"let your boat of life be light, packed with only
what you need - a homely home and simple pleasures, someone to love and someone to love you,
enough to eat and enough to wear
and a little more than enough to drink:
for thirst is a dangerous thing"

Tuesday, 10 January 2012


 I love this cartoon:-
My mind has been full.  "Mindful" and "Mindfulness" are interesting words which have been slightly over-used of late.  On my first day back at work yesterday after a short holiday I realised how essential it is to become more "mindful" (and not just because we are getting older) and less "mind full".   On thinking of the meaning of "mindful or mindfulness" you could be forgiven for forming an image in your mind of Buddhists in a temple in yoga positions (they are extremely mindful, mind you).  This is not what it is all about.  It is a relatively trendy term for "living in the present moment" (putting your keys in your handbag and forgetting that you even did that is a perfect example of not practicing mindfulness).  So much of what we do is done on automatic pilot, we do things without thinking, have a conversation while locking up your house, we get into the car and then drive down the road and wonder whether you did in fact lock the front door.  Mindfulness does not require that you believe anyone or anything, it simply encourages you to notice what is happening around you.

When Matthew was playing rugby for UCT in the Varsity Cup the parents and supporters were invited to an evening at the Sports Science Institute where the team had employed the services of a doctor and "Mindfulness Coach".  It was a brilliant lecture where, at the end, we were shown a short video of a basketball match and asked to count the bounces of the ball between a couple of players.   Not many people got to the same number and we did it again and again.  At the end of the talk we were asked if we had seen the cheerleader dressed as a monkey.  They showed the clip again and we could not believe that not one person in the audience had seen the monkey who was dancing up and down the sidelines.  The lesson was not that we were an unobservant bunch.  It proved the point that we were being mindful of the task at hand and were able to concentrate fully on counting the bounces of the ball and were not distracted (and did not even see) the cheerleading monkey.

We need to take time out to think a bit more about all the subconscious things that we do, we need to be more organised in our thinking and planning.  Well I need to, anyway.

Mindfulness is all about what we tried to teach our children - to pay attention.  But not just paying attention to one lesson - concentrating extra well on ordinary everyday things (like putting your keys in your handbag).  We need to practice it and use it.  We need to have the intention to be mindful and we can be.  I am trying.

Even when it comes to eating, to look at and concentrate on what you are eating and tasting definitely heightens the experience.  Try to work out the different flavours in a dish.  Stop just shoveling it in without a thought to what it is and how it was prepared.  Concentrating on eating a nectarine definitely adds to the experience (especially if it is a good nectarine like I had this morning).  Putting some thought into sinking your teeth into the flesh of the fruit and the feeling and taste once the juice bursts out of it's skin is an experience that goes unnoticed most of the time.  Try eating a nectarine mindfully (you may be surprised).

When we have the intention of being mindful about a task and pay attention to the task, it becomes pleasurable.  If you take a task like washing up, if you take pleasure in the hot, soapy water on your hands and concentrate on doing a proper job you will find pleasure in the task.  If you stood there begrudging the fact that you did not have a dishwasher, that you would rather be doing a million other things and that your family belonged in a sty, that would be the opposite of pleasurable.

So this is really just another thought to try to put into practice for the year.  Appreciating every moment for what it is and concentrating more on getting pleasure out of the little things in life (and stop wasting precious moments on looking for keys in the bag!!)
Pinned Image
On a lighter note:-

No comments:

Post a Comment