I’m only four days into Mindfulness 101. I can’t claim to be an expert, but I’m starting to notice the difference between mindfulness and its opposite (unmindfulness? nonmindfulness? obliviousness?) in my daily life.
I’ve been tracking my reactions to the daily mindfulness sessions on Tumblr. That means most days I pop off my cushion and immediately fire up the computer.
Which, I have discovered, is a surefire way to lose all the mindfulness you have just cultivated.
So I started experimenting. Here’s a simple way you can, too.
Our usual M.O.
Have you ever had that feeling of being completely sucked into your computer? You’re sitting there, reading a fascinating article or clicking through vacation photos, and the world around you disappears. Poof — gone. Time stops. It’s like you’re living inside the screen.
That, right there, is the opposite of mindfulness. It’s how your time gets sucked away without your even noticing it.
Try this instead.
You don’t even have to get up.
As you read these words, try to notice your breathing. Don’t change it, and don’t stop reading. Just realize that your breath is coming in and going out all by itself. Feel your chest rise and fall.
Now notice your hands. Again, don’t change what they’re doing and don’t stop reading. Don’t look at your hands. Just become aware that, as you read, your hands are experiencing something. Are they on the keyboard or mouse? Are they holding a cup? Resting in your lap? What do they feel?
Let your eyes zoom out from the screen a bit. Keep your main attention on reading, but let your peripheral vision take in the objects around the screen. See the bigger picture. Step back — if you’ve fallen into your screen, climb out.
Finally, if you’re feeling confident, put all three together. As you read the rest of this article, be aware of your breath, the sensations in your hands, and the environment around your screen. Ta-da! You’re being mindful!
I’ve been experimenting with this process for the past few days. Whatever I’m doing, when I remember mindfulness I try to step back, notice my breath, feel physical sensations, see the bigger picture. It makes me more aware of and engaged with what I’m doing. I feel less anxious to finish quickly. I enjoy what I’m doing more.
I spend most of my time being oblivious, but the moments when I remember mindfulness are simple and interesting enough to keep me trying.
What was your experience with little mindfulness exercise?