your neurons firing and engaged.
3. Absorb it.
Allow your body to fully take in this experience, knowing that it is becoming a part of you. You may add visualization and imagery to this step. Perhaps see the experience as a golden light that is sinking into your whole body or imagine a singing crystal of the experience being placed in your heart. Trust your own instincts of what comes and how to viscerally include this positive experience into your body and soul.
4. Link positive and negative material. (Optional)
Once you feel firmly rooted in the positive experience, allow your attention to include a sense of some negative material that is troubling you. Gently and with care, support your body and mind to oscillate back and forth between the two experiences. If you get overrun by the negativity, simply release your awareness from the difficulty, and come back to fully focusing on the positive. Particularly if there is a lot of charge in the negative experience, later on throughout the day make sure to bring your presence and attention to positive or neutral experiences for increments of ten seconds or longer.
Why this works:
When we practice bringing more consciousness and awareness to our positive experiences each day it turns what would otherwise be a fleeting mental state into a long lasting new and positive neural structure. This offers our brains and entire bodies the opportunity to heal and experience a respite from anxiety. It fosters a sense of well-being and positive self-regard. In essence, we start to build a storehouse of positivity, joy, personal efficacy and self-actualization.
These internal wells of neural memory serve as buffers and resources when negative experiences or emotions emerge and also conditions our brain to experience a general state of well-being throughout the activities of daily life.
I wish you all the best at incorporating this simple practice into your life as much as possible.
With a full heart, I want to thank you for being a part of this community and for showing up in your life however you do. The small and large moments of each day really do matter, and I honor and celebrate whatever it has taken for you to show up in every single way that you have today.
With my deepest respect and appreciation,