Category Archives: Mindfulness

Are you seeking or avoiding the white noise of life?

Two of my friends have the exact same cell phones.  A few weeks ago, they unknowingly, and un-mindfully exchanged phones; then jumped into their cars and drove in opposite directions.  Once they realized what had happened, neither could call the other, because neither knew the others’ password.

Last Saturday night, the three of us went to a concert together.  The stars were shining, the people were joyful, and the beer was ice cold.  It was a perfect summer evening in Canada.

While we waited for the band’s set to start, we discussed the phone mishap.  I took note while my friends compared their very different reactions to the same situation of being phone-less for 48 hours.

One friend took it in stride.  She was grateful that she would have her phone back in a couple of days.  She was merely inconvenienced by it.  While the other friend, had gone into mini-crisis mode.  She was inconvenienced and she felt incredibly disconnected from her experience.

It made perfect sense because my one friend usually takes her phone to work and checks on it during her breaks.  Whereas, my other friend is always plugged into the WWW.  She chooses to be on-call, at all times.  Her phone rings, and buzzes, and beeps constantly.

When at home, my one friend leaves her phone on her kitchen counter.  When she goes outside to enjoy her garden and  play with her dog, her phone stays inside.  My other friend’s phone is always at her arm’s length.  She answers it’s ring from her shower and it’s vibration in her semi-sleep.

If my one friend didn’t answer my message within 24 hours, I wouldn’t be alarmed. Whereas, if my other friend didn’t answer my message within 24 minutes, I would be worried.

My one friend has lived off of the grid before, and has never felt disconnected.  My other friend is constantly connected to the grid and always feels disconnected.

My two friends are playing the Mindful Moment Game.  Not surprisingly, both friends described very different experiences in that similar situation too.

One friend is enjoying the game, while the other is struggling with it.

One is noticing the time more often, while one is not noticing it at all.

One friend is paying attention to the silence, while one is paying attention to the noise.

How often are you listening to the silence?  Are you seeking or avoiding the white noise of life?

Martin Gommel / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

#MindfulMomentGame

Have you been paying attention to what you are paying attention to?

Have you been playing the Mindful Moment Game?

My friend called me to tell me that she has been playing. She said that she has become more aware of the repeating time. Then she told me that she had an epiphany. I laugh every time that I think of her story.

My friend has been battling her weight all of her life. She jumps on the bandwagon for every new weight loss gimmick and fad diet. Right now, she is on a strict diet where she must weigh and measure everything that goes into her mouth.

She explained to me that since starting this diet 3 months prior, she has gone out of her way to buy a special brand of Hazelnuts, from a specific store. They are premium hazelnuts, and since she gets exactly 20 for her afternoon snack, she wants them to the best that she can buy.

She described that usually, she would finish her snack in three or four mouthfuls. But instead; at 3:33 yesterday, she decided that she was going to play the Mindful Moment Game while she ate her coveted snack.

She took one hazelnut in her hand and noticed the texture of it, the weight of it, and the dusting of salt.

She turned it over and noticed the curves, the colour, and the shine from its oil.

She brought it to her nose, and inhaled its’ scent.

Then she brought it to her lips, and touched it to the tip of her tongue.

She let it sit on top of her tongue.

She meticulously chewed the one nut and then swallowed.

She ate two hazelnuts before throwing the other 18 in the garbage.

She realized that she didn’t even like hazelnuts.

This is your movie. Pay attention to as many moments of it as you can. You are not your past, and you are not your future. You are this moment.

 


Ivana Vasilj / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Choose your reaction

Recently, I pulled up to a set of traffic lights and in the lane beside me, and just ahead of me, stretched an old burgundy Cadillac. The woman driver held an unlit cigarette in her hand.

Seconds later, she put her car in park, exited her vehicle, and ran to her trunk to retrieve her purse and I would assume; her lighter.

The light remained red.

She jumped back into her driver’s seat, and lit her cigarette while she fumbled for her seat belt.

The light remained red, and yet the car behind her honked.

Kind of rude, I thought.

Cadillac lady reacted by flipping the driver of the trailing car the bird.

Interesting, I thought.

The light remained red.

The Honking man, put his car in park, and exited his vehicle.

I couldn’t see his expression.

I put my car in park, just in case I needed to help.

The man approached her car and gently closed the trunk that had failed to latch.

Cadillac lady skidded away in an aggressive manner.

Honking man smiled as he got back into his car.

We choose our reactions. Choose them mindfully.


Matito / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Are you paying attention to what you are paying attention to?

Back in the 70’s, kids used to play a game called Punch Buggy. The objective was to spot a Volkswagen Beetle before your opponent did. If you did, you delivered one body punch while you declared “Punch Buggy,” and named its’ colour. If you didn’t spot it first, you would receive a jab.

To be good at the game, I had to pay attention to what I was paying attention to.

I could not afford to be distracted by the model, and colour of each passing car; nor the landscape; the radio; my mother swatting at us; while she told us that hitting people was wrong; my full bladder; or the body language of my brother, which warned of his incoming wallop. I had to be aware of everything going on in my environment while remaining focused on my goal of seeing the VW first.

Our minds wander all the time. We are easily distracted by the day to day thoughts of our lives, our children, our careers, our homes, etc. Our Human-ness regurgitates thoughts of guilt and shame from our past. We think anxious thoughts about the next moment, next day, or next week. We even have thoughts about our thoughts!

We can become over stimulated, overwhelmed and over stressed by our own thoughts. This stress, warns that we are out of balance.

Dis-ease results from the state of chronic imbalance.

The good news is that mindfulness helps. We develop this skill simply by paying attention to what we are paying attention to.

It is much like the game of Punch Buggy. When we are mindful, we focus our attention on one thing at a time, while the noise of our life occurs all around us. We become the Observer. We acknowledge our thoughts, but we don’t participate or react to them, unnecessarily.

With practise, we can filter and prioritize our thoughts. We don’t judge our self for thinking them. We don’t attach an emotional charge to them. We accept that they naturally occur.

This practise elicits a response from our more evolved Being-ness. It evokes our intelligence instead of our stressed-out emotional reaction. We communicate better, our relationships improve, and we learn to manage conflict more effectively. We develop an understanding that we are choosing which thoughts we want to focus on, and our reaction to them. We learn to self-regulate with compassion and empathy.

Practise mindfulness by playing this game with yourself. Every time that you notice a clock where the numbers repeat; such as 10:10 or 2:22, stop for one minute to be mindful. Pay attention only to what you choose to pay attention to.

It doesn’t matter what you do for the minute. Just be aware of your thoughts and the noise of your environment while focusing on one specific thing. Eat mindfully. Whistle mindfully. Close your eyes and breathe mindfully. Focus on your digestion, the sensations of the shoes on your feet, or one particular sound, for one full minute.

When a distracting thought occurs, acknowledge it and decide to think about it at a later time if needed. Then calmly return your focus to your mindfulness task. No emotions, no judgement, just passing thoughts.

Choose what thoughts you focus on. You are in control.

Compassionately change the thoughts that do not serve you.

Patiently practise until you master them.


Yazuu / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)