Exercise: How Do I Manage Deep and Difficult Challenges in My Life?


Have your journal and pen ready at hand to write down any particular emotions, thoughts, or insights that come up for you as you explore the questions in this exercise. Feel free to write down detailed responses, or simply sit for a time with whatever emerges.

bed1. How in touch am I with messages that my body may be communicating to me on a daily basis, such as hunger, fullness, tiredness, tension, or restlessness? How often and how well do I listen and respond to these sensations?

2. How often do I spend time quietly alone, not occupied with thinking about or doing anything in particular? When I’m alone, how does it feel to be “in my skin”? Is it easy or difficult, comfortable or uncomfortable to just be “in my body” and “with myself”?

lightning3. When I experience physical pain, how do I relate to it and how do I typically respond? Do I try to make it go away—if so, how? Do I have any practices or tendencies that help me feel more comfortable being in pain—if so, what are they? Do I believe my psychiatric medications are helping me navigate physical pain in some way—if so, what might this mean if I come off them?

4. Focusing more on the mind than on the body now… What kinds of emotions or mental experiences do I find the most difficult, uncomfortable, or painful to experience? What is it about these particular experiences that makes them so hard for me to feel? How do I respond to these experiences, and what do I do?  What kinds of strategies have I found to be helpful for “being with” or “getting through” difficult mental and emotional times? Do the medications I’m taking have any impacts—positive or negative—on my mental and emotional difficulties? If so, what might this mean if I choose to come off them?

peaceful face5. Do I have routines, practices, or rituals that I engage with on a regular basis specifically to try to deepen my overall state of well-being or overall awareness of myself? (Examples might include practicing a religious faith or spiritual tradition, making art, playing music, dancing, talking intimately with close friends, doing yoga, meditation, a mindfulness practice of some kind, or breath-work.)

6. After completing your thinking and writing, notice how you’re feeling. Re-read any notes you’ve taken, or write some down now if you’re inspired to and haven’t yet. If these questions have raised or deepened an awareness that you have difficulties navigating difficult mental, emotional, or physical experiences, you might find it helpful to try the 'Optional Exercise' on the next page before proceeding to the ‘Reflections’ section.