By Leo Babauta

OK, so you’ve committed to the Grounded Challenge and practicing mindfulness with your difficulties this month (if you haven’t, sign up now!) … let’s get started.

This month, I’m going to offer you several methods for being mindfully present with your difficulties … but this is the first method:

  1. Notice the difficulty. Just observe that you’re having stress, frustration, disappointment, loneliness, anger, feeling bad about yourself, uncertainty, fear, etc. There is no judgment here, no need to get rid of the feeling, no need to do anything. You’re just witnessing what’s happening.
  2. Drop into the body. These difficult feelings are cause by a story, a thought process in your mind. We’re going to practice dropping out of the head and into the body, by noticing the bodily sensation of this difficult feeling. For example, if you’re feeling anxiety, the physical feeling might be tightness in the chest. Loneliness might manifest as an emptiness in your stomach. Anger might be heat radiating throughout your torso and head. Again, just witness — no judgment, no need to do anything about it, no need to end or resolve the feeling.
  3. Stay with the feeling. Instead of running away from the feeling, avoiding or ignoring it, wanting to move on … keep your attention on it for a few moments. Explore the feeling and sensations with curiosity. Again, you don’t have to get rid of it or do anything about it. Just feel it. Just observe. Just be curious and see what details you can notice.
  4. Relax into the feeling. Notice any tension you have around the feeling. Relax the tensed muscles, like you would relax your grip around something. Relax your mind as well. Let yourself relax into the feeling, just being with it, not pushing it away. In this way, you are allowing yourself to gently be there with your experience.

Notice that we’re not trying to get rid of difficulty. We’re trying to be with it. We’re opening up to the difficult feeling, being curious about it, staying with it, relaxing into it, witnessing it. This is a different relationship with your feelings and experience than usual, for most of us.

Practice this way for the next week or so, or even for the rest of the challenge. The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll get with your discomfort. The more powerful this challenge will be for you.

Once you’ve practiced this method for 5-6 days, try one of these methods: