Friday, August 14, 2015

A week of "mindfulness" - the beginning!

Mindfulness. That word that keeps turning up in magazines, on TV and in water-cooler conversations with colleagues. But - what is it, and does it even work? I have no idea, so I've decided to try it for a week. I hope that by the end of the week my mind will feel less cluttered, and I achieve zen-like mastery of my surroundings and inner life. Or, at the very least, regain the feeling of being able to actually finish a thought properly before zipping on to another. 

I saw a great share on Facebook once, likening the person's thoughts to being like having 10 internet explorer screens open and constantly jumping between the windows. I completely understood what they meant.  Work! Switch screen. Book son's dentist appointment! Switch screen. Wasn't I in the middle of something, to do with shoes? Switch screen. Is it still OK to use that old pumpkin for soup? Why don't I just ... Switch screen. Shoes. Shoes? What was that thing I needed to do with shoes? Switch screen. Pumpkin shoes! No that's not right ... and so on and so on. 

I've complained a lot recently about feeling busy, but in the absence of a cloning machine (and while I still wait for the book about how I have more time than I realise to arrive from the Book Depository), I probably just need to use my time more efficiently. Trying to be "mindful" for a week is probably a good start. 

These are the rules I've decided to try and follow for a week:

1. Check my mobile phone less. Once an hour, tops. 

Given all of my Facebook messages turn up on my phone, it's so easy to just have a sneaky look while I'm waiting for the jug to boil. Which then turns into a sneaky conversation, which turns into the kids needing me again and me only remembering I was making myself a cup of tea an hour later when I go into the kitchen for something else and spy a lonely looking teabag sitting on the toaster. Which turns into me checking online again after I flick the jug on again, the situation repeating, and the poor teabag staying unused and neglected, probably wondering what on earth it's doing sitting on the toaster in the first place. Unfortunately for the teabag, by then I don't remember the answer to that either. 

I don't need to check my phone that often.  I don't get that many texts and calls, and if someone really needs to get hold of me they'll ring and I'll hear it, surely? I need to repeat the mantra "my phone is not an extra limb," and only check it every now and then. This one will be hard for me  -  I checked my phone three times this morning in Subway while waiting for my sub to be made, so ingrained is the habit.  That's about once a minute, which is ridiculous really.  This will be hard, though.  I don't know at what point in my life checking my phone became the default thing to do whenever I stand still, but it has.  

2. Only do one thing at a time. 

One things at a time: play with my children OR do chores, not trying to do both at once and as a result doing neither well. watch TV OR surf the internet. Play with my kids OR check my phone. Talk to my husband OR play on the computer. Write a blog entry OR read the news online instead of doing each for a minute at a time and constantly forgetting where I am up to. Something about pumpkins, wasn't it  ... ? 

3. Give myself longer to reply to messages. 

This really doesn't have to be instant. I've not met anyone on their death bed, but am sure that not many people lie there and think "I really which I'd responded to that acquaintance-that-I-don-t-really-know-that-well five hours earlier than I did". Unless of course not responding to aforementioned acquaintance caused them to be on their death bed, in which case such thoughts are perfectly reasonable.

4. Let myself get bored.  

Apparently boredom makes you more creative. Here I was, thinking that boredom just made me bored, and, to quote my mother when I would complain about being bored as a teenager "only boring people get bored". 

I hate being bored. When I was a teenager I spent four months living in a small Italian village with a host family, where between the hours of 2 - 6 every day I wasn't allowed to leave the house. There wasn't much to do in the house either - I didn't have books to read as didn't speak Italian, I couldn't watch TV, it was during those dark pre-internet times, and I didn't have anyone to talk to. Some days, I actually felt like I was going mad I was so bored. It was an awful, unhappy time, and I think I've had a fear of being bored ever since. But, that was a long time ago, and staring into space while waiting for the bus isn't the same as not having anything to do for days on end.  At the least, I need to stop fearing boredom as a way of enabling me to check my phone less often.

5. Be present.

I'm hoping this will flow from the other 4 rules, but we'll see. 

Anyway, I'll see how this goes, and keep you posted. Now, I must really get back to that poor neglected teabag ... 

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